Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. The tour group will meet in Beijing and you will fly as a group to Pyongyang at the start and returning together by train at the end. During the tour, Odyssey travels with a small vehicle, suited for comfortable travel for the group size.
Odyssey stays in a centrally located 3-4 star hotel in Pyongyang.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
North Korea is located in East Asia on the Northern half of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea shares a border with China, Russia , and South Korea. The Yellow Sea and the Korea Bay are off the west coast and the Sea of Japan is off the east coast.
World heritage sites
North Korea has 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can view them here: https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/kp
The Complex of Koguryo Tombsincludes – about 30 individual tombs from the later period of the Koguryo Kingdom, one of the strongest kingdoms in nowadays northeast China and between the 3rd century BC to 7th century AD. The tombs, many with beautiful wall paintings, are almost the only remains of this culture.
Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong – Situated in Kaesong city, the site consists of 12 separate components, which together testify to the history and culture of the Koryo Dynasty from the 10th to 14th centuries.
Festivals & Events
There are only two major festivals in North Korea which visitors are allowed to attend – the Spring Dragon Boat Festival and the Mass Games. Other celebrations are held on the supreme leader Kim Jung-un’s birthday (15th April).
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
by Barbara Demick
North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground Is Transforming a
Closed Society by Jieun Baek
My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth by Wendy E. Simmons
North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors by Daniel Tudor
Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea
by Jang Jin-sung
Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite
by Suki Kim
Eating & Drinking
The cuisine in North Korea similar to South Korea – most meals include cold noodles (Naung-myon), tofu, short-grain rice and porridge. Meats such as poultry, duck and beef are also North Korean staples, as are seafood and veggies. Full North Korean meals typically include a side dish, or banchan. Most banchan are characterized by their tangy, salty or spicy flavor and are often fermented to add taste. There is a surprisingly huge range of alcoholic beverages on the market, from traditional Korean alcohols such as Makkoli and Soju, foreign alcohols like beer and grape wine to medicinal alcohols that contain ingredients such as tiger bone, ground starfish and of course, ginseng. The most popular alcohols in North Korea are soju and beer.
Health & Safety
Altoghy North Korea is considered a safe country to travel to, it is important to know that this is a communist state; it’s safe to assume that you will be under surveillance at all times. North Korean government security personnel closely monitor the activities and conversations of foreigners. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched.
Travel throughout the country is only possible as part of a guided tour. Independent travel is not permitted, you must not leave your hotel without a guide, you will not be allowed to travel on the public transport system at all, and both you and your guide will be punished if you infringe the rules. Any unauthorized activities can and will be seen as an attempt at espionage. If you travel unescorted without explicit official authorization, or any attempt to talk to a North Korean citizen authorities will see these actions as attempted espionage. Always stay with a guide and never do anything to draw attention to yourself from local authorities.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply runs at 230V, 50Hz. North Korean plugs, types A and C. A is mainly used in North and Central America, China and Japan and the C is the common plug with two round pins.
North Korea has a single time zone, Pyongyang Time or PYT (UTC+8:30). North Korea does not observe daylight savings.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought.It’s polite to round a bill up to the nearest whole figure or leave the change when buying drinks.
Internet access is not generally available in North Korea. Only some high-level officials are allowed to access the global internet. In most universities, a small number of strictly monitored computers are provided. Other citizens may get access only to the country’s national intranet, called Kwangmyong.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in North Korea. Many providers will offer a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for North Korea
- Travel throughout the country is only possible as part of a guided tour. Independent travel is not permitted, you must not leave your hotel without a guide, you will not be allowed to travel on the public transport system at all, and both you and your guide will be punished if you infringe the rules. Any unauthorized activities can and will be seen as an attempt at espionage. If you travel unescorted without explicit official authorization, or any attempt to talk to a North Korean citizen authorities will see these actions as attempted espionage. Always stay with a guide and never do anything to draw attention to yourself from local authorities.
- North Korea is a communist state; it’s safe to assume that you will be under surveillance at all times. North Korean government security personnel closely monitor the activities and conversations of foreigners. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched.
- There are some nationalities that are not even permitted entry to North Korea. South Koreans are not permitted entry and there have been reports of difficulties regarding Israeli, American, British and Japanese nationals. However, in January 2010, North Korea lifted the restrictions on American citizens who are now free to visit at any time of the year. If you are a U.S. passport holder, be aware you must have special validation for travel to North Korea from the Department of State. A specialist North Korean travel agency can help you sort out the complex and ever-changing regulations.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of North Korean Won in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
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