Frequently Asked Questions on North Korea Travel

Uri (“우리”) means our or us: “Our Tours.” It’s a universal Korean concept signifying community and unity.

This is subjective, but in our opinion, the best time to visit North Korea is during national holidays, as the North Koreans really take their festivities seriously! These holidays often feature mass dances in public squares, fireworks, special exhibitions and performances, and, during larger occasions, military parades.

Travel to North Korea is possible all year round and the country enjoys all four seasons. Spring and fall are particularly pleasant times to visit, as the climate is mild and the landscapes are stunning, but each season offers its unique charm.

The rainy season in North Korea spans from July to the beginning of August. If you’re planning to travel during this time, it’s advisable to bring wet weather clothing, ponchos or an umbrella.

We offer tour options during all major holidays in North Korea, so you can experience the country at it’s most vibrant times!

We have over 15 years of experience safely conducting tours to North Korea. The country boasts a very low crime rate, and in our experience, it is an incredibly safe destination for tourists. We have not had any reported thefts or incidents on any of our tours. Our local guides take great care to ensure the safety and well-being of all travelers. We are always actively monitoring the travel situation with the safety of all our tourists as our priority. Our staff maintains good relations with foreign embassies in North Korea.

All our travellers are briefed with extensive pre-trip materials, which cover local rules and regulations, and provide guidance with etiquette and local customs.

For more details, see our blog titled “Is it Safe to Visit North Korea?”.

No, effective September 1, 2017, those travelling on United States passports are not permitted to travel to North Korea without a passport with a special validation. Tourism does not meet the criteria for special validation.

This travel ban is imposed from the United States side, not by North Korea. As per the U.S. Department of State Website:

“Travel to, in, or through North Korea on a U.S. passport without this special validation may justify revocation of your passport for misuse under 22 C.F.R. § 51.62(a)(3) and may subject you to felony prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 1544 or other applicable laws.”

Uri Tours is in compliance with this travel ban. Since September 1, 2017, we are no longer accepting tour applications from those travelling on U.S. passports. For more, see our Official Statement.

The travel ban applies for a period of one year at a time unless sooner extended or revoked by the U.S Secretary of State.

The travel ban has been subsequently extended every year since 2017, and is now set to expire or renew by August 31, 2024.

There is no indication as yet to suggest the travel restriction will either be lifted or lapse without renewal.

Many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa have permanent diplomatic missions in Pyongyang, allowing citizens of these countries to seek assistance from their embassy in case of an emergency. We maintain strong relations with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which acts as the protecting power for Australia, Canada, and the United States, in addition to providing consular services for Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of embassies in Pyongyang were closed, and as of early 2024, most have yet to reopen.

Individuals aged 18 and above are welcome to travel with us independently. Anyone under the age of 18 is required to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Additionally, we offer discounts for young travellers under the age of 13. Please contact us to inquire about these discounts.

Absolutely! Ethnic Koreans are welcome to join any of our tours, provided they are traveling with a passport that is valid for entry into the DPRK. If you have Korean language skills, you will be at an advantage and you are encouraged to use them. Speaking in Korean is a great way to bond with our guides and to share closer interactions with locals.

Booking a tour with us is a straightforward process. If you’d like to see the steps, please refer to our “How to Book a North Korea Tour” page. You have the option to choose from our scheduled group tours or opt for a tailored private tour based on your preferences.

To book a group tour, simply browse our calendar of scheduled tours. Once you’ve made your choice, you can either book directly through our online check-out system or by sending us an email.

For private tours, please email us with your requirements and a member of our team will assist you, offering curated recommendations and with a personalised itinerary to fit your schedule.

Currently, journalists and South Korean nationals are not eligible to be granted North Korean tourist visas. Additionally, we are unable to assist those traveling on U.S. passports or Malaysian passports due to geographical travel bans imposed by their respective governments.

If you are not a journalist but are a professional (or semi-professional) photographer, a blogger or you work in a media-related roles in any capacity, please contact us prior to booking, and we will advise.

For more information on who is eligible to visit North Korea as a tourist, see our guide on “How to Get a North Korean Visa”.

Yes! Expats living in South Korea are welcome to join our tours to North Korea. Having passport stamps from South Korea is not an issue. For more information, see our article on “How to Get a North Korean Visa”.

Unfortunately, this is not possible. The two countries are separated by a 4km wide Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that stretches across the entire Korean Peninsula. Travel is not permitted across the DMZ outside of extraordinary (typically diplomatic) circumstances.

To visit North Korea, travellers must transit through either China or Russia. To see which options are available, see our blog post on this topic.

It’s important to be in reasonable physical condition to fully enjoy our tours, as days can be long with activities stretching from morning until evening. While our transport options, whether car, van or bus, are comfortable, please be prepared for bumpy roads in rural areas and extended rides through the countryside on longer itineraries.

We offer hiking opportunities on most tours, and you’re welcome to participate at your own pace. If you’re not feeling up to the hike, there’s always the option to relax at the starting point.

Our ‘Sport and Adventure’ tours are designed to cater to the more active traveler.

Our tours are organised in official partnership with a North Korean travel company located in Pyongyang. All tourist visas are validly issued by the relevant authorities in North Korea. Our North Korean guides are experienced, professional and engaging, and customer safety is a demonstrated priority for them.

Our group tours are conducted in English, and of course Korean for those who speak it. For private tours, we have North Korean guides who speak Chinese, German, Russian, Spanish, French, Italian and Thai.

North Korean tourist visas are almost always approved except if the applicant is a journalist or is a South Korean citizen. Although it has never occurred on any of our trips, in the extraordinarily rare case that authorities cancel your visa after it has been approved, we will refund any paid amounts made to us (less bank charges).

Additionally we strongly recommend all our travellers secure comprehensive travel insurance to cover any unforeseen incidentals.

The majority of our tours begin in Beijing or Shanghai, which are major hubs facilitating travel to North Korea. There are a handful of nationalities that can enter China without a visa.

For all other nationalities, we strongly recommend you obtain a Chinese visa. You can apply for a double or multi-entry visa at your local Chinese consulate or service centre with proof of travel such as your flight itinerary to China and hotel confirmation in China. We also provide stamped invitation letters to all of our travellers certifying that you’ve joined a tour with us.

You may be able to use the 144-hour visa-free transit policy through China in lieu of a Chinese visa if you are flying to North Korea, and if your nationality is eligible. This policy only applies to flight, and in the case of train travel, you’ll always need a Chinese visa. The policy allows qualifying nationalities to enter Beijing or Shanghai visa-free for a period of 144 hours or less with proof of onwards travel to a third country. We wrote a step-by-step guide highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of this policy, which we recommend reading before deciding to use it for your trip.

Absolutely, you can take photos and videos in most places in North Korea. However, there are certain locations and circumstances where photos are not allowed. We brief you on these picture and video taking protocols prior to your tour, and our North Korean guides will advise you further during the tour. The major restrictions are that photos of the military and of construction sites are prohibited and that venerated monuments should be framed in full.

The international hotels included on our tours have facilities to make international calls, send a basic email, or send faxes, all for a fee.

As a general rule, you will not have internet access during your visit to North Korea. The global internet is not available to the general public in North Korea, and no hotel offers reliable internet. The only reliable way to get internet in North Korea is to arrange a local SIM card with Koryolink, however, this is prohibitively expensive, takes considerable time out of your itinerary to arrange, and has limited network coverage outside Pyongyang.

Yes, these devices are all permissible at North Korean customs. As of 2013, foreigners are permitted to bring their phones, and there are now very few restrictions on bringing electronic devices, as long as they are not a GPS device, radio or transmitter, or a drone.

However, you need to be mindful of any restricted, political or obscene material on your devices. We advise you of what not to bring as part of our pre-trip materials.

There are no ATMs, credit card facilities or currency exchange counters in North Korea, and international bank transfer is not possible. As such, it’s vital that you come prepared for your tour with more cash than you expect to spend. Accepted currencies include the Euro (EUR), United States Dollar (USD) and Chinese Yuan (RMB), which are used interchangeably for transactions within the country. For more details on which currency to use, refer to our blog post “What Currency does North Korea use?”

The Chinese Yuan and USD are particularly handy for minor expenses such as laundry services, international calls, drinks and snacks, and small souvenirs. EUR is perfect for souvenirs and for entrance fees to special events. We recommend that travellers bring a mixture of these currencies to ensure convenience and to get the best rate.

Smaller bills are particularly useful as vendors often don’t carry much change. It’s important that banknotes are of recent print and clean, as they will strictly not be accepted if marked, worn or torn, issued prior to 2000 or generally look like they’ve been ‘washed’.

As a general rule, tourists are not permitted to use the local North Korean Won. Although if you’re lucky, you may be able to snag a bill to take home as a souvenir!

All travellers on our tours are required to purchase emergency medical insurance. Due to the isolation of the country, we will not take any traveller to North Korea without emergency medical insurance. Many providers such as Bupa Global, SOS International, and Travel Guard offer policies that include emergency evacuation from North Korea.

Although medical treatment is available in Pyongyang at the Friendship Hospital within the diplomatic compound, medical resources may be limited in rural provinces. In the emergency case where an airlift is required, our local guides will consult with relevant foreign embassies to arrange this.


Do you have further questions? Contact us and we will assist you!