Can You Holiday In North Korea


North Korea is one of the most isolated and heavily guarded nations in the world. It is often viewed as a taboo place, but can you holiday in North Korea? This article will dive into the details of the North Korean travel industry and the rules and regulations in place. It will also provide an insight into what makes the country an attractive destination and explore how you might go about organising a trip.

Overview of North Korea

North Korea is a one-party, totalitarian state located in East Asia. It is ruled by the Worker’s Party of Korea with its supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. The country is home to 25.9 million people and is known for its nuclear weapons program, often resulting in economic sanctions from other nations.
Televisions, radios and newspapers in North Korea are strictly controlled by the state, providing only official news and views. Citizens are completely restricted from any type of contact with the outside world.

Organising a Trip to North Korea

The only way to get access to North Korea is via organised guided tours through select tour companies. Every journey is organised and supervised by the North Korean government, so it is essential to book with a reputable company that can provide the appropriate tourist visa and is clear about the risks and restrictions in the country.
The tour will be completely controlled by North Korean guides who are responsible for your itinerary and activities. Sightseeing will include monuments and frequently changing places of interest such as the notorious prison camps, the demilitarised zone, and the Pyongyang metro.

Focus Areas

Despite its closed-off nature, visitors report being warmly welcomed by the North Korean people. There is a spirit of resilience in the country and a focus on cultural activities, such as traditional music, dancing, and martial arts, which demonstrates a distinct sense of national pride.
Visitors are often struck by the lack of modern technology and by the novelty of travelling back in time – the cities look like a movie set, with trolley buses and 1950s-style buildings and old-fashioned taxis. The pace of life is slow, and there are no cars, computers or mobile phones in sight.

Food and Accommodation

North Korea has a mix of local and international cuisine, from seafood to burgers. Local restaurants are popular with tourists and options vary from traditional Korean banquets to cafes, bistros, and pubs. Perfect for those who want to sample local delicacies, quality restaurants are popular with the local elite and offer a unique insight into North Korean culture.
Accommodation is mainly a matter of preference and budget. Hotels are available in Pyongyang and other main cities, although luxury and comfort can not be guaranteed. Budget tour companies may uselocal guesthouses or hotels outside the main cities; these are clean and equipped with basic amenities, and provide valuable cultural experiences.

Safety Guidelines

U.S. citizens and women of childbearing age are required to obtain a permit from the North Korean government before visiting. It is important to adhere to all safety guidelines when travelling in North Korea: do not take photographs of military personnel, and avoid any political discussions in public places.
Published travel advice warns against all but essential travel to North Korea, so visitors must ensure they are fully prepared and aware of their surroundings. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office warns of the potential of long-term detention, so it is essential to read and understand the rules and regulations before any journey.

Family and Leisure

North Korea’s environment is surprisingly family-friendly. Children are actively encouraged to participate in activities such as hiking, sightseeing, and exploring local markets, and any activities as a family are warmly welcomed. Tour operators will usually be able to tailor trips to include activities suitable for all members of the family.
Leisure activities vary, but common pursuits include visiting museums and art galleries, shopping at markets and stores, and sampling local delicacies. Historic sites such as the famed Demilitarized Zone are also popular, and provide a unique chance to explore the region and its culture.

Local Culture

Although North Korea is an isolated county, it has a unique and intriguing culture. Its delightful architecture, beautiful nature and interesting stories provide an insight into a country that most of the western world knows very little about.
Visiting North Korea is an experience like no other. The culture is different, and the language, cuisine and hospitality are fascinating. It provides an interesting opportunity to discover and explore a previously hidden world.

North Korea Attractions

There are some great attractions in North Korea, especially for adventure seekers. The nation’s beautiful mountain scenery is also a big draw, with breathtaking views and pristine lakes waiting to be explored.
The rugged coastline of the north-west is a captivating mix of sandy dunes and rugged cliffs, while the smaller islands provide a different landscape and a chance to go whale spotting or relax on the beach.
The popular Changbai Mountain National Park is full of fascinating geology, wildlife, and fascinating North Korean folklore, while the Mount Kumgang National Reserve is one of the most hiked areas in the country.

Environmental Awareness

In recent years, North Korea has taken huge strides in developing its environmental awareness. The government has improved the country’s air and water quality and initiated numerous efforts to protect its wildlife.
The country is also working hard to reduce its carbon footprint. It has implemented a number of initiatives to reduce its energy consumption, including planting trees and investing in renewable energy sources.
North Korea has even banned smoking in public spaces and has introduced numerous laws to protect its wildlife. Reforestation projects have also been initiated, allowing North Korea to restore its forests and protect its biodiversity.

Political Climate

The tense political climate in North Korea means the country is often in the spotlight, making the news for all the wrong reasons. But despite this, many people still visit the country for the unique insight it offers into its culture and for the chance to take part in its events and festivals.
Recent treaties have relaxed some of the political restrictions, and tourists are allowed to travel freely within its borders. Tourists will be aware of the highly regulated nature of the country, however, and take great care to abide by the rules.


Travelling to North Korea is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore a unique culture and way of life. The safety and security measures must be taken into account, and respect for the local culture and traditions should be observed at all times. But, with the right precautions, a visit to this mysterious country can be a fascinating and rewarding experience.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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