The only way to move around...
The only way to move around from A to B in the country is with you car (provided with guides and driver only) to you.
There are some exeptions, domestic flights are provided most on charter basis, there are some trains you could take, as example from Pyongyang to Myohyang. We used also to take a one station trip with the Subway in Pyongyang, the stations are really art and are great looking...
There are not many flights...
There are not many flights into Northkorea and the only Int'l Airport there is Pyongyang there are no other airlines flying into Northkorea with exeption of the Northkorean National Carrier. Most tourist are taking Air Koryo in Beijing and there are two weekly flights out/in on Thusday and Saturday. The flight is done with a Ilyushin Il-62 (russian built). The Airline has in general a good safety standart.
Other routes to Macao, Bangkok (Thailand), Sheyang (China) are operated on regular basis. Routes to Seoul (!!! new !!!) and Moscow are operated on a charter basis.
For Domestic Flights you have to contact the North Korean Travel Agency. Mostly the flights are on charter basis and you will have to pay for the whole flight if you like to go anywhere...
AIR - Pyongyang airport at...
AIR - Pyongyang airport at Sunan, 22 km west of the city, is the only airport use for international passenger traffic (or at the moment at all). The airport has two runways and following flights (as per August 2000): Pyongyang-Beijing (2 flights per week), Pyongyang- Moscow-Berlin (1 flight per week), Pyongyang-Bangkok (1 flight per week), Pyongyang-Macau (1 flight per week), Pyongyang-Vladivostok (1 flight per week), Pyongyang-Shenyang (1 flight per week), but I am aware that Beijing is usually only alternative for tourism. There is no much hassle, but there is a shop for visitor. The transfer to Pyongyang will be by car or coach.
TRAIN - The train takes about 25 hours from Beijing. The speed of the train is slow, so you can get a view of Korean countryside. Although, the line is electrified (as most of the rail network in North Korea), the train is a diesel one. There is a possibility that you will be sharing your compartment with Korean people, so you can probably find the first chat in your life with a North Korean national, this, of course, depends that you can find a common language. Beware that some Koreans smoke like chimneys everywhere, so there is a big probability that you will be a passive smoker during the trip. The border check takes a while, not too long both in the Chinese and North Korean side. Please note that we did not have any problems of bringing old camcorder, Lonely Planet's North Korean pages (the info on the 1998 edition is out of date i.e. there are bicycles, the stamps have glue on the other side, there are some street stalls with bread in Pyongyang and Kaesong) and remember all pictures even in newspapers respected leader Kim il-Sung and great leader Kim Jong-il have to treated well - no folding. I have sometimes been checked more troughly in Finland than in North Korea. There is a restaurant car were you can share your meal with People's Army soldiers.
BOAT - There is occasional boat service from Japan, but no further info.
TRAVELLING BY VISITORS -
Depending if you choose an individual tour or group tour, you will either travel by minibus (e.g. Toyota Town Ace) or by coach. There are four line highways to south and north. One interesting point is that the metro seem to be free. Little traffic outside Pyongyang and the surface of the roads is not the best one. The roads to Pyongyang and Kaesong (three!) have checkpoints. The motorways are usually built by People's Army. Between Pyongyang and Kaesong there is one rest area - So-hung. It has a lounge and two shops that sell beverages, hand-made goods and paintings. You will most likely share your tea with your guides only.
TRAVELLING BY LOCALS - Pyongyang has bus, trolley bus, tram and metro. The public transport is crowded in the morning. You are very likely to use the metro only one ride - it seem that the metro is free of charge for everybody - maybe it is more expensive to collect the coins than they are worth. You will be accompanied by your guide. The metro is built in 1970s and with many individually decorated stations. The station names are revolutionary. Taxis (have signs) are usually Volvo 144 -74 (North Korea seems to have bought a bulk of these after Swedish recognition of DPRK in 1973) if you ever need one. Outside Pyongyang you will see hardly any public transport, even the train service to Kaesong has been suspended. Private cars compensate (if available) for the missing public transport, so you can see hitchhiker(s) on the road waving pack(s) of cigarettes (the local money with Kim il-Sung seems to worthless - our guide did not have it even for a souvenir).
You generally get your visa...
You generally get your visa from Bejing - and you'd be well advised to have this aranged in advance with a reputable compnay (I have details if you need them. Showing up at the DPRK embassy and asking for a visa is unlikely to be very productive. You then take the train to Pyongyang on the overnight from Bejing. You can fly, but the train is an experience in itself and a fantastic way to enter the country - you'll also see things you never would otherwise. The train journey is about 24 hours long so take food (noodles are good) and water. It's probably the only time you might get to speak to North Koreans without a guide in attendance! The carraiges are completely sealed - even the windows - so claustrophobics might prefer to fly.
By minibus driven by one of your three guides. There is no alternative available. You'll be taken on a short ride on the underground in Pyongyang - absolutely amazing - the stations are works of art. If your guides think you can be trusted, they might let you ride on a trolley-bus. Unfortunately, the locals will move to the opposite end of the bus in case one of them should be caught speaking to you. The local kids will wave at you though.
I traveled to North Korea by...
I traveled to North Korea by bus from Seoul via Panjunmon in 1996. At that time, it was possible for tourists to pay (or rather be bled dry!) for a tour that started in Seoul and, after reaching Panjunmon and getting off the bus, visas were checked, customs was very thorough, and then we boarded a North Korean bus on the other side...
Not much to say. In 1996, tours were the only way to go and there was little, if any, free time. I traveled by tour bus everywhere except for a city tour where we used the subway (picture below).
North Korea Hotels
Pyongyang, North Korea
Good for: Families
Staying in Yanggakdo Hotel is the most freedom you will experience in Pyongyang. You are allowed to...more
Chongchun Street, Mangyongdae District, Pyongyang, North Korea
Good for: Solo
Top North Korea Hotels
- Wonsan Hotels
- See nearby hotels
- P'yongyang Hotels
- 193 Reviews - 607 Photos
- Kaesong Hotels
- 69 Reviews - 210 Photos
Explore the World
- Barasat Hotels
- Nizwa Hotels
- Acornhoek Hotels
- Allisonville Hotels