Perfect for those wanting to discover North Korea in more detail, our Pioneering North Korea tour offers travellers a truly unique experience in a secret world. Chartering an aircraft to access some of the lesser, rarely and almost never visited areas, this 18 day tour reaches many places other tours and travellers do not. After an in depth tour of the fascinating capital we take in Panmunjom and the DMZ before taking a chartered train to Mt. Myohyang. Returning to Pyongyang for a national holiday the adventure steps up as we depart on a chartered aircraft to Mt. Paekdu, the highest peak in Korea. From Paekdu we fly onwards to the North East with an overnight in Chongjin before flying on to Hamhung. Parting with our aircraft in Hamhung we spend the next week slowly overlanding back to Pyongyang via Wonsan, Mt. Kumgang and Masikryong.
This Pioneering Tour is highly regarded, with the 2014 departure being selected by Wanderlust Magazine as one of their “50 Top Trips” for 2014. Hilary Bradt, founder of Bradt Travel Guides, joined the 2016 departure of this tour, and articles on her trip will be featured in various publications over the coming months.
This morning make your own way to Beijing Capital Airport, Terminal 2, to depart at approximately 1200 on the Air Koryo flight to Pyongyang (schedules TBC). The short flight will bring the group into Pyongyang at approximately 1430 local time, and here meet with your Korean guides and driver. After passing through immigration and customs head into the city centre to visit the Mansudae Fountain Park. From this scenic spot we will ascend to the Mansudae Grand Monument, the centre piece of which are the spectacular 20-metre tall bronze statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Here, millions of Koreans visit annually to pay their respects to the leaders, and the group will be expected to lay a wreath of flowers at the foot of the monument before bowing in unison before it (flowers purchased locally for a small fee). We will also see the nearby Chollima Monument before transferring to the Yanggakdo Hotel, the 47-storey hotel where you will be based whilst in Pyongyang. After checking in head out for a welcome dinner in the National Restaurant. (D)
This morning check out of the Yanggakdo Hotel before commencing sightseeing in Pyongyang. Start the day in the city centre with a walk from the exterior of the Pyongyang Grand Theatre to Kim Il Sung Square and then onto the Foreign Language Bookshop, a good spot to pick up a wide range of publications, post-cards and the like. Moving on we will visit the Grand People’s Study House— the national library and a major centre of learning. After lunch in a city restaurant visit the Fatherland Liberation War Museum and the USS Pueblo, an 850 ton US spy boat captured in 1968 by the Koreans off the coast of Wonsan. The very large museum dedicated to this devastating war has some truly fascinating displays and exhibits and we will visit just some of the highlights before enjoying refreshments (at your own expense) in the nearby Mansugyo Bar. From here we will depart Pyongyang and drive south to Kaesong. On arrival check into the Janamsan Hotel for a two night stay. Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning pay a brief visit to Sonjuk Bridge before visiting the pleasant Koryo History Museum. Also visit the nearby Stamp Shop – a great spot for picking up a wide range of postcards and stamps. From here head to Panmunjom - the DMZ and border with South Korea. Upon arrival at Panmunjom, which is often the highlight of any visit to North Korea, we will meet with an army escort who will explain the background to the history of the DMZ, before moving on to the Armistice Talks’ Hall and the building (and attached small museum) where the Armistice was signed. From here head right down to the border itself, where the group will be (local conditions permitting) escorted, possibly under the watchful eyes of South Korean soldiers, into one of the huts which straddle the North/South Korean border. Enjoy lunch at the Panmunjomkwan Restaurant inside the DMZ. This afternoon visit the Tomb of King Kongmin and the Concrete Wall or “Wall of Division,” an 8 metre high concrete wall built by US forces along much of the southern perimeter of the DMZ from 1976 to 1979. A senior army guide will here likely explain the history of the wall and the current border tensions with the south. Return to the Janamsan Hotel and this evening enjoy dinner in a city restaurant near the hotel. (B,L,D)
Departing Kaesong we head north back to Pyongyang, stopping at the Monument To The Three Point Charter For National Reunification on the outskirts of Pyongyang for a quick photo opportunity, be-fore arriving at the Kwangbok Supermarket. Kwangbok is the only “normal” Pyongyang supermarket that can be visited by tourists (and one of the only places in the country where one can obtain Korean currency at the “normal” exchange rate) - we can here pick up Korean products that will likely not be seen anywhere else in Korea. After lunch we head to Pyongyang Station and depart the capital at approximately 1500 on a chartered train to Mt. Myohyang. The train will take approximately 4 hours to make this journey, slowly rolling north through rural Korea into the beautiful mountains of Myohyang. A restaurant car will be provided (we will dine in the restaurant car on the 8th) and the spacious compartments will allow for a relaxing afternoon/evening. On arrival we will transfer to the very comfortable Hyangsan Hotel and here check in for an overnight stay. Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning visit the attractive International Friendship Exhibition, a massive complex housing the many thousands of diverse gifts presented to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong ll over the years. The buildings, built into the mountainside, are home to endless corridors and rooms lined with diverse gifts from all over the world – keep an eye out for the gifts from Regent Holidays! Also visit the Pohyon Temple, founded in 1042 yet sadly heavily dam-aged in the Korean War. After a lamb BBQ lunch at the Hyangsan Hotel there will be time for an optional light walk before we return to the train station and depart Mt. Myohyang at approximately 1600 on our chartered train back to Pyongyang. We will dine this evening in the train’s restaurant car. On arriving back into Pyongyang return to the Yang-gakdo Hotel and check in for a three night stay. (B,L,D)
Heading into the city centre we will board a 1950’s Skoda public bus to tour the city on this national holiday in style—we will visit this morning the Juche Tower and the monument to the Foundation of the Workers Party of Korea. The Juche Tower is a symbol of the Juche Idea (national self reliance, literally “Master of one’s self”) penned by Kim Il Sung. Those who wish can pay a small fee (5 Euros at current) and be whisked via a lift to the top of the Tower for spectacular views over the city. Parting with our vintage bus we head underground for a journey on the impressive Pyongyang Metro, travelling one stop from Puhung to Yonggwang (arguably the two most impressive stations) before pressing on four stops to Kaeson. At Kaeson station surface beside the Arch of Triumph and from here enter the main city park, Moranbong. We plan (TBC locally) to enjoy a packed picnic lunch in Moranbong before we commence a walk from Moranbong Park to the Liberation Tower and from here past the exterior of Okryu Restaurant to the Okryu Bridge, finishing this pleasant walk through central Pyongyang outside the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre. (B,L,D)
Today is a national holiday, and as such we anticipate various special events and celebrations, and a general jovial atmosphere across the city. Celebrations / events in Korea are normally not known until the 11th hour, and we have thus today factored in a degree of flexibility – allowing the group the best chance of seeing any events and getting the most out of the day. All meals will of course be included, and your guides and Regent escort will do their upmost to ensure you will see as much as is permitted on this special day. Local fees will be payable to attend any special events.
Today enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Pyongyang, starting with a visit to the awesome Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the former residence of Kim Il Sung, and now the Mausoleum for both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. We will here see the bodies of both leaders lying in state. The Mausoleum itself is followed by exhibits showcasing medals of honour bestowed upon the leaders. (Please note for this site you will be expected to dress rea-sonably smartly). Moving on, visit the nearby Revolutionary Martyr’s Cemetery, home to the graves of more than 200 of Korea’s leading resistance figures over the years of Japanese rule and the Korean war. If the weather is clear you will be afforded good views over Pyongyang. After lunch we head to the suburbs of the city to visit Mangyondae—the birth-place of Kim Il Sung. From Mangyondae we will return to central Pyongyang by a chartered tram—a pleasant way to further see the city. Late this afternoon enjoy a city walk through the Mirae Science Street, a newly constructed district in central Pyongyang. After a week of Korean food enjoy something a bit different this evening with dinner in a pizzeria. (B,L,D)
This morning we check out of our hotel and drive west to the port city of Nampo on the northern shore of the Taedong River. On arrival in Nampo transfer to a dockyard and enjoy a private motor boat cruise down the Taedong River to the West Sea Barrage. After around one hour of sailing arrive at the barrage, a most impres-sive 8km long construction built in the 1980s along the estuary of the Taedong River. This immense building project is of great pride to the Korean people, and we will likely enjoy a video in the visitor centre showing this massive undertak-ing. Returning to Nampo enjoy lunch in the Hanggu Hotel. From Nampo we transfer to the airport to board a chartered aircraft (most likely an Antonov 24) for a flight of around 70 minutes north to Samjiyon. (Scheduled departure/arrival time 1530/1640). This border region is home to Mt. Paekdu – a peak of great spiritual symbolism to the Korean people, enhanced by the fact that it was the home of the Korean People’s Army during the war against the Japanese. Arriving in Samjiyon visit the impressive and beautifully located Samjiyon Grand Monument at Lake Samji before transferring to the Begebong Hotel for dinner and a two night stay. (B,L,D)
Heading out this morning we will drive to Mt. Paekdu. Arriving at the roadhead/checkpoint at the foot of Mt. Paekdu, go through entry formalities (as this is right beside the Chinese border) before ascending to the crater rim of the mountain (a funicular normally operates but occasionally it is necessary to walk from the base of the funicular to the crater rim, taking approximately one hour). From here, those who wish can (time and weather permitting) press on up to the highest point in the Korean Peninsula, Janggun Peak, at 2750 metres in height (approximately 30 minutes walk each way from the crater rim), or head down the 2160 steps to the shore of Lake Chon. Those who are quick enough will have a chance to visit both the lake and the summit. (A cable car does run down to the lake, but it does not always function. If the funicular and cable car are operating those who wish to use these must pay on the spot – expect the cost to be around 15 Euro per person). Descending the mountain, we will find a pleasant spot to pause for a picnic lunch near the Chinese frontier before visiting the Paekdu Secret Camps, from where the Army was based and Kim Il Sung headquartered from 1936 to 1943. This site is also the “official” birthplace of Kim Jong Il. Visit Rimyongsu Falls before arriving mid-afternoon at the Begebong Hotel. This afternoon there should be a couple of hours free to relax in the hotel. Subject to local confirma-tion those who wish may, with a guide, be able to head out for a brief walking tour of Samjiyon. Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Checking out of the Begebong Hotel transfer to the airport to board our chartered aircraft for the short flight to Orang. Orang is essentially a military airport, and on previous Regent trips through here we have spotted MiG fighter jets in the air and on the tarmac around us – certainly an experience to remember! On arriving in Orang we will head north along the attractive coastal road to Chongjin, the administrative capital of North Hamgyong Province. Chongjin is an industrial and port city which receives few foreign visitors - closer to Vladivostok than Pyongyang. On arriving in Chongjin we will check into the Chonmasan Hotel for an overnight stay, here having lunch also. This afternoon commence sightseeing in the city with visits to the Susongchon Combined Foodstuffs Factory (where we will likely tour the production facilities before enjoying a musical performance from the staff), the Steel-workers Kindergarden (where we will also likely enjoy a performance) and the Chongjin Foreign Language Institute. At the institute we will likely have the chance to meet and interact with English-language students. This evening we will enjoy dinner in the Foreign Sailors’ Club before returning to our hotel for the night. (B,L,D)
Enjoy further sightseeing in Chongjin this morning with visits to the Russian War Me-morial (which also affords good views over the city), e-library and the Chongjin Art Studio (a good place to pick up artworks). We will also enjoy a tour of the central city on a private trolleybus. After lunch back at the hotel check out and drive back to Orang airport, visiting the attractive coastal site of Yombun en-route. From Orang we will take a flight of around 45 minutes to Hamhung, North Korea’s second most populous city and a major industrial hub. On arriving in Hamhung we will dispense with our aircraft, as from here we will travel overland back to Pyongyang. From the airport we will transfer to the Majon Hotel, a beachfront hotel and one of the best hotels in all of Korea. We will check in here for a two night stay. Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
After a busy 11 days of travelling we will today enjoy a far more leisurely pace. From our hotel those who wish can enjoy a dip from the private hotel beach into the East Sea Of Korea (Sea of Japan), or enjoy the various facilities on offer in the hotel (fees apply). Departing in the mid-morning we will enjoy sightseeing in Ham-hung, with visits to Hamhung Bongung (the house where Ri Song Gye, founder king of the Ri dynasty resided), the exte-rior of the Hamhung Grand Theatre in the main city square and the Hungnam Fertiliser Factory. Lunch in central Ham-hung at the Sinhunsan Restaurant. Returning to the hotel spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing before we enjoy a lamb BBQ dinner on the beach. (B,L,D)
Departing Hamhung we head south to the Dongbong Co-Operative Farm before pressing onto the city of Wonsan. Arriving in Wonsan check into the Tongmyong Hotel for an overnight stay. After a welcome lunch in the nearby Kalmaegi Restaurant we enjoy the afternoon touring the city with a visit to an art shop and a brief walk through the main city square and waterfront. From here we will walk to Jandok Islet, a lovely spot from where one can watch the locals at leisure (a small entry fee applies to enter Jandok). Last site of the day will be to tour the International Schoolchildren’s Camp. Enjoy dinner this evening at the Tongmyong Hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning depart Wonsan and drive to Mt. Kumgang, enjoying a stop en-route at Sijung Beach where, weather permitting, those who wish will be able to enjoy a quick dip in the sea. Arriving in Mt. Kumgang check into the Oekumgang Hotel for a two night stay, here also having lunch.
Mt. Kumgang had been off limits to tourists in North Korea for some years, after it was leased/developed by the South Korean Hyundai Asan company, administered as a special tourist region exclusively for persons coming overland from South Korea on special package tours, who could only stay within the Kumgang region on these “border tours.” After declining relations between North and South, this area closed to visitors from the South in 2008 and opened to visitors from the North in Summer 2010. This area is spectacularly beautiful, and you will be staying in the South Korean devel-oped resort. The Oekumgang Hotel only reopened to tourists in late 2012, and is one of the best hotels in the country.
This afternoon visit the attractive Samil Lake and Sea Kumgang, a pleasant coastal site near the South Korean border. Enjoy dinner in the Sujongbong Restaurant near the hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning enjoy a walk in most attractive scenery up to the Kuryong Waterfall (a round trip on a good path of around 3-4 hours). Those who wish can, time permitting, take an alternative track (a steep climb for the fit only) to view the “Fairies Pools,” a stunning view of the rock pools below, and a site of famous Korean legends. For persons who do not wish to make this walk they can relax at or near the bottom of the path (where there is a shop and restaurant), or take a short walk up the path as far as they wish to travel. Enjoy lunch in the Mokran Restaurant at the foot of the path. This afternoon those who wish can relax at the hotel at leisure or visit the local Spa / Mas-sage Centre (fees payable locally). Should people wish, additional hiking to Manmulsan should also be possible. Enjoy dinner in the Pyolkumgang Restaurant near the hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning make a long drive to the Masikryong Hotel, a newly constructed hotel that is the hub for the recently opened Masikryong Ski Resort. Whilst out of season, this is still a lovely place to spend a night, and one of the best hotels in all of the country. After lunch those who wish can walk or take a ski lift into the hills (with a guide, fees apply), or just relax in the hotel, which offers more than enough facilities to keep one occupied for an afternoon. Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning we will make a leisurely departure from Masikryong (at approximately 1030), commencing the final leg of our journey back to Pyongyang. We will break the journey en route at the Sin-phyong Tea House, where we will also have lunch. Arriving back into Pyongyang we will return to the Yanggakdo Hotel for our final night in Korea. This afternoon visit the June 9th Secondary School and take in any final sightseeing/shopping/leisure activities (time pending and depending on the majority inclination of the group). This evening enjoy a farewell dinner in a top city restaurant. (B,L,D)
This morning you will be transferred to the airport to depart Pyongyang at 1000 on the JS251 flight to Beijing. On arriving in Beijing at 1130 your arrangements will end. (B)
18 day tour, from £3400 per person
(Single person supplement + £700)
- Air Koryo flight Beijing–Pyongyang—Beijing and Pyongyang-Samjiyon-Orang-Hamhung
- Accommodation throughout
- Meals in North Korea as specified (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- All transfers, transport and sightseeing, with two local guides, including main entrance fees to sites
- Regent Holidays escort guide throughout whilst in North Korea
- North Korean Visa Fee and North Korean Visa* (*If issued for you in the UK via Regent Holidays)
- Return international flights from your country of residence to Beijing
- Meals / services / accommodation in China and any other items other than those clearly specified
- Chinese Visa (if required)
- Entrance fees to certain sites in Korea, as specified
- Gratuities / porterage
04 Sep 2017
21 Sep 2017
Click on images to enlarge