I will be taking three forms of currency on my trip: Chinese renminbi ( = yuan), euros and American dollars. Today I picked up my money from the foreign exchange. Euros will be the hard currency I will be using in the DPRK. American money as well as Japanese yen are also accepted, however all prices in hard currency are stated in euros. I will be bringing a wad of American one-dollar bills in case change cannot be made for the five-euro bills that I will bring.
Now that I have all my foreign currency, all purchases I make on my trip, souvenir and otherwise are theoretically already paid for. Everything on this trip, with the exception of my Peking hotel which I will put on my credit card only because I have to, will have already been bought. As I was first planning this trip in December and figuring out whether or not I could even afford it, I had to do the math and consider that everything will have to be paid for in advance. Koryo Tours would have to be paid in full before I could even board the plane to Pyongyang. The DPRK does not accept any credit cards so cash on hand is a must. There are rare exceptions to this general rule, but tourists are told well in advance not to count on paying for anything with plastic in the DPRK. Since there are no ATM’s in the DPRK all spending money will have to be acquired before leaving home. There are indeed banks in China but I would much rather get my renminbi and euros from my local branch in Canada. So I am in the stress-free position of going on vacation and knowing I will have no credit card bills to come home to. Even my Peking hotel bill will be on two separate credit card statements, since I will be staying in the Chinese capital on two different occasions both before and after my trip to the DPRK, so I will have the luxury of paying for it over two months.
As a guest of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who wants to creative a favourable impression with the customs officials as well as my guides, I plan to dress up when I fly to Pyongyang. This hearkens back to the early days of air travel, when passengers actually dressed formally. During my eighteen days in the country I will be visiting several monuments and places of national reverence, and formal attire will be mandatory. All travellers on my tour have been told to bring formal wear, and I will bring two shirts, slacks, a tie and dress shoes. I have bought a second 8 GB photo card which will ensure that I will have enough room for hundreds and hundreds of photos, as well as video I hope to shoot wherever permitted.