A new North Korea tour option: Uri Tours

The booth at the NYT Travel Show that caught my eye was for Uri Tours and their North Korea Tours.

North Korea is the closest you can get to visiting another planet. I toured in May 2010 (see parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and photo album) and also discussed two of the principal tour agents, Koryo Tours and Asia Live. Koryo Tours is the major player. I went with Asia Live for a private tour and had an excellent experience. All operate within narrow restrictions and in partnership with the DRPK’s Korea International Travel Company (KITC) which generally does not deal directly with tourists.

Uri Tours is new to me, I am not familiar with their track record, yet am intrigued by several of their Signature Series tours, tempting me for a second visit. The standout is the 13-day DPRK Mountain Tour, with charter flights and access to destinations I have not seen on other itineraries. The DPRK is no bargain destination, and this tour is top-end because of scope and length, US$3,995 single/$3,595 double, which, like other operators, only includes cost starting from Beijing. Those who know my twitter aversion will realize how much I wanted to win their giveaway by seeing my constantly refreshing my feed.

The biggest planning principle to understand is that it is extremely difficult to make even minor changes to any itinerary once it is approved by the DPRK authorities and you are in-country, even on private tours.

Being effectively incommunicado with the outside world for a prolonged period is another stumbling block for many would-be visitors.

Uri Tours brings more options to the table, again I cannot at this point vouch for their tours, though DPRK is not the kind of destination that lends itself to fly-by-night scam tours. Each of Koryo Tours, Asia Live, and Uri Tours offers different programs. For such a major, costly undertaking I strongly recommend carefully considering all options.

North Korea 054

Rapid Travel Chai newsletter ¦ Twitter ¦ Facebook ¦ Instagram

  • Would they consider a blogger to be a journalist?

  • guera

    When I read your and travelbloggerbuzz’s comments on North Korea, I am reminded of Paraguay in the 80’s under the Stroessner regime. It was a fascinating but uneasy time there. I’m glad I experienced it, but it was not at all a carefree trip. The logistics of visiting Korea seem to be pretty intimidating, but your comments do have me considering a trip to Cuba this year.

  • We spent some time chatting at this booth too. I think this was the one prize I was dreaming of winning! I have to get to NK one of these days…

  • @CDKing – can’t say for sure, but typically a journalist in a government’s eyes is one who is credentialed trough a traditional news organization, if you have any other occupation I would put that, just about everyone has stuff online nowadays anyway.

  • @guera – the US policy toward Cuba is a travesty, it is a perfectly safe and normal destination and US citizens are welcome there, it is only contending with possible repercussions with the US government, obviously many US citizens go unofficially rather than the limited and pricey official options, and each has to make their choice on risk tolerance. if you go, I am sure you will have a great time.

  • Joey

    Hopefully you won! I wish I saw the Uri Tours booth but alas I spent more time in the seminars than in the booths upstairs (after going to the Morocco booth and Africa booths… I really felt they were just tour agencies promoting their tours catering to well-off travelers versus booths that promoted the country itself to any type of traveler.)

  • You know I can’t get over this North Korea stuff:-)

    I had no idea this tour company was giving away a trip to NK. That would make me visit this show to win it;-)

    I agree about the travel to Cuba policy of the US, such a travesty. Especially now that the Cubans have opened up the travel restrictions of their own citizens. Dang it, we are supposed to be the land of the free… and can’t even travel freely there!

  • @TravelBloggerBuzz – maybe you could find a way to redeem UA miles on Air China to Pyongyang, but then you wouldn’t get the white gloveAir Koryo service.