This is by far the best DMZ tour to take to visit North Korea. North Korea was always this far-fetched travel idea that we used to entertain ourselves with. However, when we decided to visit South Korea, we agreed that this was an amazing travel opportunity that we didn’t want to pass up.
When traveling to Korea, so much of the history, current events, museums, politics, etc., are related to the sights and locations that are visited on a DMZ tour. Some may say that it would be completely insane not to visit this unique area of the world.
“Can we really say we visited North Korea?” The American soldier confidently replied, “Yes.”
Best DMZ Tour to Visit North Korea
As an American, visiting the Joint Security Area (JSA) located in Panmunjom is the easiest and safest way to officially say you went to North Korea. We reached out to a popular tour guide in Seoul to help us organize our DMZ tour.
Based on their guidance and our research, this Panmunjom DMZ Tour easily stood out from the competition. Their reviews online are 5 stars and it’s ranked number one on TripAdvisor for things to do. However, the only negative is that it’s a group tour that takes place on a tour bus.
If you’re looking for a private guided tour of the DMZ then you may be interested in the Private DMZ Peace Tour: N.Korea 3rd Invasion Tunnel and Suspension Bridge tour. Moreover, below are a few other fantastic tours to consider while in Seoul include:
- Full-Day Essential Seoul Tour
- Korean Cooking Class with Full-Course Meal & Local Market Tour
- Drinking and Eating through the Alleys of Seoul
- Pocheon Private Day Tour from Seoul Including Lunch
To get an idea of what a tour to the DMZ and JSA is like, we invite you to watch our VLOG below, “We went to North Korea and this is what about happened….” The video will help guide you to the sights and activities that seem the most interesting to you. It’s located at the end of the article.
What Are the DMZ Tour Options?
Depending on the goal of your visit, there are a few different options for tours available. You can check out the VIP Travel website to see what works best for you. Some visitors may want to say they crossed over the border into North Korea, so they sign up for the Best Half Day DMZ Tour from Seoul which includes a visit to the JSA.
Another option is to learn more about the history of the Korean War and visit key sites. In this case, the MDL[Military Demarcation Line] Special Tour may be the best option.
Which Tour Do You Recommend?
We participated in two tours on two different days. After our experience, we agreed that each experience had its highlights and together made up two great days of exploring. If you are short on time, then the Half Day DMZ Tour from Seoul may be a good option as it has all of the main locations in one half-day experience.
Are You Really Technically Visiting North Korea?
When we first shared the news of our visit, a few people on social media claimed that we didn’t actually visit North Korea. We had a feeling someone would try to dispute our claim and try to bring down our bragging rights!
So while on the JSA (Joint Security Area) Tour, we made a point to ask our American military escort, “Can we really say we visited North Korea?” The American soldier confidently replied, “Yes.” (He probably was thinking in his head, “What does she think we’re doing over here? Playing dress-up?!)
Again, you are crossing over the border from the DMZ into North Korean territory. If anyone tries to dispute the claim, tell them that they can take it up with the American military.
Tour With North Korean Defector
There are currently four companies that offer tours out to the JSA and DMZ. However, Cosmojin Tour Consulting is the only company that has a North Korean Defector as part of their tours. One of the unique highlights of our experience was the opportunity to learn, first-hand, about daily life in North Korea and hear about the defector’s actual escape.
Throughout the day, guests are free to ask the defector questions. This will allow you to gain a personal perspective from someone who still has family separated between the two Koreas. To be in the presence of an actual North Korean defector was an enlightening, yet humbling experience.
Another positive aspect of our tour with the Panmunjom Travel Center was our guide was phenomenal. She was high-energy, very informative, and had a great sense of humor. Also, while at the JSA, she had a great way of making our group feel relaxed. Her enthusiasm and insight provided many directions in the demilitarized zones.
Important Things to Know
- There is a dress code for the day. The following are not allowed: sleeveless shirts, tank tops, jeans with holes, any leather or military patterned clothing, shorts, revealing or skanky clothing, flip flops, or sandals. The T-shirts must be collared.
- There may be times when photo and video opportunities are prohibited as this is a military zone.
- Your tour may be canceled or modified in the event of an unexpected or unsafe condition.
- Contact Panmunjom Travel Center as soon as possible. You need at least 3 days advance notice to be sure to secure your tour.
- You must bring your passport to participate in the tour.
- Bring snacks and water. Lunch comes with the tour but drinks are an extra charge. Water is available at the restaurant for free.
We now have the ultimate bragging rights for our 56th country visited. The Budget Savvy Travelers have officially visited NORTH KOREA! Thank you to Panmunjom Travel Center for getting us there.
Have you taken a DMZ tour to visit North Korea? If so, please share your experience or questions in the comments section below. Feel free to contact us or reach out to Panmunjom Travel Center at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about taking a tour.
7 thoughts on “Best DMZ Tour to Visit North Korea From Seoul in 2023”
Very interesting blog. I thought that people do not travel in North Korea. Thanks for sharing! I’m glad I read your story.
Nice entry – I have not visited from the South side but rather from the North …. lots on NK in my own blog (with a few more locations to add yet). Just completed Panmunjom and the DMZ. Actually visiting NK via Pyongyang is not difficult, the biggest issue for most being that it is not cheap.
Thanks for stopping by. For us, money wasn’t the biggest issue…..it was our American passport. We had learned that American and Korean passports are not allowed into North Korea (very easily). I’d like to read more about your deeper travels into North Korea. Can you supply us a link?
Hi – Having an American passport has not been a problem for many years now. About 1/3 of our group of 20 were US citizens and that is about average. There are a small number of restrictions the most notable of which is that US citizens must fly into and out of Pyongyang. You are not permitted to take the train in or out of the country. Off course things are a bit tense at present between US and NK and you might want to consider that. Once you are accepted onto a tour you see and hear the exact same as anyone else on the tour. I make various references to US visitors in my blog. While the anti American rhetoric is relentless all the US citizens on our tour thoroughly enjoyed it.
If you enter my blog using this link and go down to North Korea … and follow links from there you can read reviews in a logical order …
Be warned there are a lot of them ..
I should add that they are based on what I saw and heard there so, yes, they are totally one sided …I have tried to add a bit of levity here and there ….
Any questions you have, just ask .. I keep up to date with NK news..
Above all, enjoy my take on NK and GO!!!!!!!
Thank you for this information! It is helpful to get a first hand account from someone who actually made it in and observed what a typical tour was like. Great information for anyone coming across this tread. I’m sure travelers would seek you out for more Information if considering a tour. After traveling for so long, we’re used to the anti-American rhetoric. It just rolls off our “typical American fat rolls!” Ha ha! Too much? I’ll definitely flag those articles to read. Thanks for sending them. Are you from Australia? Kind regards. -A
I am originally from Northern Ireland which I left in 1989. Apart from just over two years in PNG and three in Fiji I have lived in Australia (now home) since then.
The anti US rhetoric in NK is beyond the imaginable and we all (including those from the US) couldn’t wait to hear what would come next.
Lets hope things always stay calm!
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