|29 Apr - 04 May|
One of our shortest tours of 2021, this 5 night whirlwind trip bases you in Pyongyang and includes as many of the must see sights & highlights of the country that we can possibly squeeze into 4 full days of sightseeing. This itinerary coincides with May Day, a national holiday where locals tend to flock to Pyongyang’s parks for a spot of well earned downtime—a great time to see North Koreans let their hair down as they celebrate this worker’s holiday and the arrival, in earnest, of spring.
This small group tour will operate for a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 14 persons.
This morning make your own way to Beijing Capital Airport, Terminal 2, to depart at approximately 1405 on the Air Koryo flight to Pyongyang (schedules TBC). The short flight will bring you into Pyongyang at approximately 1705 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 centrally located Arirang Restaurant transfer to the Yanggakdo Hotel and here check in for a five night stay. (Snack On Flight/D)
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing in the capital, starting with a walk in the city centre 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, postcards, souvenirs and the like. From here pop into the Vienna Coffee Shop to relax over a hot drink (at your own expense). From the coffee shop head to the Mansudae Fountain Park and ascend Mansu Hill to visit the Mansudae Grand Monument, the centre pieces 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). You will also see the nearby Chollima Monument. After lunch in the Ansan Restaurant visit the Mansudae Art Studio, a state-run complex which is believed to be the largest centre of art production in the entire world. From here head underground for a journey on the impressive Pyongyang Metro, travelling one stop from Puhung to Yonggwang (arguably the two most impressive stations) before travelling on four stops to recently refurbished 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 Il Sung Stadium. End the day with a walk in Ryomyong New Town, a new high-rise residential district, and have dinner in Ryomyong also before returning to your hotel after a busy first full day of sightseeing. (B/L/D)
Start the day with a visit to 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 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 and Taedong River. Heading into the eastern suburbs of Pyongyang visit Mt. Taesong, a popular park, funfair and recreational ground which is normally packed on May Day—full of locals celebrating, picnicking and partaking in traditional games and pastimes. Returning to central Pyongyang enjoy a lunch in the Okryu Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurants in the country, where you may sample Pyongyang Cold Noodles—a highly coveted dish. This afternoon 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 Tower, a Soviet era monument built to commemorate the USSR’s involvement in Korea’s liberation from Japan in 1945. Moving on, enjoy a walk along Mirae Science Street, a new and impressive high-rise residential district on the north bank of the Taedong River. This evening enjoy a special dinner aboard the Taedonggang Restaurant Boat. (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 country. Celebrations / events in Korea are normally not known until the 11th hour, and we have thus today factored some flexible time in Pyongyang – 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 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.
Start the day 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. You 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 reasonably smartly). From the mausoleum head to the nearby Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery on Mt. Taesong, home to the graves of more than 200 of Korea’s leading resistance figures over the years of Japanese rule and the Korean war, including the wife and mother of Kim Il Sung. If the weather is clear you will from here be afforded good views over Pyongyang. Return to your hotel for lunch and, should you wish, the chance to change into more casual clothes. This afternoon 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, as it would take days to see it all. Heading into Pyongyang’s western suburb of Mangyongdae visit the Maeri Shooting Range, where those who wish can enjoy (for a small fee) a spot of target practice with sports pistols or rifles. Heading to nearby Kwangbok Street, one of the finest examples of socialist-brutalist residential architecture in the city, enjoy a leisurely walk from the exterior of the Chongnyon Hotel to the Kwangbok Area Supermarket, passing the exteriors of the Pyeonghwa Motors Showroom and Pyongyang Circus as you go. The Kwangbok Area Supermarket 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 souvenir items such as Korean made foodstuffs, cosmetics or clothing, for example. Enjoy dinner in the basement restaurant of the supermarket before returning to your hotel for the rest of the evening at leisure. (B/L/D)
Departing the capital head south along the Reunification Highway towards and through Kaesong 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 of the history of the DMZ, before you move 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 you will be (local conditions permitting) escorted, possibly under the watchful eye of South Korean soldiers, into one of the huts which straddle the North-South Korean border. (Please do note that in the last couple of years, more often than not, access to the border hut hasn't been possible). Enjoy lunch at the Panmunjomkwan Restaurant inside the DMZ. This afternoon head to Kaesong itself to visit the Koryo History Museum and Stamp Shop before taking in our favourite royal tomb in the country, the UNESCO world heritage listed Tomb of King Kongmin. En-route back to Pyongyang make a short detour to Sariwon, provincial capital of North Hwanghae, and here 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 arrive back in Pyongyang, making a quick photo stop at the Monument to the Three-Point Charter for National Reunification upon entering the capital. After time for a quick freshen up back at your hotel head out for a farewell dinner in the National Restaurant. (B/L/D)
This morning you will be transferred to the airport to depart Pyongyang at 0830 on the JS151 Air Koryo flight to Beijing. On arriving in Beijing at 1000 your arrangements will end (times TBC). (B)
29 Apr 2021
04 May 2021