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Planning your visit to North Korea

Before you travel to North Korea you must make sure you have complied with all the necessary requirements. Despite what you may think it’s quite easy to obtain a tourist visa. The main requirement is that you are booked on a pre-planned tour which has two North Korean guides. Travelling alone is not completely impossible but you should inform the British Embassy if you intend to do that and bear in mind you would still need two North Korean appointed guides. There is a very low threat from terrorism and visits are normally a secure and care free experience. You can gather a lot of information about travel etc. on the website.

The North Korean Experience

You will most likely arrive in Pyongyang the capital city either on a flight from Bejing in China or a tourist train from China since the border with South Korea is virtually closed. There are other ways of arriving, by bus and ferry but these are less common. You will be met at the airport or station by your guides and you are expected to act like privileged guests of the North Koreans which means sticking to the rules, like not walking around unaccompanied and not taking photographs at certain locations, which will be pointed out to you by the guides. There has been a big increase in the number of visitors over the last few years and so you are usually well managed albeit a little rigidly. You are now allowed to have your mobile phone with you, you used to have to surrender them, but your phone must have a North Korean sim if you wish to make calls. There are a few restaurants for you to choose from if you don’t eat at your hotel, ranging from burger restaurants to Korean and there is even an Italian restaurant now.

Popular North Korean Attractions

Mansudae Grand Monument, to lay wreaths at the statue of Kim Il Sung in Fountain Park.

Kim Il Sung Square and the Arch of Triumph (commemorating Korean Resistance to Japan between 1925 and 1945)

Mangyongdae Native House (where Kim Il Sung was born)

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, also known as Kim Il Sung’s Mausoleum.

Pyongyang Metro reputedly the deepest in the world. There are large socialist murals on the station platforms, with each station designed to show a different ideal. Tourists however, only see Puhung and Yonggwang stations.

Taedong department store and local micro-brewery where you can sample the beers.

Golden Lane Bowling Centre (ten pin bowling that is)

Further afield there is:

The North-South Korean border and The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

Lake Sijung a popular retreat during the Yi dynasty

Mount Kumgang and Samil Lagoon.

North Korea Travel Insurance

Before you travel to North Korea make sure you take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance. There are a few companies who specialise in North Korean travel insurance and it’s worth looking them up online.


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