|23 Jun - 04 Jul|
A new and one-off tour for 2020, this eleven-night itinerary takes in the majority of sights which our 'best of' and 'classic' tours typically include, but also offers an increased focus on North Korea's history and the Korean War, as the 25th June 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the war, known in the North as the 'Fatherland Liberation War'.
We start the adventure with two full days of sightseeing in Pyongyang, with our time in this captivating capital coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. It's not a national holiday, but regardless this date is expected to be marked by a number of symbolic and patriotic events which we will of course strive to witness. Spend two nights in the beautiful Mt Myohyang region and visit the little-seen city of Anju before spending another two nights in Kaesong, where sightseeing will include a visit to the DMZ and Panmunjom. From Kaesong, head to Masikryong for two nights, a perfect base from which to explore the east coast city of Wonsan. Enjoy a final full day of sightseeing in Pyongyang to make sure you see everything worth seeing in the capital.
This small group tour will operate for a minimum of 6 and a maximum of just 16 persons
This morning make your own way to Beijing Capital Airport, Terminal 2, to depart at approximately 1305 on the Air Koryo flight to Pyongyang (schedules TBC). The short flight will bring you into Pyongyang at approximately 1605 local time. On arrival meet with your Korean guides and driver. After passing through immigration and customs, head into the city centre to visit the Benevolence Bar (or similar) for a drink or two (at your own expense), giving the opportunity to chat with your guides and get a quick insight into plans for the next few days. After a welcome dinner in the Arirang Restaurant, transfer to the Koryo Hotel and here check in for a three night stay. (Snack On Flight/D)
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing in the capital, starting with a walk from your hotel to visit the Stamp Shop. From here continue on foot to Pyongyang's main railway station and walk along Yonngwang Street, a major city thoroughfare, to see the exterior of the Pyongyang Grand Theatre continue. Pushing on, visit Kim II Sung Square, the heart of the city, before coming to the Foreign Language Bookshop, a great spot to pick up a wide range of publications, postcards, souvenirs and the like. After a few hours on your feet pop into the Vienna Coffee Shop to relax over a hot drink (at your own expense). The last stop of the morning will be the Grand People's Study House, which is the national library and a major centre of learning. The view from the balcony atop the Study House down onto Kim II Sung Square affords a spectacular vista of central Pyongyang. After lunch in the Pyongyang Bell Restaurant visit the Mansudae Fountain Park. From here ascend Mansu Hill to visit the Mansudae Grand Monument, the centrepieces of which are the spectacular 20-metre tall bronze statues of Kim II Sung and Kim Jong II. 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). You will also see the nearby Chollima Monument.
From Mansu Hill visit the Man sudae Art Studio before heading underground for a journey on the impressive Pyongyang Metro, travelling one stop from Puhung to Yonggwang (arguably the two most impressive stations) before rattling on for four stops to Kaeson. At Kaeson station surface beside the Arch of Triumph, 10 metres higher than its Parisian counterpart; for a small fee it is possible to ascend (by lift and then foot) to a viewing platform near the top of the arch - from where you will have a good view over north central Pyongyang, including a number of buildings such as the TV Tower & Kim II Sung Stadium. From the Arch you can also see your next stop of the day: the Friendship Tower, a 30m tall tower construct ed to commemorate China's involvement in the Korean War. After a busy first day of sightseeing return to your hotel for dinner. (B/L/D)
This morning 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 it is time to move on. Continuing the military/war theme, visit the Jonsung Revolutionary Site, which was a command centre during the Korean War and contains a small network of underground tunnels and meeting rooms used by Kim II Sung from 1951-1953. End the morning with a walk in Ryomyong New Town, a new high-rise residential district, and have lunch here before visiting the Fatherland Liberation War Martyr's Cemetery, a new ceme tery consecrated in 2013, and the final resting place for a number of those killed during the Korean War.
Lightening the mood, we head to Moranbong, the main city park, a pleasant spot in the heart of the city; sprinkled with old city walls, gates and pavilions, and an ideal spot for people-watching and attempting to mingle with locals. The route through the park is flexible, but will certainly take in the Liberation Tow er, a Soviet era monument built to commemorate the USSR's involvement in Korea's liberation from Japan in 1945. Heading into the western suburbs of the city visit the Mangyongdae Schoolchildren's Palace, an extra-curricular activity centre for some of the capital's most gifted youth. Enjoy a tour of this complex before taking in a performance from the students. In the late afternoon head to the Changchun Sports Street and visit the Maeri Shooting Range to (for a fee) enjoy the chance of a spot of target practice with sports rifles and pistols. Enjoy dinner in a restaurant on Kwangbok Street before returning to your hotel. (B/L/D)
The 25th June is a most significant date and, while not a national holiday, there is a high likelihood that a number of propaganda, nationalistic meetings & events will take place. We will of course strive to witness any such events which may be taking place, but please note local fees will be payable to attend any special events. While all the sites mentioned today are scheduled to be open on this day, access may be restricted due to high level military visits and such-in these circumstances it may therefore be necessary to reorder the itinerary locally to ensure our group can see as much as possible.
Checking out of your hotel this morning, visit the Korean Revolution Museum on Mansu Hill; a sprawling museum dedicated to the revolution that gives a fascinating insight into the 'official' history of the DPRK. Departing the capital head to the north-eastern fringes of the city and visit the fascinating Gon Ji Ri Revolutionary Site, the North's wartime headquarters from 1951-1955. Arriving in Pyong song, a satellite city to the capital, enjoy lunch in the Jangsusan Hotel before slowly heading north to Mt. Myohyang, travelling along a lesser used inland road-giving us our first glimpse of typical rural life in the country. In the mid afternoon we take in the rarely visited Songam Cave (warm clothing and a head torch are recommended) before finally push ing onto Mt. Myohyang. On arrival in the mountains check into the Hyangsan Hotel for a two night stay, and here also have dinner. (B/L/D)
Start the day with a visit to the picturesque Pohyon Temple, founded in 1042AD yet sadly heavily damaged in the Korean War. Moving on spend the morning touring the impressive International Friendship Exhibition, a massive complex housing the many thousands of diverse gifts presented to Kim II Sung, Kim Jong II & Kim Jong Un over the years. The buildings, built into the mountainside, are home to seemingly endless corridors and rooms lined with diverse gifts from all over the world - keep an eye out for the gifts from Regent Holidays! After lunch enjoy the option of an afternoon hike in the hills. The difficulty and duration of the hike will depend on the inclination of the group, weather and current quality of the paths, but we plan for a walk of around 3-4 hours. Those who would prefer a more sedentary afternoon may relax in the comfort of the Hyangsan Hotel, which offers all manner of facilities to keep one busy for a few hours. This evening enjoy a lamb BBQ dinner back at the hotel. (B/L/D)
Departing the comfort of the Hyangsan Hotel, today is a long day of driving as you head south to Kaesong. The morning will be spent driving towards Pyongyang, breaking the journey partway into the drive for a visit to the rarely visited city of Anju, where the group will make a quick stop at the Pakesang Pavilion and the Anju City Chinese People's Volunteer's Cemetery, the latter being another poignant reminder of China's heavy involvement in the Korean War. Up on arriving in Pyongyang enjoy lunch in a pizzeria and a walk along Mirae Science Street before pushing further south. Before arriving in Kaesong enjoy a detour to take in the 37m Pakyon Waterfall and nearby Kwanum Temple, which dates back to 970. Arriving in Kaesong, check into the Janamsan Hotel for dinner and a two night stay. (B/L/D)
This morning, pay a brief visit to Sonjuk Bridge before visiting the plesant Koryo History Museum. Also visit the nearby Stamp Shop - a great spot for picking up a wide range of post cards 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, you will meet with an army escort who will explain the background to the history of the DMZ, before mov ing 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 after noon visit 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. Before returning to your hotel visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tomb of King Kongmin, one of the best preserved royal tombs in the country. This evening enjoy dinner in a city restaurant near the hotel. (B/ L/D)
Departing Kaesong, spend the day slowly heading to Masikryong. In the mid-morning arrive in Sariwon, provincial capital of North Hwanghae. Here visit the Folk Customs Street and enjoy a brief tour of the area before visiting the Kyongam Pavilion. Should you wish, a short steep path leads from here to the Songun Pavilion, from where you will be afforded good views of the city and farmlands in the distance. Before lunch in the Sariwon March 8th Hotel visit the Sariwon Migok Cooperative Farm, a model farm where your tour will likely take in a farmer's home - as good a place as any to try and get a glimpse into and understanding of rural life in the country. Departing Sariwon we spend the bulk of the afternoon making the long but scenic drive to Masikryong, breaking the journey as and when required to stretch your legs. Upon arrival in Masikryong check into the Masikryong Hotel for a two night stay, and here have dinner. (B/L/D)
From Masikryong, make the short drive into Wonsan and spend the day touring this charming coastal city, which is slowly trying to transform into a domestic/international tourism hub. Sightseeing today will start with the Songdowon International Children's Union Camp, am impressive 12,000 square metre summer camp with a startling ar ray of facilities. In central Wonsan visit the Wonsan Revolutionary Museum before taking in the Art Shop, one of the best spots in the entire country to track down and purchase oil paintings and North Korea's ever-popular propaganda posters.
After lunch in the Kalmaegi (Seagull) Res taurant, we will (weather and the groups inclination pending), visit the Wonsan Botanical Gardens and/or Songdowon Beach. Songdowon Beach is a lovely spot to go for a dip in the East Sea of Korea (known in the West as the Sea of Japan). In the late afternoon we visit Jangdok Islet, arguably the best spot for mingling with locals in the city, as the causeway and islet is often packed with children, families and fisherman. Final stop in the city will be (to be confirmed locally) a tour of the Mangyongbong-92, a passenger/cargo ship which has been docked in the city on a semi-permanent basis for over a decade due to the strict international sanctions put on the country. Return to Masikryong for dinner. (B/L/D)
Enjoy time this morning to relax in the Masikryong Hotel, to hike in the hills or take a lift (for a fee) to the top of the ski resort. After checking out enjoy lunch before spending the afternoon making the long drive back to Pyongyang, stopping en route to stretch your legs at both the Ahobi Pass and Sinphyong Lake & Rest House. Before arriving back in Pyongyang visit the UNESCO World Heritage Tomb Of King Tongmyong. Return to the Koryo Hotel and check in for a two night stay before here having dinner. (B/L/D)
Today enjoy your final day in North Korea with a full day of further sightseeing in Pyongyang. Spend the morning in the western suburbs of the city, starting with a visit to Mangyongdae Native House, birthplace of Kim II Sung. From here enjoy a very special visit to the Supreme Court of the DPR Korea, a sight extremely rarely visited by foreigners (at least of their own accord!). Before you get too confused by the local guides' explanation of the DPRK's complex legal & criminal sys tem it will be time to move on to your last stop of the morning, the Kwangbok Area Supermarket. This shop 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) - the best location to pick up some small items such as Korean made foodstuffs, cosmetics or clothing, for example. After lunch near the supermarket take in two famous Pyongyang landmarks, the Monument to the Foundation of the Workers' Party of Korea and the Juche Tower. The Juche Tower is a symbol of the Juche Idea (national self reliance, literally "Master of one's self") penned by Kim II 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. After some time to freshen up back at the hotel head out for a farewell dinner aboard the Taedonggang Restaurant Boat. (B/L/D)
This morning you will be transferred to the airport to depart Pyongyang at 0830 on the JS151 flight to Beijing. On arriving in Beijing at 1000 your arrangements will end (times TBC). (B)
OPTION TO DEPART BY RAIL
Day 12, Saturday 4th July: This morning transfer to the train station and depart Pyongyang on the 1025 train to Beijing via Dandong, which takes approximately 24 hours to make the 1349km journey. The train will head north and reach the border in the late afternoon, and after border formalities on the Korean and Chinese side continue through the night towards Beijing. For the overnight section of the journey you will normally be accommodated sharing in four-berth sleeping compartments. Meals are not provided on the train, but a restaurant car serves reasonably priced meals if required. Toilets are locked at the border. (B)
Day 13, Sunday 5th July: You will this morning arrive into the Chinese capital at 0840. All arrangements will end with your arrival into Beijing.
(*If issued for you in the UK via Regent Holidays)
We can arrange your international flights to Beijing at an additional cost if desired, please speak to Carl Meadows for further information.
|Itinerary Dates||From Price||Single Room Supp.|
23 Jun 2020
04 Jul 2020