Why Travel To North Korea?

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea ("DPRK") also known commonly as North Korea is the northern half of the Korean peninsula that was split after World War II by the USSR and the United States.  It was closed to Americans and the West for decades. But in recent years, it has opened its economy to foreign investment, foreign visitors and market activities.  A trip to the country will shift the stereotype perpetuated by the media and various governments. The narrative on certain aspects of the country is often skewed and inaccurate. So, go see it for yourself and make your own conclusions.  

Is It Safe To Travel to North Korea?

TEA members have over 30 years cumulative experience of traveling to North Korea without any problems.  Crime is very low in the country and the country is safer than most large U.S. cities.  However, it is a very different political and legal system than most Western nations.  So if you are willing to abide by their rules during the visit, there is no problem.  We will fully brief you on the laws, regulations, rules and the social etiquette you should adhere to during the visit. When in Rome, do as the Romans......

Is It Legal for U.S. Citizens To Travel to North Korea?

Under U.S. law, people are permitted to travel to North Korea. The International Economic Emergency Powers Act (IEEPA) which is the umbrella U.S. sanctions law, exempts travel and the U.S. executive branch cannot restrict travel.   However, the U.S. sanctions do restrict what you can bring back into the U.S. from North Korea. We'll inform you what you can bring and what you cannot bring back with you to the U.S. from your trip to North Korea.

What Are The Age Restrictions For Your Tours?

Anyone over the age of 18 can travel with us independently. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. 

I Am Ethnically Korean. Can I Visit North Korea?

Yes! Overseas Koreans are welcome to join any of our tours as long as they do not have a South Korean (Republic of Korea) passport.  Being able to speak Korean can be an advantage during the tour.  Some of the owners of TEA are Korean-Americans and find that North Koreans are very welcoming to overseas Koreans even if they were originally born in South Korea but now have a different nationality.

How Can I Book A Tour?

Send us an email and we will send you an application.  This will start the process.

When's The Best Time To Visit North Korea?

All seasons have their own merits.  Travel to North Korea is now possible all year round. North Korea has a temperate climate meaning it has distinct four seasons. Late Spring and early Fall are probably the best times to travel to the DPRK. It’s rainy between July and August in Korea with high heat and humidity. January and February can be bitter cold as the Siberian wind forces its way down the Korean Peninsula.  But with climate change, it's quite unpredictable these days.

What Payment Methods Do You Accept?

We accept PayPal and bank wire transfers. 

Who Cannot Go On A North Korea Tour?

Professional journalists and South Korean citizens do not qualify for tourist visas at this time. They can go through different channels, but not as tourists. This is a DPRK government policy. If you are a professional photographer or work at a media outlet in some capacity, please contact us first.  

I Live In South Korea But I’m Not South Korean. Can I Go To North Korea?

Yes! Expats living in South Korea are welcome. However, be mindful that South Korea's National Security Act applies throughout its territory.  We'll inform you on what you cannot bring back to South Korea after your trip. If you are U.S. military personnel or a military dependent stationed in South Korea, it is not advisable for you to visit North Korea at this time. 

How Are Your Tours Organized?

Our tours are administered in partnership with the oldest and the largest tour company in North Korea - Korea International Travel Company (KITC).  They have over a hundred tour guides and because of the reputation that TEA has built, we usually get the best tour guides. 

In What Languages Are The Tours Given?

Majority of the tour guides speak English and Korean, but we can also accommodate, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Russian. 

Do I Need a Chinese Visa?

You will need to transit China twice - on they way into North Korea and then on the way out.  So you will either need a Chinese multi-entry visa or if you qualify for Beijing's 72 hour no-visa program, you can just use that program without getting a Chinese visa.  However, the 72 hour transit no visa program is available only for certain nationalities. If your flight is delayed and you get stuck in Beijing for more than 72 hours, it can be a problem.  It is safer to get a multi-entry visa, but please check this link for additional information on the Beijing 72 hour transit rule: http://en.bcia.com.cn/server/notice/72visafree/72visafree_policy.shtml

Can I Take Pictures and Video During My Trip?

Yes, you can take pictures and videos in most places in North Korea. There are certain restrictions you have to adhere to which includes no pictures of military personnel, vehicles and installations.  We will brief you on all the rules beforehand. 

Is There Internet or Phone Access in the DPRK?

Yes! foreigners may now bring cell phones, rent local SIM cards for telephone access and may access mobile 3G internet from within the country (caveat: the 3G plans are only available for monthly paying customers). In addition, the international hotels still allow you to send emails using the hotel email address and there are phone booths to make international calls or send faxes internationally for a fee (typically 1-3 Euros).

What Currency Is Accepted in North Korea?

Although our trips are all inclusive, you may want to bring some cash for souvenirs, snacks, etc.  USD, Euros and Chinese RMB are all accepted in North Korea. Generally, they will give you back small change in Chinese RMB.   As with many other countries, foreign bills that are ripped, marked or older versions are not accepted.  So, bring clean new crisp bills. There are no ATMs or currency exchange counters in North Korea, so come prepared.  The US dollar is the most commonly accepted foreign currency in North Korea.

What Are The Medical Services Like In North Korea?

We require travelers to purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance. After you submit your trip application, we'll provide information on several international companies that underwrite medical evacuation insurance effective in North Korea.  For very basic medical care, there are a few hospitals in Pyongyang that cater to foreigners.  TEA staff always carry a first aid kit.  If you are taking prescription medication, you should bring an ample supply of your medications with you on the trip.  If you have health conditions that raise concerns for your trip. please contact us first.  

What Kinds of Food Do They Serve in North Korea?  

Although we hear in the news about food shortages in North Korea, it is similar to any other country where there is disparity between geographic locations and income levels. In fact, there are many nice restaurants in Pyongyang.  There are now Italian, Japanese style, Chinese style, and of course many Korean restaurants that serve delicious meals.  Coffee shops are also quite popular and you can get your caffeine fix as you would at home.  Beer and traditional Korean alcoholic drinks abound and are quite tasty at international standards.  For example, Taedonggang beer is ISO 9000 and HACCP certified, not to mention being quite tasty and refreshing.  North Korea's food industry has developed quite rapidly in recent years and you can find many cookies, snacks, drinks, etc. all made in North Korea.

I've Heard That Air Koryo Is Ranked Quite Low By The Aviation Industry. Is It Safe To Fly On It?

Air Koryo is the national airline of the DPRK.  It flies regularly to Beijing, Shenyang and Shanghai with seasonal flights elsewhere.  The pilots of Air Koryo are superb and Air Koryo is quite safe in comparison to other major airlines.  In recent years, they have also upgraded their fleet with newer Russian/Ukrainian aircraft. Historically, due to international sanctions, they do have some older Russian/Ukrainian produced airplanes that are maintained very well.  Air China also flies between Beijing and Pyongyang and depending on the day of travel, the tour groups can fly either Air Koryo or Air China.  We have had no problems with Air Koryo. One of the owners of TEA has flown over 2 million miles for work and feels very comfortable when flying with Air Koryo.  Also, in recent years, North Korea has modernized its airports and aviation services.  So, again, what you hear in the news or on the internet is quite different from reality.  

Doesn't The Tourism Money Support the North Korean Regime?

Each year, there are much less than 8,000 Western tourists who visit North Korea in total.  Most of the fees go to pay for airfare, hotel rooms, meals, transportation, entrance fees, and guides.  Any profit that remains is quite negligible and given the total number of tourists, it is difficult to say that it somehow supports the government.  Besides, the tourism money goes to sustain the livelihood of drivers, hotel clerks, hotel housekeeping, tour guides, restaurant cooks and servers, etc. who are ordinary North Koreans.  The fact that tourism allows foreigners to see North Korea for themselves and for North Koreans to interact with foreigners can have tremendous impact in dispelling misconceptions about each other.  TEA believes that these types of "people to people" interactions are meaningful and impactful.

TEA supports socially responsible tourism and donates part of its proceeds for charity purposes.