April 23 – 27/28 (Tues – Sat/Sun)
4 nights in the DPRK plus one on the train
Please note that the itinerary may differ slightly to what is below but your tour leader will do their best to ensure that as much is covered as possible and will also add in extras when there is time such as a visit to a local bar or a funfair. We visit the DPRK regularly and know all the best places to go to make your trip even more unique. We will make the most of your time in the DPRK to guarantee the experience of a lifetime.
Mon 22nd April
4PM - group assembles in the Koryo Tours office for a pre-tour briefing which will last approximately 1 hour and is designed so that you will get the best out of your tour. Please be punctual - you can even come early, pay any outstanding tour fees and browse our art gallery and merchandise.
Tues 23rd April
AM: This morning we will meet outside the Koryo office (time to be confirmed) and together head to Beijing Airport Terminal 2 for our flight Beijing to Pyongyang (1.5 hrs) - the showcase capital of the DPRK with a population of approximately 2 million.
PM: Upon arrival in Pyongyang (approximately 4pm - DPRK is one hour ahead of China), we proceed through immigration and customs and meet our guides who will accompany us during our stay. On our way to the hotel we will visit the Arch of Triumph – similar to the French version but bigger. Important in Korean history as the first place Kim Il Sung gave a speech to the Korean people after the surrender of the Japanese.
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang (one of the deluxe-class hotels in the country located on an island in the Taedong River which flows through the middle of the city.
Weds 24th April
AM: After an early breakfast we take a 2.5 hr drive south to Kaesong, an historical city near the DMZ which avoided being destroyed in the Korean War as it was chosen as the place for armistice talks. There is a service station halfway where we will stop for a rest. This is a popular place for tourists to take photos of themselves standing in the middle of this empty highway.
Upon reaching Kaesong we continue on 20 mins to Panmunjom/DMZ where North and South Korea continue their decades old face-off. It is possible to go into one of the huts that straddle the demarcation line and actually cross over into South Korea! This is one of the few places you can take pictures of - and even with - members of the DPRK military. After this memorable visit we head back to Kaesong for a visit to the Kaesong Koryo Museum, which is a beautiful old Confucian University, to learn about the history of the area. There is also a collection of steles and pavilions from around the area. The stamp shop here is excellent too. Lunch is a traditional pansanggi meal - something like Korean tapas. Up to 10 different dishes served in gold bowls. For anyone wanting to supplement their lunch you will have the opportunity to sample Korea's famous delicacy - 'sweetmeat soup' AKA dog meat (costs EUR 5).
PM: After lunch we return to Pyongyang where we visit the 150m Juche Tower, the highest stone monument in the world (topped with a flickering red torch). We are given an explanation of the country's guiding Juche philosophy often translated as 'self-reliance'. Take the lift to the top for stunning views over Pyongyang (costs EUR 5). We will also stop at the Party Foundation Monument - an iconic sculpture of a hammer, sickle and calligraphy brush commemorating 50 years of the Workers' Party rule. Great view to the Mansudae Grand Monument and on to the Ryugyong hotel.
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang
Thurs 25th April
AM: DPRK Holiday: Korean People’s Army Day - Our first visit is to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun where North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state. Opened 3 years after the death of President Kim Il Sung in 1994, the building used to be his offices. In 2011 it closed after the death of Kim Jong Il but re-opened at the end of 2012. This is a place of utmost importance for Koreans and tourists should behave accordingly. Men should wear a shirt and tie, women should dress smartly. The entire visit takes around 1.5 hrs and you are not allowed to take your camera in but after visiting the rooms inside we come back out to take photos from the square in front of the impressive building. Next we take a short drive to the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery – superb individually crafted bronze busts of the anti-Japanese heroes including one of Kim Jong Suk - the mother of Kim Jong Il. The cemetery was designed to overlook the city, giving the martyrs a view of the re-building of their country. Next is a walk in Kim Il Sung Square - Pyongyang’s largest square in the heart of the city. There used to be portraits of Marx and Lenin on display here but they were taken down in early 2012. This is where the military parades pass through and the mass dances take place - you can see the podium on which the leaders stand to view these incredible displays although they don't happen as often as the western media make out - not even an annual event. We continue our walk to the Foreign Languages Bookshop - a great place to read up on what you are seeing here and buy your gifts and night time reading.
PM: After lunch we visit the Mansudae Grand Monument - statues of North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il flanked by powerful sculptures telling the story of the anti-Japanese War, the rebuilding of the country and finally the Korean War. Kim Il Sung's statue has been here since 1972 but Kim Jong Il's was added in 2012 on the occasion of Kim Il Sung's 100th birthday. This is a very important place for Koreans and visitors are requested to follow the local custom and bow in front of the statues after placing down a bouquet of flowers. As it is a national holiday we expect this area to be busier than usual. We then take a walk in Moranbong Park otherwise known as Peony Hill. Located in the centre of Pyongyang this is a favourite place for locals and during the holiday periods it is not unusual to come across a group of Koreans dancing. Make sure to learn basic Korean - the guides can help - to meet and greet people and you might even get the opportunity to join in. During the week Koreans come here to study, enjoy nature and of course go on a romantic walk. For the remainder of the afternoon there is a choice of two itinerary options. The first is a visit to the Taesongsan Combined Fruit Farm - newly available for Koryo Tourists. See what can be made from apples in the DPRK (all the trees were imported from Italy) as well as visiting a terrapin breeding farm. The 2nd option is a visit to the newly-opened Pyongyang Folk Village and Culture Park. Full of scale models of famous spots in Pyongyang and around the whole DPRK, this park showcases Korea's heritage from the past to the present day. Entry fee is 13 EUR payable on the spot. We do not need to know which option you would like to take in advance of the day. After dinner there is an optional visit to Kaeson funfair. Located near the Arch of Triumph, this funfair was renovated in 2010 and all the rides are from Italy. It is one of the most popular nightspots in Pyongyang. Entry costs EUR 1 and the rides are between EUR 1.5 and EUR 3. Even if you can't summon up the courage to try any of the rides, it is still a great place for people watching and the locals are generally more than happy to have their photos taken here - bear in mind that a group of foreign tourists provides just as much of an attraction for them as the rides themselves!
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang
Fri 26th April
AM: Our first visit of the day is to the Railway Museum. This newly re-opened facility details the history of the DPRK railway and the involvement of the leaders in its development. See how the DPRK does the locomotion! We then drive to the outskirts of Pyongyang to visit the Pyongyang National Gift Palace (new for Koryo tourists) See gifts given to DPRK’s leaders from Koreans around the world, from the sublime to the even more sublime!. Lunch is a BBQ outdoors (weather permitting) at the beautiful Mt. Ryonggak.
PM: After lunch we return to the city and visit the Pyongyang Feature Film Studios – the Hollywood of the DPRK where some of the most iconic DPRK feature films were shot and produced. It was visited hundreds of times by Kim Jong Il who wrote a book entitled On the Art of the Cinema – the ‘bible’ for Korean filmmakers. Tour the sets and learn about film as art and propaganda in North Korea. Next stop are the War Victory Monuments. Built on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the end of the Korean War 27th July 1993 (in North Korea referred to as the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War and the end of the war as “Victory Day”) - it comprises of a series of monuments which North Korean’s see as key battles during the war. Next we go deep underground for a ride on the Pyongyang Metro - the deepest underground system in the world and the designs of the main stations are stunning with superb lighting and mosaics. We start at Puhung (Rehabilitation) Station, then take the train to the next station Yonggwang (Glory). Here we get off to take pictures before getting back on the train and going through 3 stops and getting off at the fourth which is Kaeson (Triumphant Return). A total of 6 stations. A great chance to have interaction with the locals if you are prepared to learn basic greetings in Korean - and if you meet students get them to greet you in English! We end the day at a local micro-brewery.
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang
Sat 27th April
Today is departure day. For those flying out the flight departs Pyongyang at 09:00 and arrives in Beijing at approx 10:00am. End of tour (options into the city are taxi (make a note of the taxi number and get a receipt), airport bus or the airport/city train).
Those taking the train option depart Pyongyang station at 10:40. The journey to Sinuiju (border city) takes around 5 hours and lunch is served in the dining car for those who want it (EUR 5). The immigration/customs procedures on the DPRK side take between 1.5 to 2.5 hrs and there is no need to get off the train at any time. The international carriages then continue over the Friendship Bridge which spans the Yalu River (as you cross look to the left to see the bridge damaged in the Korean War) and on to Dandong, China. The immigration/customs procedures here are much quicker - around 30 minutes. Those doing the Dandong option alight here and the train (the carriages attach onto a Chinese domestic train) departs at 18:30 local time. Dinner can be eaten in the Chinese dining car (costs RMB 60).
OVERNIGHT: On train
Sun 28th April
AM: The train arrives into Beijing Central Railway Station just after 08:30am - this is the end of the tour.
TOUR COST: EUR 1390
VISA FEE: EUR 50
PRE-TOUR MEETING: April 22nd (Monday), 4PM, at our office in Beijing
Room upgrades available – please ask for more information.
TOUR FEE INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR FEE: