North Korea Travel Guide

At A Glance

Get excited for your trip to North Korea! This destination, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“DPRK”), is a double black diamond adventure for travelers looking for a true once in a lifetime experience. Come witness living history and a friendly, welcoming people in this Cold War holdout that is underappreciated among Western travelers for its raw scenery, historic socialist sites, and incredibly genuine people!




Pyongyang (Pop. 2,600,000)

Largest City


Notable Cities

Hamhung (pop. 769,000), Chongjin (pop. 627,000),


The DPRK is a single-party communist monarchical regime


The DPRK is racially homogenous, with the Korean ethnicity being dominant.




  • Korean Words and Phrases

    Hello! — Anyonghahseyo –안녕하세요!
    How are you? Jal jilnayess-oyo? 잘 지냈어요?
    My name is… je ileum-eun …-ieyo
    Hotel — hotel –호텔

  • Travel Requirements and Visas

    American and Western tourists need DPRK visas to before boarding the airplane or train in China to enter the country. These should be obtained at least a month in advance of your trip, and using our connections, we will provide you with and process your visa paperwork with the DPRK government. Travelers transiting to the DPRK through the Beijing airport are no longer required to obtain a Chinese visa thanks to a new rule allowing travelers passing through Beijing to other destinations to stay in Beijing for up to three days without obtaining one. A direct-transit visa exemption also applies to a number o other Chinese airports for a period of 24 hours, as long as you can provide your final destination ticket as proof of your travel plans. If you plan to spend more time in China, you will need to obtain a Chinese tourist visa from a Chinese embassy or consulate in your country, or online at

  • Money

    DPRK’s currency is called the Won. There are 100 chon in 1 won. There are different currencies in use: one type of Won exists for DPRK citizens, which tourists are forbidden to use, one type of Won exists for visitors from capitalist and Western countries, and one type of Won exists for visitors from communist, formerly-communist, and friendly nations. Euro are commonly accepted and preferred for use by tourists, and US dollars are sometimes, but not always, accepted in tourist shops, venues, and hotels.

  • Food

    As a foreign visitor to the DPRK, you will always be well fed. Food in the DPRK is pretty basic, ranging from an egg sop with bread to white rice (bab) with veggies and meat, potato (gamja) and egg (dalya)-based soups (gug), stews (jigae), casseroles (jeon-gul), and salads (saengchae). Chicken and fish are the most common meats, and neither pork nor beef are common. Duck is most commonly used in Korean barbecues, cooked over a tray of coals in the middle of your table (always a fun experience). You will find that your set dinners consist of multiple courses of small plates and rice or noodles signifies the end of the meal.

  • Climate and Weather

    Long, cold winters, short, hot, humid, and rainy summers.

  • Festivals and Holidays

    The most important holiday in the DPRK each year is the Day of the Sun, marking the birthday of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, every April 15th. Koreans celebrate by making pilgrimages to sites that have connections to Kim, including his supposed birthplace Mangyongdae in Pyongyang. The most important observances take place in the capital, including large group homages at the Kumsusan Mausoleum and the Mansu Hill Monument. Similarly, Koreans celebrate the birthday of Kim’s son, the late leader Kim Jong Il, every February 16 during the Day of the Shining Star. On October 10, the nation celebrates Party Foundation Day, which commemorates the establishment of the Workers Party of Korea, and on September 9, the people mark Foundation Day, with public dancing, artistic displays, and political speeches.

  • Religion

    Officially atheist. Traditionally Buddhist, Confucian, and a local syncretic faith called Chondogyo. Religious activities are essentially non-existent, but some government-run religious groups exist.

  • Health and Medical

    Medical facilities in the country are very basic, particularly in the rural areas, and offer only minimum care. Clinical hygiene is poor, and anesthetics are rare. Electricity supply to hospitals in the capital can be intermittent. You should make an extra effort to avoid serious injury while in the DPRK, and we require that you obtain evacuation insurance before you travel. Every hotel has a doctor on site, and some tourist sites may have modest medical facilities. Tourists will be taken to the Pyongyang International Friendship Hospital. Take with you any medication you need or think you may need.

  • Safety

    Crime against tourists visiting the DPRK is essentially unheard of. Because of the closed, tightly-controlled nature of guided tour groups, it is very unlikely there would ever be a chance for you to fall victim to someone who’s not a part of your group. Though exceedingly rare, some petty theft may occur from hotels, so be sure to keep your passport, cash, and any valuables on your person or in safe keeping at all times. Travelers’ cheques in Euros are a safe way to handle money, but you will also need to bring plenty of cash. Also make sure that you have some valid form of identification on your person at all times.

  • LGBTQ+ Travel

    While not illegal, homosexuality is not existent in North Korea. However, LGBT travelers are allowed and are not treated any differently from other travelers. They are welcomed in the DPRK as most other travelers.

  • Solo Female Travel

    The DPRK is generally a safe destination for female travelers and in fact, gender equality is fairly high here due to the socialist system of values. Our female CEO has traveled extensively throughout the country with no issues relating to her gender. It is always wise to dress modestly, especially at some sites and memorials dedicated to the leaders and especially in situations where you are uncertain of local customs.

  • Disabled Travel

    Many historical sites and tourist areas in the DPRK do not have elevators or handicapped access. Most hotels within Pyongyang will have an elevator or escalator but may not beyond the capital, Pyongyang. Visitors to historic sites and other outdoor attractions should expect stairs and, in some cases, challenging terrain.