North Korea

North Korea

North Korea Car Rental and Driving in North Korea
Not surprisingly no car rental companies have seen the need to open a branch in Pyongyang. (Even though you’ll find brokers offering dead end links on Google searches). If you manage to get a visa to visit North Korea you will be expected to be accompanied by a government minder at all times. If you manage to sneak out of the back door of your hotel unaccompanied, you could find yourself charged with espionage. Against this backdrop, its highly unlikely self drive will be an option in North Korea any time soon. You need a DPRK driving licence to drive a car anyway, and I wouldn’t like to imagine the lifetime of red tape you’d need to go through to get one.Even bicycles are unavailable to rent at the present time.

North Korean roads are usually paved but in deteriorating condition. Private vehicle ownership is very rare and the estimated 300,000 vehicles in the country are almost exclusively owned by the military or government. There are three major multilane highways: a 200-kilometre expressway connecting Pyongyang and Wonsan on the east coast, a 43-kilometre route connecting between and its port, Nampo, and a four-lane 100-kilometre motorway linking Pyongyang and Kaesong.

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

North Korea Car Rental

In June 2011, a number of news agencies reported the headline ‘North Korea allows First Self Drive Tourists!’. Closer inspection, however, revealed that 100 Chinese visitors were allowed to drive their own vehicles in a convoy through the country, accompanied by Government vehicles. You Tube videos show the tourists eating slap-up meals in top restaurants and attending lavish concerts. It therefore looks like this was a stage managed event rather than a sign of things to come in terms of opening the country up to independent travellers.

If anyone manages to somehow drive in North Kore,it would be great to hear it! And if there are any  North Korean car rental companies who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on



  1. Rosa Manson

    Aid workers can drive into Pyongyang from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok and then into Pyongyang for Humanitairan Aid, so does this mean that they have a DPRK licence or do they use an International one.
    This all seems a little confusing as Aid comes into North Korea somehow, so what is the correct procedure,one would be interested in knowing to make sure that Aid Agencies are not breaking any laws.

  2. Driver Abroad

    Thats a good question Rosa, and I’m not sure of the answer. I’ll do some digging and let you know if I find out. Matthew,

  3. Driver Abroad

    I made some further investigations with contacts who are familiar with North Korea. Their responses were –

    “Don’t worry about validity of drivers licenses. You are not allowed to drive yourself in the country as a tourist ; the guides follow every step you take outside your hotel and they are the ones driving. Even expats I’m unsure of if they can drive or if a chauffeur takes them to where they wish to go (in Pyongyang … to visit other places even expats have to ask permission) ”

    “When I was in Beijing in Jan, I had dinner with some very connected Chinese that interact with the DPRK on a regular basis, and they were complaining they can never drive there own vehicles there for monthly visits, one of them actually lives in Dandong, the main Chinese border crossing.”

    That may not help if you’re talking about driving an aid delivery vehicle as the Government may make special concessions for that but it does sound like no other foreigners are allowed to drive at all.

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