Useful country information

Train operator in North Korea:

State Railways

 

 

Ferry operators to North Korea:

-

Time zone:

GMT+9 all year.

Dialling code:

 

+850

Currency:

£1 = 1300 won, $1 = 900 won  -   Currency converter

Visas:

 

Required, and normally only issued to those on an official tour.

Tourist information:

You may find this useful:  www.tripbase.com/c/northkorea/

Page last updated:

11 January 2016.


Visiting North Korea...

  Pyongyang train station, North Korea
 

Pyongyang railway station.  

Photo courtesy of Jon Ethridge

Moscow to North Korea

 Moscow & Irkutsk ▶ Pyongyang

 

 Pyongyang ▶ Irkutsk & Moscow

Days of running:

1st, 5th, 15th &

21st of each month

11th & 25th

of each month

Days of running:

7th, 11th, 21st

27th of each month*

2nd or 3rd & 17th

of each month

 Moscow (Yaroslavski) depart

 23:45 day 1

 23:45 day 1

 Pyongyang depart

 08:00 day 1

 08:00 day 1

 Irkutsk depart

 02:55 day 5

 02:55 day 5

 Tumangan arrive

 ??:?? day 2

 ??:?? day 2

 Tumangan arrive

 10:19 day 8

 10:19 day 8

 

change trains

through car

 

change trains

through car

 Tumangan depart

 14:20 day 2

 14 20 day 2

 Tumangan depart

 17:05 day 8

 17:05 day 8

 Irkutsk arrive

 13:12 day 5

 13:12 day 5

 Pyongyang arrive

 20:45 day 9

 20:45 day 9

 Moscow (Yaroslavski) arrive

 17:43 day 8

 17:43 day 8

* These are the dates you'd leave Pyongyang.  The departure dates for the Tumangan-Moscow sleepers will obviously be one day later.

Tumangan is the North Korean border point.  This is the 'new' service introduced in 2011.  You can check some if not all of these times at www.poezda.net, but remember that Pyongyang is spelt 'Pjoengjang' and you'll need to look up each train separately.  Westbound train times seem to be absent from the system.  Also try the RZD (Russian Railways) website http://pass.rzd.ru/isvp/public/pass?STRUCTURE_ID=5144.

Fares:  Moscow to Pyongyang through ticket:  Bought through Real Russia, £524 in kupé (4-berth, 2nd class) or £817 in spalny vagon (2-berth, 1st class).  According to the Russian Railways website, the official fare is 410 Swiss Francs (about £285) in 2nd class 4-berth, 645 Swiss Francs (about £460) in 1st class 2-berth.

Visas:  You'll need to have your travel arranged through an agency that handles travel to North Korea, as only passengers on tour arrangements can get visas.  You'll need a Russian visa, obviously.  However, the train passes directly from Russia into North Korea, it does not pass through China, so no need for a Chinese visa. 

However, this route may not currently be approved for foreigners to enter North Korea (this may change, so check with one of the travel agencies mentioned above).  Though at least one intrepid traveller has managed to reach North Korea this way, see Helmut Uttenthaler's account as http://vienna-pyongyang.blogspot.com.

Beijing to North Korea

 Beijing ▶ Pyongyang

 

 Pyongyang ▶ Beijing

 Beijing  depart

 17:25  Mon, Wed, Thur, Sat

 Pyongyang depart

 10:10  Mon, Wed, Thur, Sat

 Pyongyang arrive

 19:30  next day

 Beijing arrive

 08:23  next day

The train has soft class 4-berth sleepers & restaurant car.  A restaurant meal costs around 5 euros.  This train is approved for European & other non-US foreigners but it's reported as not permitted for US citizens, if you're American please check.

Traveller's report...

Traveller David Eerdmans visited North Korea using the Beijing-Pyongyang train:  "...Using the train is very recommendable, because it gives a unique insight in the poor rural areas of North-Korea that are not otherwise shown to tourists (although the villages along the railway are probably still among the best there are in the country). You also pass the site of the large train explosion two years ago, which is still very visible.  The train usually consists of two through cars attached to respectively a Chinese and Korean train on both sides of the border (and on some days also a part from Moscow). The train is pretty comfortable and very comparable to the usual trains in China and Russia, although it's state was somewhat less. Track quality is horrible in North-Korea, with the train travelling very slowly.  Stations are in a very poor state of repair (and of course always spot a portrait of the Great or the Dear Leaders...sigh...). Delays are very frequent due to power outages.  There are, as you state, indeed two classes [subsequent report says only one, 4-berth].  Both are pretty similar and consist of 4-person compartments.  From Pyongyang, western tourists are only allowed on the Soft Sleeper, which is only used by foreigners, mostly Chinese [subsequent reports suggest there is no segregation]. From Beijing, you can also use the Hard Sleeper, which is also used by North-Koreans ...which creates about the only opportunity to speak with 'normal' North-Koreans without having a guide with you. On the way back from Pyongyang I also had an interesting conversation, because I shared the compartment with the Indian ambassador in North-Korea!  The through cars are fenced off from the rest of the train (!), so you can't use the restaurant car [although several other reports confirm that you can do so!].  In Korea, however, a meal can be brought to you by the car attendant [Note:  Regent Holidays report that meals in the restaurant car are included in the fare].  The quality of the food is pretty good considering the food shortages in the country.  Do expect dog meat however, which is actually quite tasty.  The border crossing is very slow, but not the pain I expected it to be.  The border officials are usually not too friendly, but not rude or intimidating.

Scenery from the train from Beijing to North Korea

Scenery from the Beijing to Pyongyang train. Photo courtesy of Jon Ethridge

  Pyongyang station

Pyongyang station concourse. Photo courtesy of Roger Kidley

North Korea - South Korea trains...

Although there have been talks, proposals an test runs, there is currently no service between North & South Korea, and the border remains closed.


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