Although it’s not your typical travel destination, ears prick upwards when North Korea is mentioned. Often associated with controversial headlines, North Korea is such a far-flung destination, many people still don’t realise you can actually visit. Whether you’re fascinated by the secrecy North Korea lives in or hell-bent on visiting every country on the planet, preconceptions and actuality meet head-to-head when you step foot into the DPRK – the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. How to get to North Korea The burning question everyone asks is how to get to North Korea. First and foremost, if you’re a citizen of the United States, South Korea or Malaysia, you cannot currently visit North Korea. At all. For the rest of us, the only way to visit North Korea is with a registered and approved tour operator providing state-approved trips. You cannot travel solo to North Korea. Would you stay in a North Korean spa resort? How to get a North Korean Visa You’ll need to fill out a booking form with your respective tour operator, a DPRK visa form, sign the terms of the travel agreement, provide a copy of your passport and a passport photo with a white background. Your tour company will provide these upon booking. Normally, you won’t get a stamp in your passport, as the visa is a separate piece of paper. However, going by experience when visiting Rason with Young Pioneer Tours, the customs do stamp you in and out. You cannot obtain a North Korean visa independently. Young Pioneer Tours and Konsult Korea provide multiple itineraries for tours within the DPRK. US visa changes If you have visited North Korea since March 1, 2011, you will not be eligible for the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This means a visit to North Korean might mean you have to apply for a new visa for future visits to the US, NK News reported earlier this year. Tour options You might be surprised to discover that a city tour of Pyongyang isn’t the only option on offer in the DPRK. There is also the special economic zone, Rason, or you can go skiing in Masik, hike the highest peak Paektu Mountain, or attend special events such as the Mass Games. View this post on Instagram Chongjin - DPRK #photographydaily #photographyeveryday #photooftheday #instamood #picoftheday #instadaily #instagramhub#photooftheday #instagood #bestoftheday #documentary #portrait #portraitphotography #streetphotography #colorphotographer #instagram #instagramer #humanrights #humanstory #positivestory #inspiringstory #portraits #faces #culture #photolovers #dprk #northkorea #chongjin #bycicle A post shared by Ingrid Koedood Photography (@ingrid_koedood) on Sep 25, 2018 at 12:21pm PDT Etiquette in North Korea North Korea is a place with its own etiquette and strict values, so it’s important to toe the line whilst you’re visiting. Dos Learning some basic Korean is all but essential. Having manners here is important, so learning to say a few pleasantries will go a long way. “Aun nyong ha shim ni ka” means “hello”, while “ban kap sum ni da” is “nice to meet you”. “Kam sa ham ni da” means “thank you” and, just in case, “mi an ham ni da” is “sorry”. Don'ts Referring to the names of any past or present DPRK leaders is disrespectful. For example, if you want to reference Kim Jong-Un, you should call him “General”. Pointing at monuments or politically sensitive representations of the North Korean leaders is also deemed strongly inappropriate. Taking photos is widely rumoured to be a big “no-no” in North Korea. However, it’s basically OK to do so at your DPRK tour guide’s discretion. In places like Rason, there is more leniency towards taking photos of everyday life in the city, while in Pyongyang, it can be frowned upon. Bringing in or obtaining any sensitive material is strictly prohibited. You will not be allowed to carry materials such as books, CDs, or images that may bring an alternative influence to those in North Korea. The same goes for obtaining anything politically sensitive and taking it away with you. Visit Greenland to spot humpback whales and dodge great glaciers Places to visit Pyongyang View this post on Instagram Subservience • Pyongyang, North Korea • photography is all about capturing moments in time. This typical North Korean so-called ‘deep bow’ lasts a matter of seconds, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. A post shared by Josh Swords (@joshswords) on Oct 27, 2019 at 10:12am PDT For 99 per cent visitors to North Korea, the capital Pyongyang will be the first stop. Littered with sturdy statues and squares, witnessing the political monuments of Pyongyang will be standard on any tour operator’s itinerary. These include the Monument to Party Founding, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun – the mausoleum of Kim II-sung and Kim Jong-il – Mansu Hill Grand Monument, Kim II-sung Square and the Arch of Triumph. View this post on Instagram Juche Tower golden hour. A post shared by Teusz Kuleusz (@mattkulesza) on Aug 28, 2019 at 9:48pm PDT Cycling around the city, visiting a supermarket and taking the metro are all everyday things, but as a visitor in Pyongyang, it’s definitely a memorable experience. Rason The special economic zone really is a unique place to visit, even by North Korean standards. It’s the only place in the strictly communist state that allows slithers of capitalism. You can haggle at the Rajin Indoor Market; open a bank account at the Golden Triangle Bank, and business investors are welcomed. Tucked up in the northeast of the state, Rason is the closest city to North Korea’s outer borders with China and Russia. Which entertainment agency will sign Song Joong-ki in 2020? Masik View this post on Instagram Masikryong Ski Resort Follow @thefrostyreport Embrace the Snow️ . . . . . . . . . . #masikryong #masikpass #taehwa #northcorea #Nieve #invierno #Snowboard #Esqui #Winter #Ski #Skiing #Mountain #Travel #snow #snowlovers #snowboarding #스키장 #landscape #skiing #extreme #outdoor #outdoors #겨울 #skiresort #asia #눈 #coreadelnorte A post shared by The Frosty Report (@thefrostyreport) on Sep 20, 2018 at 8:50pm PDT North Korea isn’t just about political monuments and a strict regime; you can also hit the North Korean ski slopes, too. Masikryong Ski Resort has facilities similar to what you can expect in other parts of Asia, with equipment, lodges and efficient chairlifts, plus the Korean speciality of karaoke back at the restaurant and on-site bars. The elevation reaches well over 4,000 feet (1,200 metres) whilst the slopes total to over 100km of runs. Skiing in Masikryong mixes both novelty and adventure and is appropriate for all levels, including beginners. Why millennials want authentic travel experiences Chongjin View this post on Instagram Chongjin, North Hamgyong, North Korea (May 2019) Video link in bio... #dprk #northkorea #chosŏn #choson #조선민주주의인민공화국 #northhamgyong #함경북도 #chongjin #청진시 #chongjinport #fisherman #fishingboats #fishing #livetheadventure #openmyworld #travellerau #travel #wanderlust #squidlylovesnorthkorea A post shared by Mikhael Chai (@thatsquidlyguy) on Jul 12, 2019 at 10:00pm PDT Another major city within the DPRK that can be visited is Chongjin. The state’s third-largest city is the industrial heart of North Korea. Similar to Rason, remote and with fewer visitors, Chongjin also comes under the bracket of being “off the beaten track”. The central square is the prime attraction, epitomised by the statues of former leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .