North Korea — Travel Tips
The official language of North Korea is Korean, with tour guides and those involved in the hospitality industry able to communicate in English.
The North Korean won is the official currency, but visitors are expected to use euros, US dollars or Japanese yen. The only shops that are open to tourists are the government run souvenir stores based in the hotels or at approved attractions, although developing a strong bond with your guide may result in an unofficial visit to a local shop or two. Credit cards are unable to be used and, as your tour is prepaid, you’ll only need cash for souvenirs, bottled water and drinks at your hotel bar.
North Korea Standard Time is nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +9).
North Korea’s electricity comes as 220V/50Hz and is subject to frequent interruptions outside the cities. Sockets use the europlug style of connection, with visitors from the US needing a plug adapter and possibly a voltage converter.
The dialing code for North Korea is +850, followed by an area code and the phone number. Phone calls to and from overseas are monitored so be careful what you say. Tourists are not allowed to use cell phones during their visit, although there is a small 3G network in the country. Those bringing in mobile devices will have them wrapped and sealed by customs and handed to their tour guide. Although most tourist hotels offer limited internet access, permission must be applied for in advance via your tour company.
A reasonable amount of cigarettes and alcohol may be imported duty-free by arriving tourists. For visitors returning to the US, the usual limits apply.
As visitors are only allowed to enter the country via pre-booked tours, there is no need for an official tourist office.
Emergency services: 119
Swedish Embassy, (US Protecting Power) Pyongyang: +850-2-381-7485
British Embassy, Pyongyang: +850-2-382-7980
Canadian Embassy, Seoul, South Korea: +82-23-783-6000
Australian Embassy, Seoul, South Korea: +82-22-003-0100