Exploring the mysterious nation of North Korea just got a lot easier — at least if you’re Chinese.
A new scheme has been announced that provides Chinese citizens with an (almost) hassle-free visa to North Korea within a day, specifically for cycling day trips.
The trip, including the visa, costs around $50.
Some 35 Chinese tourists embarked on the first short cycling tour on May 2.
They cycled across the border from Tumen, in the northeast of China, and visited Nanyang City in North Korea before returning to China the same day.
The group visited Nanyang train station, the Korean War Hero Martyrs Monument, a portrait of Kim Il Sung, The Tower of Immortality, attended a show and sampled local snacks from a small farm market behind Nanyang International Hotel.
That hotel is where Kim Il Sung reportedly met Zhou Baozhong, a famous Chinese World War II general.
The first trip took a little more than three hours.
Swedish racer Annie Thorén receives award by Chon Dong Chol, head of the Rason tourism bureau. Riders passing a propaganda monument of Dear Leader Kim Jong-il. Bikers coming off the bridge over the Tumen River between China and North Korea, the starting point of the race. North Korean soldiers line the roads of the race. Swedish racer Christian Bertilsson with North Korean police on a countryside road. Peasants and villagers stood along the countryside road watching the race. A curious child watches in wide-eyed amazement at the bikers. The streets of Rason were lined with thousands of people cheering, waving flags and taking photos with mobile phones. A child with the North Korean flag by the finishing line in Rason. Women in traditional folk dresses clapping in Rason. Norwegians and Swedes celebrating with local North Korean beer after reaching the finish line. Bike race into North KoreaBike race into North KoreaBike race into North KoreaBike race into North KoreaBike race into North KoreaBike race into North KoreaBike race into North KoreaBike race into North KoreaBike race into North KoreaBike race into North KoreaBike race into North KoreaHIDE CAPTION<<< 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 >>>
Bike race into North Korea Zhao Xin, one of the cyclists on the trip, told Xinhua, China’s state news agency, “In North Korea, the food was pollution-free: vegetables, fish, eggs, they all tasted not bad. We had no worries eating there.”
First look at North Korea’s new luxury ski resort
Rise of North Korea tours in China
Tumen, part of Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Jilin Province, is a popular border city for travel to North Korea.
Travel to North Korea from China has grown recently, with North Korea approving more tour routes from some Chinese cities.
About 10,000 Chinese tourists visit North Korea each year through organized tours, according to Xinhua.
“The biggest advantage of Tumen in cross-border travel to North Korea is the efficiency in organizing a visa,” said Zhong Shi-jiu, the deputy mayor of Tumen, in an interview.
“If travelers register up front with related travel agencies in Tumen as well as Tumen City Tourism Bureau, then you can get a visa and your trip approved the same day you apply for one here.”
That would make travel to North Korea easier than travel to Hong Kong, at present, for Chinese mainlanders.
The trip isn’t available to non-mainland Chinese travelers.
Tumen also offers walking tours between the two countries.
It recently relaunched a train service between China and North Korea’s Mount Chibo.