Saturday, September 18, 2021

How To Travel To North Korea

AsiaNorth KoreaHow To Travel To North Korea

By plane

Sunan Foreign Airport in Pyongyang handles all international flights. There is no other airport in North Korea that handles international aircraft. Sunan is served by just two commercial airlines: Air Koryo, North Korea’s official carrier, and Air China. Aeroflot and China Southern Airlines do not travel to North Korea as of August 2013.

Air Koryo

Air Koryo, North Korea’s only airline, presently operates regular flights from Beijing departing at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays and returning at 09:00 a.m. on the same days. Every Wednesday and Saturday, Air Koryo flies to and from Shenyang, as well as every Tuesday morning to Vladivostok. There are additional flights to Kuwait and Kuala Lumpur.

Air Koryo has been the sole 1-star (lowest) airline on Skytrax’s ranking for the last four years. It was formerly prohibited in the EU owing to safety concerns. Despite the fact that Air Koryo last had a fatal accident in 1983, the airline only runs a few trips with its fleet of ten planes. Flying Air Koryo is mostly for the experience; otherwise, it is generally preferable to fly Air China. The Air Koryo fleet comprises solely of Soviet or Russian-made aircraft, with two Tupolev Tu-204s serving as the pride of the fleet, which currently mostly serve the Beijing–Pyongyang and Beijing–Shengyang routes. Otherwise, you’ll most likely be flying on one of their Ilyushin IL-62-Ms, Tupolev Tu-154s, or Tupolev Tu-134s (1979-1988 era).

Air China

Air China, a Star Alliance member, operates Boeing 737s three times weekly from Beijing to Pyongyang. Most people prefer Air China over Air Koryo because of its much more modern fleet.

By train

Train K27/K28 runs four times a week between Pyongyang and Beijing, China, via Tianjin, Beidaihe, Shanhaiguan, Jinzhou, Shenyang, Benxi, Fenghuangcheng, Dandong, and Sinuiju. On the international railway between Beijing and Pyongyang, there is just one class: soft sleeper. It is possible to reserve it at the Beijing station, but reservations must be made many days ahead of time. Unless you’re traveling for business, your tour agency will generally handle this for you. Space on the Beijing–Pyongyang line is becoming more scarce, so reserve your tickets as soon as possible.

Train K27/K28 also transports straight sleeper carriages from Moscow to Pyongyang through China once a week. Moscow – Novosibirsk – Irkutsk – Chita – Harbin – Shenyang – Dandong – Shinuiju – Pyongyang is the route. Every Friday evening, a flight leaves Moscow and arrives in Pyongyang one week later on Friday evening. Saturday morning departure from Pyongyang, Friday afternoon arrival in Moscow.

There is also a direct train connection into Russia, which runs via Tumangan/Khasan and across the North Korean/Russian border. This route is serviced by a direct sleeper carriage that travels twice monthly (on the 11th and 25th from Moscow) and arrives in Pyongyang 9 days later. However, this has not been an officially authorized tourist route since the mid-1990s, and KITC refuses to arrange excursions using this route; a few Western visitors have been able to ride this train into North Korea, but reports suggest that additional journeys on this route would be fruitless.

Some travel agencies (Lupine Travel, for example) may arrange for a minivan to take you from Dandong to Sinuiju, where you can then catch a domestic North Korean train to Pyongyang. On most cases, you’ll be placed in a hard seat carriage with KPA troops and party employees who are traveling with their families. A restaurant car with foreign beers (Heineken) and soft drinks, as well as various local beers and spirits, is available. The journey to Pyongyang is intended to take about 4 hours, although it has been known to take up to 14. Prepare for temperatures as low as -10°C inside the carriages while traveling in the winter.

By boat

Between Wonsan and Niigata, Japan, there was an unplanned cargo-passenger ship. The boat service, which was only accessible to select Japanese and North Korean people, has been stopped indefinitely as a result of North Korea’s suspected nuclear tests; Japan has prohibited all North Korean ships from accessing Japanese ports, as well as North Koreans from entering the country. If you’re on a boat, be cautious not to go too near to the North Korean border; many South Korean fisherman are still waiting to exit the country.

A cruise ship runs between the coast of Northeastern China and Mt Kumgang, in addition to the unscheduled ferry. The cruise company utilizes a 40-year-old ship that is jointly managed by China and North Korea. The voyage is 44 hours long in total, with each leg lasting 22 hours, however non-Chinese nationals are not allowed on the boat to Mount Kumgang.

By bus

A bus from Dandong, China, to Sinuiju may potentially be taken over the Yalu River. The “Dandong China Travel Company” runs it, although it is currently exclusively accessible to Chinese residents.