North Korea

Specialist Tours
View map

Koryo Tours specialise in taking you out of the usual and into rather unusual travel destinations, and we’ve been experts in it for over 25 years.

If you’re after something extra special, though, Koryo Tours also offer specialist North Korea tours. These tours are designed to be more in-depth, more informative, and unique. All whilst upholding a high level of professionalism and expertise that sets Koryo Tours aside from the rest, and ensures the highest level of security (and fun!) during your time in North Korea!

Specialist North Korea tours we offer include;

Expert Tour Leader Tours:

• Tours run by resident expert tour leaders, including founder Nick Bonner. These Specialist North Korea tour gives you a unique insight into North Korea, hearing it directly how it is from the people who know it best.

Specialist Activities Tours:

• From studying in North Korea for a month, to taking the railway across the North Korean countryside - we have experience in planning a wide range of specialist activities all over the country.

Special Interest Tours:

• Koryo Tours can also create tour packages to adapt to those with special interests, including film tours, architecture tours, or our Photography Tours. (link to photography when its up).


Have a special interest or want to plan something different in North Korea? With over 25 years experience working in North Korea, Koryo Tours are the right people to come to if you have something different in mind. As one of the first tour companies to begin leading tours to North Korea, we have

Whether you’re a foodie who wants to eat their way through Pyongyang, or a football fanatic after seeing a game (or joining in on one!), if you have an idea for something you’d like to do, let us know!

Contact us for private tours or check out our selection of specialist group tours below.

March 2020

March 17 - March 27/28 2020

North Korea Budget Tour + Vladivostok with unique train across the DPRK!

Epic local train journey from Pyongyang
to the extreme North - and on to Vladivostok

See Korea as it awakens from the cold of
winter and Ride the rails of North Korea
with the locals

From 1,799 EUR per person

Please apply by 9th February, 2020.

North Korea Budget Tour + Vladivostok with unique train across the DPRK!

Epic local train journey from Pyongyang
to the extreme North - and on to Vladivostok

See Korea as it awakens from
the cold of winter and Ride
the rails of North Korea with
the locals

From 1,799 EUR per person

  • Overall

    A unique tour package from Koryo Tours - the only experts in DPRK travel!
    After a comprehensive introductory tour to the frequently visited parts of North Korea, we take you on a local train from Pyongyang across to the DPRK's East Coast and then onwards up to the extreme North of the country; the Rason Special Economic Zone. See how locals travel by train, mingle with fellow-passengers, and get amazing access to parts of the country that only a few tourists have ever seen.

    On this tour, we take you to see the main sites of the capital city Pyongyang, including; a ride on the Pyongyang Metro, Juche Tower, Kim Il Sung Square, and a walk down one of Pyongyang’s newest streets.

    We will also head out of Pyongyang to go to Pyongysong, the centre of scientific research. and the North-South Korea border DMZ. Here you can be one of the first foreigners to enjoy the recent freedom of being able to step over the demarcation line into the South.

    We will explore Rason and then cross into Russia by rail and make our way to Vladivostok: capital of the Russian Far East and closed to all foreigners during the USSR years.

    We show you around the highlights of this diverse and wonderful remote city including some amazing abandoned underground bases and military sites - far beyond the 'usual' tourist experience in both North Korea and Russia.

    Another specially curated trip from Koryo Tours!
    For our standard North Korea Budget Tour (March) click here..

    Be warned, there will be little time to for rest on this action-packed itinerary - not that you’ll want to, though!

    For an idea of the itinerary of our longer tours take a look here.

    Scroll down for an overview of the Koryo North Korea Budget Tour highlights, tour itinerary, transport options, DPRK tourist visa information, and extra add-ons.

    Highlights

    • Highlights of Pyongyang, Kaesong and the DMZ
    • Pyongsong: Provincial seat of South Pyong'an province and centre of specialist education
    • TRAIN TRIP - travelling across the country through unseen areas and off-limits cities and town on a train with local people - as far as the train can go!
    • Rason - free trade zone in the remote north. Little-visited and very different to the rest of North Korea
    • Cross into Russia & visit Vladivostok - a tiny and little-used border crossing across a rail bridge. The one land link between the two countries
  • Itinerary

    Briefing Day
    1. March 16 | 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.

      AM

      • Recommended latest arrival in Beijing.
      • 10:00 | Briefing for those departing by train.

      PM

      • 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 North Korea. 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.

    2. March 17 | Tuesday

      Arrival day in Pyongyang

      AM

      • 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.

      PM

      • Flight departure from Beijing on Air Koryo flight JS152 at 12:55. A 1.5-hour flight with basic lunch (no vegetarian option).
      • Flight arrival into Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport (FNJ) at 16:05. DPRK immigration and customs, meet your Korean guides, and transfer to the city.
      • Kim Il Sung Square | Pyongyang’s central square lined with government ministries, museums, and The Grand People’s Study House.
      • Train arrival to Pyongyang Railway Station.
      • Walk on Future Scientists' Street | An evening stroll through one of Pyongyang's newest neighbourhoods.

      Overnight | The Sosan Hotel, Pyongyang. A sports-themed hotel located in West Pyongyang’s Sports Village. Sports shop, bookstore, numerous bars, spa and small gym. Renovated in 2015.

    3. March 18 | Wednesday

      Kaesong City and DMZ Tour

      AM
      • Drive 160 km south on the 'Reunification Highway' to Kaesong, historic capital of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392) and today located near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. 2.5-hour drive.
      • Panmunjom Armistice Village and DMZ | The site of the signing of the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War and demarcation line between north and south. On some days it is possible to visit the hut straddling the line, where negotiations between both sides once took place. Here we will be accompanied by military guides from the Korean People's Army.
      • Kaesong Koryo Museum | Once the Songgyung Academy, a Confucian school, and now a museum on the Koryo Dynasty exhibiting historical objects, statues, pagodas, and porcelain from that era. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
      • Kaesong Korean Stamp Exhibition Hall | Store selling stamps, postcards, local ginseng, souvenirs, art, and more! One of the best postcard collections in the country and friendly staff.
      • Traditional Royal Korean Lunch (pangsanggi) | A meal made of 12 dishes served in brass bowls fit for the kings of old. The more dishes, the more distinguished the guest! Traditional Korean 'sweet meat soup' is an option here (5 EUR).

      PM

      • Janam Hill | Statues of the DPRK leadership on a hill overlooking Kaesong city and historic pavilion used for archery demonstrations in days of yore.
      • Drive back to Pyongyang. 2.5 hours.
      • 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.
      • Kwangbok Department Store | Shop with the citizens of Pyongyang and exchange for Korean currency! Try the snack stands for some of Pyongyang’s best local eats.

      Overnight | Sosan Hotel, Pyongyang

    4. March 19 | Thursday

      Pyongyang City Tour

      AM

      • 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. Visitations are by special request only and 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.

      • Mansudae Grand Monument | Enormous bronze statues of the DPRK leadership overlooking downtown Pyongyang. A presentation of flowers and bow by the group is customary here. Visitations are by special request only and decent dress is required. No shorts or flip-flop sandals allowed here.

      PM

      • Pyongyang Metro Tour | One of the deepest metro systems in the world with stunning artwork reflecting the name of each station. Ride six stations on the Chollima Line.
      • Arch of Triumph | A 60-m archway commemorating the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule and larger than its counterpart in Paris.
      • Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum | Tour this world-class museum led by a local museum guide. Renovated in 2012 and it exhibits the Korean War from the DPRK perspective with artefacts, documents, photos, and lifelike dioramas. The exterior grounds house the War Victory Monument and displays of Korean People’s Army Hero Equipment and captured equipment from the US military, including the USS Pueblo. Central to the understanding of the country today and highlight of the trip.

      • Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace | Tour one of Pyongyang’s centres of extracurricular excellence with study rooms for fine arts, dance, sports, and music, then watch a spectacular performance put on by the students.
      • Drive north to Pyongsong, a satellite city of Pyongyang and centre of scientific research. A 45 minute to 1-hour drive.
      Overnight | Jangsusan Hotel, Pyongsong. The only hotel in Pyongsong open for tourists, an excellent bar with one of the best bartenders in the DPRK makes this hotel one of the most fun in the whole country! Basic facilities with fairly reliable electricity and hot water. Billiards, karaoke, haircut, and outdoor eateries in summer.
    5. March 20 | Friday

      Pyongsong and Pyongyang City Tours

      AM

      • Pyongsong City Square | Central square of Pyongsong City with statues of the DPRK leadership and flanked by the provincial revolutionary museum. Presentation of flowers customary.

      • 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 Provisions Factory | A factory producing a range of foods and drinks: biscuits, cakes, soju, candy, and snacks. Here you can have a taste of the products and tour the production facilities.

      PM

      • Drive back to Pyongyang. 45 minute - 1-hour drive.
      • Mangyongdae Native House | Birthplace and childhood home of President Kim Il Sung. A traditional Korean house in a beautiful natural surrounding.
      • Monument to the Party Foundation | Iconic structure featuring the hammer, sickle, writing brush which represent the workers, farmers, and intellectuals that make up the Worker’s Party of Korea.
      • Tower of the Juche Idea | Iconic tower dedicated to the DPRK’s guiding philosophy and located on the Taedong River. Take the elevator to the top for great views of the city (elevator ticket is 5 EUR).
      • Mansugyo Beer Bar | A bar serving seven types of beer. Popular with locals after work and on weekends. Best place to drink pints with local people.
      • 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 air gun shooting range (approximately 6 EUR per 20 round cartridge) and some of the best coffee in Pyongyang.
      • Farewell group dinner at the Golden Lanes Bowling Centre's bulgogi BBQ restaurant.

      Overnight | Sosan Hotel, Pyongyang.

    6. March 21 | Saturday

      Riding the Local Train!

      AM

      • Train departure from Pyongyang Station at 07:50. Say goodbye to Pyongyang and off we go!
      • Most of the morning is spent travelling through relatively flat land. The fist main stop is the city of Pyongsong, then the train sets off on a zigzagging path across the spine of the country heading for the East Coast.

      PM

      • Through the afternoon we will go through valleys, over bridges and through tunnels, stopping at remote and unheard-of stations. Amazing views throughout!
      • Into the evening the coast approaches. The tunnels become fewer as the mountains give way to a narrow strip of plains, and the city of Hamhung is reached. This is a major city and here the train will pause for a while before switching from an easterly course to a northerly one.
      • It will be dark by now, time for bed. Each person will have a comfortable bunk for the night and the train is slow and smooth. The Korean countryside is very dark so not much to see out of the windows until dawn.
      Overnight | On the train. Comfortable soft sleeper beds with fresh bedding for each person.
    7. March 22 | Sunday

      Aboard the Train - Arrival in Rason

      AM

      • When we wake up we will be heading up the coast. Seaside views and fishing villages to the right, fields leading to hills to the left. The train doesn’t totally follow the coast though as it passes on the inland side of the Chilbosan Mountain range.
      • We will pass Orang Airport and the town of Kyongsong shortly before arriving in the major city of Chongjin. Another moderately long stop here before heading eve further north. Our destination approaches but still some sights to be seen and stops to make.
      • 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. The guards will board the train and check tickets and passports. They may be surprised to see foreigners on this train, but be friendly and they will be too!

      PM

      • Arrival at Rajin station after the train journey from Pyongyang – get off the train and meet local guides.
      • General intro to Rason area | Drive through Rajin city and check into the centrally located Namsan Hotel.
      • After freshening up (you’ve spent more than a day on the train after all!), visit the Statues of the DPRK’s Leaders situated on a hill behind the hotel and offering a great view over the city and bay.
      • 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
      Overnight | Namsan Hotel, Rajin. Centrally located and locally famous. Right in the heart of Rajin city.
    8. March 23 | Monday

      Rason - Special Economic Zone

      AM

      • 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.
      • Emperor 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

      PM

      • After returning to Rajin city the next stop is the Foreign Language School | Here local children learn English, Chinese, and other languages. Step in and help out with some lessons!
      • 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!
      • 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!
      • 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!
      • In the evening spend some leisure time getting a massage if you like as one of Rajin’s many health centres, or visit a park, or local bar near the hotel before dinner.
      Overnight: Namsan Hotel, Rajin
    9. March 24 | Tuesday

      Rason to Vladivostok - 2 different worlds!

      AM

      • 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.

      PM

      • Visit the Russia-DPRK Friendship house which exhibits 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.
      • If you do not wish to join the Russia part of this tour then at this point you will wave an emotional goodbye to those heading into the land of the Bear. You'll then be transferred to Wonjong Bridge which crosses from the DPRK to PRC. Pass through customs, immigration, cross the bridge and your tour ends as you enter China. We can help arrange onward travel from here of course, just drop us a line to ask about it!
      • Tumangang Station | Here we board the train that takes us on the short journey across the bridge into the Russian Federation – a 30 minute stopping-and-starting trip between two very difference cultures. On arrival we pass through Russian customs, meet our local Russian guide and have a long evening drive (with rest stops) to Vladivostok, arriving late evening.
      Overnight: Vladivostok
    10. March 25 | Wednesday

      Vladivostok - Intro to the 'Ruler of the East'

      AM
      • A leisurely start this morning after a long international journey yesterday.
      • We start our city tour on foot by heading for the Eagle’s Nest | A hilltop viewpoint looking over the city and Golden Horn bay – great for orientation and to get a sense of where you are.
      • Ride a Funicular Railway down to the city streets, see how the 19th Century meets the 20th and 21st as we then walk into the heart of the city for lunch at a local café.
      PM
      • Heroes Square | The centre of the city dominated by a statues depicting soviet fighters victorious in the long civil war which followed the October Revolution in 1917. Vladivostok was one of the last places ‘liberated’ in this war.
      • C-56 Hero Submarine | Step inside a WWII-era submarine for a history lesson of what it was like to spend time in such a cramped machine, plus the background to the Russian/Soviet/Russian Pacific fleet, Headquartered in Vladivostok.
      • Pacific Fleet Shop | Get yourself kitted out in a stylish striped sailor’s shirt here if you like!
      • Visit the final stop on the mighty Trans-Siberian Railway. The marker positioned at the 9288th km of the route. A basic history of how the rails stretched from Europe to here will be explained, as well as what Ho Chi Minh was doing on this platform so many times in the 1920s.
      • Free time in the evening to explore – Russian cities are no longer simply full of vodka & violence, but have a thriving cocktail scene, interesting promenade areas, shops, and entertainment options. See what you can experience!
      Overnight: Vladivostok
    11. March 26 | Thursday

      Underground & Abandoned Vladivostok

      AM

      • This morning we head underground to an abandoned formerly top-secret NKVD base and bomb shelter | Vladivostok is full of tunnels and secret areas and this is one of the very best. A guided trip through history and engineering, all taking place in tunnels under the city. Wear something warm and prepare to learn a lot about the psychology of living in such a society and preparing for action at all times
      • When we emerge like moles back into the light we will make a stop at the post office (send cards if you like) and a statue of an unusual American lady who lived here pre-revolution, before lunch in the city.

      PM

      • This afternoon we cross one of the brand new bridges built in Vladivostok for the 2012 APEC summit to Russkiy Island. Much key infrastructure has been moved to this island in the last few years as it was previously only accessible by boat – now the bridge has made it much easier to access
      • On Russkiy Island (it is big, bigger than the rest of the city) we will first visit the famous Voroshilov Battery | Credited with saving the city from Japanese invasion (it’s a long story, hear it all on the trip), as well as a new nearby tank and military equipment park (yes you can fire an AK-47 here).
      • We’ll see other former military sites on the island this afternoon as well as a look at some of the new constructions put here for the summit and see how island life is changed since connection to the rest of the city.
      • Finally we return to the main part of Vladivostok for a bit of free time before a final farewell dinner. Our guide and tour leader can recommend shops, bars, and so on of course so make the most of the evening in this amazing remote city!
      Overnight: Vladivostok
    12. March 27 | Friday

      Final Day
      • Our tour sadly ends today and we all bid each other a fond da sveedanya! How you depart is up to you – there are trains, planes, buses, and boats. Koryo Tours can assist in planning onward travel to China, if you are staying in Russia we can make the Letter of Invitation for the visa last longer to cover onward travel which we can also advise on – drop us a line with how you plan to finish this trip and we’ll help you out!

  • Extras

    • Transport | Train and Flights to North Korea (One Korea Tour)

      This tour travels between Beijing-Pyongyang by train in a hard-sleeper carriage (6 bunks per compartment). The train journey takes 24 hours with a transfer at the city of Dandong. Flight to Pyongyang is also available. The flight takes around 90 minutes. For an extra 199 EUR you can upgrade to the flight to Pyongyang.

    • Upgrade to your own room

      All hotel rooms on our all-inclusive group tours feature twin beds, and will be shared. If you'd like a room to yourself then you can upgrade for an extra 40 EUR per night.

      See more
    • Helicopter flight over Pyongyang

      Why not take a helicopter sightseeing flight over the DPRK's capital? Grab this rare opportunity to tour the skies above the city in a 40-minute helicopter trip aboard an Air Koryo Mi-17 chopper. The flight offers an unrivalled view from above, and great opportunities for photos and video from a completely different angle.

      See more
    • New for 2018: Take a cooking class in Pyongyang!

      This is a unique opportunity to cook with chefs of the Culinary Association of the DPRK, who will teach you how to cook Korean classics like Pyongyang cold noodles (raengmyon), kimchi, green bean pancakes, and other local delicacies. This optional cooking class costs 75 EUR for two hours, and will be followed by a dinner of your own making. Please do note that by participating in this cooking course, you might miss out on some evening activities and a dinner in Pyongyang.

      See more
    • Hotel booking in Beijing

      Koryo Tours is able to arrange hotel bookings in Beijing at the following hotels on behalf of people travelling with us. We have four hotels on offer with different levels of comfort and all located a short walk from our office. Select which hotel you are interested in and your Tour Manager will confirm the dates and cost for you. We will make the booking and add the cost to your tour invoice.

      See more
    • Insurance for up to six nights

      We're unable to take you on one of our tours if you do not have medical insurance that covers the destination in question. Issues of isolation and infrastructure where we go mean it would be irresponsible of us to do so. We can provide this if you do not have it — or you can use your own.

  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      Train Beijing – Pyongyang
      Train Pyongyang – Rason
      Train Rason – Khasan (Russia)
      Transfer Khasan – Vladivostok
      All meals on the tour apart from those taken during free time in Russia
      Hotel accommodation and Overnight train accomodation
      A Koryo Tours tour leader, two local Korean guides, and a driver per group in the DPRK. One guide in Russia.
      All transportation between sites visited in the DPRK and Russia
      LOI visa support for Russian Visa
    • Not included
      DPRK visa fee 50 EUR
      Optional Air Koryo flight to Pyongyang (199 EUR)
      Optional single room supplement of 40 EUR per night
      Tips for the local guides and driver (approx 10-15 EUR per day)
      Optional activities such as the lift up the Juche Tower (5 EUR) or a visit to the funfair (approx. 2 EUR entrance fee per person)
      Entry tickets for special events if applicable – for example Pyongyang Circus (approx. 20 EUR per person)
      Meals include a complimentary beer and water, but you will need to purchase extra drinks if needed
      Spending money for souvenirs
      Onward travel from Vladivostok in Russia - we can advise and assist with options though
  • Notes

    Our Koryo Budget Tours are capped at 25 people per group.

    Groups will be in the experienced hands of two or three local Korean guides and a Koryo Tours tour leader.

    Please note that when on tour your day-to-day itinerary may differ to what is advertised above. Your tour leader will ensure, however, that everything available at the time is covered, and replacement options are provided where needed. We will also add in extras when there is time (such as a visit to a local bar or amusement park). We visit the DPRK regularly so know all the best places to go, and how to make the most of your days there to guarantee the experience of a lifetime. After the tour, we will send out a list of all participants' emails so you can keep in touch, swap photos etc. If you do not wish to be on this list then please let us know.

Please apply by 9th February, 2020.

May 2020

May 23 - May 30/31 2020

Leica North Korea Photography Tour

A special on-tour Leica
photographic workshop

Visit North Korea with Jeroen Hanselaer, a Leica-approved
instructor, on this special 7-night tour

From 3,449 EUR per person

Please apply by 6th May, 2020.

Leica North Korea Photography Tour

A special on-tour Leica
photographic workshop

Visit North Korea with Jeroen
Hanselaer, a Leica-approved instructor,
on this special 7-night tour

From 3,449 EUR per person

  • Overall

    This North Korea photography tour is designed to give photographers the best chance to snap the best North Korea photos to show off.

    With special permissions from North Korea, Koryo Tours brings you this exclusive, one-of-a-kind tour of the DPRK. This photography tour gives us special access to certain sites, extra time at monuments, and a specifically designed itinerary to capture the best North Korea photos, making sure we’re catching the sunset from high up whilst it’s hitting Pyongyang, and visiting rural locations whilst the Koreans are hard at work. All this, whilst being accompanied by a professional Leica approved photography instructor.

    As well as allowing you to get the best pictures of North Korea, we will also spend our days visiting all of the main sites and learning about this unique country whilst accompanied by our North Korean and Western guides.

    During the day, you will have Jeroen Hanselaer, our Leica approved instructor, to guide you and help you to get the best shots. Unlike many other tours, a lot of the time on this tour will be spent walking and not in a bus, ensuring you get the best photographs whilst exploring Pyongyang on foot. Evenings will be spent with relaxed photography consultations run by Jeroen with special access to slide-show equipment. Each participant of the tour is invited to show the best snaps of the day, and our professional photography instructor Jeroen will give tailored advice on how you can improve your photography skills throughout the tour.

    We will also have access to Leica cameras during our time on the tour, so it is a great opportunity for you to have a go yourself on the Leica equipment.

    Whether your interest lies in industrial, landscapes, architecture, everyday life, or portraits, this tour caters for all. The dystopian-style architecture in Pyongyang is surreal and unique and our centrally located hotel will allow you to capture the best that the city has to offer. Trips outside of the city to co-operative farms, factories, and the North Korean countryside offer a completely different insight into this mysterious country.

    This tour is capped at 13 people maximum, in a group tour with other budding photographers. This allows more freedom when taking pictures and a better chance to get the perfect photos of North Korea.

    Dates don't suit? Get in touch with us to arrange a private tour to fit your budget and schedule.

    Scroll down for an overview of the Koryo North Korea Budget Tour highlights, tour itinerary, transport options, DPRK tourist visa information, and extra add-ons.

    Highlights

    • Joined on tour by a Leica Photographic instructor as well as one of our experienced western tour leaders
    • Extended visits to allow time for photography
    • Full metro tour
    • Walking tours of Pyongyang
    • Extended visits to cooperative farms
  • Itinerary

    Briefing Day
    1. May 22 | Friday

      Briefing Day

      AM

      • The recommended latest arrival in Beijing.

      PM

      • Our group assembles for a mandatory pre-tour group briefing in Beijing in the afternoon - This briefing will last approximately one hour and is 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 and photography enthusiasts! Please be punctual - you can come early, pay any outstanding tour fees and browse our collection of Korean art.
      • The photographic workshop begins - We will have a workshop from Jeroen Hansler, our Leica approved instructor and brand ambassador, followed by a review of a selection of your photographs so you can make sure to get the best North Korean photos from the very beginning of the tour! 

      Overnight | Hotel in Beijing not included in the tour. Contact us for recommendations near our office

    2. May 23 | Saturday

      Arrival day in Pyongyang

      AM

      • 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.

      PM

      • Flight departure from Beijing on Air Koryo flight JS152 at 1:05 pm.  A 1.5-hour flight with basic lunch.
      • Arrival to Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport (FNJ) expected at 4:05 pm. DPRK immigration and customs meet your Korean guides and transfer to the city.

      • Arch of Triumph  | Our first stop as we head into the photogenic city of Pyongyang, this massive archway made for the 70th anniversary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung in 1982 and commemorating the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. Larger than its counterpart in Paris. From here we gain views over the surrounding park, Kim Il Sung Stadium and other areas of the city. From atop this great vantage point, we can set up cameras as we wait for the changing light offered at sunset.
      • Screening of Comrade Kim Goes Flying, a DPRK film about a young rural coal miner, Kim Yong Mi, who dreams of becoming a trapeze artist at the Pyongyang Circus. Her plans are complicated by the arrogant trapeze star Pak Jang Phil who believes miners belong underground and not in the air. North Korea’s movie about a young woman achieving her dreams. Produced and directed by a British, Belgian, and Korean team. The film is 78 minutes long and will be shown at the Pyongyang International House of Cinema, a short distance from our hotel. Comrade Kim Goes Flying

      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, perfect for those North Korean photos! Comfortable rooms and comprehensive leisure facilities: swimming pool, spa, billiards, bowling, gift shops, tea houses, and beer brewed on-site. This hotel offers great vantage points overlooking the city. From most rooms, you will be able to capture pictures from the morning sunrise transition and the old and new apartment blocks that surround us.

    3. May 24  | Sunday

      Pyongyang city tour

      AM

      • Early morning walking to Kim Il Sung Square via Pyongyang railway station | This morning we depart our hotel early before breakfast walking via Pyongyang railway station to Kim Il Sung Square. This early morning walk offers us views through downtown Pyongyang and capture the lives of the locals on their day off, whilst also giving us an opportunity to photograph some of the older building synonymous with any visit. We will stop for breakfast at the Viennese coffee shop, where we will have time to set up cameras for more pictures of the center of the city.
      • Kim Il Sung Square | Pyongyang’s central square lined with government ministries, museums, and The Grand People’s Study House.
      • Foreign Languages Bookshop | Store selling Korean publications translated into English, German, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic. No visit to Pyongyang is complete without a visit to this famous bookshop. Situated at a road crossing patrolled by the infamous Pyongyang traffic police, it is also great to capture the perfect picture of these iconic workers. We continue our walk crossing to the Mansudae Fountain Park from where we can continue to picture everyday life as well as some examples of Korean sculpture.
      • Mansudae Fountain Park | The historic center of Pyongyang popular with local citizens after school and on weekends. Flanked by examples of ancient and modern architecture from different eras.
      • As we approach lunchtime, we further our expedition through the streets of Pyongyang past some of the cities newer apartments, to our destination, the Okryugwan cold noodle restaurant. This restaurant located on the banks of the Taedong river not only offers visitors great views but delivers us the best cold noodles in the city. Often busy with locals, we may have a little wait before trying Pyongyang’s signature dish.

      PM

      • After our hearty lunch, we board our bus and drive to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and USS Pueblo. Here we have an extended visit taking time to photograph the military hardware, large statues, and the famous USS Pueblo. For our visit, we will be accompanied by a local Museum guide dressed in military clothing. She will be happy to allow time for some portraiture.
      •  Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum | Tour this world-class museum led by a local museum guide. Renovated in 2012, it exhibits the 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 captured equipment from the US military, including the USS Pueblo. Central to the understanding of the country today and for many a highlight of the trip.When we leave the Museum we drive to Pyongyang central tram terminus from where we take a ride on one of the cities older Trams which will offer great photographic options as we pick our way through the streets at a local level. 

      • Drive 2 ½ hours south along the ‘Reunification Highway’ to Kaesong, the ancient capital of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392 AD) located near today’s Korean Demilitarised Zone.

      Overnight | Minsok Folk Hotel, Kaesong. Traditional style accommodation 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.

    4. May 25 | Monday

      Visit DMZ and Kaesong

      AM

      • After a morning photographing the beautiful hotel area we drive to visit the Panmunjom Truce Village and DMZ. In this area, photography is limited. Although, if the rules are followed there is still a great opportunity to get some great shots. Traveling in a small group also means a better chance of getting a photograph with a Korean military officer - the only place in North Korea this is possible.
      • Panmunjom Truce Village and DMZ | 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. After our visit to this strange and unusual area, we continue with a visit to Kaesong Koryo Museum. This interesting area is great for photographing ancient architecture. If we're lucky, we may get the chance to catch some local couples having their wedding photos taken.
      • Kaesong Koryo Museum | Once the Songgyung Academy, a Confucian school, and now a museum on the Koryo Dynasty exhibiting historical objects, statues, pagodas, and porcelain from that era. A UNESCO World Heritage Site perfect for North Korea photos.
      • Before lunch, we take another walk to build an appetite taking a look at some of Kaesong's older buildings.
      • Old City Walk and South Gate | A morning stroll through Kaesong’s historic district lined with homes dating back to the Ri Dynasty to the city’s historic South Gate.
      • Traditional Royal Korean Lunch (pangsanggi) | An incredibly photogenic meal made of 12 dishes served in brass bowls fit for the kings of old. Perfect for avid instagrammers, and tastes great too! The more dishes, the more distinguished the guest!

      PM

      • Once lunch has finished, we start our drive returning to Pyongyang. On the way, we of course have some more photographic opportunities.
      • Pakyon Waterfall | Light walking in relaxing wooded area to a scenic waterfall. There are hiking trails of various lengths. Local people commonly visit here for picnics and sometimes bathing/swimming.

      • Gwanum Temple and Taehungsan Fortress | Located behind Pakyon Waterfalls this complex of mostly ruined buildings dates from more than a thousand years ago. Most of the temple remains intact since its last renovation in the 17th century
      • Return to Pyongyang via the Three-Charters of National Reunification Monument, the iconic arch over the Pyongyang-Kaesong Highway dedicated to a joint meeting between Koreas, north, and south. This monument is also known as the ‘Arch of Reunification’.
      • Workshop after dinner. We gather together to view our photos from the days excitement and listen to instruction for the coming days.

      Overnight | Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang.

    5. May 26 | Tuesday

      Industry and Iconic Culture

      AM

      • Pyongyang Textile Factory and Dormitory. 

      • Pyongyang Metro Tour (two-line ride) | One of the deepest metro systems in the world with stunning artwork reflecting the name of each station, you’ll find it hard to put your cameras down. Ride both lines and stop off at smaller stations rarely visited by tourists. We visit all we can, making the most of our time here and getting some rare North Korea pictures.

      PM
      • May Day Stadium this afternoon we tour the grounds and facilities of the world’s largest stadiums. With a capacity of 150,000 and renovated in September 2014, it is used for all of the DPRK’s major sporting events and in 2018 hosted the return of the Mass Games. Its grand architectural style lends itself to great photography.
      • Pyongyang International Football Academy only a short leap from the Mayday stadium, this is a Premier football school for young and promising athletes. We tour the facilities and learn about the history of football in the DPRK. It has multiple training pitches where you can see yourself against some students here.
      • This evening it's off to a different setting for dinner as we enjoy an exclusive meal on the Rainbow boat on the Taedong River. From here, we can also get some great night time city-scape shots.  

      • Workshop after dinner - We gather together to view our photos from the days excitement and listen to instruction for the coming days.

      Overnight | Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang.

    6. May 27 | Wednesday

      Hamhung

      AM

      • Today it's off early as we start our drive to Hamhung. Hamhung together with its southern neighbor Hungnam make up the DPRK’s second largest urban area by population. They are a major center of chemical industry, producing fertilizers and Vinalon, or ‘Juche Fiber’.The twin cities were rebuilt after the Korean War with the assistance of East German architects and planners. This 6-hour drive will be broken with visits along the beautiful mountain road, perfect for photos of North Korea countryside.

      • Upon reaching Hamhung we make our visit to Hungnam Fertiliser Factory. This is a massive chemical-industrial plant producing various kinds of fertilizers. We will have a tour of the plant control room, production facilities, and packing plant, where you will also be able to take photos. A perfect location for some industrial photography and if we're lucky some welcome portraiture photographs.
      • 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. This traditional style building is a peaceful place to brush up on history and catch some of those photos of traditional style buildings.
      • After dinner, electricity permitting, it’s time to review those photos again!

      Overnight | Majon Guesthouse, Hamhung. A beachside holiday compound with basic but comfortable chalets. Rooms have heated floors but no running water. There is a main building with restaurant, bar, billiards, table-tennis, bookshop, and Korean karaoke. Bring a torch!

    7. May 28 | Thursday

      Wonsan

      AM

      • Today we head off for our adventure onwards to the coastal city of Wonsan which is home to the famous hot spring spa where we will spend the night to relax and recharge.
      • Wonsan is a crucial city on the east coast of the country. The least heavily industrial, but a key port and a city where the national government focuses efforts on leisure facilities and promoting the favorable location of the city between sea and mountains. On our journey, there are some stops to be made.
      • Tongbong Co-operative Farm is located on the outskirts of Hamhung offering visitors the chance to view some of the farm machinery, a local home, and even a local farm shop where visitors can buy some homemade products. From here, we can take photos of daily life and work on some portrait photos.
      PM
      • 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 Catholic monks living in the area in the early 20th century. Great not only for the architectural style, but it can offer some candid shots of its students.
      • Next stop, Wonsan City Centre and Docks Central square and ship terminal in downtown Wonsan. The Mangyongbong-92 ferry/cargo ship which one shuttled Koreans living in Japan back and forth across the East Sea of Korea is moored here.
      • Jangdok Island and Lighthouse Take a stroll on the breakwater to a small island in the middle of Wonsan harbor. Local fishermen flock to this area, feel free to chat with them along the way, and get some shots of the locals. We time our visit so as to stroll out at sunset, to catch our best chance of pictures as the sun lights this attractive sea resort.

      Overnight | Dongmyong Hotel Waterfront, Wonsan. Hotel with stunning seaside views of Wonsan Harbor. Limited hours of hot water, bar, billiards, ping-pong, barber shop, beauty salon, dry-sauna.

    8. May 29 | Friday

      Wonsan and Pyongyang

      AM

      • Chonsam-ri Co-operative Farm Learn about rural life at this farm specialising in rice and persimmons. Visit the cultural centre, farm house, and fish pond giving us another chance to photograph farming in North Korea.
      • The pace of the tour slows a little as we visit Sokwang Temple to view the remains of a Buddhist temple established dating back to the late-14th century and associated with the dream that predicted the fall of the Koryo Dynasty. A historic and haunting place set in a serene mountain valley with stream.
      • Return to Wonsan for lunch

      PM

      • Afternoon drive back to Pyongyang via Masikrong
      • Visit Masik Pass Ski Resort in the winter its DPRK’s largest ski resort. Opened in 2013, Masik Pass is also good for hiking in spring, summer, and autumn. We stop here for coffee on the way back to Pyongyang from Wonsan. 

      • Tower of Juche Idea | Iconic tower on the Taedong River dedicated to the DPRK’s guiding philosophy. Take the elevator to the top for great views of the city. Lift ticket paid on the spot (€).
      • Farewell dinner at Duck BBQ restaurant 

      Overnight | Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang. 

    9. May 30 | Saturday

      Train Return to Beijing

      It’s a relaxed start for us as we depart the captivating capital of Pyongyang for our return journey to Beijing. We travel via the train using soft-sleeper carriages (4 bunks per compartment with their own doors). The train journey takes 24 hours with a transfer at the city of Dandong.

      As we travel you will still have time for a little more scenic countryside photography.

      Overnight | On-train

    10. May 31 | Sunday

      Arrival into Beijing.

      • We should arrive into Beijing station at 08.34 AM and from there you are free to head to your accommodation or begin your journey home.

      For those who wish to, there will be a final tour debrief and photo session at the Koryo office, we will have the opportunity to review a final selection of photos and ask any last minute questions.

  • Extras

    • Upgrade to your own room

      All hotel rooms on our all-inclusive group tours feature twin beds, and will be shared. If you'd like a room to yourself then you can upgrade for an extra 40 EUR per night.

      See more
    • Insurance (7 to 9 nights)

      We're unable to take you on one of our tours if you do not have medical insurance that covers the destination in question. Issues of isolation and infrastructure where we go mean it would be irresponsible of us to do so. We can provide this if you do not have it — or you can use your own.

    • Hotel booking in Beijing

      Koryo Tours is able to arrange hotel bookings in Beijing at the following hotels on behalf of people travelling with us. We have four hotels on offer with different levels of comfort and all located a short walk from our office. Select which hotel you are interested in and your Tour Manager will confirm the dates and cost for you. We will make the booking and add the cost to your tour invoice.

      See more
  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      Flight to Beijing – Pyongyang
      Train Return Pyongyang – Beijing (soft Sleeper)
      All meals on the tour apart from the meals on the train.
      Hotel accommodation
      Two local Korean guides, and a driver per group
      A Koryo Tours tour leader
      Leica Photographic instructor
      All transportation in the DPRK
      The shared use of three Leica cameras
      Evening instruction and talks
    • Not included
      DPRK visa fee 50 EUR
      Optional single room supplement of 40 EUR per night
      Tips for the local Korean guides and driver (approx 10-15 EUR per day)
      Optional activities such as the lift up the Juche Tower (5 EUR) or a visit to the funfair (approx. 2 EUR entrance fee per person)
      Entry tickets for special events if applicable – for example, Pyongyang Circus (approx. 20 EUR per person)
      Meals include a complimentary beer and water, but you will need to purchase extra drinks if needed
      Spending money for souvenirs
  • Notes

    Groups will be in the experienced hands of two or three local Korean guides and a Koryo Tours tour leader.

    Please note that when on tour your day-to-day itinerary may differ to what is advertised above. Your tour leader will ensure, however, that everything available at the time is covered, and replacement options are provided where needed. We will also add in extras when there is time (such as a visit to a local bar or amusement park). We visit the DPRK regularly so know all the best places to go, and how to make the most of your days there to guarantee the experience of a lifetime. After the tour, we will send out a list of all participants' emails so you can keep in touch, swap photos etc. If you do not wish to be on this list then please let us know.

Please apply by 6th May, 2020.

Next tour departure dates

North Korea Budget Tour + Vladivostok with unique train across the DPRK!

View tour

Leica North Korea Photography Tour

View tour

info@koryogroup.com | + 86 10 6416 7544
27 Bei Sanlitun Nan (East Courtyard).
Chaoyang District. Beijing 100027. P.R China

中国北京市朝阳区北三里屯南 27 号 (东侧院),
邮编:100027
Download contact card