North Korean Won (KPW)
North Korean prices are given in euro and not North Korean won (KPW) because tourists only use euro, US dollars or Chinese RMB and never get to use KPW.
Budget: Less than €150
● Cheap hotel bed: €70–100
● Street snack: €0.10
● Pyongyang metro ticket: €0.01
● Local beer: €0.50
● Double room in a midrange hotel: €100–150
● Entry to Juche Tower: €5
● Cheapest Mass Games ticket: €80
● Day ski pass at Masik-ryong resort: €35
Top end: More than €250
● Double room in a luxury hotel: €250
● KoryoLink SIM card: €215
● Best Mass Games ticket: €300
● Helicopter flight over Pyongyang: €180
Bargaining is not really possible anywhere in the country, as nearly all shops are state-owned and prices centrally set.
The unit of currency is the North Korean won (KPW), though most travellers will never even see them. Banknotes come in denominations of five, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000KPW and coins come in denominations of one, five, 10 and 50 chon, as well as one won. Visitors can pay for everything with euros, Chinese RMB or US dollars (but bring small change of both; big notes can be impossible to change). Japanese yen may also be accepted in some places.
Credit cards are completely useless everywhere in the country, so bring as much cash as you’ll need, with some leeway for any unexpected expenses. While you're unlikely to use the won, it may be possible to get some from your guides, but it’s officially illegal to take it out of the country.
Travellers cheques are not usable in North Korea and there are no ATMs linked to international networks anywhere in the country.
Set Your Budget
The cost of a trip to North Korea is considerable. Visitors have to pay to hire their guides and for food and hotels in advance as part of an all-inclusive tour. The only real way to cut costs is to join a large group and share the expenses between many travellers. It’s difficult to travel to North Korea for much less than €1000 per person for five days, though competition between the various Běijīng-based travel agencies is currently fierce.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Tipping is expected by your guides and driver and is generally calculated at €10 per driver or per guide per day, meaning that you should plan for €30 per day in total. Tips will be given collectively on your final morning in North Korea. Elsewhere tipping is not expected anywhere in the country.