Nine Important Tips for Traveling to North Korea

Nine Important Tips for Traveling to North Korea
Feb 14, 2015 Translated by

Editor’s note: Planning a trip to North Korea? Well this translated article from tells you everything you need to know before embarking on the adventure. Basically it revolves around being well prepared and culturally sensitive in a country where sensitivity is of paramount importance. Take a look at these 9 tips before you travel to the ‘other side’.

The Dandong Municipal Tourism Bureau recently announced that starting in June, tourists can now travel by car from Dandong to North Korea. Tourists are currently able to travel to North Korea through travel agencies and are able to travel to places previously closed off to Chinese tourists. Through this, the door to further Sino-Korean cooperation has been opened further.

When most people think of North Korea they think of a poor closed off country with harsh and mysterious laws. In order to better understand North Korea, travelers can now take their own “quest” to discover the country; however they must do their homework beforehand. Here are nine essential tips for those who plan on visiting the DPRK.

1) DPRK Tourist Visa and Fees
Tourists cannot travel to North Korea alone and the visa process has to be done through a travel agency. They must communicate in advance to make plans with the agency. Travelers must send a scanned copy of their passport, a two-inch photo and a scanned copy of the application form seven days in advance to a travel agency by email. A day trip from Dandong port to Sinuijiu, North Korea costs about 750 Yuan. A 24 hour tour to Sinuijiu, Pyongyang, Kaesong and Myohyang and Panmunjom costs about 3,500 Yuan. The cost of the DPRK visa and exit fee are both included.


2) DPRK Contraband
Visitors to the DPRK may not bring mobile phones, laptop computers, binoculars, DPRK currency and “reactionary” books. If tourists bring newspapers, magazines and books into the country the pictures cannot be visible. Items with the United States or South Korean flag on them are also forbidden. Digital cameras, video cameras, DSLR cameras and other equipment must be reported ahead of time to the group leader and must be declared at customs on the return trip to China.

3) Different Procedures for Different Visitors
It is more complicated for civil servants and citizens of Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, European nations and the United States to enter the DPRK as tourists, compared to the procedures followed by mainland tourists. For tourists from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, the procedure costs several times more than for mainland tourists. Europeans and Americans must pay up to 15,000 RMB per person in order to obtain a DPRK visa.

4) A DPRK Visa in Your Passport May Affect Future Visa Applications to Other Countries The new special policy in Dandong makes it so that DPRK visas obtained in Dandong are handled differently. The tourist visa is a separate item altogether and is not put in the traveler’s passport. Therefore the trip to North Korea will not affect eligibility for future trips to the United States, Japan, South Korea, European countries, Australia and the Americas. 
In other Chinese cities such as Shenyang and Beijing, DPRK visas are processed as normal visas and are put into your passport. This could lead to future visa rejection from other countries.

5) Tourists Cannot Move About Freely
North Korea is a country marked by the deprivation of freedom and therefore travelers to the DPRK are not allowed to move around freely and must stay with a tour group. The only freedom travelers enjoy in North Korea is the ability to occasionally roam around relatively closed historical sites like memorials to the DPRK leaders. Tour groups are accompanied by three tour guides: a local guide, a Chinese guide and security personnel assigned to monitor the activities of tourists.

6) A DPRK Tour is Not for Dining and Shopping  
Meals in the DPRK are similar to those found in China in the 1970s: relatively simple, mainly vegetables, a little meat and small portions. Tourists will on average be given lunch box style meals when travelling on a train, a breakfast buffet at the hotel and dinner meals. Visitors should bring extra food and snacks for themselves from China.<

In addition, North Korea is not a suitable place for shopping. Chinese citizens are only allowed to carry 20,000 Yuan per person in cash into North Korea which the equivalent of about 5,000 USD. Tourists cannot use a credit card within the DPRK, however foreign currency including the Renminbi, Hong Kong dollars, US dollars and Euros can all be directly used to purchase items. Prices in North Korea are high than domestic Chinese prices.

7) North Korean Taboos  
In North Korea, the official ideology includes the idea of a united people and sees the late North Korean supreme leader, Kim Il Sung, as God. When standing in front of portraits or statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un visitors must not imitate the actions or poses of the leaders.
Secondly, the North Korean government has clamped down on the people’s freedom of speech. In order to keep ordinary North Koreans out of trouble, do not say hello to them or take photos of or with North Korean soldiers.

8) Do Not Discuss the North Korean Economy  
The DPRK tour guides are able to speak Chinese, therefore do not talk about North Korea’s economy or people’s lives - save this for when you return to your home country. Visitors are also forbidden from taking pictures of ruined or dilapidated scenery.

9) Follow the DPRK Tour Guide  
Visitors should listen to the DPRK tour guide during their visit to North Korea and obey their rules and instructions. The tour guides will prohibit visitors from leaving group activities and tours without authorization. Tour guides will also tell visitors to put flowers in front of the statue of Kim Il Sung and only take serious photos. During the tour, visitors are not allowed to visit relatives and friends and cannot access DPRK homes without authorization.


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Keywords: Travelling tips North Korea Important Tips for Traveling to North Korea


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Most important tip for traveling to NK: don't do it!

Mar 21, 2015 08:22 Report Abuse



20000 RMB= 5000 $ , Propaganda

Mar 01, 2015 01:41 Report Abuse



North Korea is fast becoming one of the top destinations in Asia. It offers something completely different which is rare these days. No wonder it's so popular.

Feb 20, 2015 10:24 Report Abuse



Screw North Korea. I'll never go there. But Chinese people can't see any reason for not going. They can't see that by going to North Korea they are supporting the regime there. All they see is "NK is on the news. It is a closed country. I have to go and see it my lifetime so I can tick that box and boast to people that I have been there". It's always about self-interest with the Chinese.

Feb 19, 2015 18:53 Report Abuse



First they put up this anti North Korean propaganda piece back in 2014 and now they repost it!!??

Feb 15, 2015 22:23 Report Abuse



sounds like a laugh a minute!

Feb 14, 2015 18:31 Report Abuse



Plan A: I won't go to NK Plan B: Following plan A :-D

May 18, 2014 18:05 Report Abuse



Anyone want to exchange $5000 for my 20000 RMB? I can do that all day.

May 15, 2014 20:27 Report Abuse



I'm sure I will bookmark this and refer back to it never.

May 15, 2014 20:23 Report Abuse



20.000 RMB = 5000 USD. I'd like the author of this article to change me some RMB cash. I can leave a 5% commission.....

May 15, 2014 17:25 Report Abuse



A useful article if you are Chinese and want to go to NK. The vast majority of us who use this site are not Chinese. Pointless. Again.

May 15, 2014 10:17 Report Abuse



Also useful if you are curious what advice is given to Chinese.

May 15, 2014 12:15 Report Abuse



Tip #1. Don't go.

May 15, 2014 09:00 Report Abuse



Honestly, it sounds just like China when they opened up their borders for the first few years. Is it that shocking that NK has similar precautions?

May 15, 2014 07:46 Report Abuse



Why would anyone travel to North Korea?

May 15, 2014 06:54 Report Abuse



No! Just no! .... Travelling to a place like this is supporting the place. Why support such a place and ethos? You are a proxy murderer and the blood of the people are on your hands if you go. You are showing you support murder, genocide and the belief that all must kowtow to a leader and give up all freedom.

May 15, 2014 00:58 Report Abuse



In this particular case I think you are right. However, Aung San Suu Kyi says that it is good to create tourism in closed off countries, because the citizens can then see that what is being said about the outside world is false. Locals start seeing that other countries have what they want and ideas about what is acceptable begin to change. I believe that's why we are not allowed to even speak to a Korean person on the street (and also why we can no longer stream Big Bang Theory). Coming to China to teach English does support the CCP's brainwashing machine, but it also gives the locals the chance to see different ideas, and that maybe the propaganda about "Western Imperialists" isn't true at all.

May 16, 2014 14:52 Report Abuse