February 28, 2019 | 09:04 pm PT

Tour bookings to North Korea surges post-summit

Tour bookings to North Korea surges post-summit
Daily life in North Korea through the lens of a Vietnamese tourist. Photo by VnExpress/Ngo Quang Minh.

Vietnamese travel companies are launching more tours to North Korea in the wake of the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi. 

Vietravel expects 1,000 Vietnamese tourists to travel to North Korea between March and November this year.

HanoiRedtours said North Korea tours in March are sold out and it expects the number of visitors to double after the summit. 

HCMC-based Saigontourist said it would organize one tour each from HCMC and Hanoi every month with 15-20 visitors on each trip.

"Trips will be organized regularly until the end of this summer. The price of a five-day, four-night tour is VND29.9 million ($1,284) from Hanoi and VND32.99 million ($1,417) from Ho Chi Minh City."

A spokesperson for another Hanoi travel company said the company is researching the possibility of launching tours to North Korea by train, similar to Kim Jong-un's visit to Vietnam.

"Currently, you can only fly to Pyongyang by Air China, and the number of seats is limited. If train routes are used, visitors will have more choices, and the number of tourists will increase significantly."

According to North Korean government regulations, all tourists are required to buy a tour and cannot travel on their own.

A Saigontourist spokesperson said interest in tours to North Korea has spiked as a result of the Trump-Kim summit.

The company used to offer a North Korea tour for VND50 million ($2,146), but suspended it due to safety issues and high prices. However, many other companies are offering tours at half that price. 

Some companies launched promotions before the summit on February 27-28 with discounts of VND3-6 million ($128 - $257). 

Others organized contests on American and North Korean cultures, with prizes being discount vouchers and free trips to North Korea. 

One company waived service charges for obtaining U.S. and North Korean visas between February 22 and 28. 

The North Korean-U.S. summit was held in Hanoi from February 27–28.