Author: Dennis Schaal
You’ve been to the French Riviera a bunch of times and Rio de Janeiro is just getting so old, so why not try North Korea?
Vancouver-based tour operator Adventures Abroad has a 12-day tour going to North Korea, via Beijing, in September, with a land package rate of $5,250 per person.
And, if you want to tack on a swing to Taiwan for an additional seven days, the North Korea-Taiwan land package, including internal flights in Taiwan, costs $7,975.
And, about 21 Americans and Canadians are signed up for the admittedly regimented North Korea visit, arriving in Beijing Sept. 23 and heading home Oct. 4, says Rick Unrau, product manager at Adventures Abroad.
Leave your tank tops and skin-tight shorts at home, and get ready to “bow and place flowers” when visiting Kim Il Sung Square on day six of the tour and when taking in other official sites such as the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum on day eight, Unrau says.
“If you don’t want to do that kind of thing, you kind of shouldn’t go,” says Unrau, referring to the flower-placing and all of the other paying-your-respect rituals and regulations.
There’s also no Internet access on for the people on the northern side of the 38th parallel so you would be cut off from the world, as are the people of North Korea.
That’s consistent with the fact that you won’t have much contact with the locals on this tour.
This is one tour where you definitely will not be living like the locals.
Adventures Abroad, which offers some 350 small-group cultural tours in about 120 countries, worked with the North Korea operator, Koryo Tours, to get into the country and organize the tour.
In recent years, a couple of other Adventures Abroad tours to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have been readied, but were canceled when things heated up between North Korea and the U.S. over the nuclear proliferation issue and visas were not forthcoming.
Barring a last-minute international crisis, the September 23 tour looks like it will actually take place, Unrau says.
Unrau acknowledges that the group will visit factories where people don’t actually manufacture anything and resemble “actors in an elaborate play.”
And, there may be markets filled with food unavailable to just regular folks in the area.
So why go?
“A lot of people are running out of places to go or want to scratch off another country on their list,” Unrau says.
“A big part of it is the satisfaction of just knowing your are in North Korea,” says Unrau, who won’t be making the trip. “It is a pariah state and there are bragging rights, I guess.”
North Korea is definitely an off-the-beaten track destination.