Can you Visit North Korea As A Tourist in 2022?

On my journey to every country in the world, I HAD to visit North Korea. It was my 50th/196 countries visited. So is it even possible to visit North Korea as a tourist? Yes, it is! And actually, it’s really easy.

North Korea, or the DPRK, claim to be a ‘functioning’ communist state which means it is arguably the most intriguing place to visit imaginable. But it comes at quite a cost. Solo-travel is an impossibility due to each trip being monitored by the state-run KITC (Korea International Tourism Company). So you’re effectively required to take a tour. And then you have the ethical issues of course. So let’s get into it.

Check out my FAQs to get an idea of how to travel to North Korea.

Can you visit North Korea?
Can you visit North Korea?

Can You go to North Korea as a tourist?

Yes, aside from a few of the more obscure nationalities North Korea accepts tourists from nearly all corners of the globe. Normally though, for visa purposes, you have to go through a company. There are 3 or 4 major North Korea tour companies that everyone uses. Young Pioneer tours are the cheaper, younger (boozier!) ones. Kyoro Tours are the more information-filled, tour-guide style, more expensive ones.

Can you visit North Korea
Can you visit North Korea? Yes! Here’s me at Kim Il Song Square in Pyongyang, North Korea

Can Americans visit North Korea as a tourist?

EDIT 2022: Since Otto Wombier was murdered by the North Korea regime, American’s CANNOT currently visit North Korea.

You’ll be happy to know that you most certainly can. Although as of January 2012 Americans still can’t take the train from Beijing to Pyongyang, they’re required to fly in and out of the city (this is up for review later this year), they’re the only nationality affected by this rule. The US is the DPRK’s biggest enemy so be prepared to hear anti-American sentiments throughout your trip.

Can I visit North Korea
Can I visit North Korea?

How Many People Vist North Korea Each Year?

With only around 1800 visitors per year, North Korea is one of the least visited countries in the world.

juche tower pyongyang
Juche Tower Pyongyang

Is It Ethical to Visit North Korea?

It depends on your stance. Firstly, when you visit North Korea undoubtedly a portion of your money goes to their repressive state. There is no avoiding that. So that, of course, is unethical. However, in my opinion, if you use your visit to raise awareness to the plight of North Koreans, and further the conversation of the brutal regime there, then there very well may be a net positive outcome. That should be our moral goal.

Is it safe to visit North Korea
Is it safe to visit North Korea

How much does it cost to visit North Korea?

It’s actually pretty affordable. Due to the fact that you have to join a tour for the trip, the cost depends on how long you want to stay. The shortest trips available are generally 3 or 4 nights, with cost starting around $1,000. The longest trips stay in the DPRK for around 2 weeks but you’ll have to fork out in excess of $2k for those.

Visit North Korea as a tourist
Visit North Korea as a tourist

Is it safe to visit North Korea

If you behave yourself, yes. If you run around Pyongyang with an American flag hanging around your waist, singing “Donald Trump is the man” and spitting at monuments, it may get a little dangerous. Follow the rules, be respectful and don’t veer to far from your ‘minders’ and you’ll be all good. I never had a problem at all.

You may have heard of the case of Otto Wombier who drunkenly stole a piece of propaganda. Hardly the crime of the century. He was sentenced to 20 years hard labour, and was beaten to unconsciousness. He later dies. So is it safe to visit North Korea? If you do nothing wrong, there is nowhere safer. If you commit even the smallest crime, you’re in serious trouble.

workers party monument north korea
Workers’ Party Monument

What are the North Korean people like?

You don’t get too much of an opportunity to mingle with the locals. And unless your Korean is up to scratch you’ll struggle if you managed to find one to talk to. The North Koreans are intrigued by our presence but aside from a few stray smiles and waves there’s not too much interaction. All in all, they seemed pretty friendly, if a little subdued.

Visiting North Korea; A group of girls line up in front of more propaganda

Are There Things to do in North Korea?

There are lots of things to do in North Korea as a tourist. But of course, you only get to see what you’re allowed to see. But to be honest, the real fascination of being in North Korea is just feeling the atmosphere as you walk around the city (in full view of your minders of course). You’ll definitely check out the Juche Tower, the Workers’ Party Monument, the DMZ (most fortified border in the world) and if you’re lucky Pyongyang stadium which hosts the Mass Games once a year. The stadium is the biggest in the world, holding more than 200, 000 people at capacity.

Things to do in North Korea
Things to do in North Korea

How do I get a visa for North Korea?

Your tour company will sort it all out for you. All that is required from you is a scanned image of your passport, the visa itself doesn’t actually get stamped in your passport so your passport isn’t even required. You’ll get a slip of paper from one of your guides just before you enter the country and you’re good to go.

You don’t have to go to any embassy, everything is done via your tour operator. You simply fly to Beijing, from where all trips will commence.

North Korea visaHow Do You Visit North Korea? How Do You Get There?!

If you mean how do you organise your visit? You do everything via a tour company. No exceptions. But in terms of actual logistics, all North Korea tours start in Beijing (or Dandong) in China. Youll meet your tour guide there and get briefed on the trip ahead. From Beijing, you’ll either take a 24-hour train to Pyongyang or fly with Air Koryo to Pyongyang. I recommend the train. Lots of vodka.

When Is The Best Time to Visit North Korea?

It’s possible to visit North Korea all year round. Korea experiences the same seasons as the Western World and winters can be bitterly cold. I went in December and it was -5 most days. Whereas in summer it can be +30.

That being said, the best time to visit is during the ‘Mass Games’. They’re held in September. The mass games in North Korea dates for 2022 are September 23 to 25th.

best time to visit north korea
best time to visit north korea

Can you Visit North Korea As A Tourist? Yes! Final thoughts.

Alright, guys, that’s the basic run down. If you have any other questions drop me an email or comment below. I’ll be writing a few more articles about my time in North Korea in the next week or two, complete with some grim stories about shooting chickens, eating dogs, North Korean bars and enough propaganda to last you a lifetime. Happy travels.

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can you visit north korea
can you visit north korea

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