You are about to enter the world's most protected border and witness the spine-chilling tension between North and South Koreas. Exciting as it may sound, there are a few things to keep in mind when you decide to visit this area.
Separating the two Koreas, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is loaded with land mines, missiles, and other destructive tools; all readily-prepared for a war that can erupt at any time. Understandably, the only way you can visit the DMZ is through an organized tour.
Located in the middle of the DMZ is the Joint Security Area (JSA). You have probably seen photographs of the blue buildings with heavy guards on both sides. It is indeed the most awaited stop for all travelers to the DMZ. Unleash your curiosity, but keep in mind that the JSA has strict dress and behavioral codes.
For all of these reasons, make sure that you travel with an experienced guide who cares about your safety. Now, let's buckle up and embark on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!
We get it. This trip is so unique that you wouldn't want to waste any second of it. No tourist traps and no forced shopping: our DMZ tours are designed so that you can enjoy all of the exciting activities to the fullest. Our guide will take care of the rest.
At the Dora Observatory, you can use telescopes to look over the border and see the North Korean town. The town was set up to let outsiders believe that North Korea enjoys modern living conditions just like in any other country.
Well... technically! You read that right. As the buildings of Panmunjom straddle the Military Demarcation Line, you can stand in North Korea when you are inside the buildings. Be careful though and DO NOT ever open the door behind the South Korean soldier!
You will have the chance to listen to heart-breaking stories of separated families, meet a North Korean defector, visit one of the Infiltration tunnels built by the North Korean to invade South Korea, and see several other historical sites. These wonderful experiences will at times make you feel sad; at others inspired. Be prepared to embrace all of these emotions during this unforgettable trip.
"The tour was interesting, but a little rushed. But I guess that's to be expected since it's a half-day tour. Our guide was really friendly and accommodating. She was also knowledgeable and always ready to answer..."
"The mist interesting moment was, to saw the morth korean flag to the other side!"
"The tour was very informative and the ride to the DMZ was comfortable. The only thing for me was the trip was bit rushed at the first stop and very slow at the last stop."
"It was great seeing the sights, even though it was a bit short on each stop. The last stop at the Ginseng-outlet was a bit too much, very annoying to have people trying to force you into buying crap."
"Very good! The guide and the bus driver were very nice! But I wished we could have stay longer some times"
"Very interesting day, beautiful weather and the guide was very very clear"
"Attentive girl guide to support us, friendly and lovable."
"No JSA unfortunately."
It depends, but, generally, yes! The DMZ is the most visited attraction in Seoul, so a lot of people want to go there to check it off their bucket list. Whether you are interested in politics, history, or the particular political situation between North and South Koreas, the trip will be rewarding.
Keep in mind that there are tours to the DMZ that do not include the JSA on their itinerary. For some people, the JSA is their final destination, because you get to witness the real tension among the soldiers. Make sure you know what type of experience you are looking for prior to booking your memorable trip.
The DMZ is about an hour and a half drive from Seoul (50 km). A typical full-day tour including the JSA takes about 9 hours. A half-day tour to the DMZ only takes 6 hours and usually departs in the morning.
Unfortunately no, you have to join an organized tour. Although the DMZ is accessible as a tourist attraction, it is still a border - probably the most heavily armed one in the world. There are land mines, missiles, gun placements, and more surrounding the area. All visitors have to go through security checkpoints and follow strict codes in order not to provoke unwanted aggression from North Korean officials.
Firstly, know what kind of experience you are looking for, because not all tours include the JSA on their itinerary. Second, be fully informed of and follow any JSA codes closely to save yourself from trouble and possibly danger. Finally, your passport is required during your visit to the DMZ and JSA. Citizens from certain countries are restricted from the area, so please make sure that you check carefully with your guide.
For DMZ only tours, just bring passport with you on the tour date. For DMZ tours that include the JSA, there are specific requirements. Make sure that you double-check with your guide before the trip to find out all of the requirements. Below are some of JSA codes for your reference: