September 11 - Monday
- Recommended latest arrival in Beijing.
- 16:00: Our group assembles for a mandatory pre-tour group briefing at the Koryo Tours office in Beijing. This briefing will last approximately one hour and designed so that you will get the most out of your tour. It will cover travel etiquette, safety, and practicalities for travel in the DPRK. Have your last minute questions answered and meet your fellow travelers. Please be punctual - you can come early, pay any outstanding tour fees and browse our collection of Korean art.
Overnight: Hotel in Beijing not included in the tour. Contact us for recommendations near our office!
September 12 - Tuesday
Arrival Day in Pyongyang
- Free bus from the Koryo Tours office to Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 2. Exact time TBC at the pre-tour briefing. Alternatively meet the group at the Air Koryo check-in counter.
- Flight departure from Beijing on Air Koryo flight JS 152 at 12:55. A 1.5 hour flight with basic lunch (no vegetarian option).
- Arrival to Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport (FNJ) at 15:25. DPRK immigration and customs, meet your Korean guides, and transfer to the city.
- Arch of Triumph - Massive archway commemorating the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule. Made for the 70th anniversary of President Kim Il Sung in 1982.
- Hero’s Cemetery - Large gun, flag, and bayonet monument surrounded by rows of tombstones commemorating individual heroes of the Korean War.
Overnight: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang. Home away from home for most (but not all!) foreign visitors to Pyongyang, this 47-story hotel is located on an island in the middle of the Taedong River and offers great views of the city. Comfortable rooms and comprehensive leisure facilities: swimming pool, spa, billiards, bowling, gift shops, tea houses, beer brewed on-site, and a Chinese-run casino.
September 13 - Wednesday
- Drive east across the width of the peninsula before heading north to Hamhung, the second largest city of the DPRK and major centre of industry. A 6 to 7 hour drive.
- We’ll stop for a rest at Sinpyong Lake Guesthouse for a beautiful view over Sinpyong lake surrounded by mountains
- Ulim Waterfall - Hidden amongst the mountains on the road to Wonsan, ‘Echo’ Waterfall is a scenic stopover to enjoy lunch, stretch your legs, or go for a dip in the pool beneath.
- Upon arrival in Hamhung we will stop by Hamhung Grand Theatre and Central Square for an exterior view of the DPRK’s largest theatre on the city’s central square.
- Ancient home of Ri Song Gye – Home of the first king of the Ri Dynasty (1392-1910) who extinguished the Koryo Dynasty, only to be then ousted by his own son.
Overnight: Majon Beach Guesthouse - A beachside holiday compound with basic but comfortable chalets. Rooms have heated floors but no running water. Bring a torch! There is a main building with restaurant, bar, billiards, table-tennis, bookshop, and Korean karaoke.
September 14 - Thursday
- Hungnam Fertiliser Factory -Massive chemical-industrial plant producing various kinds of fertilisers. Tour of the plant control room, production facilities, and packing plant - just don’t light up next to the Ammonium Nitrate!
- Pujon Highlands -A scenic drive through the highlands above Hamhung, traditionally considered as one of the ‘Eight Great Sights of Korea’. Home to the Pujon Stone River, a multi-kilometer river of boulders running down the side a mountain and the Okryonsan Revolutionary Site -a base for anti-Japanese guerillas during the colonial period. This region was the sight of some of the most brutal fighting of the Korean War in the middle of the unusually cold winter of 1950. Notice how the local architecture differs from the lowlands beneath.
Overnight: Majon Beach Guesthouse
September 15 - Friday
- Tongbong Co-operative Farm - Local farm in the outskirts of Hamhung. View the machinery barn, a local home, and the farm shop to buy some locally made products.
- Drive south to Wonsan, a major port city on the East Sea, stopping at scenic spots along the way. A 2.5-3 hour drive.
- Songdowon International Schoolchildren’s Camp – A classic socialist summer camp where Korean and international children can spend two weeks learning socialist values and teamwork.
- Wonsan Agricultural University – The DPRK’s premier agricultural university set among beautiful hillside scenery. Tour the grounds and the neo-Romanesque teaching hall, originally built by Germans living in the area in the early 20th century.
- Wonsan City Centre and Docks - Central square and ship terminal in downtown Wonsan. The Mangyongbong-92 ferry/cargo ship which once shuttled Koreans living in Japan back and forth across the East Sea of Korea is moored here.
- Kangwon Province Art Gallery-Small art exhibition selling artwork by local artists.
- Jangdok Island and Lighthouse -Take a stroll on the breakwater to a small island in the middle of Wonsan harbor (1 EUR/USD entry fee).
Overnight: Dongmyong Hotel -Waterfront hotel with stunning seaside views of Wonsan Harbor. Limited hours of hot water, bar, billiards, ping-pong, barber shop, beauty salon, dry-sauna, and indoor seawater swimming pool.
September 16 - Saturday
- Drive south along the Eest Sea coast to the scenic Mt. Kumgang, the ‘Diamond Mountain’ noted in East Asian history and famous in Korean ledged. Home of some of Korea’s most spectacular natural landscapes and best hiking. A 2.5 -3 hour drive.
- Samil Lagoon – A charming green-water coastal lagoon lined by pine forests. Named for the ‘three-day’ stay (sam-il) of a king in days gone-by to take in the full beauty of the area.
- Spend the afternoon hiking in the Mt Kumgang area – ‘The Diamond Mountain’ – a series of peaks and canyons rising above Korea’s eastern seaboard and regarded since time immemorial as one of the most scenic regions in East Asia. A 8 km (round-trip) hike to a scenic ‘Nine-Dragons’ waterfall will take us through forests, along mountain streams and by emerald pools.
Overnight: Mt. Kumgang Hotel, Mt. Kumgang. A comfortable hotel with good hot water supply and clean rooms. Top floor bar and karaoke, outdoor balcony barbeque, billiards, gift shops, and small sauna facilities.
September 17 - Sunday
Back to Pyongyang via Wonsan
- Drive back north to Wonsan. A 2.5-3 hr drive.
- Former Wonsan Railway Station Revolutionary Site- Preserved Japanese colonial era train station, waiting room, guesthouse, and the train which future President Kim Il Sung rode to Pyongyang during the liberation of the country in 1945.
- Time to relax and swim on the beautiful beaches of Wonsan!
- Drive back west to Pyongyang. Approx. 4 hrs drive.
- Rakwon (Paradise) Department Store and Microbrewery -Department store selling domestic and foreign made goods. The bar next door sells beer and makkolli (traditional rice wine) brewed on site (1 EUR a pint).
Overnight: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang
September 18 – Monday
Charter flight to sacred Mt Paekdu
- In the morning, we will take charter flight to Samjiyon Town, the gateway to Mt. Paekdu located in the far north of the country. A 1 hour flight.
- Mt. Paekdu -‘Birthplace of the Korean Nation’ and ‘The Sacred Mountain of the Revolution’, Mt. Paekdu is one of the most important locations in traditional Korean history and the modern revolutionary history of the DPRK. Atop the mountain sits volcanic Lake Chon in the massive caldera formed in a giant eruption in the 10th century, one of the largest in recorded history. This eruption left behind a decapitated 2,744 meter peak which remains the tallest in Korea. Rarely visited and absolutely unforgettable.
- Lake Chon - The highest crater lake in the world. It is possible to hike the last few km of the overlooking summit or ride a funicular railways to the top for spectacular views. From here one can either walk down or cable car (weather permitting) to the lake itself to sample the crystal-clear waters.
- Mt. Paekdu Secret Camp - The guerilla headquarters of General Kim Il Sung during the anti-Japanese struggle set in hidden alpine valley lined by towering peaks and said to be the birthplace of leader Kim Jong Il. See the reconstructed camp telling of how the guerillas lived year in and year out.
- Rimyongsu Waterfall - A scenic waterfall which never freezes due despite chilling alpine winters. The waterfall also provides hydroelectric power to neighboring villages.
Overnight: Paegaebong Hotel, Samjiyon - Very basic hotel with limited hot water. Bring a torch!
September 19 – Tuesday
Charter flight to Mt Chilbo
- Samjiyon Grand Monument - Group of bronze statues, including one of President Kim Il Sung, and stone monuments next to a scenic alpine lake. One of three ‘grand monuments’ in the country.
- We will catch our charter flight onwards to Orang Airport in North Hamkyong Province. A 1 hour flight.
- Upon arrival at Mt. Chilbo, we will start our tour of the mountain range The -‘Seven Treasures’ mountain is one of the DPRK’s most remote and scenic areas with a vast array of strangely shaped peaks and unique geologic formations. This primordial landscape is home to many colourful (and suggestive) legends and offers a contrast to the densely populated cities and agricultural areas seen in much the rest of the country.
- Local games and dinner at the homestay village – The only place in the DPRK where foreigners can stay with a local families. Brush up on your Korean (or body-language) as for an evening spent with the family. It is also possible to play volleyball against or wrestle the village team.
Overnight: Homestay Village -The only place in the DPRK where foreigners can stay with local families in either a Korean-style or European-style home. Each home has a bedroom and washroom for guests.
*For US citizens: Outer Chilbo Hotel -A basic hotel located in a forested valley lined by primeval geologic formations. US citizens must stay here during their stay at Mt. Chilbo. This hotel has pleasant rooms and hot water is brought to you in the morning. In season you can also try fresh Pine Mushrooms, sold for hundreds of dollars abroad, at bargain prices. Great stargazing on clear moon-less nights.
September 20 - Wednesday
- We’ll leave Mt. Chilbo by way of the scenic coastal road (weather permitting) that leads to Kyongsong and Chongjin - The DPRK’s third largest city, provincial seat of North Hamkyong Province, and Korea’s ‘city of steel’ - home to the massive Kim Chaek Iron Works.
- Chongjin Revolutionary Museum – Museum depicting the revolutionary struggles of the region.
- Chongjin Central Square- Central Square of Chongjin city with statues of the DPRK leadership. A presentation of flowers is customary (2-3 EUR).
- Steelworker’s Kindergarten and Performance -Visit to a local kindergarten with a small student musical and theatrical performance.
- Chongjin Fisherman’s Club -Bar, billiards, restaurant, and sauna for merchant mariners visiting the Chongjin Port. A great place to relax after days on the road in the northeast.
Overnight: Chongjin Foreigners’ Lodging -The former foreign expert apartments of Kim Chaek Steelworks, similar in design to local apartments. Basic rooms but great food and service.
September 21 - Thursday
- Drive north to Hoeryong, a rarely visited city on the border with China. A 3-3.5 hour drive.
- Central Square and Statue of Mother Kim Jong Suk -Bronze statue of ‘The Mother of Korea’ in central Hoeryong. A presentation of flowers (2-4 EUR) is customary here.
- Native House of Kim Jong Suk -Traditional Korean home of Kim Jong Suk set among a peaceful apricot orchard.
- Hoeryong Revolutionary Museum - Museum depicting the revolutionary struggles of the region. Particularly interesting for its giant mural depicting the ‘Three Generals of Mt. Paekdu’ during the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle. The painting was made by artists from the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang and smaller replicas of it can be found throughout the country
- Kim Ki Sung Middle School -Local school named after the brother of Kim Jong Suk in Hoeryong City. Tour the facilities and drop in on classrooms to help practice English with the students.
Overnight: Hoeryong Hotel - A basic hotel featuring large rooms with air conditioning but no hot water, separate sauna/shower block, small shop and bar, and large banquet hall. The staff of the hotel can put on a dinner performance for groups at the cost of approximately 600 RMB.
September 22 – Friday
Chongjin and flight back to Pyongyang
- In the morning, we will drive back to Chongjin and visit the North Hamkyong Province E- Library -A library, study, and computer centre for the province, located just off Chongjin Central Square.
- Chongjin Trolley Bus –We’ll take a ride down Chongjin’s main drag on one of the city’s trolleybuses.
- In the afternoon, we will drive to Orang Airport to catch our charter flight back to Pyongyang. A 1 hour 20 minute flight.
- Drinks in a local bar – we’ll visit one of Pyongyang’s bars that we have not stopped by yet on this incredible tour to wrap up this adventurous 21-night trip
- Duck Barbecue Restaurant -South Pyongyang’s famous grilled duck restaurant that has seen many teary-eyed farewells.
Overnight: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang
September 23 - SaturdayDeparture Day from Pyongyang and Return to Beijing by flight or train. Please indicated your preferred exit method upon booking*
- Flight departure from Pyongyang on Air Koryo Flight JS 151 at 08:25 with scheduled arrival at Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) Terminal 2 at 09:55. Please note there is a 50 EUR surcharge for flight return.
- Train departure by international sleeper train to Beijing at 10:10 with scheduled arrival to Beijing Station on Sunday September 24 at 08:30. We typically book soft sleeper (four beds per cabin) for the return journey. Please note that in some rare instances, soft sleeper tickets may sell out and we will book hard sleeper (six beds per cabin) instead.