Travel to North Korea

Does the idea of travelling to one of the world's most secretive and less visited countries excite you? Despite its "rogue nation" status, it's surprisingly easy to arrange travel to North Korea. Do bear in mind that all foreigners must visit as part of a package tour and you are not permitted to go anywhere without a guide.

Introduction to North Korea

North Korea borders China to the north, Russia to the northeast and South Korea to the south. North Korea is one of the most isolated countries on earth and independent travel is not possible. All foreigners must visit as part of a guided tour.

Getting to North Korea

Getting to North Korea requires careful planning. It's not possible to enter the country from South Korea (except for one day excursions to the Joint Security Area) and most people travel from Beijing. From here you can take a sleeper train or a flight. Air China flies between Beijing and Pyongyan three times a week and North Korea's airline, Air Koryo, flies twice per week. Air Koryo has a poor safety rating so give preference to Air China where possible.

Getting around North Korea

A guide will need to escort you at all times. Most travel is by tour buses and occasionally chartered flights with Air Koryo. Travel on public transport is not possible, other than a carefully managed glimpse at the metro.

Sights in North Korea

Some of the top sights in North Korea include:

  • Arch of Triumph
  • Korean Film Studio
  • Grand Monument
  • DMZ
  • Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum
  • Chollima Statue
  • Juche Tower
  • International Friendship Exhibition
  • Children's Palace
  • Pyongyang Metro

Safety and etiquette in North Korea

North Korea is a relatively safe place for foreign travellers and the risk of terrorism is low. However, it is important to note that insults or jokes about the North Korean political system or leadership are severely frowned upon and can result in severe punishment for you or your tour guide. Always try to show (or feign) respect at significant monuments.

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