Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Book your own Europe - Pyongyang train trip!!!

So, the train route via the border Khasan/Tumangan to Pyongyang is still not officially available for tourists. But there is a 2nd train from Moscow to Pyongyang. It goes via China.
Or you can take a train from Moscow to Vladivostok and then continue by plane to North Korea.

Now there is a travel agency which offers North Korea trips in combination with the Transsiberian railways: Please have a look at

The agency is located in Sweden, I know them very well ;-)

I can really recommend them and Julia - she is the owner of the company - is indeed a very nice and helpful person. She can organize everything for you to get from Europe to North Korea via Russia and China - except the route via Tumangan.

As I wrote, we bought tickets for the Tumangan-route by ourselves and didn't tell the travel agency or KITC (the state tourist agency in North Korea) in advance about our real route into North Korea. It was a dangerous experiment and KITC and the travel agency were quite upset after that. And they also took precautions to prevent, that such happens again: Now the tickets to Pyongyang have to be categorically organized by the travel agency, individual ticket buying is no longer accepted by KITC, otherwise they would cancel the trip (and the visa).
That's why I do not recommend to repeat what we did!

TUMANGAN - really totally impossible?

Well, not really. Just recently I found out that it is theoretically possible to enter North Korea at Tumangan as a Western tourist. But it is not possible to take the train from Tumangan to Pyongyang, which we took.
There are Russian travel agencies offering trips to the "Rajin-Sonbong Special Economic Zone" in the very north of North Korea, adjacent to Russia. They are aimed at Russians, but I found out, that also other foreign tourists are accepted on this tours. These tours go to Tumangan by train (usually starting at Khabarovsk or Vladivostok), where the tourists are picked up by buses and brought to a sea-resort at Rajin.

Here are some links to Russian travel agencies offering trips to Rajin:

I'm not sure whether they will be able to reply you in English. It might be necessary, that you speak some Russian to communicate with them and get the things organized.

However, now also KoryoTours (they are aimed at Western tourists, which makes it easier, if you don't speak Russian) offer now trips to Rajin, but starting from China. However, according to their website it's at least possible to leave via Russia and the Tumangan/Khasan border crossing.

Meet the North Koreans in Russia!

Or if you just want to get a special experience you can reapeat what I did in 2006: Just take the North Korean waggon for a domestic trip (like Moscow - Irkutsk) inside Russia. This is totally legal and it's likely that you will be the only foreigner among North Koreans on board of this waggon. If your're interested, just contact me (


Anonymous said...

Well, yes, it might be theoretically possible, but how useful is that fact for the tourist?

If the tourist is still forbidden entry, then who cares if it is "theoretically" possible?

The more important question is whether it is PRACTICALLY possible.

You were very lucky to get away with it the first time around. But next time, you will almost certainly be forbidden entry -- even though, according to you, entering by rail is "theoretically" possible.

poumtatalia said...

Hey "Anonymous", if you never try, you never will! Tourist information is available on every "lonely planet" guides. Sure, boring and "practical"!

XL said...

Awsome trip man, I'd actually be too scared to go since its illegal.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic blog, thank you for share it.

Senses from My sense said...

oh!... goddamn its really fantastic man...i've been searching for a fantastic trip experience like this all my days....
in fact i too have an aim to visit this iron curtain country long before i read about your experience...but i don't know the way to do that...but, you have given me a superb extract of your experience which i really love it.
all the way from vienna-russia-nk.ultimately fantastic yaar.
i read about you in your blog...I have the character similar like yours i feel,i.e passion to travel blah blah., i too love to mingle with many people knowing their cultures etc fact i too loved to go to all the countries in mid east and africa and latin america. i'd love to go to mexico, carribean(cuba)., atleast only once in my life to all these countries...but time has to tell....
please don't stop your trip experiences. i'd love to read from you friend...
thank you for your wonderful experience....
see you...

Bin XUE said...

I really love this traveloge. I'm a Chinese student studying in UK. I am curious about North Korea for many years and I spent three nights to read you traveloge, during which I feel I was traveling with you guys to this mystery country. I would like to explore North Korea like the way you take but it seems hard since you guys may have raised the attention of the border agent to forbid sebsequent tourists to do what you did ( just my presumption). After I finish my study in UK in September, I will go back to my country which is China, and I am planning to go to North Korea from Sino-North Korea border, I alway imagine how exiting it would be. Could you please give me some advice regarding the route? I appreciate it a lot.
Most importantly... CONGRATULATIONS for your successful great attemp!!
BTW, I'm from Shanghai in which i was born and raised, and I'm glad to see the photo of Shanghai.

Tony said...

I have travelled through a big chunk of the world and heard some incredible travel exploits but this one is right up there - I am planning a Transib trip in the next year or so and would love to seek your advice

All the best Tony

Unknown said...

Good article its really good for me...