August 30 | Monday
*Pre-Tour Briefing | We require all travellers to attend a pre-tour briefing that covers regulations, etiquette, safety, and practicalities for travel in North Korea. The briefing lasts approximately one hour followed by a question and answer session. Please be punctual for the briefing. You can come early, meet your fellow travellers, pay any outstanding tour fees and browse our collection of Korean art. A proper briefing is an essential part of travel to North Korea.
For this tour, we will hold two briefings. One in the morning for those departing by train this afternoon and the other in the afternoon for those departing by flight the next day.
- Recommended latest arrival in Beijing.
- 10:00 | Briefing for those departing by train.
- 16:00 | Briefing for those departing by flight.
- 17:27 | Train travellers depart Beijing Station by domestic sleeper train to Dandong, the Chinese city on the border with the DPRK. Please arrange independent travel to the train station and arrive at least an hour and a half early for the train departure.
Overnight | Hotel in Beijing not included in the tour for those taking the flight the next day. Contact us for recommendations near our office! Those travelling by train will spend the night on the train.
August 31 | Tuesday
Arrival Day in Pyongyang
- Train transfer at Dandong Station from overnight sleeper train to Dandong-Pyongyang local. Our local representative in Dandong will assist with the transfer. Train crosses the China-North Korea border followed by North Korean customs and immigration.
- Free bus from the Koryo Tours office to Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 2 for those taking the flight. 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 JS152 at 13:00. A 2-hour flight with basic lunch.
- Train arrival to Pyongyang Railway Station at 18:45.
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 and beer brewed on-site.
September 1 | Wednesday
Pyongyang and Nampo
- Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and USS Pueblo | We’ll tour this world-class museum led by a local museum guides. Renovated in 2012 and its exhibits of Korean War from the DPRK perspective containing artifacts, documents, photos, and lifelike dioramas. The exterior grounds house the War Victory Monument and displays of Korean People’s Army Hero Equipment and captures equipment from the US military, including the spyship USS Pueblo. Central to the understanding of the country today and highlight of the trip.
- Mansudae Fountain Park | The historic centre of Pyongyang popular with local citizens after school and on weekends. Flanked by examples of ancient, socialist, and modern architecture.
- Mansudae Grand Monument | Enormous bronze statues of President Kim Il Sung and Leader Kim Jong Il overlooking downtown Pyongyang. A presentation of flowers and bow by the group is customary here (5 EUR). Here we will also see the Chollima, or ‘thousand ri [400 mile] horse’ – a symbol of speed- commemorating the quick rebuilding of the country in the 1950’s following the Korean War.
- Foreign Languages Bookshop | Store selling Korean publications translated into English, German, French, Russian, Chinese, and Spanish. Also pick up DVDs, postcards, and small works of art.
- Kim Il Sung Square | Pyongyang’s central square lined with government ministries, museum and The Grand People’s Study House, Korea’s national library. See the centre of it all!
- Okryugwan | A meal at Pyongyang’s most famous restaurant. Housed in a huge traditional building on the banks of the Taedong River. Okryugwan specialises in Pyongyang Cold Noodles.
- Drive west along the ‘Youth Hero Highway’ to Nampo (45 minutes to 1-hour drive), the port city of Pyongyang at the mouth of the Taedong River on the West Sea.
- Tae’an Glass Factory | Factory producing glass and glass products for the domestic market. Watch the glass-making process from smelting to sheet-cutting and even try to break a sheet of strengthened glass.
- Chongsam-ri Co-operative Farm | The DPRK’s most famous and iconic model farm. Visited hundreds of times by Kim Il Sung, the place where the ‘Chongsam-ri Method’ was developed (they will explain on-site). See how the farming system works, visit a farmhouse, the local shop, kindergarten and see the fields and greenhouses.
- Pi Island | A local beach next to West Sea Barrage. Go for a swim or join the locals for a karaoke.
- Nampo Clam BBQ | Nampo's famous clam BBQ - cooked in petrol and washed down with Korea's national drink, Soju.
Ryonggang Hot Spa Hotel, Nampo | Compound with holiday houses and a main building for dinner and entertainment. Bring a torch! Spa bath in every room with mineral water from the Sindok Spring- the most famous mineral spa in the DPRK. Billiards, karaoke, and ping pong.
September 2 | Thursday
Drive from Nampo to Kaesong via Mount Kuwol, the 'September Mountain', the scenic Chaeryong Plains, and Sariwon. We'll cross the West Sea Barrage at the mouth of the Taedong River in the morning.
- West Sea Barrage | An 8 km concrete, steel, and earthen barrage constructed between the Taedong River estuary and the West Sea for land reclamation, irrigation, flood prevention, and power generation. It also acts as a ship lock and fish ladder. One of the DPRK’s greatest engineering feats.
- Mt. Kuwol | A scenic mountain area on the West Coast of Korea. We’ll pass through this region on a full-day drive between Nampo and Kaesong after crossing over the West Seat Barrage in the morning.
- Woljong Temple | Buddhist temple established in the middle of the 9th century and later rebuilt at the start of the Ri Dynasty.
- Sinchon Town and Museum of US War Crimes | Museum dedicated to ‘crimes committed by the US imperialists’. Located on the site of a civilian massacre, the museum has an array of harrowing exhibits, displays, and panoramas on the haunting events that took place in this region during the war. Not for the faint at heart and sensitivity is called for here. Please note that this location was closed to foreign visitors in 2018 following the DPRK-US Summit Meeting. If the situation changes, we will visit this site.
- Sariwon Folk Village and City View | Mock-up of a traditional Korean town which includes a history museum, food street, and pavilions. There is a small tavern selling Makkoli, traditional rice wine. Climb a nearby hill for a view of Sariwon City and the surrounding plains.
- Unjong Livestock Farm and Mask Dance | See the facilites of this livestock farm and then be treated to a traditional Korean mask dance.
- Continue south to Kaesong, historic capital of the medieval Koryo Dynasty (918-1392 AD). Once located in South Korea, the city changed hands during the Korean War. It is now located just north of the DMZ.
- Traditional Korean Royal Meal with Kayagum Performance | Also known as pansanggi, the meal is made up of different dishes served in small brass bowls. The more dishes, the more distinguished the guest!
Minsok Folk Hotel, Kaesong | Traditional style hotel where guests sleep on heated floors in Korean style. Housed in beautiful courtyards of Kaesong’s old city, structures date back to the Ri Dynasty. Basic bathroom facilities. Hot water not guaranteed and erratic electricity supply – please bring a torch.
September 3 | Friday
Historic Kaesong and Panmunjom
- Old City Walk and South Gate | A stroll from the hotel through Kaesong’s historic district lined with homes dating back to the Ri Dynasty from the city’s historic South Gate.
- Panmunjom Truce Village | Located in the middle of the 4 km wide Demilitarised Zone, Panmunjom is the site of the signing of the 1953 armistice at the end of the Korean War. This is the only location where visitors can directly view soldiers from both sides and the demarcation line dividing Korea. On some days it is possible to enter the hut straddling both Koreas and there cross temporarily into the south.
- Sonjuk Bridge | Small stone bridge built in 1290, which in 1392 was the site of the assassination of the last loyal Koryo Dynasty minister Jong Mong Ju by a son of Ri Song Gye (founder of the next, and final, dynasty). This bloody act extinguished the Koryo which had ruled over Korea for 474 years and is said to have left a permanent mark on the bridge that can be seen to this day.
- Kaesong Koryo Museum & Stamp Shop | A former Confucian education school, now a museum on the Koryo Dynasty exhibiting historical objects, statues, pagodas, and porcelain from the time. One of Kaesong’s many UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Pakyon Waterfall | Light walking with a picnic lunch in a relaxing wooded area. Local people commonly visit here for picnics and sometimes swimming in the series of pools above the falls.
- Gwanum Temple | Located a 30-minute hike, above Pakyon Waterfalls, the temple dates back more than a thousand years and is dedicated to the Buddhist Bodhisattva of Mercy. There is an ornate marble Bodhisattva statue the nearby cave. The current building dates back to the Ri Dynasty and has an interesting tale associated with its construction.
- Tomb of King Wanggon | Resting place of the founder of the Koryo Dynasty, who died in 943. The tomb is largely reconstructed after looting by the Japanese occupiers and general disrepair. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Concrete Wall and view of DMZ | View of a complex fortification system erected on the southern boundary of the DMZ accompanied by a military guide. The wall is seen as evidence of intent to permanently divide the nation. A 45 minute drive each way from Kaesong through scenic countryside.
- Janam Hill | Statues of the DPRK leadership on a hill overlooking Kaesong city and historic pavilion used for archery demonstrations in days of yore.
Overnight | Minsok Folk Hotel, Kaesong.
September 4 | Saturday
- Drive to the rarely visited town of Haeju (approx. 2 hrs drive, very dependent on road conditions but a guaranteed adventure), the provincial seat of South Hwanghae Province and a port city on the West Sea.
- Picnic lunch at Sokdam Ravine | Made up of 9 valleys spread over a large area the Sokdam scenic area is a worthy place to visit for the views alone. Sokdam ravine means the scenic spot which was seated on the 9 ravines with mountains, rocks and streams.
- Haeju Central Square and Statues
- Puyong Pavilion | The largest pavilion in the whole DPRK and the only one in Korea built on footstalls in water, originally built in 1500.
- Koryo Fortress | A major military base in its day, this fortress is situated above the magnificent Suyang Waterfall.
- Return to Pyongyang with a stop at the Monument to the Three-Charters of National Reunification, Iconic arch over the Pyongyang-Kaesong Highway dedicated to joint meeting between Koreas, north and south. Also known as the ‘Arch of Reunification’. A 3-hours drive.
- Taedonggang Bar No. 3 | Upscale bar across the street from the Tower of the Juche Idea. There are a variety of beers on tap produced at Pyongyang’s Taedonggang Brewery outside of town (2-2.5 EUR per glass).
Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang
September 5 | Sunday
Sunday in Pyongyang, and onto Pyongsong
- Kumsusan Palace of the Sun | Mausoleum of the DPRK leadership where President Kim Il Sung and Leader Kim Jong Il lie in state and the most solemn location on the itinerary. Please note formal dress is required. Men require collared shirt with tie, dark non-jean pants, and dark shoes. Women require covered shoulders, knee-length dress or pants, and closed toed shoes. The visit will take most of the morning and visitors are asked to bow a number of times inside. This is a state-administered site and visits are subject to local conditions. Cancellations are rare but possible.
- Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery | Hilltop cemetery with dozens of bronze busts of those who took part in the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule. It is customary to present flowers here.
- Pyongyang Central Zoo | Pyongyang's zoo and home to not just animals, but also dinosaurs can be found at the natural history museum that is attached to the zoo.
- Mt Ryonggak | Enjoy a picnic lunch in this park on the outskirts of Pyongyang and popular with locals. Stretch your legs after lunch witha short hike to the top of Mt Ryonggak itself.
- Munsu Water Park | We’ll take a break at this outdoor and indoor water park with water slides, lap pools, and hot tubs. Bar, coffee shop, and shops for non-swimmers (Entry fee 2 EUR; swimming fee- 10 EUR with suit rental; tennis- 5 EUR).
- Pyongsong | Drive north of Pyongyang to the capital of South Pyongan Province. A 45 minute to 1-hour drive.
Jangsusan Hotel, Pyongsong | The only hotel in Pyongsong open for tourists and one of the most fun in the whole country! Basic facilities with fairly reliable electricity and hot water. One of the best bartenders in the country mans the bar. Billiards, karaoke, hairdresser, and outdoor eateries in summer.
September 6 | Monday
Pyongsong and Mt Myohyang
- Kim Jong Suk Higher Middle School | One of the DPRK’s top middle schools for gifted students, tourists are encouraged to help teach an English class!
- Paeksong Revolutionary Site | Location of Kim Il Sung University during the Korean War. Tour the renovated buildings and learn about life there during the war.
- Drive to Mt Myohyang via Anju | a mid-sized industrial city located on the road and rail line north of Pyongyang on the Chongchon River. During the Korean War, major battles were fought near here between North Korean-Chinese forces and UN-South Korean forces. Coal is mined nearby. Rarely visited by foreigners.
- Paeksang Pavilion and Anju City Walls | The greatest pavilion in Kwanso (Pyong’an Province) which overlooks the Chongchon River. Rebuilt after destruction in the Korean War.
- Manpok Valley Hike | Various options for hikes of a range of distances/difficulties. Passing waterfalls, hermitages, interesting rocks, lovely wooded areas, and viewing points.
Huichon Hotel, Chagang Province | Basic but clean hotel located 30 minutes north of Mt. Myohyang. Very good local food much different from the lowlands, on-site sauna, and limited electricity.
September 7 | Tuesday
- International Friendship Exhibition | A semi-subterranean exhibition hall displaying gifts of all kinds given to the DPRK leaders by foreign states, leaders, and organizations. The exhibition is a fascinating look into material culture in the second half of the 20th century. Highlights include a plane given by the Soviet Union, basketball signed by Michael Jordan from the US State Department, and vodka given by Dennis Rodman. The visit takes most of the morning. Presentable dress required.
- Pohyon Buddhist Temple | A peaceful temple dating back to 1042 CE with stone pagoda and repository of print blocks and historic text of the Tripitaka Koreana, Buddhist scriptures first produced to invoke divine assistance from foreign invasions during the Koryo Dynasty.
- Lunch at local hotel
- Drive back to Pyongyang (2.5-3 hours) with a stop at Ryongmun Caves | A subterranean complex of limestone caves and grottoes. Led by an experienced local guide, you will see weirdly (and suggestively) shaped rocks and stalactites/stalagmites and hear a wealth of stories and legends about each - some not appropriate for young audiences.
Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang | Pyongyang’s premier hotel, built in 1985, and located in the heart of downtown, near Pyongyang Station. The go-to for visiting delegations, both foreign and domestic. Shops, bookstore, cafes, a revolving restaurant, beer brewed on-site.
September 8 | Wednesday
- Mansudae Art Studio | North Korea’s centre of artistic excellence, where the majority of the country's sculptures, mosaics, and paintings are made. Visit workshops to see artists at work, plus visit an exhibition where pieces are sold.
- Kim Il Sung University | Tour the facilites and grounds of North Korea's most prestigious university.
- Mangyongdae Native House | Birthplace of and childhood home of President Kim Il Sung. A traditional Korean house in beautiful natural surroundings.
- Kwangbok Department Store | Exchange for Korean currency and shop with the citizens of Pyongyang! Try the snack stand on the first floor for some of Pyongyang’s best local eats.
- Grand People's Study House | National library and public correspondence university with Neo-traditional Korean and great views of the city.
- Tower of the Juche Idea | Iconic tower dedicated to the DPRK’s guiding philosophy on the Taedong River. Take the elevator to the top for 5 EUR for great views of the city.
- Monument to the Party Foundation | Iconic structure featuring the hammer, sickle, writing brush which make up the emblem of the Worker’s Party of Korea and represent workers, farmers, and intellectuals.
- Golden Lane Bowling Centre | Where Pyongyang locals go for their ten-pin fix (2.5 EUR per person per game). Also has billiards and arcade games. Non-bowlers can head next door to the Kumrung Leisure Centre for an airgun shooting range (approximately 6 EUR per 20 round cartridge) and some of the best coffee in Pyongyang.
- Taedonggang Seafood Restaurant | Dinner tonight will be at the Taedonggang Seafood Restaurant (10 EUR per person)
Overnight | Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang
September 9 | Thursday
National Day, the 73rd anniversary of the foundation of the DPRK (North Korea)
- FULL Pyongyang Metro Tour | One of the deepest metro systems in the world with stunning artwork reflecting the name of each station. Ride both lines and stop off at smaller stations, rarely visited by tourists.
- Arch of Triumph | Massive archway made for the 70th anniversary of President Kim Il Sung in 1982 and commemorating the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule. Larger than its counterpart in Paris.
- Moranbong Park | We’ll take a stroll and have picnic lunch in Pyongyang’s central park popular with locals for picnics, dances, and sports. The park is filled with historic pavilions, walls, and monuments- modern and ancient, a few of which are among the traditional ‘Eight Great Sights of Pyongyang’.
- Volleyball game against a local company team | Most work units whether it be a factory, a farm, or white-collar office has its own volleyball team.
- Tram Ride | A ride through Pyongyang on one of the city’s trams from Kwangbok Street. A Koryo exclusive!
- Mass Dance | We'll watch as hundreds of locals, many in brightly coloured national dress, join together in a beautiful choreographed dance in the heart of the city (and maybe even join in ourselves!)
- Mansugyo Beer Bar | A traditional standing bar serving seven type of beer (1 EUR a pint). Popular with locals after work and on weekends!
- Mass Games! | The Mass Games are an art form in North Korea, developed over decades, which can involve up to 100,000 performers in massive synchronised displays of gymnastics and dance. Not to be missed!
Overnight | Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang
September 10 | Friday
Slow day in Pyongyang. This morning we'll allow everyone to sleep in for some much-needed rest. For those who want to can go and learn a bit about Korean history.
- National Gift Exhibition Hall | One of North Korea’s two gift exhibition halls, this one houses all of the gifts given to North Korea’s leaders from Koreans in North Korea, South Korea and from all over the Korean Diaspora, including items gifted by many well known Koreans.
- Korean Central History Museum | Located on Kim Il Sung Square, this is North Korea's national museum dedicated to the history of the Korean peninsula.
- Helmut Sacher Coffee Shop | Relaxing afternoon stop at this coffee shop tucked away near Kim Il Sung Square. Good coffee here, cost around 3-5 EUR per cup.
Overnight | Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang
September 11 | Saturday
- Drive to Hoechang, a 3 hour drive.
- Cemetery for the Martyrs of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army | Built in the 1950s (renovated in 2010) and opened by Zhou Enlai. Scenic Chinese hillside cemetery with domed tombs of 134 Chinese soldiers. Including a bust and tomb of Mao Anying; the Chairman’s son.
- Songhung Revolutionary Site | Drive past the giant zinc factory to the wartime base of the Volunteer Army. Caves and tunnels, buildings from the period used by the soldiers and by Kim Il Sung when he visited to thank them for assistance.
- Return to Pyongyang via Konji-ri Revolutionary Site, one of the preserved wartime headquarters of the North Korean leadership from the Korean War.
Overnight | Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang
September 12 | Sunday
Drive to Hamhung, the DPRK's second largest city and centre of heavy industry, stopping at sights along the way.
- Hamhung | Drive east across the width of the peninsula before heading north to Hamhung (6-7 hour drive), the second-largest city of the DPRK and major centre of industry.
- Tomb of King Tongmyong | Largest of the UNESCO listed Koguryo Tombs spread through the area, this is the beautiful tomb complex of the founder of the Koguryo Dynasty two thousand years ago. Statues, a Buddhist Monastery, and lovely wall paintings make this a fascinating visit for history buffs.
- Sinpyong Lake Rest Stop | Known as ‘Little Kumgang’ this scenic lakeside rest stop, a great opportunity to stretch your legs.
- 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.
- Hamhung Grand Theatre and Central Square | Exterior view of the DPRK’s largest theatre on the city’s central square.
- 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. A traditional hall and pavilion and associated naughty stories of the former king’s retirement years – some not appropriate for the youth!
Majon Beach Guesthouse, Hamhung | 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 13 | Monday
From Hamhung to the truly rarely visited Pujon Highlands (and back!)
- 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-kilometre 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, Hamhung
September 14 | Tuesday
Drive to Wonsan, a major port city on North Korea's east coast.
- Tonghung Revolutionary Site | Hillside park with statues of the DPRK leadership overlooking Hamhung city centre and the Songchon River. A presentation of flowers is customary.
- 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.
- 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.
- Songdowon International Schoolchildren’s Camp | A classic socialist summer camp where Korean and international children can spend two weeks learning socialist values and teamwork. Tour the recently renovated dormitories, aquarium, birdhouse, gymnasium, and more!
- Wonsan City Centre and Docks | Central square and ship terminal in downtown Wonsan.
- Mangyongbong-92 | A ferry/cruise ship built in 1992 to ferry Japanese Koreans and goods between Japan and North Korea till 2006. In 2018, the ship carried North Korean performers for the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
- 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 harbour (1 EUR/USD entry fee).
Tongmyong Hotel, Wonsan | 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 15 | Wednesday
- Mt. Kumgang | Drive along the East Sea to see the ‘Diamond Mountain’ noted in East Asian history and famous in Korean legend. Home of some of Korea’s most spectacular natural landscapes and best hiking. A 2.5-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
- Hiking at Kuryong Waterfall | An 8 km (round-trip) hike to a scenic waterfall through forests, along mountain streams and by emerald pools. A beautiful place to sit, relax and spend a few hours in nature. Feel like a rewarding challenge? Extend your hike by tackling Sangpaldam Peak.
Kumgangsan 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 16 | Thursday
Back to Pyongyang via Wonsan
- Drive back north to Wonsan. A 2.5-3 hr drive.
- Kosan Fruit Farm | Situated on a flat land in middle of mountains this fruit farm has been growing apples since the 1920s. The farm was completely renovated in 2008 and currently midway through mechanizing old process. Also grows pear and peach, and has an iron fence factory, pig farm, and other smaller factories.
- 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.
- Continue drive back to Pyongyang, a 4 hour drive with stops along the way.
- Kaeson Funfair | We’ll take on the rides of Pyongyang’s newest funfair with the locals: pirate ship, vominator, rollercoaster, bumper cars, arcades, and more. Tickets purchased on the spot (1 EUR entry, 2-7 EUR for rides).
Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang
September 17 | Friday
Flight to Mt. Paektu!
- Charter flight to Samjiyon Town, the gateway to Mt. Paektu located in the far north of the country. A 1-hour flight.
- Mt. Paektu crater rim and Lake Chon | Ascend to the highest point in all of Korea (on foot, or by funicular railway) for amazing views of the highest crater lake in the world, sitting in the caldera of the volcano. A breathtaking and remote place of stunning and unique scenery – unforgettable in fact. From the top one can either walk down or cable car (weather permitting) to the lake itself to sample the crystal-clear waters. Basic facilities on site with a picnic lunch to maximise the time here.
- Mt. Paektu Secret Camp | The guerilla headquarters of General Kim Il Sung during the anti-Japanese struggle set in a 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.
- 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.
- Rimyongsu Waterfall | A scenic waterfall which never freezes due despite chilling alpine winters. The waterfall also provides hydroelectric power to neighbouring villages.
Pegaebong Hotel | The only option in this area. Located on the edge of Samjiyon Town. A well-maintained place offering hospitable service, a range of potato-based dishes (spuds are the main crop in this area) as well as billiards and a very nice garden area.
September 18 | Saturday
Charter flight to North Hamgyong Province and Mount Chilbo
- We will catch our charter flight onwards to Orang Airport in North Hamkyong Province. A 1-hour flight.
- Upon arrival at Mount 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.
Homestay Village, Mount Chilbo | 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.
September 19 | Sunday
- Hiking to Kangson Gate | A morning hike to Kangson Gate, a rock archway overlooking the sea.
- Local games, boating, and picnic at homestay village | Brush up on your Korean (or body-language) for an evening spent with your local family. It is also possible to play volleyball against or wrestle the village team. Fees for boating, swimming (shower or swimsuit rental), a la carte BBQ (mushroom and fish), and cooking class to be paid on the spot. Estimated 100-300 RMB depending on the activities you choose.
Overnight | Homestay Village, Mount Chilbo.
September 20 | Monday
Mount Chilbo to Chongjin
- We’ll leave Mount 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 Hamgyong Province, and Korea’s ‘city of steel’ - home to the massive Kim Chaek Iron Works.
- So Ryang Hwa Waterfall | A picturesque waterfall along the scenic coastal road from Mt. Chilbo north to Kyongsong.
- Mugae Lagoon | About an hour north from the So Ryang Hwa waterfall is Mugae Lagoon, another pleasant rest stop where the guides can tell some interesting legends about the events that caused the lake to be created. The slogan along the road reads ‘Even though the road is difficult, we go along with a smile’ – good advice for travelling in North Hamgyong Province!
- Chongjin Trolley Bus | We’ll take a ride down Chongjin’s main drag on one of the city’s trolleybuses.
- Chongjin Central Square | Central Square of Chongjin city with statues of the DPRK leadership. A presentation of flowers is customary (2-3 EUR).
- North Hamgyong Province Revolutionary Museum | Museum depicting the revolutionary struggles of the region.
- North Hamgyong Province E-Library | A library, study, and computer centre for the province, located just off Chongjin Central Square.
- North Hamgyong Province Art Gallery | Studio exhibiting and selling art from the region at comparatively good prices.
- Chongjin Foreign Languages School | One of the best school in the country to learn foreign languages (English, Chinese, and Russian). Join one of the English classes!
Chongjin Foreigners’ Lodging, Chongjin | The former foreign expert apartments of Kim Chaek Steelworks, similar in design to local apartments. Basic rooms but great food and service.
September 21 | Tuesday
Chongjin and drive to Hoeryong
- Gomalsan Revolutionary Site | Birds eye view of Chongjin and memorial site honoring the Soviet troops who helped liberating this area.
- Mushroom Factory | See how a North Korean factory works, and learn about the production process of different mushrooms. You can even taste the products if you're lucky.
- Drive to Hoeryong the birthplace of Kim Jong Il's mother Kim Jong Suk. A city on the Sino-Korean border opened for tourists in 2012. A 2-2.5 hours 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.
- Hoeryong Schoolchildren's Palace | Center of extracurricular activities in the arts, music, and sports for local children.
Hoeryong Hotel, Hoeryong | 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.
September 22 | Wednesday
Kyongsong and domestic flight back to Pyongyang OR overland crossing over the internal Korean border to Rason Special Economic Zone
- Drive to Kyongsong once one of the primary cities in Hamgyong Province, from which ‘Kyong’ derives, now eclipsed by neighbor Chongjin. Kyongsong is renowned for its hot spas which provide needed relaxation after days on the road and outdoor activities at Mt. Chilbo. A 2.5-3 hours drive.
- Jipsam Revolutionary Site | Seven Generals revolutionary site is worth visiting for the view of the sea and the nearby fishing village alone. Of course as befits any North Korean revolutionary site there is a granite monument with Korean text detailing the revolutionary events that occurred here (the guides will explain) and you can also see some old tools used to haul boats ashore. But the highlight is having a walk out along a rocky path along the coast, stand out on the pavilions and have a look out to the sea.
- Kyongsong Revolutionary Site | Japanese colonial-era house once used by the DPRK leadership and telling of their exploits in the region.
After lunch our group will split up. You have the choice of flying back with your Korean guides to Pyongyang to catch the flight or train back to Beijing the next day. Or you can stay two more nights with your Tour Leader (we will have new guides joining us from Rason) in the DPRK to visit Rason Special Economic Zone to see North Korea to its fullest like nobody did before.
Option 1 | Flight back to Pyongyang
- Flight departure from Orang Airport on domestic Air Koryo Flight JS4102 at 15:00 with scheduled arrival in Pyongyang at 16:00.
- War Heroes' Cemetery | Large gun, flag, and bayonet monument surrounded by rows of tombstones commemorating individual heroes of the Korean War.
- Farewell dinner at Arirang Restaurant | One of Pyongyang's best restaurant in the center of the city.
Overnight | Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang
Option 2 | Rason Special Economic Zone
- Although the Rason zone is part of the DPRK it is administered in a different way, so there is a kind of internal customs to pass.
- Statues of the DPRK’s Leaders | Situated on a hill behind the hotel and offering a great view over the city and bay.
- Golden Triangle Bank | Here we will learn about the different economic system of Rason, change money into local won (yes, it is legal, not to be taken out of the country though, you are supposed to spend it), and see actual banking going on, the only place you get to witness this in the DPRK!
- After dinner, have a walk through the Hae’an Park at the seaside. In good weather locals will gather here.
- Czech Beer Bar | Opened with foreign investment. Slake your thirst with a range of made-on-site brews before dinner and overnight in this part of the DPRK.
Namsan Hotel, Rajin | Centrally located and locally famous. Right in the heart of Rajin city.
September 23 | Thursday
Departure Day from Pyongyang and Return to Beijing by flight or train OR Rason/SEZ
Option 1 | Departure Day from Pyongyang
Flight departure from Pyongyang on Air Koryo Flight JS251 at 10:00 with scheduled arrival at Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) Terminal 2 at 11:30.
Train departure by train to Beijing at 10:25 with transfer in Dandong. The scheduled arrival is to Beijing Station on Sunday, September 24 at 08:40. For this tour the default option is hard sleeper (six beds per berth).
Tour Ends for Option 1.
Option 2 | Rason Special Economic Zone
- Drive from Rajin to the nationally-famous Pipha Island Area, a scenic spot known to all North Koreans for its beauty.
- Salmon and Trout Farm | This is a seafood producing area after all – learn how they operate such places here.
- Imperial Hotel | Built with investment from Hong Kong this houses the first casino in the DPRK. Chinese tourists flock here for gambling and you can have a flutter yourself too, or enjoy a coffee and a look around this unexpected place!
- Pipha Island itself | A narrow road links it to the mainland. From here you can take an optional boat ride to see some seals who populate some rocks nearby, relax at the waterfront, or try some local seafood.
- Foreign Language School | Here local children learn English, Chinese, and other languages. Step in and help out with some lessons!
- Sonryang Hana Shoe Factory | Interesting small factory founded by a oversees Korean making various types of shoes (basketball, football, snow boots and many more). Many different designs. The logo of the brand is the Korean letter 'thiut (ㅌ)' referring to 'reunification'.
- Rajin Port | Here you will see what kind of industry is going on; fishing, shipping goods in and out, and look out for some very non-Korean people; one of the three piers is operated by Russians who live on site!
- Haeyang Revolutionary Site | A 20 minute drive from Rajin City this set of two houses are still occupied but are notable for having visited by Kim Il Sung, who gave 'on the spot guidance' about the lives of fisher folk. There is a nice view of the sea here.
- Rajin City Market | The only local market open to tourists in the whole country. Spread out through several buildings find consumer goods, stationary, food, drinks, building material, bicycles, and everything else a person in Rason would need. You can buy things too if you like – spend local money or RMB. Worth it just for the people-watching opportunity as it can get very busy here indeed!
| Namsan Hotel, Rajin
September 24 | Friday
Rason to Yanji – 2 different worlds!
- Drive to the nearby city of Sonbong, the smaller of the sister cities in this zone.
- Stop for photos in the centre of town | Here there is a theatre, some monuments and mosaics, and an immortality tower too.
- Sonbong Revolutionary Site | Associated with the end of Japanese rule over Korea. The guides will explain the whole story.
- Drive on to Tumangang Town, right up on the Russian and Chinese borders, enjoy a packed lunch in this area.
- Visit the Russia-DPRK Friendship house | Exhibit of photos of visits by key figures from the neighbouring countries.
- 3 Countries Border Viewpoint | A picturesque pavilion offering views into China and Russia. From here you can see how the river divides the nations and also hear about a historical naval battle that a famed Korean admiral directed from this very hilltop.
- Next up is our final drive in the DPRK where we head across the northern part of the Rason zone and end up at Wonjong Bridge - the frontier between the DPRK and the PRC. We pass through customs here on the Korean side, take a short ride or walk across the bridge and then we are back in China, just like that!
- Drive to Yanji | We will get picked up after we enter China. We have a 3 hour drive (with scenic stops) to the Chinese city of Yanji, the capital of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Region. We'll end up here for dinner, drinks to celebrate the end of this adventure, and an overnight stay to bring our tour to a close. Congratulations to you for being with us on this amazing journey!
- Our tour sadly ends tonight and we all bid each other a fond farewell! How you depart from here is up to you – there are trains, planes, buses, etc. Koryo Tours can assist in planning onward travel in this region, back to Beijing, or onward elsewhere (Yanji may seem remote, but actually you can get to a lot of fascinating places from here without too much difficulty) – drop us a line with how you plan to finish this trip and we’ll help you out!
Overnight | Yanji Hotel, Yanji