North Korea must be one of the Worlds most expensive countries to travel to, as it is one out of just three countries in the World where tourists are required to be accompanied by a guide at all times. The other three countries being Bhutan and Turkmenistan. Itineraries can be custom made to include not only cities, but also beaches, mountain hikes and skiing in ski resorts, but you will have to pay 1000RMB/100GBP upwards per day.
I did not have a budget for a big tour and decided to go for a day trip from China, which is the only way you can go without having to fly into the country. On the South Korean side they only let you go to a so called demilitarised zone/DMZ, which would not really classify as North Korea.
So first step would be to book a mockup itinerary with refundable flights and hotels in order to get a double entry visa to China and be able to travel there freely. As long as you register your visa in a hotel or at a police station within 24 hours after arrival (72hrs in rural areas) you will be fine doing it this way.
I booked my flight to Shenyang which is the biggest close city to North Korea, just a five hour train ride away that only costs 94RMB/10GBP for a hard sleeper bed. I booked my train tickets through chinahoghlights.com and got a reference number to pick up the train tickets at the station.
Then I sent a booking request to a Chinese agency in Dandong called Dandong International Tours (link) to hear when they were running group tours to Sinju. In the summer time this will be almost every day except Mondays, but in the Winter time there might be weeks in between the tours. My day had a departure for a Chinese group confirmed so I could join them for 1290RMB/130GBP or even cheaper at 800RMB/80GBP had I been Chinese. An independent tour with the same company would have cost 2490RMB/250GBP which would have been pretty much the same experience as going with a group as I got my own Engliah speaking guide anyway.
The tour was a great from beginning to end and you can read more about it in my next post.
The Friendship Bridge – see the right one has been destroyed?
Sinju Kindergarden known for training child performers for the annual Arirang Mass Games