North Korea

North Korea

The research for this website was carried out mainly in 2011 and 2012. Therefore there is a good chance that much of the information may now be out of date. This is particularly true of countries in the developing world, especially Asia, Africa and parts of South America where conditions can change often. Also, the political climate in many countries has changed a lot in recent years. Therefore the information on this website should be treated with caution. You should always check with your Government’s website or the UK Foreign office travel advice website before finalising plans to drive abroad.

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. 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.

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 Korea and gets out to tell the tale, It would be great to hear it!


  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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