What does the price include?
For those starting the tour in Dandong, the price includes all meals, tours, transport and accommodation within North Korea as well as $50,000 medical insurance for within DPRK. Travel from Dandong to North Korea and back is also included. Accommodation is a twin room in the 4 star Yanggakdo hotel (or lower class for those taking our ultra budget tours).
For those taking the Beijing option, all the above is included as well as return sleeper train from Beijing (six berth cabin).
What does the price not include?
All flights, North Korean visa, Chinese double entry visa and travel insurance are not included.
Tips (budget 2-5 Euros per day) are also optional extras as well as money for alcoholic drinks and souvenirs.
Rooms are allocated on a twin basis but if you prefer to have a single room there is a supplement of 40 Euros per night to pay on arrival into Pyongyang.
During tours where special events take place, additional events are not included and must be paid for on arrival (such as tickets for Mass Games or entry to marathon).
Can I take photographs?
Control over photography is a lot more relaxed than in recent years. Photographs and video can be taken at all tourist sites and all over Pyongyang. It is not allowed on the train or anywhere around military personnel (except the DMZ).
When do I get my visa?
We will have your visa issued in China and it will be given to you by us in either Beijing or Dandong prior to entering North Korea. The visa costs €50 and is to be paid to our staff on arrival in cash. It is issued as a separate piece of paper that is taken away at the end of your visit and there is no stamp left in your passport.
Can I fly instead of taking
We can pass you on to our Chinese partner agency who can arrange return flights from Shenyang to Pyongyang for approximately £285.
For those looking to take the train in and fly out, our partners in China can arrange flights to Beijing for approximately £190 one way or from £285 for return flights. These flights are with Air Koryo. Air China flight prices are also available on request.
Please note these prices include a deduction from the price of the train tickets that you would no longer need to if taking the flight option. These are also average prices and subject to local currency fluctuations (RMB). Exact price will be given on day of booking.
For those flying from Beijing, you will be required to arrive in Beijing the day before your flight so you can receive delivery of your visa and flight tickets to your hotel.
Do I need a visa for China?
Most nationalities require a visa for China. You will require a double entry visa to facilitate your first entry on arrival and then your second entry upon departure from North Korea. We will provide you with the invitation required to obtain this visa.
For those flying in and out of North Korea, there is now the option of a 72 hour visa free period in Beijing. To make use of this you are required to show proof of your onward flight ticket and North Korean visa at Chinese immigration. We can send you copies of these by email in advance and you can pick up the physical copies on arrival (or we can arrange them in advance to be picked up from your nearest Embassy). If you are going to use copies of the visa and flight ticket that we send to you then you MUST check with your airline in advance to check that they will accept copies at check in. It is unlikely they will refuse boarding but it is better to let them know in advance to avoid any issues on the day. Please note that the 72 hour visa is only valid for international flights heading direct into Beijing..
Is North Korea safe?
Since we launched our North Korea tours in 2008, our customers have never had any problems with crime or the North Korean authorities. We strongly urge all customers to respect the views and wishes of their guides, to adhere to all North Korean laws, regulations and norms, and to avoid any criticism of North Korea’s government or its leaders (past or present).
All customers will attend a mandatory safety briefing prior to the tour that will discuss the “do’s” and “don’ts” of North Korea. In general, the only way you’re likely to get yourself into any kind of trouble is by disobeying the tour guides’ orders, breaking the law, or criticising the government. This has not been a problem on any of our tours. The guides are very friendly and will generally let you know in a polite manner if they notice you doing something inappropriate. It is important to point out, however, that violating the law can lead to detention, deportation, or in extreme circumstances, prison. Americans should consult the State Department’s most recent travel warning prior to entering North Korea, consider enrolling in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, and exercise additional caution while in the country. We also advise that anyone with a missionary background or links to the Korean War should avoid travel to North Korea due to recent arrests.
Do I have any freedom in
Your government guides will be with you at all times of day and you are unable to venture off on your own. When back at your hotel you are free to spend time as you wish around the hotel and its grounds.
Do you cater for vegetarians?
Yes vegetarians are catered for. Please inform us of your dietary needs beforehand.
What is the Mass Games?
The Mass Games or 'Arirang' is one of the greatest spectacles in the world. It is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest event of its kind on earth. There is a cast of more than 100,000 people including dancers, martial arts experts, a military tattoo acrobats and most awe inspiring of all the backdrop; an awe inspiring constantly changing human mosaic that displays panoramas, political slogans and cartoons.
When does the Mass Games
The Mass Games used to take place from early August until the end of September. They have not taken place since 2013 but they are scheduled to take place gain this September as a one off event (2018).
Can I take my phone?
As of 2012, mobile phones are allowed into North Korea. However, your sim card will not work with the local Koryolink network. International phonecalls can be made from the hotel for approximately 2 Euros per minute.
What are the moral
implications of visiting North Korea?
Some believe it is wrong to visit North Korea as your money is going direct to their government rather than into the hands of locals. However, others believe visiting the country can help benefit the people you meet by making them aware of the outside world. There isn't really a clear right or wrong answer to whether you should visit or not so we advise you to research the topic yourself and make your own decision.
How do I get to Dandong?
If you take our Beijing extension, you will travel from Beijing to Dandong on return sleeper trains. You will sleep in the 2nd class hard sleeper carriages (6 berths per cabin). For an additional £30 we can upgrade you to a soft sleeper (4 berths per cabin - subject to availability). The train departs Beijing at 17.30 and arrives at 7.17 the following morning.
If you prefer to make your own way to Dandong, there are a few other options other than the overnight train from Dandong:
-Take a bullet train from Beijing to Shenyang (around 5 hours) and then take a bus or taxi to Dandong (3 hours).
- Fly from Beijing to Dandong. There is one early afternoon flight per day and it will cost around £100.
- If you are travelling from South Korea you can take a direct overnight ferry from Incheon, prices start around £120.
What else is there to do
Dandong is in North Eastern China, a seldom visited area on the tourist map of China. However, it works as a great start off point to a visit to North Korea, getting an early flavour of North Korea through the many Koreans living here and through viewing the contrast between Chinese and Korean life on either side of the river.
The region also has a wealth of great sites to visit. A few of them are listed below (for more info please contact us):
Tiger Mountain Great Wall, Yalu river, Benxi Water Caves, Changbaishan National Nature Reserve, Jingpohu National Forest Park, Qianshan National Park, Wudalianchi National Forest Park.
What are the trains like?
The overnight trains between Beijing and Dandong take around 13 hours and have a restaurant carriage and 3 separate classes: seating only, hard sleepers (6 berths per cabin) and soft sleepers (4 berths per cabin).
The trains between Dandong to Pyongyang take around 6 hours and have a restaurant carriage and sleeping and seating compartments.
Where can we stay in
For luxury you can stay at the 5 star Crowne Plaza. Prices are reasonable but please be aware it is located quite far out of the centre of Dandong. For views, we recommend the 4 star Zhonglian Hotel which faces the Broken Bridge and over into North Korea. For convenience and price we recommend the 3 star Rui Xie Dan Tie hotel by the train station.
What currency can I use in
Foreigners are not allowed to use the local currency (Won). You can use Euros, Dollars or RMB. Euros offer the best rate. ATM's are not available in North Korea and generally it is difficult to exchange other currencies.
What souvenirs can I buy in
The souvenir shops offer everything from t shirts (10 Euros), North Korean stamp sets (5-10 Euros), CDs (5 Euros) and DVDs (7 Euros) to books (5 Euros+), traditional and propaganda artwork (10 Euros+), locally made beer (1-2 Euros) and much more.
Is there a dress code?
For tours which include a visit to the Mausoleum of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, you must bring formal dress. For men, shoes, trousers, collared shirt and preferably tie are required. For women, shoes and smart dress or trousers and shirt are required. At all other times there are no restrictions on clothing.
What's the group size?
Our maximum group size for a tour to North Korea is 24 clients. Anymore than that and we will split the group in to two and they will each have their own bus, local guides and Lupine tour leader. Tours with less than 10 people (occasionally on tours out of season) are joined by a Lupine tour leader until the North Korean border only. They are then led by our English speaking North Korean guides once in North Korea.
Will visiting South Korea affect my chances of getting a visa?
If you have visited South Korea prior to North Korea this is not a problem and will not cause any issues in obtaining a visa. Likewise you are still able to visit South Korea after North Korea without any problems.