On the train to China: Can't buy one here
In the dining car of the chinese train, en route back to Beijing
What to buy: There are quite a few things you can't buy in the DPRK. The prime example is of course, the Kim il Sung badge, proudly worn by all members of the Korean Worker's Party. Which is, practically everyone you see.
However, fakes are on sale on the train back to China. I do not advise wearing one on a future trip to the DPRK though. I'm not certain the locals would see the approve.
What to pay: Fake Kim il Sung badge on the train back to China - 2 euro
Stamp Shop: Postcard and Philatelists' Dream
Willettsworld already wrote about the stamp shop but I just wanted to add that it's THE place to buy postcards. They have a lot of run of the mill postcards but if you want to fill your friends' mailboxes with socialist propaganda, this is your place. Twenty of my friends' refrigerator doors now boast postcards of DPRK military prevailing, DPRK workers struggling and DPRK masses uniting.
The stamps had very interesting scenes, too.
My postcards took about 2 weeks to make it to the US. I assumed they were censored so I didn't write anything derogatory.
WARNING. Tear your stamps correctly! I had to replace two stamps because I had torn them incorrectly. Maybe it was because there was a DPRK flag on the stamp, although I hadn't torn the flag.
What to buy: They also sell nice commemorative stamp albums of various collections.
What to pay: April 2011
Post cards US$ 0.25
Post card stamps: US$ 1.00
Album US $20?
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Rakwon Department Store: Day to day goods
The typical store in North Korea is very barren, with little choices or stocks of goods on the shelves. During your tours, if you watch the stores you pass, you will see that a large store may only sell a few random goods, with most of the shelves and wall space being empty.
However, if you are in P'yongyang and need a few day-to-day goods that cannot be found in the hotel's shops, kindly ask your guides if it would be possible to make a short detour to the Rakwon Department Store.
What to buy: What ever you buy, it will be limited to snacks, drinks and daily needs. This is not a souvenir shop. They do have a small section of clothing and shoes upstairs.
They accept Euros, USD and Chinese RMB. The exchange rate will be calculated on the spot, and your change will likewise be given to you in the same currancy that you paid.
What to pay: Snacks and foods are moderately priced.
Shirts, clothing and any electronics (batteries, film) are more expensive.
Department Store: TV's, lap-tops, beds & furniture - want more?!
You'll get the chance to do some shopping whilst in Pyongyang and we stopped by this small department store which had selections of food items on the ground floor that included some western chocolate products. The next floor up had some electrical and furniture items that your average North Korean could never afford in a million years such as Panasonic LCD widescreen TV's for US$2450 or 343,000 Won! Other items included air conditioning units, washing machines, wardrobe cabinets, beds, hi-fi's and laptop computers. I think they're purely here for show or just for the 'kim' regimes elite personel to buy.
Korea Stamp shop: Stamps and more souvenirs
This shop is right beside the Koryo Hotel which is where you could be staying as it's one of the few hotels where foreigners can stay. The stamp shop displays every single stamp that has ever been issued in North Korea and many of them are available for purchase. Other items to buy here include postcards, A3 reproductions of propaganda posters you see on the streets, T-shirts and other souvenirs.
Foreign Language Bookshop: Souvenirs
This small bookshop lies very near to Kim Il Sung Square - just a stone's throw away, in fact. As the title for this tip suggests, this bookshop is full of books in English, Spanish, French and German so it should suit most visitors. The bookshop also sells pin badges (but not the ones that every adult North Korean wears of Kim Il Sung) and flags. I bought a small DPRK one that you can see in the photo to take to a football match that we were going to see later in the tour (DPRK Vs Turkmenistan is a 2010 World Cup qualifier).
Every hotel store....: Souvenirs, beer, noodles...
Every hotel has a shop where you can buy the main stuff you need.
What to buy: Noodles for your train trip back to Beijing, Tea, Beer, Souvenirs, and so on...
What to pay: Some stuff is very cheap (e.g. beer) other is very expensive (e.g. gingseng tea)