Strict Rules for Tourists: North Korea

Do you want to travel to a country where a solo trip is prohibited? But which country in the world has such a surprising rule?!

Can you guess?

North Korea
Credits: Red Road Travel

North Korea it is!

North Korea, located in East Asia, is a mysterious country on the map of the world. If you want to experience an exceptional travel experience, visit North Korea once.

Don’t call the country North Korea. Refer to the nation as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). 

The country is isolated from the rest of the world. Let’s see how to get there and what strange rules to follow-

How to get a North Korean visa

You cannot apply for a North Korean visa in the usual way. To get a visa, you need to apply through a travel agency approved by the North Korean Government. Usually, a person is not given a visa separately. When a group of people applies together, they may get a visa. You may have a telephone interview before being granted a visa.

North Korea passport
Credits: Koryo Tours

But people of certain professions are not allowed to enter North Korea.

  • Politicians
  • Journalists
  • Religious people and Missionaries

If you are one of them then traveling to North Korea is nearly impossible for you!

Tour package cost

To visit North Korea, you must book a tour package only with a recommended tour agency by the North Korean government. It will cost approximately 500 USD to 2,500 USD depending on the length of the tour.

North Korea tourist card
Credits: SKMLifeStyle

The package includes-

  • Food
  • Accommodation 
  • Transportation
  • Sightseeing  

Way to go to North Korea

North Korea is detached from the rest of the world. So, China is the only way to get there by air. Hence, you need a Chinese visa first.

North Korean aircraft
Credits: Los Angeles Times

You can also travel by train from China to North Korea. Pyongyang is the capital of North Korea. The train journey will take more than 24 hours from Beijing, China to Pyongyang, North Korea.

Time-consuming, right?

Hence, traveling by plane is the most preferred option. Also, US citizens are required to enter by plane, rather than by train or boat.

Seems like you have entered into a different world!

The year 2021 is now running on the whole world calendar. But in North Korea, it is now year 110 according to the Juche calendar.

North Korea city
Credits: The world of Teoalida

Now, after you do manage to enter North Korea, It’s not the end of the whirlwind of nuisances. You have to abide by a ton of rules and regulations. Let’s look into some crucial yet absurd regulations you have to maintain if you ever visit the country:  

Can’t express negativity towards the country or Government.

The first and foremost rule that you have to abide by in North Korea is you can’t make negative comments on rules and regulations even if you don’t like them! Disobeying the government rules or spread negativity against the government is considered a major offense.

North Korea
Credits: Newsweek

So, it’s a big NO NO! So in other words, keeping your criticism to yourself is a wise thing to do, when in North Korea.

Wondering what happens if you choose to not abide by this?  Well,  you will be punished immediately as there are undercover police on the road all the time. Therefore, be careful! 

Can’t step outside alone.

You must be under strict surveillance from the time you enter North Korea until you leave the country. The government and the tour agency will monitor your movements at all times. Tourists are not allowed to go outside without a Korean guide. 

North Korea tourism
Credits: KTG North Korea Travel

There are two guides for a tourist and at least 3 guides for a group of tourists. Even you can’t step outside without a guide from the hotel.

Can’t use local currency of North Korea.

The currency of the DPRK is North Korean Won. But, the tourists are not allowed to use the local currency. So, what are the options for them? 

 North korean currency
Credits: Pinterest
  • Chinese Yuan
  • Euro
  • USD

Among these three options, the Chinese Yuan is the most preferable one. Because you will get the change easily in case you need it while shopping.

Must respect the great leaders of DPRK.

Leaders in North Korea are revered as Gods. It is mandatory to hang the portraits of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il side by side in every North Korean office. 

North Korean Sculpture
Credits: Pinterest

You will see their statues one after the other on your way. According to statistics, there is a statue of a leader every three and a half kilometers across North Korea. Even if you are a tourist, you have to pay homage in front of these monuments.

So, be sure to take the formal dresses with you.

Can’t experience the real North Korea.

You can’t enjoy the life of the local people while traveling there. So much so that,  you can’t even visit random places. Unauthorized public interactions are prohibited.

North Korea transport
Credits: World Adventurer

Even North Koreans have to take Government permission to move from one area to another. You are no exception as a tourist. You can only visit government-approved tourist places. A solo trip is impossible without a Korean guide.

Can’t take photos without permission.

Think taking a selfie is easy? Well, not in North Korea! Even before clicking photos, you have to ask for permission every single time! Also, you are forbidden to take pictures of the army, police, construction sites, and government buildings. 

North Korea
Credits: BBC

But the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is an exception. No members of the military or police can enter there with arms. There you can take as many pictures as you want.

taking photographs in North Korea
Credits: World Open Business

Also, professional cameras and gears are not permitted to be taken there. Only lenses less than 150 mm are allowed.

Can’t practice your religion in North Korea.

Religion in north korea
Credits: The Two Cities

All forms of religion are banned in North Korea. If you are found with a Bible or any other scripture, it will be considered a punishable offense. So, don’t discuss your religious beliefs on the trip! 

Can’t enjoy privacy.

Privacy is a myth for North Korean citizens. Tourists are no exception to this. Going back to the hotel after a long day trip, travel agencies and government officials will monitor your actions. Telephones in your hotel room might be wiretapped.

North Korea

Strange, right? Seems like someone is watching you all the time with invisible eyes!

Can’t use modern technologies.

No GPS, satellite tracker, or internet facilities are allowed. Previously, tourist’s phones were taken upon arrival, confiscated, and returned at departure. Now, they let you keep your phone. But it will be checked before you leave the country!

facebook is banned in North Korea
Credits: Pinterest

How 250 million North Koreans survive trapped by so many rules and regulations! 

Well, this is depressing!


  • You are highly discouraged to travel to North Korea if you are a US citizen.
  • Don’t travel with your family there. There is a cruel rule named ‘The Three Generation Rule’ that mandates that any heinous crime warrants punishing not just the culprit, but three generations of his family as well!

So, if you make a mistake by chance, your next three generations will have to atone for it. 

What an inhuman act it is!

All in all, you will not be able to enjoy this trip freely. You have to keep yourself bound by the rules. And if you break the rules, you will get severe punishment. So, think twice before traveling to North Korea.