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Itinerary of a DMZ Korea Tour from Seoul

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If you know a thing or two about Korea or follow the news, you’ve likely become familiar with the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South. As much as I’d love to say I’ve been to North Korea to add it to my collection of passport stamps, simply visiting the DMZ on this tour doesn’t actually count as crossing the border.

Technically throughout this trip, you’ll stay within the borders of South Korea but you do get close enough to see across the DMZ into the North. This is about the closest tourists are able to get to an “active” warzone, however for many years now the two nations have been part of a ceasefire.

This means the war is still happening, but there isn’t really any fighting. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful when you visit though, as at any moment the soldiers are expected to be ready should anything happen.

Country:South Korea (Republic of Korea)
Currency:South Korean Won / KRW
Do you need a visa to visit as tourists?Check here

Don’t forget to get travel insurance to cover you if something bad happens. One company I have personal experience with is Safety Wing. Not everyone needs the same coverage, so make sure you get a personalised quote that suits you and your trip plans.

Did you know: Even though the DMZ is referenced in many TV shows and movies in Korea, no filming takes place here where the tour takes place. Hallasan National Park is used as a filming location for the DMZ in the KDrama “Crash Landing on You”.

Accommodation before & After the DMZ Korea Tour

When visiting the DMZ you’ll be starting your trip from within Seoul. Seoul is often the first destination on a South Korean itinerary and most of the day tours pick visitors up from here.

Depending on the area you choose to book your accommodation in, will depend on which meeting point you choose for the start of your Korea DMZ tour. For my first DMZ tour, I chose to stay in the Meongdong area so I was able to walk to the station in under 10 minutes.

When looking for accommodation in Seoul the top two options are using HostelWorld if you’re a solo and/or budget traveller hoping to meet other people. Or Booking.com if you’d prefer more comfort and a range of accommodation options.

If you need to navigate your way around Seoul before and after your trip, you can either get yourself a T-Money card which works for buses and trains around the city, or you can get yourself a rental car. Bear in mind if you get a rental car as a foreigner in Korea you will need to have the appropriate foreign licence with you (for British travellers you’ll need an IDP).

Itinerary for a DMZ Korea Tour

For this tour specifically, you can book a spot through this link: DMZ, 3rd Tunnel & Suspension Bridge Guided Tour

Meet at the meeting point:

This tour has multiple meeting point options depending on which variation of the tour you choose. You can either select to be picked up at Meongdong Station or Hongik. University Station (both in central Seoul). Each meeting point choice has the option for either the Gamaksan Bridge addition to the tour or the Majang Bridge.

Many people choose their meeting point based on its proximity to their accommodation.

The red Gamaksan Suspension Bridge
Gamaksan Suspension Bridge & Hike

From Seoul, you’ll drive with the tour group on a coach to Imjingak Resort, a popular tourist area just 7km from the DMZ in South Korea.

If you choose the Gamaksan Suspension Bridge addition to the tour, you’ll stop by the bridge entrance first, hike 15 – 20 minutes to the top of Gamaksan mountain and cross the red suspension bridges.

If you follow the trail to the end you’ll find a very small temple and a waterfall which is a great photo spot. What’s important about this location concerning the DMZ tour is that this jungle beneath the suspension bridges was an important area in the Korean War where the two opposing sides went to battle.

You will “cross” the immigration checkpoint with your coach and the soldiers will need to check everyone’s passport. Do not forget to bring yours!

Steam Locomotive
Imjingak Resort

After the Gamaksan Suspension Bridge visit, you’ll continue to the Imjingak Resort, here you will get to see the Freedom Bridge, Mangbaedan Altar & Steam Locomotive while your tour guide explains each one’s significance with the War.

The Freedom Bridge was a temporary structure that was built behind the Imjingak Pavillion as a sign of respect for the people who were displaced during the Korean War.

Next, you’ll check out the Mangbaedan Altar which is used to bring comfort and support to the 10 million South Korean residents who are separated from their relatives in the North.

The last stop in this area is the famous black Steam locomotive and a separate train that was destroyed during the war near Jangdan Station that is riddled with bullet holes.

No pictures can be taken inside the tunnel so instead I’ve uploaded this photo opportunity located just outside the entrance
The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel

Next, you’ll head over to the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel which is where the North Korean Army dug from the North to the South by taking the soldiers by surprise. As you can tell by the name, this is the 3rd of multiple tunnels that were constructed underground between the two nations.

This is one part of the tour that does not allow any photography so you will be asked to put any phones, cameras and bags into the lockers available for visitors. These lockers are free to use and allow you to keep your belongings safe during your time inside the tunnel.

The security in this area is significant and all guests that enter the tunnel will be required to wear a hard hat due to the low ceiling and large metal pipes that hang above. This is for your safety and is non-negotiable as those who refuse to wear a helmet will simply not be allowed in.

If you’re tall like I am, it will feel rather cramped inside but it’s manageable providing you don’t stand up straight too suddenly.

If you are less physically able, this might not be easily accessible depending on your needs. This is because the ramp that takes you into the tunnel is extremely steep and narrow with uneven ground which does not currently accommodate wheelchairs.

Telescopes at the Dora Observatory
Dora Observatory

The Dora Observatory (also called the Dorasan Observatory) is the next stop and you’ll get to spend up to 1 hour here. It is a large building split into multiple floors and most people head straight to the roof. Up here you’ll find multiple telescopes which you can look through to see a close-up of North Korea’s fake but closest town: Kijong-Dong.

Also known as the peace village and propaganda village, it is one of just two towns that are permitted to be located within the DMZ. The North states that Kijong-Dong is a farming home to 200 families and has aimed to make the village brightly coloured to encourage those from the South to defect.

However, local residents from South of the border along with the modernisation of telescopes at the observatory, have stated that Kijong-Dong is instead an empty village being used by North Korean soldiers and is not “real”.

It is a fascinating site getting to look over the DMZ and get a glimpse into the world’s most secretive nation and is likely the highlight of any visitors’ day.

One of the many memorials found in the local park

Where to book this tour

Please note: DMZ attractions are closed on Mondays so tours don’t run on this day.

I knew there were so many different tour options available for visiting the DMZ in Korea, so I spent a fair amount of time researching tour operators. If you’d like to compare the tours I have listed 5 below. The one I have specifically written about in this post is the 1st one listed (or click here).

As with most tours I book, I ended up booking this tour through GetYourGuide, but all 5 of them are also listed through Viator if you have an account with them instead. You’ll find that many tour operators list their activities through both platforms as a way to reach a larger audience!

Check out this post where I compare the 5 tours above so you can clearly see the differences!

Each of these tours above can be purchased online using the links, however, there are one or two stops along the route while on the tour that requires cash to make purchases instead of a card. So just bear in mind that you may need to take cash with you.

I personally use Wise when converting currencies from the UK GBP to South Korean Won.

The view from Dora Observatory into North Korean territory

What to Bring to the DMZ Korea Tour

One of the main things to remember about any DMZ tour you attend in Korea is you will be required to bring along your passport. This is because you will be crossing an immigration border during your trip. If you forget your passport, your DMZ tour in Korea will come to an abrupt end.

It’s also advisable to wear comfortable footwear. There is a lot of walking involved and you will be on your feet for most of the day.

You should also make sure to bring lots of water. During the warmer months of the year, you will be stuck outside for the majority of the itinerary and there is not much shade coverage. It’s best to keep yourself hydrated as much as possible.

Please note that there are also things you shouldn’t bring. Alcohol, large bags and suitcases or anything else that could land you in trouble with the military or immigration personnel.

When to Visit the DMZ Korea Tour

The DMZ is accessible year-round as there are tours available in all 4 seasons. With the exception of Mondays, tours run throughout the week, every week.

Unfortunately, if you are hoping to visit on a public holiday you’ll be out of luck as the Korean DMZ closes so you won’t find a tour operating. However, since no one is able to visit the DMZ in Korea without a tour guide, it should be easy to plan and figure out available days to visit as the tour guides will have an availability calendar on the booking screen. Booking a tour also means you, the traveller, have one less thing to worry about.

Is the DMZ tour in Korea safe?

On the one hand, it is the world’s most protected border with hundreds of soldiers operating at all times to keep people safe. On the other hand, they’re only there because it is the border between two nations currently at war.

With many unexploded landmines scattered through the fields between North and South, heading off route can be extremely dangerous to anyone who tries to cross the joint security area.

So, if you stay with your tour guide and don’t try to go through any fenced-off areas then you will be safe throughout your entire trip. So in theory, yes the DMZ as far as tour experiences go, are safe. Just make sure you follow the rules and don’t wander off as that is what could put you at risk.

Have you been to the DMZ yet? What did you think of the experience?

Need help planning your trip?

Check out how to plan a trip abroad & see my travel resources for more.

WayAway – Great for booking flights. They even have a cashback feature for those who fly frequently.
Skyscanner – A comprehensive comparison website showing where to purchase flights.
HostelWorld – The biggest selection of hostels & sociable accommodations.
Booking.com – The largest collection of accommodations worldwide.

Safety Wing – A travel insurance brand for long-term travellers and nomads.

Airalo – An eSIM card company that lets you stay connected during your trip.
Wise – Perfect for transferring foreign currencies.
iVisa – For applying for tourist and visitor visas.

Viator – Great for finding tours and activities worldwide.
Get Your Guide – Another company for finding activities.
Klook – Have some of the best activity deals in Asia.

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