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North Korea Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT +8.30

Electricity

Electrical current is 120 or 220 volts, 60Hz. They use two-prong plugs, with either round or flat pins (Plug type A & C).

Language

Korean is the official language of North Korea, but there are minor differences between the Korean spoken in North and South Korea.

Tipping

Tipping is frowned upon in most sectors, however some hotel staff may be open to it. Monetary tipping is not allowed, but chocolates and cigarettes, or other small gifts like cosmetics, are perfect for tipping. Tour guides and drivers always welcome such tips and it is a great way of showing appreciation to helpful staff and to gain a bit of favour with the guides.

Safety Information

Crime against foreigners is rare and normal travel precautions are advised. Always carry ID. All tourism in North Korea is guided, so do not leave the group and wander off alone. This could result in serious reprimand from police or officials, and your tour guide is likely to bear the brunt of this. Do not criticise the government and stick to photographic regulations. All contraband media will be confiscated and there are strict laws regarding contraband items; be sure to have a list of safe items/contraband items from your tour operator.

All travel outside of Pyongyang must be government sanctioned and local taxi drivers are unlikely to take you anywhere unaccompanied by a guide. After years of relative peace, the demilitarised zone between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) became a place of tension in 2010, culminating in an artillery exchange in August 2015. This area is volatile and must be avoided at all times.

Local Customs

Locals warm up to friendly travellers, who respect tour rules and take the time to learn a few Korean phrases. In terms of 'regular' social etiquette, bowing is the normal form of greeting (the deeper the bow, the more respect being shown), and you will be expected to remove your shoes when entering certain buildings or places of historical interest. Bowing to pictures and statues of the supreme family is also expected. Homosexuality is not illegal, but is discouraged and frowned upon by the authorities. Clothing should be neat and smart clothing is preferable to casual; collared shirts are preferable to T-shirts and trousers and neat jeans to shorts or tracksuits.

Duty Free

Information on the exact amounts of duty-free cigarettes, tobacco and liquor allowed is unclear and it is best to check with your tour operator. Prohibited items include binoculars, guns and ammunition, explosives, drugs, seeds, pornography, certain types of media and books or literature in Korean. Gifts, cameras, watches, tape recorders and precious metals must be declared on arrival.

North Korea Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT +8.30

Electricity

Electrical current is 120 or 220 volts, 60Hz. They use two-prong plugs, with either round or flat pins (Plug type A & C).

Language

Korean is the official language of North Korea, but there are minor differences between the Korean spoken in North and South Korea.

Tipping

Tipping is frowned upon in most sectors, however some hotel staff may be open to it. Monetary tipping is not allowed, but chocolates and cigarettes, or other small gifts like cosmetics, are perfect for tipping. Tour guides and drivers always welcome such tips and it is a great way of showing appreciation to helpful staff and to gain a bit of favour with the guides.

Safety Information

Crime against foreigners is rare and normal travel precautions are advised. Always carry ID. All tourism in North Korea is guided, so do not leave the group and wander off alone. This could result in serious reprimand from police or officials, and your tour guide is likely to bear the brunt of this. Do not criticise the government and stick to photographic regulations. All contraband media will be confiscated and there are strict laws regarding contraband items; be sure to have a list of safe items/contraband items from your tour operator.

All travel outside of Pyongyang must be government sanctioned and local taxi drivers are unlikely to take you anywhere unaccompanied by a guide. After years of relative peace, the demilitarised zone between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) became a place of tension in 2010, culminating in an artillery exchange in August 2015. This area is volatile and must be avoided at all times.

Local Customs

Locals warm up to friendly travellers, who respect tour rules and take the time to learn a few Korean phrases. In terms of 'regular' social etiquette, bowing is the normal form of greeting (the deeper the bow, the more respect being shown), and you will be expected to remove your shoes when entering certain buildings or places of historical interest. Bowing to pictures and statues of the supreme family is also expected. Homosexuality is not illegal, but is discouraged and frowned upon by the authorities. Clothing should be neat and smart clothing is preferable to casual; collared shirts are preferable to T-shirts and trousers and neat jeans to shorts or tracksuits.

Duty Free

Information on the exact amounts of duty-free cigarettes, tobacco and liquor allowed is unclear and it is best to check with your tour operator. Prohibited items include binoculars, guns and ammunition, explosives, drugs, seeds, pornography, certain types of media and books or literature in Korean. Gifts, cameras, watches, tape recorders and precious metals must be declared on arrival.