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General facts / What to be expected on the spot

What to expect when you get there...


Accommodation is good, and always very clean. In the capital Pyongyang tourists are generally accommodated in one of the city’s two best hotels, which even by international comparison well deserve the categorisation “very good”. In the cities of Wonsan and Kaesong and in the mountain areas of Myohyang-San and Kumgang-San the hotels are good. Tourists seldom stay the night outside these areas. The hotel close to Paektu-San may be described as being of good medium standard; it is built in the style of a mountain hotel. The accommodation in Hamhung and Nampo is simpler; foreign visitors are rare here. In the bathing resorts of Majon and Sijung, individual guesthouses with the character of villas have been built; in these places the atmosphere is that of a seaside holiday. The power supply is 220 V; electric plugs are of the two-pin type used in Germany, Austria and some other countries of Europe: visitors from other countries may need an adapter.


Tourists in North Korea are offered only full board, including all drinks. The meals generally consist of between three and five different courses, often with alternating European and Korean dishes. On request, meals consisting exclusively of Korean cuisine can be served. Kimchi, a hotly spiced dish of pickled and fermented cabbage that is considered to be the Korean national dish, is almost always served as a separate side dish. Other classic dishes are the cold Pyongyang noodles, sinsollo (a vegetable and meat fondue) and “hot pot” or “steamboat” dishes. Your package price includes beverages such as beer, soft drinks or mineral water accompanying meals. Very often, a particularly festive dinner is served on one evening during the trip. The hygienic conditions under which food is prepared are equivalent to those prevailing in Europe, and the visitor may have complete confidence in them.


As a result of the comprehensive programme for the upgrading of the roads that radiate in a star-shaped pattern from Pyongyang to the provinces, tourist traffic too is tending to switch from rail to road. Only very rarely do group tours now use the railway. In view of the relatively short distances, the good state of the four-lane long-distance highways (motorways) and the low density of traffic, the most important sights can easily be reached within a day. The Paektu-San massif and the Chilbo Mountains are naturally exceptions to this; they are reached by air from Pyongyang, the flight lasting nearly 2 hours. Tourist groups travel in coaches of Japanese manufacture which offer the usual standard of comfort. Small groups are conveyed around the country by minibus, individual travellers by car. Journeys by rail are normally made in the so-called soft class, corresponding to first class.


The Foreign Languages Publishing House in Pyongyang offers an outstandingly broad range of books. The beautiful picture-books in particular are favourite presents for those back home. The numerous music cassettes, CDs and videos that are available will also call up memories of Korea after you have returned home; an amazing diversity of these is produced within the country. Higher-value souvenirs include paintings, silk embroidery, celadon (Koryo porcelain) and the best ginseng in the world, which comes from the area around Kaesong. For stamp collectors, there is a well-stocked specialist stamp shop in the centre of Pyongyang.


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