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There are few communist countries left in the world and one of them is North Korea. The question is, can I go sightseeing there? It is not a country open to mass tourism but still, can be visited.

Are you interested in opening this window to the past? Or is it a parallel world? The truth is that it can undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience. let’s see then how to travel to north korea what procedure to follow and what can be done about it.

North Korea

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is in the from East Asia and is the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. Have border with China and Russia and of course with South Korea Demilitarized zone through.

The Korean Peninsula was in Japanese hands from 1910 until the end of World War II. (Therefore, the Koreans do not like the Japanese very much), but after the conflict it was divided into two areas.

On one side were the forces of the Soviet Union and on the other those of the United States. All the negotiations to reunite the country have failed and therefore, andn 1948, two governments were born the First Republic of Korea (in the south) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north.

North Korea is a socialist state, with a cult of the leader’s personality typical of other times. He is the third male member of the Kim ruling family. It is a country that lives in the socialist past: state enterprises, collective farms and an army that takes a lot of money.

Regarding culture, although there is a clear Chinese influence, the truth is that Korean culture as a whole (South and North) has acquired a unique form that even the cultural violence exerted by the Japanese during the occupation could not clear. Now, in the years since liberation, South Koreans have started to have great contact with the world while North Koreans have started to shut down.

So, if South Korea turns out to be a modern nation, North Korea has returned to a traditional culture, with many folk forms who have gained new strength.


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Travel to North Korea

We agree that it’s not the most typical thing in the world to travel as a tourist in North Korea. Yes some people just can’t do so, for example, Americans, South Koreans or Malaysians. The rest of us can go there, but by following a series of steps.

First, you can’t go to north korea alone. Only through a tour operator that he has to make the reservations on your behalf and even process the visa, sign an agreement, give you a copy of that agreement for your passport.

Before, there were tighter restrictions, but for some time they have been lax and only require you to specify the name of the company you work for and your profession. But beware, if by chance you work in a media or a political organization for the defense of human rights, they may not grant you a visa.

Still goes first through China and the North Korean visa can be received locally. This will be explained to you by the agency. The good thing, something good had to be, is that you don’t do the process at the embassy.

They may or may not stamp your passport at customs. Yes the visa does not go in the passport but separately. And you have to deliver it when leaving the country. Do you want to keep it as a souvenir? It is advisable to photocopy it, worse always ask the tour guide if you can do it or not. It is better not to be mistaken.

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When it comes to tour options, it’s good to know that you’ll be able to see more than just the capital, Pyongyang. You can go to Rason, a special economic zone, you can ski in Masik, climb the highest mountain which is Paektu mountain or attend a cultural event.

Yes, you can take photos. They say they don’t let you, but that’s not true or at least not entirely. Be discreet, ask your guide and without doing a photo show it is possible. And obviously it all depends on where you are and what or who you want to take a picture of.

Tourists are not allowed to carry books or CDs or something like that, it won’t be something that will influence North Korean sacred culture. And the same thing works the other way, no “memories” with you. To recap a bit, What places can I visit in North Korea?

Pyongyang this is the front door. You will walk through plazas and plazas with many statues. The tour is very political in this city because you are not going to leave the country without a good image of the leader. Then you will see the Kumsusan Sun Palace, Founding Party Monument, Kim II-sung Square, Arc de Triomphe and Mausoleum of Kim II-sung and Kim Jong-il or Mansu Hill Monument.

Beyond the bus too you can travel by metro possible for foreigners only since 2015, or biking or shopping. It’s more fun and definitely unforgettable. After, another destination is Rason, the special economic zone. Very special, the only place where the communist dictatorship allows certain capitalist sparks. It is a city very close to the borders with Russia and China.

Masik is the destination for skiing. here is Masikryong Ski Resort, a good level site in terms of means of elevation, equipment and accommodation. And many karaoke bars and restaurants. You can climb to 1200 meters and enjoy 100 kilometers of slopes.

Chongjin is the third largest city in North Korea and this is its industrial heart. It is remote and receives few visitors But maybe that’s why you love him more. It has a central square which is its most attractive point, with its statues of the rulers, obviously. And here we are. There really isn’t much else. Between being a very small country and having a million restrictions…

Well, finally we can name the tour operators: Tours in Koryo (a bit pricey, usually gets older and less young travelers), Tours in Uri (they are the ones who organized Dennis Rodan’s trip), Lupine Travel and Juche Travel Services (both in English), Journey on the rocky road (based in Beijing), FarRail Tours and KTG. These are on the web all the time, but a very popular one is also Young Pioneers Tour.


This latter agency offers basic circuits from 500 euros (accommodation, Beijing-Pyongyang-Beijing train, meals, transfers with guides, tickets. This does not include extra expenses, drinks and tips, but they take care of visa and ticket processing. Obviously, all of these agencies work with the North Korean government so basically these are tours organized by him.

In North Korea, you will never be alone. You may not be traveling in a group, yes, but once on North Korean soil they will always keep you company, from when you arrive to when you leave, from the moment you get up in the morning until the evening. You also cannot leave the hotel alone, or separate from the guide or group, or shout, or run, or touch the statues or images of the venerable rulers, or take a photo of them cutting off their heads. .

There is no great comfort or luxury, life is very simple, bordering on precariousness in some cases. There is no advertising on the public highway, there is no Internet, control is permanent. You may not find toilet paper or soap, the further you go from the capital you go to places without electricity or hot water. It’s like that, everyone who has been there says that the feeling of strangeness and unreality is enormous.

The truth is, a tour like this is far from a pleasure trip or vacation, but it’s definitely something you’ll never forget.

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