Frequently asked questions about North-Korea

Is a visa needed for North Korea and China?

A visa is required for North Korea and a visa is also required for China. Please be aware that for China, a double entry visa is required- this is very important. To organise these visas, you can use a visa agency such as    or you can contact your nearest respective embassies for these countries and apply directly. Please be aware that information regarding entry requirements is subject to change. You can check the current information through a site such as this one.

In the case of North Korea, Shoestring can offer assistance in arranging the visa for you. Please visit the trip documents section for more info.

Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?

Yes you can pre book a transfer (arrival only) and extra nights with Shoestring.You can add these on to your booking form.

Can I walk around in the city?

No, in North Korea, everything you do in a group under the leadership of two state guides. You are not allowed to go off walking by yourself.

Can I bring my camera to North Korea?

This is not a problem. You can also take a video camera. A super large telephoto lens is not recommended and binoculars are forbidden. You are free to take photos/video footage but avoid taking them of government officials or non-tourist sites. If in doubt, check with your tour guide.

What is the recommended currency for North Korea?

In North Korea, all excursions and meals are included so you'll spend little money.

You can not pin nor can you exchange travellers cheques. Therefore, take small notes (and coins) in Euro notes.

In China, you can change money at the airport and all over Beijing. There are also plenty of ATMs to make withdrawals.

What is the time difference there?

In Beijing the time difference is GMT + 8 hours. In North Korea the time is GMT +9 hours. You can check current times here.

How are the hotels in North Korea?

The hotels are generally good. However, it may be that electricity and water are not available 24 hours a day in some places.

What do you suggest to pack?

First Aid Kit
The first thing on your list should be a first aid kit. Whilst there is no undue cause for alarm, it's wise to travel well-prepared: adequately immunized, with sufficient supplies of prescription medicines/drugs, along with a medical kit.

It is recommended that lighter clothes are worn through the day, and warmer ones at night. A hat is also advised to be worn through the day to protect from the sun. At least one piece of waterproof clothing should be taken. 

Footwear is a main priority on this tour. Comfortable walking shoes/boots are recommended.

Luggage should not exceed 20kgs (44lbs). One large suitcase/rucksack, and one small hand luggage rucksack is acceptable.

Sun cream/sunblock is a must – please ensure you bring enough as it may not be available in North Korea. Insect repellent, including a bite spray will also be useful to bring.

When is best to visit?

Anytime is fine to visit North Korea though it can be hot during the months of July and August. The stunning Arirang festival takes place between 27 July and 9 September 2013 and is well worth a visit if you are travelling at this time.

How are communications in North Korea?

You will not be allowed to carry a mobile phone or GPS into North Korea. If you do bring one in, it will be wrapped in packing tape and signed by a customs officer on entry. When you leave, it will be checked off and unwrapped for you. International calling is generally possible from hotels, though it is expensive (€4-5 per minute) and all calls will likely be recorded and monitored.

Internet facilities are limited. Some of the larger hotels can arrange access but you'll have to let your tour guide know in advance, so they can arrange it. You will find some websites are blocked.

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