From  £3700
per person
Tour Highlights
  • Bow to the Leaders in Pyongyang
  • Discover the USS Pueblo spy ship
  • Tour the DMZ with an army escort
  • Admire impressive views at Mt. Paekdu
  • Fly by chartered aircraft from Pyongyang to Samjiyon
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Pioneering North Korea Group Tour 2020

18 Day Tour, from £3700 per person
Itinerary Dates
2020
07 Sep  -  24 Sep
Perfect for those wanting to discover North Korea in more detail, our Pioneering North Korea tour offers travellers a truly unique experience in a secretive world. This tour offers the best of the best of North Korea, and is tweaked each year to ensure that it is the most in-depth tour of North Korea available.
Chartering an aircraft to access some of the lesser, rarely and almost never visited areas, this 18 day tour reaches many places which other tour and travellers do not. After a comprehensive first week exploring the southwest of the country, with visits to include Pyongyang, Mt. Myohyan, Kaesong, the DMZ and Sariwon, we will set off on a chartered aircraft to visit Mt. Paektu, the highest peak in Korea. From Paektu we fly onwards to the remote North Eastern province of North Hamgyong, where we will spend a night in Chongjin before flying down to the southeast of the DPRK and the coastal city of Wonsan. Parting with our aircraft in Wonsan we spend the next few days slowly overlanding back to Pyongyang via Mt. Kumgang, Masikryong and Nampo. On arrival back in the capital we will enjoy final sightseeing in the city before this once in a lifetime experience will come to an end.
This tour will also coincide with the 72nd Anniversary of the Foundation of the DPR Korea - whilst no massive events are expected on this date we do anticipate that the holiday will be commemorated with a number of celebratory concerts and public gatherings. We will of course strive to attend/witness any such events while in Pyongyang.
This Pioneering Tour is highly regarded, with the 2014 departure being selected by Wanderlust Magazine as one of their '50 Top Trips.' Hilary Bradt, founder of Bradt Travel Guides, joined the 2016 departure of this tour, and articles on her trip have been featured in various publications, including the current edition of the Bradt Guide to North Korea. To make it a truly 'Pioneering' tour the itinerary is, where possible, amended right up until departure and even on the spot, to ensure that the group enjoys a truly  unique and unforgettable experience. This tour is scheduled to be escorted by Carl Meadows, a leading expert on travel to North Korea. This small group tour will operate for a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 16 persons.
 

Tour Itinerary

DAY 1
Monday 7th September - Beijing to Pyongyang
Monday 7th September - Beijing to Pyongyang

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 1500 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 Koryo Hotel for a 3 night stay. After time to freshen up head out for a leisurely welcome dinner in the Arirang Restaurant, one of our favourite dining options in central Pyongyang. (Snack On Flight/D)

DAY 2
Tuesday 8th September - Pyongyang
Tuesday 8th September - Pyongyang

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 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). We will also see the nearby Chollima Monument. After lunch in a nearby restaurant visit 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 and central Pyongyang. 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 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. 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 day of sightseeing. (B/L/D)

DAY 3
Wednesday 9th September - Pyongyang & 72ND ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF DPR KOREA
Wednesday 9th September - Pyongyang & 72ND ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF DPR KOREA

Enjoy a further full day sightseeing in Pyongyang. The itinerary for today is flexible, but scheduled at this time to include a walk in Moranbong (the main city park) and to take in the Monument to the Foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Pyongyang Cultural Exhibition Hall 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. We also expect to have lunch in the Okryu Restaurant (a Pyongyang institution which is the best place to sample one of North Korea’s most famous dishes—Pyongyang Cold Noodles) and dinner in the Kwangbok Pizzeria. (B/L/D)

 

Today is an important 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 plenty of spare time / 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 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. At this time of year common events are mass dances in the main city squares, together with commemorative opera/circus performances.

DAY 4
Thursday 10th September - to Mt. Myohyang
Thursday 10th September - to Mt. Myohyang

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 your hotel change into more comfortable clothes, check out and enjoy lunch before hitting the road and spending the bulk of the afternoon driving to the beautiful Mt. Myohyang region, a journey of 155km (we will of course take in a toilet/refreshment stop en-route). On arrival in the mountains visit the picturesque Pohyon Temple, founded in 1042 yet sadly heavily damaged in the Korean War. From the temple make the short drive to the Hyangsan Hotel and check in for a two night stay. This evening enjoy dinner at the hotel. (B/L/D)

DAY 5
Friday 11th September - Mt. Myohyang
Friday 11th September - Mt. Myohyang

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 & Kim Jong Suk 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 Friday 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)

DAY 6
Saturday 12th September - to Kaesong
Saturday 12th September - to Kaesong

Checking out of the Hyangsan Hotel spend the day travelling almost as far south as possible—to the small & historical city of Kaesong, located south of the 38th parallel. This morning drive as far as Sariwon, provincial capital of North Hwanghae, where we will have lunch in the March 8th Hotel. While in this sleepy city we will enjoy some quick sightseeing 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 check into the Janamsan Hotel for dinner and an overnight stay. (B/L/D)

DAY 7
Sunday 13th September - Kaesong/DMZ to Sariwon
Sunday 13th September - Kaesong/DMZ to Sariwon

After checking out of your hotel pay a brief visit to Sonjuk Bridge before we 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. Enjoy lunch at the Panmunjomkwan Restaurant inside the DMZ. This afternoon return to Kaesong and visit the Koryo History Museum before we drive to 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 briefly explain the history of the wall and the current border tensions with the south. Departing Kaesong drive north back to Sariwon (which we visited on day 6) and here check into the March 8th Hotel for dinner and an overnight stay. (B/L/D)

DAY 8
Monday 14th September - to Mount Paekdu
Monday 14th September - to Mount Paekdu

Departing our hotel we drive north to Pyongyang Sunan Airport this morning for our chartered flight to the town of Samjiyon in remote Ryanggang Province, the home of Mt. Paektu, the ‘Sacred Mountain of The Revolution.’ This border region is of great spiritual symbolism to all Korean people , a symbolism enhanced (in the North) by the fact that it was the home of the Korean People’s Army during the war against the Japanese. Our aircraft is expected to be an Ilyushin IL-18D and the journey on this vintage 1960’s aeroplane is an experience in itself. Flight times are TBC locally, but we expect to depart/arrive at around 1130/1230. After arriving in Samjiyon’s small airport we will transfer to our hotel, currently scheduled to be the Pegaebong. Here we will have lunch and check in for a two night stay. This afternoon’s itinerary will be confirmed closer to travel, but will take in a tour of the impressive and beautifully located Samjiyon Grand Monument at Lake Samji, from where we will hopefully be offered our first glimpse of Mt. Paektu. We also anticipate seeing a number of sites in Samjiyon Town itself (please see note below). (B/L/D)

 

IMPORTANT NOTE—SAMJIYON TOWN: At the time of writing (October 2019) Samjiyon Town is being completely rebuilt from the ground up—it is quite literally a building site. The vision for Samjiyon is for this small town to become a model settlement, with impressive buildings, infrastructure and facilities transforming what was a sleepy settlement into a glowing beacon of Korean socialism. Information at this time is thin—but by the time of this tour it is anticipated that new hotels will have opened and a number of sights in and around the town will have opened to visitors. We will attempt to provide updates in due course, but will of course strive to arrange the best possible itinerary in the area. This may mean that the hotel, meals and sightseeing on the 14th & 15 September may differ somewhat from the itinerary here.

DAY 9
Tuesday 15th September - Mount Paekdu & around
Tuesday 15th September - Mount Paekdu & around

Heading out this morning we will drive to Mt. Paektu. Arriving at the roadhead/checkpoint at the foot of Mt. Paektu, 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 Paektu 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 returning to our hotel in the mid to late afternoon. This afternoon there may be a couple of hours free to relax in the hotel. Subject to local confirmation 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)

DAY 10
Wednesday 16th September - to Chongjin
Wednesday 16th September - to Chongjin

Checking out of our 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 more often than not 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 enjoy lunch before commencing our afternoon of sightseeing. Our tour today will include Komalsan and the Soviet War Memorial (which also affords good views over the city), a city tour in a privately chartered trolleybus, the Chongam Kindergarten (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 enjoy dinner in our hotel, scheduled to be the Chongjin Tourist Hotel (but subject to change). (B/L/D)

DAY 11
Thursday 17th September - to Mt. Kumgang
Thursday 17th September - to Mt. Kumgang

Departing Chongjin this morning we return to Orang Airport, stopping en-route at Yombunjin, an attractive coastal site which also goes by the name of Yombun Revolutionary Site—a pleasant spot to break the journey for 30 minute or so. From here push on to Orang and fly (flight tentatively scheduled for midday) to Wonsan, this being our last charter flight of the tour. On arrival in Wonsan Kalma Airport, we are tentatively scheduled to have lunch at this rather surreal ‘International Airport’ (which is typically devoid of flights and passengers) before we set off south on the drive to Mt. Kumgang, stopping en-route to stretch our legs at Sijung Beach. On arrival in Mt. Kumgang check into the Oikumgang Hotel for a 2 night stay. This evening enjoy dinner in the Pyolkumgang Restaurant. (B/L/D)

DAY 12
Friday 18th September - Mt. Kumgang
Friday 18th September - Mt. Kumgang

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 in 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 visit the attractive Samil Lake and Sea Kumgang, a pleasant coastal site very near the South Korean border. Enjoy dinner in the Sujongbong Restaurant near the hotel. (B/L/D)

DAY 13
Saturday 19th September - to Wonsan
Saturday 19th September - to Wonsan

This morning those who wish can enjoy an early departure from the hotel to take in an optional hike to Manmulsang where we can enjoy a short (but steep) hike in the beautiful mountains. Those who would prefer a more sedentary morning may opt to relax at the hotel (or—if working, visit the Kumgang Spa) but you don’t need to walk far on this route to be afforded good views (and the car park at the bottom of the path can be a good spot for people watching). In the late morning we depart Mt. Kumgang and drive back to Wonsan, along the same road travelled on day 11. Once more break the journey at Sijung Beach, where we will enjoy a packed lunch and the chance, for those who wish, to enjoy a quick dip in the sea. Before arriving in Wonsan visit the Chonsam Co-Operative Farm and here tour the facilities, possibly also taking in a visit to a farmer’s home. Upon arrival in Wonsan itself we will visit the Songdowon International Schoolchildren's Camp, a large and recently refurbished facility offering all sorts of leisure activities for local children and, being an International camp, the occasional foreign child. In the late afternoon enjoy a brief walk along the waterfront in the city centre and visit the Mangyongbong-92 Ship a passenger/cargo ship which has been almost permanently docked in the city since 2006 (please note a small entrance fee applies to board the ship, payable locally). This evening enjoy dinner in the Kalmaegi Restaurant (or possibly aboard the Mangyonbong-92) before transferring to the Tomgmyong Hotel, here checking in for an overnight stay. (B/L/D)

DAY 14
Sunday 20th September - Wonsan to Masikryong
Sunday 20th September - Wonsan to Masikryong
This morning those who wish can take in an optional visit to walk along an artificial causeway to Jandok Islet, a lovely spot for a morning walk and to watch the locals at leisure (please note that a small entry fee applies, payable on the spot). After checking out of our hotel we will spend the rest of the morning sightseeing in Wonsan, with visits to an art shop, one of the best spots in the country to purchase socialist realist art, and also to the Wonsan Railway Museum. After lunch 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 western world as the Sea of Japan). In the late afternoon depart Wonsan and make the short drive to Masikryong, a journey of approximately 30km. On arrival in Masikryong check into the Masikryong Hotel, a relatively new hotel that is the hub for the recently opened Masikryong Ski Resort. Whilst out of season, this is still a lovely place to stay, and one of the best hotels in all of the country. (B/L/D)
DAY 15
Monday 21st September - Masikryong to Nampo
Monday 21st September - Masikryong to Nampo

This morning 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 a few hours. Check out by midday and enjoy lunch at the hotel before we spend the entire afternoon driving to the port city of Nampo on the west coast, a journey of around 240km. We will break the journey en-route at a number of stops, including the Ahobi Pass, Sinphyong Lake & Rest House and at the UNESCO World Heritage registered Tomb of King Tongmyong. On arrival in Nampo check into the Hanggu Hotel for dinner and an overnight stay. (B/L/D)

DAY 16
Tuesday 22nd September - Nampo to Pyongyang
Tuesday 22nd September - Nampo to Pyongyang

Checking out of our hotel we drive to Nampo Port and board a private motor boat to cruise down the Taedong River, arriving after approximately one hour at the West Sea Barrage, a most impressive 8km long barrage built in the 1980’s 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 visit Chongchun Sports Street and head to the Maeri Shooting Range, where those who wish can enjoy (for a fee) a spot of target practice with sports pistols or rifles. After lunch nearby 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 we get too confused by the local guides explanation of the DPRK’s complex legal & criminal system we will move on—to 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. From Mangyongdae head into the city centre and check into the Potonggang Hotel for a two night stay. Enjoy dinner at the hotel. (B/L/D)

DAY 17
Wednesday 23rd September - Pyongyang
Wednesday 23rd September - Pyongyang

As our DPR Korean adventure begins to draw to an end we enjoy a final day exploring this captivating capital, starting with a visit to 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 for a visit to the Mangyongdae Native House, birthplace of President Kim Il Sung. Our last stop of the morning will be to 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. We will enjoy lunch in the basement restaurant of the supermarket before visiting the Korean Industrial Design Exhibition—a rarely visited exhibit highlighting domestic designs in fields such as fashion, architecture and advertising. 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 aboard the Taedonggang Boat Restaurant, as pleasant a spot as any to enjoy our farewell meal. (B/L/D)

DAY 18
Thursday 24th September - depart Pyongyang
Thursday 24th September - depart Pyongyang

This morning the group will be transferred to the airport to depart Pyongyang at approximately 1015 on the Air Koryo flight to Beijing. Upon your arrival in Beijing (scheduled for 1135, times TBC) tour arrangements end. (B)

Pricing Information

18 day tour, from £3700 per person
(Single person supplement + £700)

Price Includes


  • 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)


 


Price Excludes


  • 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


 


Price Includes

Price Excludes

Itinerary Dates From Price Single Room Supp.  
07 Sep 2020
-
24 Sep 2020
£3700 £700

Tour Route Map


  1. China, Beijing
  2. North Korea, Pyongyang
  3. North Korea, Mt Myohyang
  4. North Korea, Kaesong
  5. North Korea, Sariwon
  6. North Korea, Samjiyon
  7. North Korea, Mt Paektu
  8. North Korea, Chongjin
  9. North Korea, Wonsan
  10. North Korea, Mt Kumgang
  11. North Korea, Wonsan
  12. North Korea, Nampo
  13. North Korea, Pyongyang
  14. China, Beijing

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