A New Zealand traveller has opened up about his "surreal" experience while on holiday in North Korea, the world's most secretive nation.

New Zealand Indigo Traveller Nick, who has visited 54 countries in four continents, recently made the journey to North Korea taking part in a "budget guided travel tour".

His journey took him through the busiest parts of the capital Pyongyang and into the rural wilderness of North Korea, including tiny towns and seaside locations.

In his video series on YouTube, Nick described the capital Pyongyang as impeccably clean, saying it was the cleanest place he's ever visited.


"You can see how clean and pristine the metro stations are.

"We rode five stops altogether and stopped at three stations. They were so grand and clean. You compare that to the metro stations in Europe where there's graffiti.

"Here in Pyongyang it was crystal clean and I swear you could eat your lunch off the ground. The locals appear to have a responsibility to keep the city clean because all throughout Pyongyang the city is incredibly clean.

"It's the cleanest place I've ever been to. At least what I've seen."

One highlight included visiting the war museum in Pyongyang which contained many harrowing images from their battle during the Korean War.

The "brutal but fascinating" museum contained captured US army tanks, planes, as well as a US navy ship. Nick says his museum tour was hosted by a gentle North Korean woman wearing a military uniform who explained the history of the war from the North Korean point of view.

He was also stunned at how "invisible" he felt as a foreigner when out in public. He explained that North Koreans wouldn't look at him or his tour group but there was no animosity towards them.

There was one exclusion, however, when young North Korean children came over to the Kiwi with toy guns and pretended to shoot him, giving a lighter view on how North Korean children play and interact with foreigners.

One surprise was the relative freedom Nick had to take footage of North Korea. After hearing stories of the country's strict protocol for foreigners the New Zealander was expecting more restrictions.

Instead he was allowed to walk with relative freedom among the locals as well as film and take photos of all the monuments and events that were taking place in North Korea.

One strict rule Nick had to obey was, when taking images of the statues of the former and current leaders, the whole statue must be in shot. Cutting off any part of the statue in images is considered highly disrespectful and could land you in trouble.

In North Korea religion is extremely restricted, according to Nick, who was allowed to visit one of few Buddhist temples in the country.

"Religion is highly monitored and only a select few are allowed to practise any kind of religion.

"If you are a foreigner caught trying to spread religion in North Korea you'll get in deep trouble. They check your bags at the airport for any bibles or any religious scriptures."

On Nick's journey to the rural provinces, he was met by a view of thousands of workers in the rice fields and in the distance beautiful mountainous scenery, including a famous waterfall once visited by Kim Jong Il in 2001.

While Pyongyang was vibrant and relatively modern, the rural regions of North Korea were described as like walking back through time.

"People working at the fertiliser factory looked like they walked straight out from a 1940s film.

"There's literally nothing to tell them apart from being in the 21st century.

"Inside the factory they were using an old phone and machinery better suited to the Soviet Union days."

Nick described the fertiliser factory and its workers as like stepping back in time to the 1940s. Photo / Indigo Traveller
Nick described the fertiliser factory and its workers as like stepping back in time to the 1940s. Photo / Indigo Traveller

Nick describes himself as "just some kid with a camera who was lucky enough to gain access to one of the most isolated and controlled countries in the world."

"I'm still processing this trip, the most unique and fascinating country I have ever visited - by far. Still pinching myself."