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This Malaysian Guy Shares 35 Things To Know before You Visit North Korea

Few info about my recent trip to North Korea.

1.No direct flight from Malaysia to North Korea.

2. Best choice: Travel by flight or train from China/ Russia.

3. In 2013, the leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un received an honorary doctorate from HELP University, Malaysia.

4. Malaysia became the first and the only country to be able to travel to North Korea without a Tourist visa. (Singapore Business visa free)

5.Can’t backpack and must travel with package tour & travel agency. Suggest; 1.Young Pioneer Tours(Best) & 2.Koryo Tours.

6. Tourists are told to avoid scenes of poverty and construction sites and photographing people without their permission. Anyone taking a photo of a statue (President Kim) has to capture the whole body of the statue in the frame — no close-ups of the head allowed.

7. It’s not cool to call “North Korea.” haha. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. (Pyongyang- The capital city of North Korea)

8. Most of the kids wear the same uniform all the time, even when they’re not in school. (I really don’t know the exact reason behind this)

9. North Korea traffic ladies are really fucking pretty. (But u can’t do much about it )

10. No North Korean people have access to the internet except the government authorities.

11. Tourist please forgets about the internet access or local sim card. (Do make a call from NK will cost you a bit. 3-7 USD 1min)

12.I have done almost 5 months researching before travelling to NK. (Most of the online articles are against to north korea).

13. Overland train journey from China to North korea are not allowed for US citizens.

14.You need to sign in travel agreements. (That u will follow all the DPRK tourism rules and etc)

15. North Korea bases its calendar on Kim Il-Sung’s date of birth: 15 April 1912. (the current year is recognized as 106, and not 2017)

16. The Rungnado May Day stadium has more than 150,000 seats and houses the extravagant Mass Games.

17. Pyongyang has three fun fairs, some with less than optimal rides and technology. (Trust me! It’s really worth)

18.Tourist are only allowed to use Euro, Chinese RMB or USD. (I would suggest bring euro or rmb)

19. North Korea Tv channels are totally sucks. (Why? Haha. Secret)

20.Halal Food? (Maybe u can request from the travel agency but by joining with a group tour impossible)

21. If you gonna visit on National Day- Possibly can join with massive group dance show among University students & beer festival too

22. You are not allowed to go outside of your hotel without NK tour guide. (You can enjoy in Hotel Bar, Swimming pool or just stay inside the room and watch that \North Korean Tv Channels)

23. North Korea – It is a mainly atheist or non-religious country with traditional beliefs. Minority: Christian, Buddhism & Confucianism. (So Please don’t bring your religion or beliefs inside NK)

24. Visitors are not allowed to bring any Religious books or material. (Please don’t do this)

25. There will be some strict border checking for more than 2-3hours. (If you do overland CHINA-NORTH KOREA By TRAIN)

26. You can smoke Marijuana legally in North Korea. It is not even classified as a drug in the country.

27. No pornography! Death penalties can be levied for : distributing pornography, watching South Korean movies and possessing Bibles or any religion books.

28. In North Korea, only military and government officials can own cars. Mostly, the local people using Train service, Trolleybus, Taxi and Bicycles.

29. Wearing jeans is illegal in North Korea. (Only for local people)

30. North Korea holds elections every Five years in which the ballots list only one candidate. (hahahaha so funny)

31. Once you are born in the DPRK, you’re forever a North Korean citizen unless you risk your life to escape from the country.

32. Price range for tours : 560 EURO – 2100 EURO (RM2,700-RM10,000) –RM2700 FOR BUDGET TOUR 3DAYS.

33. You can buy post card in North Korea and you can send post card to the place you expected (except South Korea).

34. 2 north korean guide and 1 Western guide until tour finished.

35. DON’T TRUST THE MEDIA AND NORTH KOREA IS REALLY SAFE FOR TOURIST. (Just follow the rules and don’t make scene)

“It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”
― Asian Proverb

Q&A

Q : How safe it is?

A : Extremely safe! Despite what you may hear, North Korea is probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit. Tourism is very welcomed in North Korea, thus tourists are cherished and well taken care of. We have never felt suspicious or threatened at any time. In fact, North Korean’s are super friendly and accommodating, if you let them into your world. Even during tense political moments tourism to the DPRK is never affected.

Q : Can I take video/photos/selfies

A : Of course you can! But some lenses can be restricted mostly professional long zoom lenses. There’s no real hard and fast rule any more, but if you’re concerned send us a picture of the lens and we can give you advice. Rason and Extreme North East tours are exceptions lenses to those areas should be 250mm or less. When taking photos and videos your Korean guides will give you warning of the ‘no-no’ zones, and it’s crucial to follow their requests. For the most part, you are only unable to take pictures of military zones (aside from the D.M.Z), check points, or close up of soldiers.
It’s also suggested and courteous, to ask locals if you can take their picture. Other than these, or whatever else your guides deem unsuitable, snap away! Another thing to be aware of is that we usually will not go back to the hotel during the day, if you plan to use your camera a lot you may want to bring your charger with you.

Q : Can I take my laptop, tablet, cellphone, e-reader and smartphone?

A : These devices are completely fine to bring into the DPRK. As a tourist you are unable to purchase a local simcard but you are able to make international phone calls (yes, this also includes USA) or send emails out from certain hotels around the country. Satellite phones are illegal to bring inside North Korea.

Q : What currency should I bring?

A : Euro or Chinese Yuan (RMB) are the best currencies, personally we recommend RMB as it is much easier to get change for. In some areas USD are preferred, especially on the East coast, but we will advise you before the tour if USD will be useful. Prices are usually set in euros and RMB. Credit cards (including American Express) are not accepted in the DPRK, nor are their ATM’s available so it’s best to bring more than you’ll need just in case.

Q : What if I have differing opinions?

A : Well, you more than likely will, but we recommend refraining from having a debate with the guides. Remember, that their beliefs are important to them. Be respectful, don’t laugh, and keep your comments to yourself, until you’ve left. You can ask questions, but in a respectful manner. The guides will delicately let you know if they can’t answer. Everyone has read or seen lots on North Korea, this is your opportunity to listen to the other side. If you’re quiet and listen you’ll be surprised just how much you can learn.

Q : I’m an expat living in Korea. Can I still visit DPRK?

A : Absolutely! If you are living in South Korea with a South Korean residency or study/work permit you are able to visit the DPRK. Unfortunately this excludes, Japanese and South Korean people travelling with those passports. However, if you happen to be Japanese or a South Korean with a second national passport which belongs to another country you are able to visit!

Q : I have a strict dietary requirement. Will this cause any issues during the tour?

A : The restaurants we visit caters for all vegetarians, vegans and other unique dietary requirements out there. We do recommend bringing in some snacks you prefer from home just in case you get the munchies on the road and can’t find anything suitable at the time.

Q : What happens during the DPRK immigration process?

A : The experience at Sinuijiu or Pyongyang is pretty straightforward- at the airport they will scan your bags and ask to see your electronics. At Sinuijiu on the train they may check through your bags and ask to see your electronics. They may fiddle around with them out of curiosity but will allow pretty much everything in.
For Extreme North East tours and Rason the experience is much more thorough they will go through everything including your laptops which will be taken to a separate building. Before arrival please put all your electronics including USB and SD cards in a separate bag or somewhere easy to locate and declare them in your customs form. Often books or publications will not be allowed into the country at these borders
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Mansu Hill Grand Monument
Pyongyang City
National Day- Cultural dance show
Beer festival in Pyongyang
FunFair in North korea
FunFair in North korea
Hotel room. Quite good

City view from juche tower
pyongyang train station
City view from juche tower
Nature park for local people

Thanks to Sasi Kumar for this awesome tips! Click here to view more Sasi travel pictures in North Korea.

Read this to plan a trip to north korea! (in malay)

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