Regent Holidays, the only UK tour operator to deal directly with the North Koreans (other UK operators have to deal with intermediary in China), has been advised by its agents in North Korea that visas to the country will now be granted to US passport holders.
This significant change follows an improvement in diplomatic relations between North Korea and the USA and means that visas will now be granted to Americans for a minimum stay of three nights and a maximum stay of ten nights, but only on an individual tailor-made basis or as part of a group that is made up entirely of other Americans. Before this rule change, Americans were only allowed to visit North Korea during the Arirang Mass Games, when they could be easily monitored and their movements could be carefully restricted. The new relaxed legislation means that US visitors will be able to visit at any time of year (excluding Dec-Feb when the country effectively closes down for refurbishment) and will be given much more freedom to explore. They will not, however, be able to join any group tours that are made up of other nationalities.
Regent Holidays can now book any of their individual tours to North Korea for ex-pat Americans living in the UK and for Americans living within the USA. Travellers flying in from America would need to fly into Beijing and stay one night before taking an onward flight to Pyongyang.
Trips can be taken at any time from February to November and Regent Holidays would need between eight and twelve weeks’ notice to make a booking and obtain visa authorisation. Visas can be rescinded at the last minute should cultural and diplomatic relations deteriorate and itineraries may be subject to change at short notice depending on local conditions and political sensitivities.
Says Carl Meadows, Tours Manager for Regent Holidays ‘This new relaxation in visa restrictions for Americans visiting North Korea is a great opportunity for U.S. citizens at home or abroad to see not just the capital Pyongyang but also other fascinating towns, in a country that is one of the most reclusive in the world.’