Here you will find all the information you need about your coming tour.
For only the 7th time, Pyongyang Marathon is accessible for public attendance – and now you are on the list of participants! As you close in on the finish line, you can look forward to being supported by 50.000 North Koreans cheering at Kim Il Sung Stadium. Besides taking part in the absolute biggest sport event in North Korea, we aim to broaden your cultural mind and show you the world’s most isolated country from multiple angles. We will be interacting with local North Koreans, visit one of the most intense military areas in the world and much, much more. All experiences will provide its own unique element in creating a nuanced picture of a country, which is often portrayed very one-sided in international media.
You can always find the latest updated programme here
This is an overview of your payments connected to this tour. Please make sure that you have paid your deposit to secure your spot on the trip.
– Deposit for marathon trip by train
– Balance payment for marathon trip by train
– Single room for marathon trip by train (optional)
Above Borders is responsible for ensuring your visa to North Korea. However, in order for us to provide the visa, it is important that you fill out all personal information correctly on your profile. In addition, it is important that you upload the following documents:
– Copy of passport
– Passport picture
– Copy of travel insurance policy
As stated earlier, it is your own responsibility to arrange transport to China in time for the beginning of our programme. We here provide you with the necessary information to plan your journey to China. In case you need further assistance, do not hesitate to contact us!
Visa to China
It is your own responsibility to ensure that you have an approved double-entry visa to China. You are able to apply for the visa after you have ensured your flight booking to China – and hotel, if needed. Previous travellers have chosen to spent additional days in Beijing, but that is completely up to you.
It might take up to 14 days for your visa to be approved and ready. Therefore, we recommend that you begin the visa-application process as soon as you have received the 2 necessary documents from us. These documents cannot be provided before you have filled out your personal information on your profile. You will receive the documents as soon as they are done. We aim to provide the documents approximately 2 months before departure. Please check that all information is correct before you go to the visa centre to avoid being rejected.
We all meet at the hotel Hilton Garden Inn Dandong (丹东希尔顿花园酒店)
Address: Dandong is No 30, Shiwei Rd, Zhenxing District, Dandong, 118000, China
You are able to check in at the hotel from 14.00 o’clock on April 8. You must have checked in at latest 18.00 o’clock. The hotel is located around 250 metres from Dandong Railway Station (see map).
As you arrive to Dandong Railway Station, look for a tall statue of the former, Chinese leader Mao. Turn right around the statue towards the big traffic light in the right corner of the square. From here, follow the road to the right and turn left at the first road, next to the big Gucci-commercial. The hotel is located around the next corner to the right. Find it by following the Gucci-building. The reception is located on the 8th floor.
Flight to China
There are several options when it comes to travelling to Dandong. We recommend one of three following routes:
1) Flight to Beijing. From here train to Dandong
2) Flight to Shenyang (via Beijing). From here, train or bus to Dandong
3) Flight to Dandong (via Beijing). From here, take a taxi from the airport to the hotel
Train to Dandong
If you fly directly to/from Dandong, the following information is not relevant for you.
If you choose to travel by train – whether it is from Beijing or Shenyang –, you can order your ticket here. Tickets are available approximately 2 months before departure.
In Beijing, you must take the train from Beijing South Railway Station (北京南站). The station is located 40 kilometres from the airport. You can either take a taxi (make sure you find an official taxa, it costs 100-150 DKK) or use public transportation, which includes one transition and takes around 2 hours. The train journey from Beijing South Railway Station to Dandong takes around 6 ½ hour.
In Shenyang, we recommend that you take the train towards Dandong from Shenyang Railway Station (NOT Shenyang South). The station is located around 30 kilometres from the airport. Public transportation is also available but we have experienced this to be rather complex. Hence, we recommend that you take a taxi. The train journey from Shenyang Railway Station to Dandong takes around 1 ½ hour.
Bus to Dandong
In case you choose public transportation, it is possible to catch a direct bus from Shenyang Airport to Dandong – it takes around 3 hours. The number on the bus and the exact parking space varies from time to time. Therefore, we cannot guarantee beforehand where the bus is located. Approach the information desk in the airport at arrival and ask for help. You cannot order tickets in advance for this bus trip.
When we arrive at Dandong on our way home – April 16 –, we all stay at the same hotel before the programme ends on April 17. From here, it is your own responsibility to find your way home (or continue travelling). One option is to fly from Dandong to Beijing and continue from there. You can also book a train ticket from Dandong to Beijing here. Tickets are available approximately 2 months in advance.
All sleepovers will be arranged in double room. In case you wish to share a room with a specific person from the group, please include this in your personal profile so that we can accommodate this. If you do not have any special requests, we will sort out the ‘room puzzle’. You will only be paired with someone who has the same sex as yourself. If you wish to have your own room, you can reserve this on your profile. This will cost an additional 3500 DKK.
To gain the most out of your travel experiences, we believe that it is absolute crucial to show respect for other cultures when you travel. You might find that your own values or opinions contravene the country’s culture and way of ruling, but please do not ruin your travel experience. Who knows – maybe a local North Korean is actually not that different from you and me. In general, North Koreans are very kind, polite and extremely helpful.
On our tour to North Korea, you cannot expect to adopt an ordinary travel mind-set compared to for example a charter holiday. Below this section, you will find a number of rules, which we must strongly ask you to comply with during the trip. Any deviation from these rules might result in changes and limitations in our programme and it might lead to the group being investigated further. Furthermore, it will put our North Korea guides in jeopardy of losing their jobs – or worse. Therefore, we ask you to carefully read and comply with the following rules.
Rule no. 1
Do not take pictures unless our guides have told us that it is okay. Follow any other potential instructions from our guides at certain sites and locations.
Rules no. 2
Do not leave the group and wander around on your own in the city. This can be dangerous for your own security and it breaks the trust between visitors and North Korea.
Rules no. 3
Do not be or act offensively towards North Korean landmarks and sites.
Rules no. 4
Do not obviously criticise North Korea leaders.
Rules no. 5
Do not bring sensitive material to North Korea, for instance books or other written publications, which include texts or mentioning of North Korea. This includes all materials – such as this document –, which we might provide you prior to your trip.
Rules no. 6
Avoid publishing and uploading material to social media, which could potentially offend North Korea after you have returned from your trip. This could end up damaging our collaboration and opportunities in North Korea in the future.
Rules no. 7
Do not eat gum and do not wear old, worn clothes at North Korean landmarks (e.g. Mansudae grand Monument).
Rules no. 8
Do not leave the hotel without permission from your guides
Rules no. 9
Avoid asking the guides and any local North Koreans about sensitive topics such as politics and other unfounded rumours.
Rules no. 10
Use “The DPRK” when mentioning North Korea in conversations with especially locals
Historically, the spring weather in Pyongyang is warmer than Scandinavia, temperatures typically around 15-16 degrees. On the Pyongyang Marathon race day, we will leave quite early for the stadium, so we recommend that you bring extra warm clothes, which you are able to leave with your guide before the race begins. In addition, some nights might be quite cold since buildings are not as well isolated as many are used to in for example Denmark.
In North Korea, you can pay with Chinese Yen (CNY), Euro (EUR) and American Dollars (USD).
USD are traded at the best rate in North Korea, but since we will also be spending time in China, we recommend that you bring CNY. These are also easy to compare to DKK as one CNY equals 0, 95 DKK.
The amount of pocket money spend by each traveller is very different. Some spend 500 DKK, others spend 4000.
It is NOT possible to withdraw money in North Korea.
As a general tendency, you will be spending pocket money on:
– Souvenirs and snacks
– Additional sites/experiences
– Tips for our North Korean guides
Drawing from our experiences, we recommend that you bring around 3000 DKK (400 EUR). Travelling to North Korea is not something you do frequently and it would be a big shame if you were not able to buy a certain souvenir at the end of the trip due to lack of money. Below we have tried to form an overview of prizes on the most common souvenirs, etc. Prizes are listed in DKK:
|Product / Service||Price in DKK:|
|North Korean movies and books||20-50|
|Ginseng Chicken soup (traditional Korean |
dish which it said to improve health and a persons
potency. You can buy the soup during dinner at Minsok Hotel)
|Post cards (can be sent from our hotel or brought home as a souvenir)||4|
|Draft beer at the local bar||20|
|Specially designed propaganda posters (the number of posters and prizes varies a lot)||250|
|Pins (for example with the North Korean flag||10|
|Skin care products||30-200|
Tips are obviously an individual, volunteer decision, but it is important for us to mention that a big part of our guide’s salary comes from tips. Thus, tips make a huge difference for the life of our guides, subsequently influencing our collaboration with North Korea and our opportunities to continuingly exploring the world’s most isolated country.
As a recommendation, we calculate 50 CNY per overnight stay for each guide/driver. On our trip, we will have 2 guides and a bus driver. With a total of 6 overnight stays in North Korea, this equals 300 CNY for each guide/driver – a total of 900 CNY.
This might sound like a lot of money but we ask you to consider that the guides and driver follow us all day long and are at our disposal 24 hours a day throughout the entire trip. Once again, however, we want to point out that tipping – and the amount of tipping – is completely up to each traveller.
To make sure that we follow North Korean traditions and ensure that any tips are received by the right people, we ask you – whatever amount of tips you decide to give – to hand over the tips to your tour leader on the last night of the trip. He will then make sure to give and split the tips rightfully with our guides.
You are welcome to bring your phone, smart phone and computer. But, bear in mind that when we reach border control, these devices will be checked for pictures, videos, etc. Therefore, we strongly ask you to delete all material beforehand, which might offend or make fun of North Korea or the Kim-Family. In addition, please delete all material provided by Above Borders included this document. Pictures from South Korea, K-Pop song and pictures from home is fine to bring. We recommend that you make a back-up of your devices before departure, just to be on the safe side. We cannot guarantee what will be deleted.
There will not be any mobile network or Wifi signal in North Korea. From our hotel in Pyongyang, you can make international phone calls by paying a rate of approximately 15 DKK (2 Euros) per minute.
Film cameras, Instax, GoPros, DSLR, digital cameras, etc. is allowed in North Korea. However, we ask you not to bring advanced DSLR cameras with built GPS. Your camera objective cannot exceed 200 millimeter. In case you wish to bring a larger objective, please contact us beforehand. Your camera will – just as your phone – be checked at the border.
On another note, we suggest that you bring 2 SD cards.
Earlier regulations forbid tourists to bring GPS in North Korea. On last year’s marathon tour, everyone who brought a GPS-watch successfully entered North Korea without getting them confiscated. Nevertheless, this cannot be guaranteed, so it is up to each individual to consider the risk. Above Borders will not be responsible for any confiscated GPS devices.
Other electronics and gadgets
Do not bring USB-sticks to North Korea – they will be confiscated at the border. The same goes for drone cameras and selfie-sticks. In general, you can expect power sockets to fit with European devices but just in case, if you are able to bring an adapter, we suggest that you do.
Taking part in Pyongyang Marathon is a quite particular experience. Therefore, this section provides you additional information about the event. You can chose to run either 5, 10, 21 or 42 kilometres. Please inform us which distance you wish to run by emailing email@example.com. You can change the distance until 15th of February.
The route through Pyongyang begins and end at Kim Il Sung Stadium. The event contains the following time limits:
5 & 10 km < 2 hours
21 km < 2, 5 hours
42 km < 4, 5 hours
Please note that the closing ceremony at the stadium begins 4 hours after kick-off. This means that if you have not reached the finish line after 4 hours, you will be obligated to complete the race outside the stadium. Due to this, we kindly ask you to choose a distance where you believe you are able to complete the race within 4 hours. We wish to give you an unforgettable experience – however, not for the wrong reasons.
The running route is displayed below: (picture missing)
In case you should not wish to take an active part in Pyongyang Marathon, you are able to witness the opening ceremony followed by football matches played at the stadium while the race is happening. Please let us know if you do not wish to run.
Kim Il Sung Stadium will host the opening as well and closing ceremony, attended by thousands of local North Koreans. During the opening ceremony, everyone is obligated to wear long sleeves and pants on the outside of your running clothes – this could for example be a tracksuit. After the opening ceremony, you are able to leave your extra clothes with your tour leader at the stadium.
Along the running route, many North Koreans will be present to cheer and support the runners. Water stations will be set up at every 5 kilometres. We cannot guarantee the conditions at these water stations and you must expect to stand in line to get water. If possible, we encourage you to bring your own water supplies and carry them on you during the race.
Toilets will be provided along the route with clear directions showing you the way.
You are welcome to bring your own snacks, gels, fruit bars, etc. into North Korea. It will not be possible to buy these items inside the country, so we encourage you to bring along any products that you might need for the run.
In case you acquire an injury – or, due to other events are not able to complete the race –, we recommend that you step outside the running course where officials will pick you up in ambulances and help you back to the stadium (it is not as dramatic as it may sound).
As part of your participation in Pyongyang Marathon, you will receive an official event t-shirt.
Please note that below sizes are based on Asian sizes, thus, we encourage you to choose a t-shirt that fits with your actual size.
To choose your size, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the following information:
Example: MS (man, small), MXL (man, extra large), FS (female, small)
Sizes overview – Men (regular fit)
|Size||Breast (cm)*2||Lengh (cm)||Hight reference (cm)|
Sizes overview – Women (Slim fit)
|Size||Breast (cm)*2||Lengh (cm)||Hight reference (cm)|
Texts, articles and film
Our mission at Above borders is to show you DPRK from a new perspective. To give you a little head start we want to provide you with a little bit of research and information in form of articles and research. This can help you understand the DPRK and give you a little insight of the country.
All the readable material is accessible here.
In addition to the readings, there are also a few videos that provide great information.
1. Money and Power in North Korea: Hidden Economy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKYBu9xIfac
With the ever growing number of sanctions being put on North Korea, this film asks the question how is it Kim Jon Un’s regime has managed to stay in power given the fact that the country is becoming increasing cut off from the rest of the world.
2. Comrade Kim Goes Flying
The first Western (Belgium, UK) and North Korea Co-Production, “Comrade Kim Goes Flying” is the story of a young North Korean woman reaching for her own dream and carving out her own future.
You are not allowed to bring books, posters or other material that can in any way humiliate or make fun of the DPRK into the country. The same rule applies for a bible or other religious material. These will be confiscated at the border during entry. If you are bringing your computer you will also need to delete any files related to the above mentioned – generally it is a good idea to make a backup of your computer at home before going as we cannot guarantee what they might delete.
On our tour we will hopefully get to do some exchange sessions with the locals. Maybe already during our train ride to Pyongyang. During the whole trip we will be able to talk to our local guides and other locals who might approach us.
Here are a few tips in order to get the most out of your conversations:
You are welcome to bring sweets from home to give to the children we are going to meet at the local school.
If you have any questions or doubts about anything please do not hesitate to contact us. We put pride in making sure you get a great tour and an experience of a lifetime. Below you can find the contact details of your tour leader, Adil.
+45 50 82 04 37
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp will be blocked in China.
To grant access to these platforms you will need to install a VPN on your phone.
WeChat is the Chinese equivalent to Messenger and through this you can also reach your tour leader, Adil by searching for her WeChat ID: AdilMirzakhanova
As always, if you have any questions regarding any of this, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are very excited to give you an experience of a lifetime!
Here is a list of suggested things you may pack for the tour:
☐ Valid Passport
☐ Double entry visa to China
☐ Running clothing and shoes
☐ Snacks, gel, power bars etc…
☐ Swim wear (Spa & pool at the hotel)
☐ Pocket money (USD or CNY)
☐ Flight tickets & schedule
☐ Contact information on Adil
☐ A formal outfit (for formal locations)
☐ Warm clothes – maybe a raincoat
☐ VPN and WeChat apps on your phone
☐ Flash light
☐ Medical certificate (in case you use special medicine)
☐ Regular over-the-counter medicine (against headache, feber, diarrhea)
☐ Hand sanitizer
☐ Some sweets from your country to give to the North Korean school kids
☐ An open mind 🙂