Booking Information

Our general booking and travel guidelines

 

Before you travel to North Korea, we would like to draw your attention to our general booking and travel guidelines. Please read this carefully to avoid any confusion before, during or after your trip. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

 


1. Arriving with Air Koryo (Beijing – Pyongyang)

North Korean airline Air Koryo uses Terminal 2 of the Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). We strongly recommend that you arrive for check-in at Terminal 2 at least two hours before your flight to Pyongyang as the check-in procedure may take some time. For all our group trips, entry to North Korea by air is compulsory. If you have registered with us as a private traveler, you also have the option of arriving in North Korea by train. Please note that there is an obligatory meeting for group tour travelers in Beijing on the night before leaving for North Korea. In Beijing there are numerous overnight accomodations, starting from 15 Euro per night. From downtown Beijing Capital Airport can be reached in about an hour by taxi for 75-130 Yuan. Furthermore the Airport Express Subway (about 25 Yuan one way) is well connected to the Bejing subway infrastucture.

 

Flight information for private travelers | Flight information for group travelers


2. Travel by rail (Beijing – Pyongyang)

Private travelers have the option of entering and/or leaving North Korea by train from/to Beijing or Dandong. Train tickets for the train to North Korea can be handed over only in China. A Chinese courier service will ensure delivery of necessary documents to your hotel on the night before your departure. It is compulsory that you include at least one night’s accommodation at the departure point of the train in Beijing or Dandong. As security checks at the train stations are similar to those at airports, we recommend you arrive at least 60 minutes prior to the official departure time of your train at the respective station. For group travelers the option to travel by rail is only available to leave North Korea. Refer to the booking options of each tour to find out which train connections out of the country are available for the respective group tour. Train tickets for your exit will be handed over in Pyongyang at the day of your departure.

 

Train schedule for private travelers | Train schedule for group travelers


3. North Korean visa

Any tourist travelling to North Korea requires a North Korean visa. Tourism is actively supported by the government, which makes it quite easy for tourists to get a visa in comparison to many other travel destinations. Only journalists, South Korean and US citizens (who are banned to travel to North Korea by their home country) are excluded from receiving a North Korean visa. Your original passport is not required to complete the North Korean visa application process. After receiving your booking, only the completed visa form (download it here), a photo scan from the picture page of your passport, as well as a digital passport photo against white background is needed. You will receive your North Korea tourist visa at our obligatory pre-journey meeting in Beijing on the night before entering North Korea. Your visa will be on a separate slip of paper to be placed in your passport. Please note that the 50 euro visa fee is not included in the group travel package you have booked. Payment of the visa fee is due during the meeting in Beijing when the visa is handed over.

 

Visa information for private travelers | Visa information for group travelers


4. Import Regulations

As of 2012, import regulations for tourists have been much relaxed. Carrying mobile phones, notebooks, MP3 players, digital cameras, video cameras (also with GPS module) for your own use is no longer a problem. However, you will still have to declare every single item on the customs form you receive when entering the country. Weapons, radios, narcotics and similar items may not be imported into North Korea, as is the case in other countries. It is also prohibited to bring religious publications and books of faith; books and publications on either North or South Korea, including travel guide e-books and periodicals, into the country. The same applies to pictures of the North Korean leaders. Please respect this at the time of entry. Any such items may be confiscated and cause very serious problems. There are no restrictions on the import of alcohol, tobacco and semi-luxury foods. You won’t be able to make phone calls in North Korea using a foreign SIM card. However, tourists have the opportunity to purchase SIM cards with credit at the airport or directly in Pyongyang. For more information and prices, please ask your tour guide on site.


5. Accommodation

Both, the Koryo Hotel and the Yanggakdo Hotel provide good quality comfort at international standards. These two are the best hotels in Pyongyang (deluxe class according to North Korean standards). The Koryo Hotel and Yanggakdo Hotel generally have hot water throughout. The Sosan Hotel was recently renovated in 2016 and now also offers a comfortable standard. Their rooms are usually a little smaller than at the Koryo and Yanggakdo Hotel. It is possible to make international phone calls from these three hotels. Ask your travel guide for details and rates. In some cases – especially in hotels outside the capital Pyongyang – running warm water may only be available at certain times of the day due to energy shortages. These times are usually the morning and evening hours. Power outages have become rare these days, and the hotels in which you are accommodated usually have their own electricity generator to compensate for any bottlenecks. Note that public toilets in museums and service areas, on the other hand, often do not have running water. It’s advisable to carry toilet paper and sanitizers when embarking on a trip.


6. Travel itinerary

There is no minimum number of participants for our group tours. Our tours are guaranteed to take place as soon as there is one single booking (except in case of forces beyond our control, such as sudden border closure by North Korea). Pyongyang Travel acts as an intermediary agent. All tours are operated by RYOHAENGSA Korea International Travel Company (hereinafter referred to as KITC), Heaun 1 Dong, Pyongchon District, Pyongyang, D.P.R. of Korea. All items of the travel itinerary and travel package represent a pre-submitted outline of the tour as planned by the state-run North Korean organizer KITC. However, in very rare cases, there is a chance that certain tour itinerary items may be altered, exchanged or cancelled at short notice by the North Koreans (usually that only affects the order of the sights visited; full cancellations remain a rarity). North Korea cannot be compared to other travel destinations. We merely act as travel agent between our customers and KITC, and hence do not assume responsibility for any short-notice changes to the itinerary. We ask for your understanding that in cases of changes to the itinerary we can not reimburse travel costs in full or in proportion.

 

In North Korea, there are many unique things to see, and opportunities may open up during your tour to visit places that you would not have expected before. Please note that as a tourist in North Korea you cannot move as freely as in other countries. During any excursions you will be accompanied by two North Korean tour guides, who will be a great resource for interesting conversations. As we are held in high esteem by our North Korean partners, we will of course try to arrange for the best tour guides available for your trip.


7. Photography, dress code and etiquette

North Korea is a unique travel destination, and some restrictions with regards to taking photographs on tourist trips apply. Your tour guides will remind and brief you at the beginning of your trip. Please remember that your tour guides don’t make the rules but are responsible that you comply with them. Otherwise this may cause difficulties for both, the tour guides and you. As in any country, photographing military facilities, soldiers, military vehicles, and weapons without explicit permission (which may be granted during parades) is prohibited. We ask you to pay particular attention to this rule as the military presence in everyday life is ubiquitous. Please refer to your tour guides whenever you are in doubt if it is acceptable to take a certain picture. They are there to clarify your questions. It is usually not a big problem if you have inadvertently photographed something you shouldn’t have. Your tour guides may then simply ask you to delete the respective pictures. However, it does become a serious issue if tourists regularly and intentionally photograph marching soldiers, for instance. Such behavior can lead to disadvantages for the entire tour group. As a result, certain destinations and places of interest may no longer be available for the tour group, or certain events are said to be sold out. We therefore ask you to accept the rules for photographing in your own the interest and that of your fellow travelers.

 

We also ask for a respectful attitude towards the North Korean culture as well as its economic and social system, especially its representatives. Portraits of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un must be handled with extreme care (as is the case with the Pyongyang Times newspaper available on Air Koryo flights). Throwing away or even folding such publications is considered a great offense. We therefore ask you to roll the newspaper and other publications and not to dispose of them within North Korea (rather stow away in your travel luggage until your departure).

 

In addition, you will be expected to bow in front of monuments and statues of the North Korean leaders as a sign of respect. We ask you to do so out of courtesy towards your North Korean hosts. For obvious reasons, we would also like to ask you to refrain from any critical comments until after your North Korean visit. Your tour guides are likely to react evasively when asked direct questions on “sensitive” topics. Please avoid such direct questions. Instead, you may talk about what life is like in your country and how certain things are handled and dealt with there. Your tour guides will be certainly be interested in listening. A conservative dress code applies when visiting Kumsusan Palace (the mausoleum of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il). We advise you not to dress in casual wear (shorts, sandals or t-shirts). It is very much appreciated for men to wear a suit, or at least a dress shirt. In addition, we ask you not to smoke in front of monuments and statues and not to talk loudly, as this could be interpreted as an insulting gesture.


8. Health

In the very unlikely event that you become seriously ill, or have an accident during your trip, the hospital for foreigners and diplomats in Pyongyang will be at your disposal. Nevertheless, we advise you to take out appropriate travel insurance before the start of the trip that covers any necessary medical treatment during your journey and the costs for return transport if needed. We also recommend bringing a small pharmaceutical travel kit with the most important medications for pain, nausea, food intolerance, allergies, etc.


9. Currency

As a tourist in North Korea you normally do not have access to the domestic currency. With few exceptions, only local residents can use North Korean Won for purchases. You are limited to cash payments in either euros, Chinese yuan, US dollars, and Japanese yen, which are accepted anywhere you go. Please note that there are no cashpoints (ATMs) or banks in North Korea where you could withdraw money. You will have to bring sufficient cash into the country to cover all your expenditures. It is also advisable to carry at least a part of the amount in smaller bills (5 or 10 euro bills and even coins) as vendors may struggle to give you the respective change. All travel expenses for transport, food and accommodation are included in your package (see “10. What is included in the travel package”). However, you will need cash for special events and some admission fees, souvenirs, drinks, and tips. We recommend to budget for 25 to 30 euros a day.


10. What is included in the travel package

§01 Flight tickets (incl. 20kg checked-in baggage) and / or train tickets from Beijing or Dandong are included in the package price as selected at the time of booking. The booking of all train and flight tickets is subject to availability.
§02 Accommodation in a twin bed room, unless you have chosen to book a single room. If you are travelling by yourself, you will be sharing the room with another member of the group. Those who have booked a private tour and travel by themselves will be accommodated in a single room.
§03 Full board and lodging is included in all of our tours.
§04 German-speaking tour guides (English, French and other languages ??on request) during the entire stay in North Korea. In case of international guests travelling in a group tour with German-speaking guests, one of the tour guides will speak German and the other English.
§05 Transport and entry fees within North Korea are all included in the travel package. Exceptions include music and circus performances, mass dance and gymnastics, amusement parks, ski passes as well as ski rental at the Masikryong Ski Resort. Further exceptions for special events may apply.
§06 What is not included in the travel package
§06.1 Travel expenses outside North Korea (for example your flights to and from Beijing, visa for China, fees for excess baggage at Air Koryo or Air China, etc.)
§06.2 Your travel cancellation insurance and travel health insurance. For a trip to North Korea, we advise you to take out appropriate travel insurance before the start of the trip that covers any necessary medical treatment during your journey and the costs for return transport if needed.
§06.3 The visa fee for North Korea for participants in group tours (the 50 euro visa fee is payable on arrival in Peking).
§06.4 Elevator to the visitors’ platform on Juche tower (5-10 euros), circus show (10 euros), musical performances (e.g. Moranbong Band or Symphonic Orchestra, 30 euros), amusement parks (3 euros entrance fee, 2-3 euros per ride), North Korean haircut (3-5 Euro), tailor-made dress or suit (100-150 euros), entrance fee at football stadiums (50 euros), Fine Arts exhibition (10 euros), bowling (Pyongyang Gold Lane, 5-10 euros).
§06.5 Masikryong Ski Resort: ski pass fee for the use of ski lifts at Masikryong Ski Resort (35 euros per day and person, free for hotel guests), rental fee for skis, skiboots and skiing sticks (10 euros per set), snow bus at Masikryong Ski Resort (distance approx. 10km to Taehwa Peak, 55 euros), rental fee for a snowmobile at Masikryong Ski Resort (75 euros per hour).
§06.6 Bunch of flowers at the Mansudae monuments (giant statues of Kim Il Sung und Kim Jong Il). Purchase recommended at 2-5 euros.
§06.7 Tips for the North Korean tour guides and bus driver (5-10 euros per day and person). This is a recommendation and you are not obliged to tip.
§06.8 Drinks and food outside the included meals (one beer or water is included with each meal): bottle of water (50 cents), soft drinks, juices, beer approx. 1-2 euros, cup of coffee 1-2 euros, spirits 1-15 euros per unit (domestic or imported).
§06.9 Personal expenses for souvenirs, books, postcards, etc. (international postage approx. 1-2 euros).


11. Payment of your tour

Please transfer the agency fee of 250.00 euro per person within 14 days of your booking, which is binding. Our bank details will be included in the booking confirmation. Please enter your name and invoice number in the reference line when transferring the amount. The amount credited to our account will be considered as paid. You are responsible to bear any fees incurred for the bank transfer. We shall confirm the receipt of your payment by e-mail as soon as it has been credited to our account.

 

Due to international regulations it is necessary that you personally settle the rest of the travel costs after deduction of the agency fee in Beijing. For private trips, a meeting with a representative of our partner agency in Beijing will be arranged (for group tours there will be a meeting the night before entry into North Korea). The amount is to be paid in cash, preferably in euros or Chinese yuan. You will receive a receipt of the amount paid. Please comply with the Chinese customs regulations, which allow you to import 20,000 yuan (approximately 2,600 euros) per person, as well as foreign currencies of up to 5,000 US dollars (This information is supplied without liability. Contact your foreign office or the Chinese embassy for further information).


12. Complaints

All tours are planned and run by North Korea’s state-owned Tour operator RYOHAENGSA Korea International Travel Company (KITC), Heaun 1 Dong, Pyongchon District, Pyongyang, D.P.R. of Korea. Pyongyang Travel functions as the travel intermediate between KITC and the customers. In the unlikely event that there is anything to complain about, such claims have therefore to be made on the spot directly to KITC. The state-owned North Korean tour operator KITC is committing great importance to providing all travelers with a positive travel experience. The customers’ well-being and satisfaction is their top-priority. In the rare cases in which dissatisfaction and complaints occurred, KITC has always tried its best to find the best solution in harmony with the travelers.


13. Cancellations

I.) The agency fee is only refundable should your North Korea visa be refused for any unforeseen reason. This usually affects journalists who apply for a tourist visa. We do not accept journalists on our tourist trips. No reimbursement shall be granted in cases when someone is found to have given false information in regards to their profession and/or concealed their affiliation to the media industry. Generally, tourists are not affected by such visa denials, and we are not aware of a single case where this happened before. We strongly advise you to take out a travel cancellation insurance which covers all costs in case you cannot travel. If you need to cancel your trip, please contact us immediately. We will do our best to find an agreeable solution.
II.) The agency fee cannot be reimbursed if the customer cancels their trip. We recommend you take out travel cancellation insurance for this case.
III.) Under no circumstances will we reimburse any costs for your arrival and stay in China, as these do not constitute part of the booked trip.


Errors and omissions excepted.

Last update: November 2017