Skip That North Korean Trip

The death of Otto Warmbier should be a reminder for us all that traveling to places like North Korea isn’t a great idea.  Honestly, I don’t think we will really know the facts why he was detained, and any statement regarding his detainment from his captors, shouldn’t be taken seriously. This article in The Independent UK highlights some of those points, and is written by a former North Korean, who luckily escaped to South Korea. Check it out as it is very interesting.  I have seen documentaries of people who have sneaked out footage of stores, hotels, and restaurants, and put them on YouTube for everyone to watch, and I cant help wonder what a big risk they took to do that.  They very well could’ve ended up like Otto Warmbier, seriously.  I personally have no ambitions to visit North Korea, or to fly their state carrier Air Koryo, in light of Otto’s death, because they could just apprehend you for no reason, and you really don’t have any rights.  There won’t be a phone call to mom and dad, and you’ll end up in a kangaroo court, and get served the most idiotic definition of justice there probably exists in this world.

Brave Tourists Looking for Instagram Fame

There are several tour companies that arrange North Korean tours. Though I don’t recommend them, you can check out their offerings and get an idea of costs.

The Young Pioneer Tours – this is the company that handled Otto’s trip to North Korea. They have probably the most experience in handling a trip there, but also have come under fire now with the recent event. Therefore, they are no longer offering tours for Americans to North Korea, but still open to other passport holders.

Uri Tours – This is another company that boasts travels to the DPRK. They also take Americans, and also offer packages that include skiing, snowboarding, and even a marathon.  Run for your life!..you may need to.

Koryo Tours – this Beijing based company, founded by two British guys, hosts tours as well. They are a bit smaller, but account for 50% of travels by Westerners to North Korea.

I would take my chances on a trip to Iran before North Korea. If anything, if I do get detained, I know at least the food will be better….or at least I hope.

Happy (and safe) Travels.

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FREE Guided Walking Tours: YES, FREE!!

With summer in full swing, I wanted to share with you some of the free tour guide offerings around the world, that are available for you to book. These are great, because you get to meet locals, who share their hometowns with you , and give a local perspective on the area. You can learn so much more, than just what a guidebook will spoon feed you. We personally used one of these when we visited Tokyo awhile back, and it was totally free and totally worth it. As I have stated in my Tokyo trip report, one of the guides took us to her tea ceremony and let us be a part of it. It was a lot of fun, and we learned a lot more than a boring 300 page guidebook.

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Sandeman’s New Europe Guided Tours: This company offers free walking tours of various cities across Europe, and Israel. They have stellar reviews, and come highly recommended amongst travelers.

Buenos Aires FREE Tour (Argentina) : Another great service to use for getting a start when in Buenos Aires. These folks have been doing this for a while, and you just show up at the meeting place and look for the guides in the green shirts. Tours last anywhere from half and hour to two hours, and cover the history and culture of Argentina! They also have stellar reviews.

Tokyo Free Guides : This is by far one of the best free guide services I have tried. The guides are super friendly, and they will have a solid record of providing free , enthusiastic guides, to show you around Tokyo. If you don’t speak a word of Japanese, these guides are VERY helpful in getting you into the local non-touristy districts, and restaurants. You just have to pay for their train fare, and a lunch, which I think is more than fair.

Singapore Footprints:  The “walkaholics” will hit up the bustling places of Singapore; show you the famous street food stalls, the fast paced business district, and the ethnics sections of town. Tours are every Saturday and Sunday at 4:15PM, and take about 2 ½ hours, so bring a good pair of walking shoes!

Free guided tours, and walking tours are a great way to save money when you go somewhere new. They also help you find the best deals around town, hit up the local eatery joints, and know shortcuts, cuz they know where everything is. Be sure to tip your guides, as ALL of these folks are doing this as a voluntarily. Happy Travels!

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