Do you want to visit the world's most mysterious country? Take the best North Korea tours and explore the DPKR today, with safe and experienced guides.
Whether you're looking to visit every country in the world, or simply go somewhere most people will never venture, taking a North Korea tour can be interesting, and a great talking point.
1. Young Pioneer Tours
One of the pioneers in North Korean tours, Young Pioneer Tours has been taking small groups of no more than 24 guests across the border with Western guides for years.
They offer a range of tours to suit every budget and type of traveller. Whether you're on an ultra low budget and want to visit for a few days, or you're looking to see it all they've got it.
They offer custom tours such as attending Kim II Sung's birthday celebrations, watching or evening running in the Pyongyang Marathon, attending Military foundation day or even taking part in St Patricks Day, May Day or my favourite, Victory Day.
They offer specialist tours such as photography tours, football match tours and even the ability to celebrate Christmas and New Year, in the snow.. fireworks included.
All tour prices include entry and exit into North Korea by train, with optional flight upgrades. You'll need to pay 50 euro for your visa to be processed by them.
Tours start as low as 475 euro for a 3 day tour and can go upwards of 2500 euro for a full length tour. There's so many different options available, it would be impossible to list them here.
In terms of reviews and reputation, Young Pioneer is highly rated with hundreds of positive 5 stars on Tripadvisor. I've actually taken a tour with them in the past and they were flawless.
2. Koryo Group
Koryo group is definitely one of the most famous providers that offer North Korea tours. They've been in the news as well for their commitment to providing adventure travel to unusual destinations.
They've been offering tours to North Korea for over 25 years and have taken travel superstars such as Michael Palin on some of their tours.
Similar to Young Pioneer, they offer tours to all the major events on the DPRK calendar such as the Marathon as well as Kim II Sung Birthday among others such as Victory Day.
Some of their shortest tours include a 3 day tour from Beijing to Pyongyang on the train but can be combined with airfares (€199 each way) to keep the trip even shorter.
I'm particularly impressed by their website which is full of content including the full itineraries of all tours, including timings and even what's included vs not included.
You can choose to add extras to add to your tour and all tours offer two or three experienced local Korean guides as well as an experienced Koryo Tours group leader, usually a Westerner.
However take note one downside, groups with less than 8 travellers won't have a tour guide.
3. URI Tours
URI Tours is another major player in North Korea tours, focusing on more of a premium tour with prices that reflect this. A short 4 day tour starts at €999 and can go upwards of €2,000 for their longest tours. Most average around €1250.
Tours include classic sightseeing, as well as specialties such as attending or watching the Pyongang Marathon, as well as Victory Day and even Christmas and New Year.
For those short on time they offer the DPRK weekender tour which is a 2.5 day tour departing from Beijing or Shanghai and includes your visa and flights on Air Koryo. This tour is €1090 and is the fastest way to see North Korea without staying too long. This can be extended to 3-4 days.
URI Tours has been taking travelers safely to North Korea for over 15 years and they know how to give you the trip of a lifetime. They focus on the extra touch and luxuries such as staying at premium hotels and keeping group sizes to a maximum of just 12.
Departures are guaranteed regardless of how many travellers book the tour. So if you're the only one who booked, you'll end up with a private tour for the same price as a group tour.
4. Tongil Tours
Tongil are specialists in educational tours to North Korea. Their motto is to empower university students, life-long learners and inquisitive people everywhere with their tours to DPRK.
Tongil are still relatively small, with only 35 reviews on Tripadvisor at the time of print and offer only a couple tours per year. Reviewers mentioned that their tours offer more in depth, which makes sense given their targeting an educational audience.
They are well known for providing a more intimate 1-2-1 approach, especially when responding to your queries before purchase and prior to your trip commencing.
Their tours include a monster 21 night Pyongyang Summer Language Program which is perfect for Korean students looking to get experience teaching abroad.
Other tours for foreigners include the 7 night, North Korean highlights tour which also visits the mass games which is held in Pyongyang.
5. Lupine Travel
Lupine is a major player in the UK and European markets for offering North Korea tours. However, you can definitely join a tour, coming from Australia.
Australian's may find their prices quite steep in comparison to smaller providers such as Young Pioneer Tours and when you drill down into each tour, the itineraries are pretty similar.
Their tours include all meals, tours, transport and accommodation within North Korea as well as emergency medical insurance with DPRK. Train travel is also included with flights offered as an optional upgrade to any tour.
They offer tours such as classical around the country as well as Kim Il Sung Birthday tour, the Pyongyang marathon as well as specialist tours such as Liberation Day and Victory Day.
If North Korea isn't your thing or you're feeling more adventurous, Lupine is well known for their tours to other 'do not travel countries' such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
How To Get To North Korea?
Most tours depart from Beijing, allowing you to meet your tour group in advance.
From there you'll either take the overnight train direct to Pyongyang, or for the more adventurous you can take an Air Koryo flight from Beijing to the capital. You'll likely meet up with those from the train and then start your North Korea tour.
To get the maximum experience you'll probably want to train at least one way. This will allow you to experience the border crossing as well as to stop off at any border towns such as,
Flights to Beijing can be purchased for very affordable prices with direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. Book far enough in advance and you can get $500 round trips.
Is North Korea Safe?
Believe it or not, North Korea is actually a very safe country. Over the years, tens of thousands of tourists have headed there and enjoyed themselves.
Ultimately tourism brings money into the country so it's in their best interests to ensure tourists remain safe in the country. If they weren't, would tour operators continue to take guests there?
If you do what you're told by your friendly guides, follow the rules and be a normal tourist, you will be completely safe during your North Korean tour.