Spend a weekend in Pyongyang

If you didn’t get a shot at the last short trip that Koryo Tours organized into North Korea, you have another chance coming. This rare breed of travel company – which brings westerners into the most isolated country on earth – is planning an excursion for September 24 – 26, which will include the sights of Pyongyang and the opportunity to witness the Arirang Mass Games spectacle.

The “mini-break,” as Koryo Tours is calling it, starts and ends in Beijing (so you’ll need a double-entry visa for China) and includes all fees, accommodations, transportation, guide services and flights for the Beijing-to-Beijing roundtrip – you’ll have to arrange your own travel to and from Beijing. Along the way, there are two chances to go to Arirang, not to mention Juche Tower, the Korean War Museum’s interesting take on history, Kim Il Sung Square and the Pyongyang Metro. U.S. citizens are permitted to join in on the experience.

So, if you’re looking to cross into the unknown, make your reservation by September 14. At €850, it’s an absolute steal. If you have any misgivings, Koryo Tours says, “A fascinating, safe and unique experience is guaranteed.”

North Korea vacation: can I take pictures?

With the latest deal from Koryo Tours on travel to Pyongyang for the amazing Arirang event, one commenter had a great question: “I’d love to go and take lots of pictures, but I wonder if they would allow that??”

Well, Kelso, you would definitely be allowed to take pictures.

Though there are “many restrictions on photography that have to be obeyed in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea],” according to Koryo Tours, but you can take pictures of most of what you see. In fact, most guests take more pictures than they expect. If you’re planning to head out to North Korea, do bring extra memory cards for your camera, as you won’t be able to dash off to an electronics store while you’re there.

Of course, this is North Korea, so there are more rules.

You cannot sneak photos of unauthorized subjects, and keep in mind that the people over there are required to report such illicit photography. Get caught, and you will create an uncomfortable situation for you, your guide and anyone else around you. Also, you can’t take pictures while being driven around, and you can’t have a lens of more than 150 mm.

Video cameras are generally not permitted.

Finally, sources who have been there tell me that you can’t take pictures that cut off a statue, poster or other important attraction. Specifically, you need to get the whole statue, for example, in the shot.

Again, be prepared to follow the rules. It makes life a lot easier.


Amazing North Korea trip deal: Arirang for $1,000!

Koryo Tours is offering the least expensive North Korea travel deal I’ve ever seen. Granted, there aren’t many tours to this corner of the world, so there can’t be too many discounts. But, even in this limited field, a $1,000 jaunt to the most isolated country in the world is an incredible find.

For this low price, you can spend three days in North Korea in August (departing from and returning to Beijing). The price of the package includes flights, accommodations, guides, entry fees and the other basics of getting into and out of Pyongyang. You’ll also get two chances to see Arirang – the Mass Games – and a tour of the country’s capital, including the Juche Tower, Kim Il Sung Square and the Pyongyang Metro. Meals are also covered.

The trip runs from August 27 – 29, 2009, with the last date to book August 17, 2009. Students, children and groups of at least three are also eligible for discounts. And, Americans are allowed to take the trip.

There has been nothing like this deal, and the odds of it being offered again are rare. This could be the best chance you have to go to North Korea.


Brits welcome in North Korea for Arirang

The ban on UK visitors in the DPRK has been removed for the summer, according to an e-mail announcement from Koryo Tours. This was the last of the restrictions that the world was waiting for North Korean authorities to lift. Citizens from the UK will be able to travel to the reclusive Communist country this year for Arirang. A similar bar on travel from the United States was removed back in April.

For travel to North Korea for Arirang, little seems to have been affected by the recent sentencing of American journalists accused to have entered the country illegally … with the exception of an air of concern which must obviously enter the mind of anyone considering travel to this unusual corner of the world.

Arirang gets green light in DPRK!

It is confirmed: the Arirang Mass Games will be held in Pyongyang, North Korea this summer. The event will run from August 10, 2009 through the end of September, highlighting the precision for which the DPRK performers have become famous. According to Koryo Tours, Americans are welcome to attend the festival this year.

If you are considering a visit to the Hermit Kingdom late this summer, do be aware that the DPRK has enforced a time limit on U.S. tours in the past. Usually, visits are capped at four nights, and Americans are only allowed to enter and leave the country by plane. Though, if this changes, Koryo Tours expects to be able to arrange extensions and travel via train, depending on how and when restrictions are eased. Also, Arirang has been extended into October in the past, and starts early from time to time.

So, put concerns of global tension out of your mind for a while. If you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to reach a corner of the world that few outsiders get to see, this is your chance.

For Americans, click here for more information.

Don’t forget to check out our first-hand coverage of North Korea‘s Mass Games from 2007, which includes some amazing video, or click through the images below.