|29 Dec - 05 Jan|
A 7 night / 8 day ‘highlights’ winter package, this tour focuses on the southwest of the DPRK, the most developed and accessible corner of the country, and coincides with New Year, a time when Koreans typically celebrate the arrival of the coming year in style, with firework displays and a number of small scale events typically taking place across the nation. We kickstart the adventure with four full days of sightseeing in & around Pyongyang, enjoying an in-depth exploration of this captivating capital mixed in with a number of events and leisure activities taking place over the New Year. Heading out from the capital we will also enjoy a 2 day / 1 night excursion to Kaesong in order to visit Panmunjom and the DMZ, an excursion which will also take in the provincial capital of Sariwon and a number of historical sites in & around Kaesong. From Kaesong return to Pyongyang for one final night before this whistle-stop winter tour comes to an end.
This small group tour will operate for a minimum of 2 and a maximum of just 10 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 and check into the Yanggakdo Hotel for a 5 night stay. This evening enjoy a welcome dinner in the hotel’s revolving restaurant.(Snack On Flight/D)
Enjoy the full day sightseeing in Pyongyang, 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 and the like. From here pop into the Vienna Coffee Shop to relax over a hot drink (at your own expense) before heading to the fascinating Korean Revolution Museum, atop Mansu Hill. Finish the morning’s sightseeing with a tour of the Grand People’s Study House — the national library and a major centre of learning. The view from the upper balcony of the study house affords a commanding panorama over Kim Il Sung Square. This afternoon head to Pyongyang’s western suburb of Mangyongdae and here enjoy lunch before taking in 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 system we will move on—to 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 of this sprawling museum, as it would take days to see it all. Enjoy dinner this evening in the National Restaurant, one of our favourite options in Pyongyang. (B/L/D)
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 & 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 smartly). Moving on head to Mt. Taesong to visit the Revolutionary Martyrs’ 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, including Kim Jong Suk, the wife of Kim Il Sung. If the weather is clear you will from here be afforded good views over Pyongyang. Returning to central Pyongyang head 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. Returning to your hotel change into more comfortable clothes, should you wish, and enjoy lunch before hitting the road and driving along the Youth Hero Highway to the port city of Nampo. Here visit the West Sea Barrage, a most impressive 8km long barrage built in the 1980s along the estuary of the Taedong River. This immense building project is of great pride to the Korean people, and you will likely enjoy a video in the visitors centre showing this massive undertaking. Returning to Pyongyang drop into the Mansugyu Bar (or similar) for a New Year’s Eve drink or two (at your own expense). Enjoy dinner this evening aboard the Taedonggang Boat Restaurant. (B/L/D)
New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day are, much like in the Western world, important dates in the DPRK 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 a few days in advance, but as midnight and the New Year approaches crowds typically congregate in Kim Il Sung Square for fireworks & such like. We have thus factored in today some flexibility, to allow the group to get the most out of today (and tomorrow). 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 these special days. Local fees will be payable to attend any special events.
Start the day by heading underground for a ride on the impressive Pyongyang Metro, travelling one stop from Puhung to Yonggwang (arguably the two most impressive stations) before pressing on four stops to the recently refurbished Kaeson Station. At Kaeson 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. Crossing to the south bank of the Taedong River visit two more Pyongyang landmarks this morning, namely 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. Enjoy lunch today in the Ansan Restaurant before heading back into Pyongyang’s western suburb of Mangyongdae to visit the Mangyongdae Native House, birthplace of President Kim Il Sung. Also this afternoon pop into the Kwangbok Area Supermarket. This 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. Late this afternoon enjoy some leisure time, with visits to the Munsu Waterpark and Golden Lanes Bowling Alley (local fees apply for swimming, bowling and such—payable on the spot) - where you may swim, bowl or just sit in a café, bar or restaurant while you rub shoulders with Pyongyangites enjoying some downtime. After a busy day return to your hotel and here have dinner. (B/L/D)
Enjoy a further day of sightseeing in Pyongyang today, starting with a stroll along Mirae Scientists Street, a showcase high-rise residential district in the city centre that was unveiled in 2015. The photogenic street proffers unusual architecture and is considered as a picture postcard of a worker’s paradise, with the tallest apartment block topping out at 53 storeys. In the mid-morning drop into the Sunrise Coffee Shop (or similar) for a drink (at your own expense) in one of these new cafes that cater to the new class of moneyed Pyongyangites that have emerged in the last few years. Driving to the north bank of the Taedong River enjoy a stroll as you pass the Taedong Gate & Pyongyang Bell and head into Moranbong, the main city park. Your jaunt through the park will include a visit to the Liberation Tower. Enjoy lunch nearby in the acclaimed Okryu Restaurant, home of the famous Pyongyang Cold Noodles dish. This afternoon enjoy a few flexible hours of sightseeing, with the plans to be confirmed locally by your guides. We will strive to ensure that the group can attend any special events (such as a Revolutionary Opera or Symphony Orchestra performance - with tickets payable locally) taking place to mark the New Year. After a very traditional Korean lunch (which may not be to everybody’s taste!) enjoy a more familiar dinner this evening, in the Kwangbok Pizzeria. (B/L/D)
This morning check out of the Yanggakdo Hotel and spend the day slowly travelling south to Kaesong, the southernmost city in North Korea; situated south of the 38th parallel, the infamous and somewhat arbitrary line which divided Korea in 1945. First stop of the day will be the Monument to the Three Point Charter For National Reunification, an oft-photographed stone arch straddling the road to Kaesong. After a quick photography stop at this arch we will head to Sariwon, provincial capital of North Hwanghae, where we will visit the Sariwon Migok Cooperative Farm and here tour the facilities, possibly also taking in a visit to a farmer’s home. Before lunch in the Sariwon March 8th Hotel we will enjoy some quick sightseeing in this pleasant city with a visit to Folk Customs Street and the Kyongam Pavilion, which dates to 1798. 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. Departing Sariwon head south towards Kaesong, stopping en-route to visit the UNESCO world heritage listed Tomb of King Kongmin, one of the best preserved royal tombs in the country. Upon arrival in Kaesong visit Nam Gate (one of the original seven citadel gates of the inner castle of Kaesong) and Mount Janamsan, to take in the Kwandok Pavilion, from where you will be afforded a good view over Kaesong’s old town. From here make the short drive to the Janamsan Hotel, where you will have dinner and check in for a one night stay. (B/L/D)
After checking out of your hotel head South 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 see 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. (Please do note that in the last couple of years, more often than not, access to the border hut hasn't been possible). Returning to Kaesong enjoy a visit to the Koryo History Museum and have lunch nearby before hitting the road and spending the bulk of the afternoon driving back to Pyongyang, where we will check into the Yanggakdo Hotel for one last night. Time permitting, there may be an hour or two of spare time in this afternoon’s itinerary for any final sightseeing before we head out for a farewell dinner in the Arirang Restaurant, another of our favourite options in the city. (B/L/D)
This morning you will be transferred to the airport to depart Pyongyang at 0835 on the JS151 flight to Beijing. On arriving in Beijing at 1000 your arrangements will end (times TBC). (B)
|Itinerary Dates||From Price||Single Room Supp.|
29 Dec 2020
05 Jan 2021