The Minsok Hotel
Almost everyone who visits North Korea for more than a couple of days incorporates a trip to the DMZ.
Those with a little more time stop off in Kaesong to see the sites, but many generally head back to Pyongyang the same day.
This is a shame, as a night in the old city of Kaesong is a memorable experience- and there are few more iconic places to overnight than the traditional Korean-style Minsok Hotel (sometimes known as the Kaesong Folk Custom Hotel) which has been welcoming foreign guests since 1989.
For those who have previously stayed in the modern yet island-isolated Yanggakdo in Pyongyang, the Minsok is a breath of fresh air.
After driving through the old quarter of Kaesong, a set of huge wooden doors swings open to reveal a courtyard with traditional Korean houses.
Several of the dwellings back on to Korean homes- peer over the wall and you can often see washing drying on the line.
You will likely wake to the squawks of the city PA system exhorting the citizens to work or the clucking of chickens in the courtyard next door.
Short of a homestay, you can’t get much more in amongst it in North Korea.
The Minsok is not so much a hotel as a small walled village or hamlet within a city.
19 single-storey Korean houses are arranged in pretty courtyards along a stream. Each is unique, with some houses dating back to the 19th century.
There is a communal area with dining rooms and a tea house/ bar, as well as a Korean bookstore and souvenir shop.
Each of the 50-odd rooms is unique.
In most cases, you will be sleeping on a rice pillow on a Korean totjari tatami-style mat on the floor, with thin sliding blinds separate the rooms and mosquito nets for summer.
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