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Pyongyang, North Korea
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North Korea Travel Notes

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North Korea (DPRK) Travel and Tourism on Travel Notes


Embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to North Korea. Discover the hidden treasures and rich cultural tapestry awaiting visitors to this enigmatic nation.

About North Korea

Tourism in North Korea is very restricted.

Visitors are required to be part of a guided tour group and can expect to be under constant scrutiny by authorities.

Countries neighbouring North Korea: China, Russia and South Korea.

Travel Map Mapping North Korea

Map of North Korea

Map of North Korea

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea occupies the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea Overwiew

North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a highly secretive and isolated country located in East Asia; on the northern part of the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea borders China to the north-west and Russia to the north-east.

To the south, it is bordered by South Korea, with the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) serving as a buffer zone between the two countries.

Additionally, North Korea has a coastline along the Sea of Japan to the east and the Yellow Sea to the west.


In Korean, the country is called Choson, the name of the 500 year long Neo-Confucian Koryo dynasty; in place before Japan's defeat of China and Russia, and the formal Japanese annexation in 1910.

In order to accept the surrender of Japanese troops, shortly before the end of the war in the Pacific in 1948, the peninsula was divided at the 38th parallel by the United States and the USSR.

The USSR helped to suppress the moderate nationalists in the north; effectively paving the way for Kim Il Sung, a Communist and former leader of anti-Japanese guerrillas in Manchuria, to push for control of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

US-sponsored elections in the south, observed by the United Nations, had already led to the founding of the Republic of Korea in August 1948.

DPR Korea

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has much to offer the visitor: beautiful nature of the Miohang mountains; monuments, parks and museums of Pyongyang; the old heritage and traditions of Korean culture; and a socialist society that preserves and defends its own style of life.

Key Information about North Korea

It's important to note that information about North Korea can be challenging to verify due to its closed-off nature and the government's strict control over information.

As a result, much of what is known about the country comes from defectors and satellite imagery.

Cultural and Social Life

Information about daily life in North Korea is limited, but it is known that the government tightly controls all aspects of society, including the media, arts, and education.

The state promotes a personality cult around its leaders, particularly the Kim family.


North Korea's economy is largely state-controlled and has faced numerous challenges, including economic sanctions and isolation.

The country has a focus on heavy industry, agriculture, and military production.

Human Rights

North Korea has been widely criticised for its human rights record.

Reports of political repression, forced labour camps, and lack of basic freedoms are common.

However, due to the country's isolation, it is challenging to obtain reliable information about conditions inside North Korea.

It experiences chronic food shortages and relies on international aid to feed its population.

International Relations

North Korea's foreign policy has been characterised by periods of engagement and isolation.

The country has been involved in negotiations over its nuclear program with various countries, including the United States, South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia.


Known for its secretive and closed-off nature, North Korea is one of the most isolated countries in the world.

It has limited diplomatic relations with other nations and maintains a strict regime of censorship and control over information.

Korean Language

The Korean language is grammatically similar to Japanese but has borrowed many words from Chinese.


Kim Il-sung, often referred to as the 'Eternal President', was the founding leader of North Korea and held power from the country's establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994.

He was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-il, who ruled until his death in 2011.

Kim Jong-il was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un, who is the current leader of North Korea.


North Korea maintains one of the largest standing armies in the world.

The country has developed nuclear weapons and has conducted several nuclear tests, leading to international concerns about its nuclear program.

Political System

North Korea is a one-party state with a single ruling party, the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK).

The country's political system is based on the ideology of Juche, often translated as 'self-reliance', which was developed by the country's founding leader, Kim Il-sung.

South Korea

North Korea shares a heavily fortified border with South Korea.

The Korean War (1950-1953) ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty, so the two countries technically remain in a state of war.

Efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and seek a lasting peace have been ongoing, but progress has been slow and often marked by tension.


North Korea allows limited tourism, but visitors are closely monitored and restricted in their movements.

Tourists are typically only allowed to visit approved sites and are accompanied by government guides at all times.

Visiting North Korea

A visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is never an holiday in the normal sense of the word, but that’s what makes the experience so worthwhile.

Air Koryo, previously named Chosonminhang, is the official airline of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Flights to Pyongyang - FNJ

Flights connect Pyongyang (FNJ) with Beijing (BJS), Shenyang (SHE), and Vladivostok (VVO).

Cheap Flight Tickets.

Considering a Trip to North Korea

Before considering a trip to North Korea, we strongly recommend consulting your country's travel advisories, speaking with the embassy or consulate, and conducting thorough research to understand the current situation and any changes in regulations or restrictions for visitors to North Korea.

Cultural Sensitivity

North Korea is a unique and isolated country with its own set of customs and cultural norms.

It's important to be respectful and sensitive to the local culture and customs during your visit.

Financial Considerations

Be prepared to pay for your tour in advance, and it's important to note that tourism in North Korea can be expensive.

Media and Communications

The use of cell phones and the internet is highly restricted for tourists in North Korea.

You should not expect to have normal access to communication channels.

Political and Security Considerations

Travel to North Korea carries certain risks due to the political situation and the lack of transparency within the country.

The security situation can change rapidly.

Restricted Areas

Tourists are usually restricted in terms of where they can go and what they can see.

Most of the time, you will be accompanied by government-approved guides who will dictate your itinerary.

Rules and Behavior

North Korea has strict rules and regulations for tourists.

You are expected to follow these rules, which may include restrictions on photography, interactions with locals, and more.

Disobeying these rules can have serious consequences.

Tour Companies

To visit North Korea, you must arrange your trip through one of the government-approved tour operators.

These companies organise guided tours that are closely monitored by North Korean authorities.

Tourist Access

North Korea typically allows tourists to visit the country, but they must do so as part of an organizsed tour group.

Independent travel to North Korea is generally not permitted.

Travel Warnings

Many governments issue travel advisories warning their citizens about the risks of travelling to North Korea.

It's crucial to heed these advisories and consider the potential implications for your safety and well-being.

Visa and Permit

You will need a visa and a special permit to enter North Korea.

Your tour operator will assist you with obtaining these documents.


The capital of North Korea was almost destroyed during the Korean War.

Map of Pyongyang

Map of Pyongyang, North Korea

The Chinese and Soviets helped to rebuild the city after 1955, and although the opera house was one of the many new landmarks, it was designed with the traditional characteristics of Korean roofs in mind.

 Pyongyang: The Hidden History of the North Korean Capital

Pyongyang - The Hidden History:
Part history book - part travel guide, this volume combines colour photographs with 140 entries detailing the history and uses of various sites of the city; although the exact location might be 'unknown'.

Pyongyang Metro

Said to have been built to link secret underground military facilities, the Pyongyang Metro is nevertheless an important part of the transport infrastructure in the capital of North Korea.

From museums, art galleries, and government buildings to ancient tombs and geological features.

Around North Korea

Major Cities in North Korea

Other major cities in North Korea are Chongjin, Nampo, Sinuiju, Wonsan, and Kaesong.

North Korea Tours

There are a selection of tours for visitors to North Korea, available from Beijing.

Koryo Tours was established in 1993 by Joshua Green and Nick Bonner as a travel company to promote cultural exchange to DPRK (North Korea).

Top Attractions in North Korea for Adventurous Travellers

For adventurous travellers seeking unique experiences, North Korea offers a range of attractions that are sure to captivate and intrigue.

These top attractions in North Korea cater to the adventurous spirit, offering a blend of natural wonders, historical intrigue, and unique cultural experiences.

While travelling to North Korea requires careful planning and adherence to local regulations, the opportunity to explore these captivating attractions is sure to leave a lasting impression on adventurous travellers seeking one-of-a-kind adventures in this enigmatic destination.

DMZ (Demilitarized Zone)

For those with a penchant for history and geopolitics, a visit to the DMZ offers a rare and thought-provoking experience.

Witness the tension and symbolism of the two Koreas standing face to face at Panmunjom, the truce village where negotiations take place.

This unique opportunity to observe the heavily fortified border and gain insights into the divided Korean Peninsula is an adventure in itself.

East Sea Coastline

The rugged and unspoiled coastline along the East Sea (Sea of Japan) presents adventurous travellers with the opportunity to discover remote fishing villages, dramatic cliffs, and pristine beaches.

Exploring this lesser-known region of North Korea offers a sense of adventure and discovery, as well as a chance to witness the country's natural beauty away from the urban centers.

Mass Games Performance

Adventure takes on a different form with the opportunity to witness the grand spectacle of the Mass Games.

This highly synchronised performance features thousands of performers showcasing stunning displays of dance, gymnastics, and iconic imagery.

The sheer scale and precision of this cultural extravaganza make it a truly unforgettable adventure for those seeking a unique and immersive experience.

Mount Paektu

As the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula and an active volcano, Mount Paektu is a must-visit for adventurous hikers and nature enthusiasts.

The rugged terrain and pristine wilderness surrounding the mountain provide an exhilarating setting for trekking and exploration.

The stunning Heaven Lake at the volcano's summit adds to the allure, offering breathtaking panoramic views and a sense of awe-inspiring natural beauty.


This scenic area, known as the 'Mysterious Fragrant Mountain', offers adventurous travellers the chance to explore a serene and picturesque landscape.

From rugged hiking trails to hidden temples and waterfalls, Myohyangsan provides ample opportunities for outdoor adventure and off-the-beaten-path exploration.

The Tower of Ten Human Bombs

The Tower of Ten Human Bombs was built near the Demilitarised Zone between North and South Korea, in 1980, as a dedication to the men of the 11th regiment of the North Korean army who lost their lives during the Korean War.

North Korea Maps and Travel Guides

North Korea (Bradt Travel Guides) The Sister: The extraordinary story of Kim Yo Jong, the most powerful woman in North Korea

North Korea Travel Guides - North Korea Maps.

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