Check Out This North Korea Tour


Pyongyang, North Korea-Skyline view from Juche Tower

“Is North Korea safe to visit,” another exclaimed?

The question of why I was there before the trip and in the first days.

Update 2020-why I didn’t finish this article in 2013.

I made this trip to the dvr korea (as North Korea is also called) in October 2013.

I started writing this article shortly after the trip, but then decided not to finish it and publish it for many reasons.

The main reason was, even if you try not to be “political” when you visit North Korea, the fact is that the act of walking is “political,” and I just didn’t want to get that kind of attention.

However, I do not intend to go on a tour anytime soon as the world tour is mostly behind me due to coronavirus and my adventure travel days (I was 27, now I’m 34).

As of 2017, Americans are prohibited from visiting North Korea.

Another reason for writing is that I started a points and credit card blog in 2019 and moved into the travel space myself. I now want the exposure that such an article would bring.

My goal in this post is to tell you about my experience, what I have seen firsthand, and give you an idea of what to expect on an organized tour of North Korea.

I would not have seen or known enough of a five-day propaganda tour to take advantage of such a trip to really comment on the political situation.

I would just regurgitate what I heard in the news or media, which is pointless.

My goal here is just to share my experiences.

I’ve seen a North Korean tour tend to distort either on the side of a piece of propaganda fluff for the country or against it.

I try to avoid both and just make a report of what I saw.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why travel to North Korea?

To get us started, I answer my friend’s question “Why not Hawaii or Australia?”

Since I work Online and travel for fun and all the places I went in 2012/13 revolve around sun, sand and surfing, I wanted to do something different.

News of New leader Kim Jong Un’s easing of travel restrictions on tourism has been spreading in the Backpacking community for a year.

You can now visit at any time of the year, visit many cities and places that were previously inaccessible, and not search your pockets or take your phones with you.

I discovered that the rumor that they have much more personal freedom than a tourist might have expected a few years ago was ok.

It fascinated me how North Korea has been hermetically sealed off for almost 60 years and is only now beginning to open up.

I wanted to see how it was for myself. This is probably the main reason why most other travelers joined the tour.

The thought of seeing what a bonafide communist country looked like whatever, I could offer the closest thing to the time travel the world. That alone was reason enough for me to leave.

The final nail in the coffin was a man at a weekly couchsurfing meet-up in Atlanta who told me all about his trip to North Korea, showed me all the pictures, and told me how incredible it was.

I said, I’m going to North Korea and book my Flight tonight,” and I did.

I got a lot more out of the trip and learned a lot more about myself, the world we live in, and North Korea than I ever expected.

What kind of travelers visit the dvr korea?

All right, except Dennis Rodman… but I digress.

“The only purpose I have in life is to travel my ass off” was a hardcore travel junkie, like mega hardcore travel junkie, like “the only purpose I have in life is to travel my ass off”.

Obviously, I understood it almost immediately with everyone on the trip.

The group was almost exclusively male between 23 and 38 years. The largest group of visitors to North Korea are Chinese, followed by Americans.

Yup, Americans were the #2 most common nationality for North Korean tourism until they were banned in 2017.

In our group, there were also a few Poles, a hilarious Russian, and a few Canadians, but about half of our tour group, including our guide, was American.

Which tour company did you use?

In the past, there was only one travel company that offered tours to North Korea, Koryo Tours, which is still operating and has the most Flawless reputation.

Since then, many tour operators have entered North Korean tourism.

The company I used is the only company that caters exclusively to backpackers, Young Pioneers Tours or YPT as they are often called.

They are mainly loved at the audience of the 20s to early 40s.

The idea of traveling to North Korea with a group of people my age instead of a bunch of senior also interested me more.

Almost everyone had visited dozens of other countries, and virtually everyone in the group spoke at least three languages and lived abroad at least once.

So can Americans visit North Korea? Update 2017: no!

When I left in October 2013, Americans were allowed into North Korea without any problems with American or North Korean law.

Prior to 2012, Americans were not allowed to visit by the North Koreans for tourist purposes.

In September 2017, Donald Trump’s administration banned Americans from visiting North Korea.

As you can see, there was only a 4-5 year window between the time North Korea allowed the Americans and the time the U.S. State Department stopped tourism to North Korea.

If I ever get into lawful trouble from this point, I want to emphasize: my visit was lawful, according to both countries at that time (2013).

But if you’re an American now, even if you have a different passport, you’re putting yourself at huge risk of breaking U.S. law starting in 2020. Don’t do it!

Warning for USA Visa Waiver Countries

Starting in 2019, if you belong to a country in the USA Visa Waiver program, such as the UK, Australia, France or Chile, and have visited North Korea at any time since 2011, you are no longer eligible for a visa waiver and must apply for a US visa.

For citizens living in these countries, U.S. immigration authorities would ever know they’ve left if they didn’t stink and hold back on social media?

You probably wouldn’t, but you run the risk of being denied in the US and having to apply for a regular visa for each visit.

Each country has its own rules when looking at North Korea, but in general, you should not have any problems with your host country if you are not American and are not in one of the 38 visa-free countries you will still want to visit the United States.

However, they would still have to wait for North Korea to open its borders, as they are closed to tourism indefinitely due to the recent times.

If you are a dual citizen of South Korea and another country and you are traveling to North Korea without the prior approval of your other passport, you may find yourself in hot water in South Korea.

If you are of South Korean nationality, do not live in South Korea and Enter North Korea with a different passport, I would advise you not to tell anyone on the tour that you are South Korean.

Arrival at Beijing Airport

Check-in at Beijing Airport was uneventful; the process was similar to any other commercial flight.

When we reached the terminal where we took off, I quickly realized that tourists only make up maybe 25% of the passengers.

The majority of the passengers appeared to be either diplomats or senior North Korean politicians.

Air Koryo Review: a 1-star airline
Although I am the only 1 star airline in the world, I found the aircraft and service OK.

If you are an annual aviation geek, the DVR korea would be the sky, as Air Koryo uses a number of older aircraft that are no longer used for passenger service outside the country.

They served us a small meal and a beer and handed us a magazine full of propaganda.

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