Major Tourist Attractions: Paektu Mountain, USS Pueblo, Juche Tower, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, Changbai Mountains
North Korea officially known as The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) - is seen as the most closed country in the world. Although situated in the bustling East Asia region, any form of independent travel here remains impossible. Its land bordering South Korea, China and Russia remains off limits, and no general access for travel is granted.
The only way in which to visit “The Hermit Kingdom” is via guided tours only. Many companies offer a variety of excursions, which start and end in China. North Korean guides will accompany you on the ground at all times, restrictions on movement are heavy and any misbehavior can result in immediate deportation and your guides suffering the consequences of your actions.
All guides speak English and all transport and accommodations are set. Mobile phones are now allowed, although SIM cards are incredibly expensive. Local currency is not used in tourist transactions, but US dollars and Euros are accepted. It’s rare you will be in contact with local people as you would in any other travel situation – it’s highly likely that whoever you meet is part of the tourism set up. However, the rules and regulations on tourism continue to change here, with many new areas of the country starting to open up for visits.
Following the ceasefire that ended the Korean War in 1953 and Kim II-Sung self-imposed communist rule, failed agricultural efforts leading to widespread famine and funds focused purely on building a huge army have resulted in North Korea remaining an incredibly impoverished nation. While much of this is hidden to tourists passing through, be prepared to see glimpses outside of the show city that is the Pyongyang. Don't expect to see much ‘real life’ here.
- Watch the incredible acrobatic and visual show that is the Mass Games
- Ride a few stops on the Pyongyang metro system
- Be prepared to bow to the Mansudae Grand Monument – the 20m high bronze statues of North Korean Leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il
- Visit the capital’s key ideological and propaganda ridden sites including Kim II Sung Square, The Founders Party Monument, Kim II Sung’s native home, The Grand People’s Study House, and the Tower of Juche Idea and the captured US spy ship USS Pueblo
- Wander around the infamous Korean Film Studio
- Get tickets to the country’s most renowned circus and orchestra performances
- Feel the tension at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the world’s most heavily fortified border, from the North Korean side at Kaesong
- See the industrial heart that is Nampo, north west of Pyongyang. Key sites here include the famous Chollima Steelworks factory and the 8 kilometer West Sea Barrage dam.
- Test out the slopes at the newly opened Masik Ryong ski resort, Kim Jong Un’s latest prestigious project
- Summit Mount Paekdu, North Korea’s highest mountain, and view Lake Chon, the highest crater lake in the world which sits atop of the mountain
Address: US Embassy in Seoul, Korea
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,