North Korea

Capital City: Pyongyang
Timezone: UTC+9
Country Calling Code: +850
Currency: KPW

1 CNY = 21.46 KPW

1 USD = 134.13 KPW

1 EUR = 165.08 KPW

1 GBP = 195.09 KPW

1 AUD = 134.13 KPW

These rates were valid at time of writing.
Please check www.xe.com for exact exchange rates.

Weather & When to Visit

 

DPRK’s climate is temperate with four distinct seasons. The average annual temperature is around 8 to 12 degrees. The temperature of the coldest January ranges from -5 to -10 degrees in average while that of the hottest August from 23 to 27 degrees in average. The temperature of the coldest January Long winter from December to March brings cold and clear weather with occasional snow storm, in northern and mountainous area the weather can be very harsh while summer is hot, humid and has frequent rainfalls during June through September. Spring and autumn are transitional seasons accompanied by mild temperatures and variable winds and bring the most pleasant weather. For that May and June is warm with full green color and September through October is clear and the country is covered by colorful leaves. Both of them are the best time to see the city and countryside of DPRK.

Events & Festivals

 

There are around twelve public holidays in DPRK with the important ones being Kim Il-Sung’s birthday, Kim Jong-Il’s birthday and Independence Day which is the same as the founding of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (9 September). These occasions are very important to those living in DPRK; there are hardly any holidays for religious festivals in the country. The most important event in DPRK that is worth being a part of is the Mass Games (July – September) also known as Arirang Performance, Arirang is a Korean folk story about a young couple being torn apart by an evil landlord and hence represents the division of Korea. Arirang Performance is held in the Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, begins in early August and ends around September 10th. It has participants of all age groups and from different walks of life come together in huge numbers and perform extremely skilled forms of gymnastics. It is a very colourful presentation which is famous world over, and the heads of several states of the world have come to watch it at different points of time. For more information, please visit: http://www.korea-dpr.com

Visas

 

All tourists need a visa and a passport valid at least for six months to enter DPRK except Malaysian. As most travellers must pass through China on their way to and from DPRK, due to the DPRK Embassy operates in Beijing, which will issue visas only upon authorization from the DPRK Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang. Tourists need to complete application for the tours one month before the departure date, in some cases (if you live in Beijing for example) this can be reduced but one month is the optimum time. For more information, please contact us. http://www.koreakonsult.com/visum-villkor_eng.html

Airports

 

Pyongyang Sunan International Airport (airport code: FNJ) located 45 minutes drive away from the city, is main international airport in DPRK. It has one terminal used by Air China and Air Koryo with limited destinations from Beijing, Shengyang, Moscow, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

Things to Consider

 

1. Group tours are on set dates that have scheduled in advance, usually to coincide with a major holiday or event in DPRK. Independent tours are tours for which you choose the dates and have more control over the itinerary, and if you have a group of friends or colleagues who would like to travel with you then it can be perfect. All tours, whether group or independent, are accompanied by two Korean guides and a driver, even if the 'group' consists of just one person. 2. The Mass Game is kinda like a must-see attraction, so make sure before you go, you confirm the dates with your travel consultant. 3. Win the trust of your guides the first days, by asking what you can film and be respectfully. The guides then will give you more room to film and visit places during your trip. 4. There are many restriction on photography that have to be obeyed in DPRK, however you can take pictures of most things and everyone who visits always takes many more pictures than they think they will (extra digital memory cards and sticks are NOT available in DPRK so be sure to take plenty of those). The DPRKns do not examine your film or force you to develop the films you have taken (although the customs officials at Sinuiju may ask to see your pictures). However, taking photos of soldiers, check points, poverty, sneaked photos and close ups of people without their express permission will cause serious problems. Photography when being driven around is also restricted. Ask permission before take photography. 5. It is not customary to give tips in DPRK but small gifts are appreciated. Give guides and driver such as cigarettes, biscuits, coffee or chocolates and they will be more than happy. Some provisions are also good for the train ride and to share on the bus while we're on tour. 6. The food in DPRK is far from fantastic but is not too bad, some meals are very good and some are just good enough. Remember, DPRKn people are very good host, so they always try to offer you the best they got. So make sure you don’t waste food, and if it’s too much, can just ask the waitress to stop. 7. Vegetarians can be catered for and Vegans also to an extent although it cannot be guaranteed that utensils used to touch food will not have touched meat, or that cooking oil does not contain animal fats. Fruit and chocolate is scarce in the DPRK so if you need this while you are on the tour then you should take it with you from China. 8. Contact with local people is possible but is difficult for several reasons; the main reason is the language barrier (foreign languages are not widely spoken in there) and other reasons are that the people are generally very wary of foreigners and also are very shy (and careful with drawing attention to themselves). You are free to attempt a dialogue with a local but do not be surprised if they are not interested in talking to you, however it can be very rewarding when you do manage to make some conservations. 9. Pyongyang has a foreigners hospital which is of higher quality than the other hospitals in the country, if you need any medical treatment above the order of a few aspirin or a plaster/band-aid then you would be sent there 10. There are many restrictions on the movements of foreign visitors to DPRK. Be sure that you will accompanied by your guides before you going on sightseeing. 11. IDD phone and fax is available though monitored. It is possible to send e-mails in the DPRK from the hotel server but you cannot check hotmail etc. 12. Both Chinese Yuan and Euros can be accepted in DPRK, because it’s very difficult to get locol currency. Bring about 50 Euro in coins or small bills plus around 300 Euro in 20 notes to buy souvenirs. 13. Don’t abuse the rules frequently, one needs to understand that the guides will be punished when tourist frequently brake the countries rules! http://www.koryogroup.com/tips/