North Korea is a state in Southeast Asia on the north of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China, South Korea and Russia. The capital city is Pyongyang.
The climate in the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is monsoon. The annual average temperature in winter varies from -13°C to -4°C. The summer temperature can be as high as +29°C during the daytime and +20°C at night. We recommend coming to North Korea from May to June or from September to October.
North Korea is officially an atheist state. The official language is Korean.
The tourists who come to Japan to spend time on a beach should head straight to the Sea of Japan coast. The travellers can go to Rason, Maggioni resort and the Sidzhung Island with therapeutic mud baths.
Pyongyang is a place of city entertainments and good shopping. Have a walk across the Kim Il-sung Square, visit the Korean Central History Museum and the Korean Art Gallery. The tourists will see the surviving Taedong Gate from the ancient fort wall, the Moran Hill and the Tower of the Juche Idea.
The tourists can have an exciting trip to Kaesong. There, they can see the old district and the Sondzhuk Bridge. In Panmunjom, there is the highest flagstaff in the world.
Those who like to spend time away from the city should go to the extinct volcano Pektusan with a crater Jeonju lake on the top. Visit a summer resort Samsong-ni and a famous Woljongsa Buddhist temple built on the Mount Kuwolsan.
A flight is the fastest and the most comfortable way of travelling to North Korea.
Air Koryo offers flights from Vladivostok to Pyongyang. There are also flights from Shenyang and Beijing to DPRK. Air China offers flights to Pyongyang from Beijing. The best route for the tourists from CIS countries is a transit flight with a stop in China.
The tourists from Russia can get to North Korea by train with a stop in Beijing. Several times a month, there is a train running from Pyongyang to Khasan to Moscow.
One can travel to North Korea only as part of officially organized groups and visas are issued for the whole group. The application for a visa must be submitted only by the travel agency officially recognized by the North Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The travellers must have an international passport valid for, at least, six months.
Be aware that the majority of the districts in North Korea is closed for the tourists and beyond the capital the tourists must be accompanied by a guide.
The Customs legislation of North Korea does not restrict import and export of foreign currency. The money must be declared and the same declaration form is filled with the tourists when they leave the country. For all the money spent, the tourists must provide the documents. Import and export of the national currency are prohibited.
The travellers can bring in North Korea the following goods duty-free:
- tobacco and alcohol;
- personal belongings.
The following goods must be declared:
- gifts and souvenirs;
- valuable jewellery;
- photo cameras;
It is prohibited to import portable computers. If they are not mentioned in the declaration form, the Customs officers will confiscate them. Declared portable computers are seized and returned to the owner when he or she leaves the country.
The tourists are not allowed to bring in North Korea:
- literature in Korean;
- books about South and North Korea;
- propaganda materials.
The staple food in the national North Korean cuisine is rice. The most popular rice dishes are Pap (simple rice porridge), Chalttak or Ttak (rice, bread), and Bibimpap (mixed rice).
Rice is served with Banchan (small dishes) such as Korean fermented cabbage Kimchi or Khe (appetizers from pickled vegetables, fish and meat).
Fish and seafood are an essential part of the North Korean cuisine. We recommend a soup with seaweeds, crab and sea cucumber.
The favourite dishes of the locals are Bulgogi (kebabs), Kalbi (roast pork or beef ribs), Kalbi Chim (stew with ribs), and Mandu (meat dumplings fried in soy sauce). Chicken, dry seaweed, rice and sweet potato Takkalbi will make your mouth water.
It is impossible to imagine North Korean cuisine without soups. Try such traditional soups as Galbitang, Sundubu Jigae and seafood soup Haemul Than.
For a dessert, you can order sugared fruits and North Korean cookies Ho-doo Gwadja.
Do not miss a chance to try local alcoholic drinks such as ginseng vodka Insam-ju and rice wine Makgeolli.
The national currency of North Korea is Won (W). In circulation are the banknotes from 1 to 1000 wons and coins chon.
In North Korea, it is prohibited to pay with foreign currency. All the services and goods can be paid only with wons. In souvenir shops, the prices may be shown in Euros, but you will be given change in wons. The exchange rate will be conditional because there is no official cross-rate.
We recommend exchanging currency at Trade Bank and in hotels. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in large hotels. It is almost impossible to withdraw the money from your American Express credit card account and to cash traveler’s checks in North Korea.
North Korea is the only country in the world which does not impose any taxes on the population.
The crime rate in North Korea is low and there is no risk of terrorist threat.
Details of interest
Customs and traditions in North Korea
The Koreans are friendly and willingly communicate with the tourists. If you are planning to visit this Asian country, make sure you know the basic rules of behaviour.
- To greet a person, it is desirable to bow or to shake hands supporting your right forearm with your left hand.
- Never look right in the eyes;
- Do not drop litter on the streets.
Sightseeing in North Korea
- Pyongyang. First of all, visit the Mausoleum and the Kumsusan Palace of the Dun, the Tower of the Juche Idea, and Pyongyang TV Tower with fantastic panoramic view. One of the largest stadiums in the world Kim Il-sung Stadium has been built in Pyongyang. In the center of the city, there is a sculptural complex Kim Il-sung and the Korean Revolution Museum. Visit the legendary ruins of the Anhakkun Palace, the old Taedong Gate and the Fountain in Taedong River, which is recognized as the highest fountain in the world.
- The Complex of Goguryeo Tombs in Pyongyang and Nampo. The complex inscribes on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Mount Kuwol is a picturesque rocky massif. The tourists will see waterfalls, mountain valleys, and thermal sources. Being in North Korea, visit the complex of palaces and shrines of the Joseon dynasty.
- In the city of Haeju, one can have an exciting trip to the Gulf of Kanhvaman in the Yellow Sea. Go to the Mount Yangsan which is the center of out-of-town holidays in North Korea.
- In the city of Kason, the tourists can see the ancient Korean buildings in the old district. Walk across the Sondzhuk Bridge and take a picture of the famous monument Songin. Take the excursion to the Mausoleum of Queen Kongmin and the Tomb of King Kongmin. The historic monuments of the city are under UNESCO protection.
- Wonsan is a wonderful city and a must-see. There, anyone can enjoy the Heaven lake Chon-Ji and the beauty of the Pectusan volcanic crater lake.
North Korean Souvenirs
- Silver souvenir coins, linen with hand-made embroidery and stamps can be bought in Pyongyang.
- In Haeju, the tourists buy snake rice wine.
- In all the cities of the north part of the country, the tourists can buy ginseng and the products made of it, mushroom and herbal teas, and bear bile.
- In Kason, the tourists buy famous opaque porcelain.