Visiting North Korea was always this far fetched travel idea that Harry and I used to entertain ourselves with. However, when we decided to visit South Korea, we agreed that this was an amazing travel opportunity that we didn’t want to pass up. When traveling to Korea, so much of the history, current events, museums, politics, etc., are related to the sights and locations that are visited on a DMZ tour, that it almost seems nonsensical not to explore them.
“Can we really say we visited North Korea?” The American soldier confidently replied, “Yes.”
As an American, visiting the Joint Security Area (JSA) located in Panmunjom, is the easiest and safest way to officially say you went to North Korea. We reached out to Panmunjom Travel Center to help us organize our trip.
In our research, Panmunjom Tours easily stood out from the competition. Their reviews online are 5 star!
In order to get an idea of what a tour with Panmunjom Travel Center is like, we invite you to watch our VLOG below, “We went to North Korea and this is what about happened….” The video will will help guide you to the sights and activities that seem the most interesting for you.
Here are answers to questions that you may have as you consider your own tour.
What are the tour options?
Depending on the goal of your visit, there are a few different options of tours available. You can check out the Panmunjom Travel Center website to see what works best for you. Some visitors may want to say they crossed over the border into North Korea, so they sign up for the Panmunjom Regular Tour which includes a visit to the JSA.
Another option is to visit the West Front Line DMZ (3rd tunnel, Dorason Station.) to explore the tunnels built by the North Korean soldiers. Others find the opportunity to speak with the North Korean defector the highlight of their tour experience. Feel free to contact us, or the Panmunjom Travel Center for guidance as to what would be the perfect tour itinerary for you.
Which tour do you recommend?
We participated in two tours on two different days; the Panmunjom Regular Tour with the NK Defector and the One Korea Tour. After our experience, we agreed that each experience had their own highlights and together made up two great days of exploring. If you are short on time, then the Panmunjom – DMZ Combined Tour may be a good option as it has all of the main locations in one long, productive day.
Are you really technically visiting North Korea?
When we first shared our news of our visit, a few people on social media claimed that we didn’t actually visit North Korea. I had a feeling someone would try to dispute our claim and try to bring down our bragging rights! So while on the JSA (Joint Security Area) Tour, I made a point to ask our American military escort, “Can we really say we visited North Korea?” The American soldier confidently replied, “Yes.” (He probably was thinking in his head, “What does she think we’re doing over here? Playing dress up?!) Again, you are crossing over the border from the DMZ into North Korea territory. If anyone tries to disputes the claim, tell them to take it up with the American military.
Why Panmunjom Travel Center?
There are currently four companies that offer tours out to the JSA and DMZ. However, Panmunjom Travel Center is the only company that has a North Korean Defector as part of their tours. One of the unique highlights of our experience was the opportunity to learn, first-hand, about daily life in North Korea and hear about the defector’s actual escape. Throughout the day, guests are free to ask the defector questions allowing them to gain a personal perspective of someone who still has family separated between the two Koreas. To be in the presence of an actual North Korean defector was an enlightening, yet humbling experience.
Another positive aspect from our tour with Panmunjom Travel Center was our guide was phenomenal. She was high energy, very informative, and had a great sense of humor. In addition, while at the JSA, she had a great way of making our group feel relaxed with her enthusiasm and also proving insight and direction in the demilitarized zones.
Important things to know
- There is a dress code for the day. The following are not allowed: sleeveless shirts, tank tops, jeans with holes, any leather or military patterned clothing, shorts, revealing or skanky clothing, flip flops or sandals. T-shirts must be collared.
- There are times where photo and video opportunities are prohibited as this is a military zone.
- Your tour may be cancelled or modified in the event of an unexpected or unsafe condition.
- Contact Panmunjom Travel Center soon as possible. You need at least 3 days advance notice to be sure to secure your tour.
- You must bring your passport in order to participate in the tour.
- Bring snacks and water. Lunch is included, but drinks are an extra charge. Water is available at the restaurant for free.
Feel free to contact us or reach out to Panmunjom Travel Center at email@example.com if you have any questions about taking a tour.
We now have the ultimate bragging rights for our 56th country visited. The Budget Savvy Travelers have officially visited NORTH KOREA! Thank you to Panmunjom Travel Center for getting us there.