This trip focuses on the southwest of the DPRK, the most developed and accessible part of the country. We kickstart the adventure with two full days of sightseeing in Pyongyang, with our time in this captivating capital coinciding with events for Chosun Children’s Union Foundation Day—an important date for all children in the country. Leaving Pyongyang head north, visiting Pyongsong and passing through the lesser visited city of Anju before enjoying two nights in the beautiful Mt. Myohyang region. From the mountains we then head as far south as possible and spend two nights in Kaesong, where sightseeing will include a visit to the DMZ and Panmunjom. Returning to Pyongyang via backroads to take in Sariwon, Sinchon and the West Sea Barrage, enjoy a final full day of sightseeing in the capital before this whistle-stop tour sadly comes to an end.
This small group tour will operate for a minimum of 2 and a maximum of just 12 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 the group into Pyongyang at approximately 1605 local time. On clearing customs/immigration meet with your Korean guides and driver. From the airport head to the city centre and check into the Yanggakdo Hotel for a 3 night stay. After time to freshen up head out for a leisurely welcome dinner in the National 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 Grand People’s Study House — the national library and a major centre of learning. The view from the balcony atop the study house down onto Kim Il Sung Square affords a spectacular vista of central Pyongyang. After lunch in the nearby Pyongyang Bell Restaurant visit the Mansudae Fountain Park. From here ascend Mansu Hill to visit 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). You will also see the nearby Chollima Monument. From Mansu Hill head down to the Mansudae Art Studio—the organisation responsible for the most famous artworks and statues in the DPRK. After a tour of the studio and a visit to the studio shop 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, 10 metres higher than its Parisian counterpart. From the Arch head to Ryomyong New Town, a modern high rise residential district and enjoy a brief walk along the impressive main avenue before enjoying dinner in the KITC Ryomyong Restaurant. After a busy day of sightseeing return to the Yanggakdo Hotel. (B/L/D)
Enjoy a further full day of sightseeing in the capital, starting 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. Pressing on visit beautiful Moranbong,, the main city park, where we will enjoy time to walk in the scenic park in the heart of the city—as good a spot as any to mingle with locals. There are a few flexible hours in today’s itinerary (and the order of the sightseeing may be shuffled accordingly) to allow for taking in any small scale events that may be taking place to mark Chosun Children’s Union Day. In the late afternoon head into the Mangyongdae District in the city’s western suburbs and visit the Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace, an extra-curricular activity center for some of the capital’s most gifted youth. Enjoy a tour of this complex before enjoying a performance from the students. In the late afternoon head to the Chongchun Sports Street and visit the Maeri Shooting Range to (for a fee) enjoy the chance to enjoy a spot of target practice with sports rifles and pistols. After another busy day of sightseeing return to the Yanggakdo Hotel for dinner and an overnight stay. (B/L/D)
This morning check out of the Yanggakdo Hotel and head to the Taesong District in the east of Pyongyang to visit the 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. Departing Pyongyang head north and drive to Pyongsong, the provincial capital of South Pyongan Province. Here visit the Kim Jong Suk Secondary School for a tour of the facilities and the chance to meet with some English language students. Enjoy lunch in the Jangsusan Hotel. Spend the bulk of the afternoon slowly driving north to Mt. Myohyang, stopping en-route in the rarely visited city of Anju to see the Paeksang Pavilion. Upon arrival in Mt. Myohyang 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 1042 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 Il Sung, Kim Jong ll & 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 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 we head south to Kaesong. The morning will be spent driving to Pyongyang, breaking the journey partway into the drive for a tour of the Ryongmun Caves,, which has two main caverns up to 40m in height and tens of smaller caverns which you may tour (a torch and warm clothing is a must!) Above ground and upon arriving in Pyongyang enjoy lunch in a Pizzeria 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. Upon arrival 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 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, you 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 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 returning to Pyongyang. 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. Also 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 head east and spend the bulk of the afternoon passing through large chunks of lesser visited South Hwanghae province. At some point in the early afternoon find a suitable spot to stop for a packed lunch before visiting the Sinchon War Crimes Museum, a harrowing museum highlighting the atrocities which occurred during the UN/ROK occupation of the region during the Korean War. Pressing on head to Mt. Kuwol and visit the Woljong Temple before driving on and arriving in the late afternoon at the West Sea Barrage, a most impressive 8km long barrage built in the 1980’s along the estuary of the Taedong River near Nampo City. 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. Driving on, travel the length of the Youth Hero Highway and arrive back in Pyongyang. Upon arriving back in capital check into the Yanggakdo Hotel for a two night stay and have dinner at the hotel. (B/L/D)
Enjoy a final full day of sightseeing in Pyongyang today, starting with a visit to the Mangyongdae Native House, birthplace of President Kim Il Sung. From the native house visit the Kwangbok Supermarket. The Kwangbok 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 items such as Korean made foodstuffs, cosmetics or clothing, for example. Late this morning 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 system, we will move on for lunch in a nearby restaurant. 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 it is time to move on—although time and the groups inclination permitting you we may pop into the nearby Mansugyo Bar for a quick drink, as this is one of the best ‘normal’ bars in the city. We have factored in flexibility this afternoon to strive to take in any sights missed from earlier in the tour, or to visit any areas the group may be keen to visit. After some time to freshen up back at the hotel head out for 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 JS151 flight to Beijing. On arriving in Beijing at 1130 your arrangements will end (times TBC). (B)
OPTIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO DEPART BY RAIL
Day 10, Thursday 13th June: 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 change carriages onto a domestic Chinese train. For the overnight section of the journey you will normally be accommodated sharing in four-berth 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 11, Friday 14th June: You will this morning arrive into the Chinese capital at 0838. All arrangements will end with your arrival into Beijing.