North Korea - FAQs
Here's some of our most frequently asked questions and answers. For any other questions please get in touch by using the contact form below or email email@example.com
North Korea is very safe despite what you may hear. As long as you follow the rules laid out in our pre-tour information you will be very welcome in North Korea. Even during high tension periods, tourism is never affected and continues as normal.
However it is important to note that they have what amount to extremely strict lèse-majesté laws (our pre tour travel agreement which all tourists must sign before a tour cover these in greater details) and in the event you should contravene those laws the consequences can be severe.
We apply for the visa on your behalf you then just collect it from us at the pre-tour meeting in China. All you need to do is fill out a form and send us a copy of your passport and a passport photo by email. There is a €60 extra cost for this.
All North Korea tours are “all inclusive”. This means that all tour nights in hotel twin share, all meals and all transport are included via train from Beijing. Two Korean local guides and a western tour organizer. Extra costs are the visa (€60) and optional flights to or from Beijing to Pyongyang.
The only other expected expenditure are tips for the Korean guides and any extra drinks/souvenirs you want to buy on tour.
No – there is no need for any vaccinations when travelling to Northern China and North Korea.
Understandable. We offer independent tours, as well as group tours. Check out the tours page or get in touch for more details. We do, however, feel that group travel is most enjoyable for North Korea. It may get a little lonely if you’re spending your entire trip with just you and your Korean guides. Independents however are great for those with special interests, families & friends, return visitors or those who are definitely sure they’d rather be on their own.
Of course you can! For the most part, you are only unable to take pictures of military zones (aside from the D.M.Z), check points, or close up of soldiers.
It’s also suggested and courteous, to ask locals if you can take their picture. Other than these, or whatever else your guides deem unsuitable, snap away! Another thing to be aware of is that we usually will not go back to the hotel during the day, if you plan to use your camera a lot you may want to bring your charger with you.
No. You must be accompanied by a guide at all times, but this kind of adds to the mysticism of the country. Whilst staying in any given hotel feel free to explore around the hotel and to invite your Korean guides for a drink. If you see a place outside you’d like to visit you can ask your Rocky Road guide or if you’re travelling as an independent tourist you may ask your Korean guides, but please understand if the answer is no, it can’t be done.
Definitely not. Travelling to North Korea doesn’t restrict you from any future travel to other countries especially to South Korea or the U.S. If you are travelling to South Korea directly before or after a tour with us to North Korea it is absolutely fine.
Euro or Chinese Yuan (RMB) are the best currencies, personally we recommend RMB as it is much easier to get change for. In some areas USD are preferred, especially on the East Coast, but we will advise you before the tour if USD will be useful. Prices are usually set in euros and RMB. Credit cards (including American Express), PayPal, Alipay, etc are not accepted in the DPRK, nor are their ATM’s available so it’s best to bring more than you’ll need just in case. Further, getting change can sometimes be difficult so we recommend bringing small denominations. If you are exchanging money before your trip in your home country – request small denominations.
YES! You need to tip your guides. If you want to get what you’ve paid for and then some, a tip goes a long way, as it does in any tipping culture. We strongly recommend bringing a gift for your North Korean guides and driver. This is something much appreciated by the local guides and your chance to make a difference to their lives, with 100% of your gifts and tips going directly to your guides and their families. We suggest spending around 10 EUR.
The DPRK has very limited access to foreign products, so it is a good idea to use your imagination: local specialties from your home country, beauty products (Japanese are preferred but not necessary), carton of cigarettes (Camel, along with some Japanese brands such as Seven Stars, are the most popular – the Koreans prefer Western/Japanese cigarettes to Chinese ones).
Practical gift ideas such as medicine including painkillers, vitamins or cold and flu tablets are appreciated. Or, think outside the box: a nice scarf, small bicycle repair kit, razors (for men and women), electric toothbrush, chocolates, etc. Gifts will be shared between guides, the driver and also with their partners/ families, so do not worry about giving ‘male’ and ‘female’ gifts.
We also strongly recommend giving an entrance gift when you first arrive at the hotel, and have a ‘sit down’ with your guides. This gives them a taste of what’s to come when you leave, and you will be very accommodated throughout your holiday. In general you are not required to tip service staff, though it has become accepted in Pyongyang but not expected. If you feel service staff have made a special effort you can quietly give them a tip if you wish. Keep in mind, that as in any service industry, the guides rely greatly on their tips, so be as generous as you like.
These devices are completely fine to bring into the DPRK. As a tourist you are unable to purchase a local simcard but you are able to make international phone calls (yes, this also includes USA) or send emails out from certain hotels around the country. Satellite phones are illegal to bring inside North Korea.
The restaurants we visit caters for all vegetarians, vegans and other unique dietary requirements out there. We do recommend bringing in some snacks you prefer from home just in case you get the munchies on the road and can’t find anything suitable at the time.