From  £3850
per person
Tour Highlights
  • Explore the fascinating capital Pyongyang
  • Visit the highest peak in Korea, Mt Paektu
  • Witness the 73rd Anniversary of the Foundation of Korea
  • Bow before the Great Leaders in Pyongyang
  • Tour the DMZ with an army escort
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Pioneering North Korea Group Tour 2021

18 Day Tour, from £3850 per person
Itinerary Dates
06 Sep  -  23 Sep

Perfect for those wanting to discover North Korea in detail, our annual 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 tours and travellers do not. After a comprehensive first week exploring the southwest of the country, with visits to include Pyongyang, Mt. Myohyang, 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 and Masikryong. On arrival back in the capital we will enjoy final sightseeing in the city before this once in a lifetime experience comes to an end.

This tour will also coincide with the 73rd 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. 

Regent Holidays has been a North Korea (DPRK) specialist since 1985. As the leading UK travel expert to this elusive and intriguing nation, we work closely with the DPRK authorities to develop itineraries which push the boundaries of tourism. 

Tour Itinerary

06th September 2021 - Beijing to Pyongyang
06th September 2021 - 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 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 Koryo Hotel and here check in for a four  night stay. (Snack On Flight/D)

07th September 2021 - Pyongyang
07th September 2021 - Pyongyang

Enjoy the full day sightseeing in Pyongyang. Walk 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 and postcards. From here pop into the Vienna Coffee Shop to relax over a hot drink (at your own expense) and continue to the Mansudae Fountain Park before ascending Mansu Hill to visit the Mansudae Grand Monument. The centrepiece here are the spectacular 20-metre tall bronze statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il: 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). Explore the nearby Chollima Monument before lunch in a nearby restaurant.  After lunch visit the Grand People’s Study House  — the national library and a major centre of learning. Our next stop will be the Pyongyang Students & 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 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 here 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)

08th September 2021 - Pyongyang
08th September 2021 - Pyongyang

Start the tour today at the impressive Monument to the Foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea before continuing to the 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.  Our next stop will be to enjoy a stroll through Moranbong, the main city park, a pleasant spot in the heart of the city which is sprinkled with old city walls, gates and pavilions, and an ideal spot for people-watching and attempting to mingle with locals. After 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), we will head into the western suburb of Mangyongdae and visit the Mangyongdae Native House, birthplace of President Kim Il Sung. Our next stop will be to enjoy a quick stroll along Chongchun Sports Street, which will include a visit to the Maeri Shooting Range, where those who wish can enjoy (for a fee) a spot of target practice with sports pistols or rifles. Late this afternoon we will visit the Mansugyo Bar (or similar) for a drink or two (at your own expense) and the chance to relax and reflect on the day. (Non alcoholic drinks available also). Return to our hotel for dinner and the rest of the evening at leisure. (B/L/D)

09th September 2021 - 73rd Anniversary of the Foundation of the DPR Korea
09th September 2021 - 73rd Anniversary of the Foundation of the DPR Korea

Start the day in Pyongyang 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. The Mausoleum is followed by exhibits showcasing medals of honour bestowed upon the leaders. (Please note for this site you will be expected to dress smartly). Move on 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 beyond. If the weather is clear you will be afforded good views over Pyongyang. Return to the hotel to change into more casual clothes and to enjoy lunch. (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 so we have assumed a fully flexible afternoon – 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. Dinner is expected to be in the National Restaurant, one of our favourite options in the city. 

10th September 2021 - Pyongyang to Mt Myohyang
10th September 2021 - Pyongyang to Mt Myohyang

This morning drive west along the Youth Hero Highway to visit the West Sea Barrage. Instead of driving all the way to the barrage, we plan to make the last part of the journey by private boat (TBC locally), arriving in style! The West Sea Barrage is 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. After lunch in Nampo’s Hanngu Hotel we will return to Pyongyang to take in 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, and a good spot to stock up on personal supplies before we head ‘up country’. We will spend the bulk of the afternoon driving to the beautiful Mt. Myohyang region, a journey of 155km from Pyongyang. 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)

11th September 2021 - My Myohyang
11th September 2021 - My 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 current quality of the paths, but we plan for a walk of around 3-4 hours. Those who would prefer a more sedentary Saturday 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)

12th September 2021 - Mt Myohyang to Kaesong
12th September 2021 - Mt Myohyang to Kaesong

Departing the comfort of the Hyangsan Hotel, today is a long day of driving as you head almost as far south as possible in the country—to the small city of Kaesong. The morning will be spent driving towards Pyongyang, breaking the journey partway for a visit to the rarely visited city of Anju, where the group will make a quick stop at the Paeksang Pavilion and the Anju City Chinese People’s Volunteer’s Cemetery, the latter a poignant reminder of China’s heavy involvement in the Korean War. From this cemetery one is afforded a tranquil view of the farmlands and city below. Upon arriving in Pyongyang enjoy lunch and a walk along Mirae Science Street before pushing further south. Setting off towards Kaesong we will break the journey approximately halfway to visit the Unjong Cooperative Farm, one of the few places in the country where traditional ‘talchum’ masked dancing is still practised. Here we will enjoy a quick tour of this farm and hopefully take in a brief talchum performance. On arrival in Kaesong check into the Janamsan Hotel for dinner and an overnight stay. (B/L/D)



13th September 2021 - Kaesong to Panmunjom / DMZ
13th September 2021 - Kaesong to Panmunjom / DMZ

After checking out of our hotel we will pay a brief visit to the historically significant 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. (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 we will visit the UNESCO world heritage listed Tomb of King Kongmin, one of the best preserved royal tombs in the country. Departing Kaesong we will make the long drive to the small city of Pyongsong (provincial capital of South Pyongan Province) and, on arrival, check into the Jangsusan Hotel for an overnight stay. Dinner at the hotel. (B/L/D)

14th September 2021 - Panmunjom to Mt Paektu
14th September 2021 - Panmunjom to Mt Paektu

Departing our hotel this morning we make the short drive west to Pyongyang Sunan Airport 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 1960s aeroplane is an experience in itself. Flight times are TBC locally, but we expect to depart/arrive at around 1000/1100. 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 (please see note below). (B/L/D)

DAY 10
15th September 2021 -Mt Paektu
15th September 2021 -Mt Paektu

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 may have the 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. We will also 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 11
16th September 2021 - Mt Paektu to Chongjin
16th September 2021 - Mt Paektu to Chongjin

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 - it is 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 12
17th September 2021 - Chongjin to Mt Kumgang
17th September 2021 - Chongjin 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 hoping  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 attractive Sijung Beach. On arrival in the beautiful Mt. Kumgang region check into the Oikumgang Hotel for a 2 night stay. This evening enjoy dinner in the Pyolkumgang Restaurant. (B/L/D) 



DAY 13
18th September 2021 - Mt Kumgang
18th September 2021 - 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 take in a stunning view of the rock pools below, a site of Korean legend known as the ‘Fairies’ Pools’. 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 14
19th September 2021 - Mt Kumgang to Wonsan
19th September 2021 - Mt Kumgang 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 12. 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. Arriving  in Wonsan check into the Tongmyong Hotel for an overnight stay. This afternoon 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 returning to our hotel. (B/L/D)

DAY 15
20th September 2021 - Wonsan to Masikryong
20th September 2021 - 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 group’s 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 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 16
21st September 2021 - Masikryong to Pyongyang
21st September 2021 - Masikryong to Pyongyang

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 returning to Pyongyang, breaking the journey en-route to take in the Sinphyong Lake & Rest House and the UNESCO World Heritage registered Tomb of King Tongmyong. On arrival in Pyongyang check into the Koryo Hotel for a 2 night stay. This evening enjoy dinner in a Pizzeria. (B/L/D)



DAY 17
22nd September 2021 - Pyongyang
22nd September 2021 - Pyongyang

Enjoy a final full day of sightseeing in the fascinating national capital, starting with 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 and enjoy a 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 guide’s explanation of the DPRK’s complex legal & criminal system we will depart for lunch in a nearby restaurant. This afternoon we will head to 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 revisit any areas the group may be keen to see once more. 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
23rd September 2021 - Pyongyang to Beijing

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, but times TBC) tour arrangements end. (B)



Pricing Information

18 day tour, from £3850 per person
(Single person supplement + £720)

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.  
06 Sep 2021
23 Sep 2021
£3850 £720 Last few places remain

Tour Route Map

  1. China, Beijing
  2. North Korea, Pyongyang
  3. North Korea, Mt Myohyang
  4. North Korea, Kaesong
  5. North Korea, Mt Paektu
  6. North Korea, Chongjin
  7. North Korea, Mt Kumgang
  8. North Korea, Wonsan
  9. North Korea, Pyongyang
  10. China, Beijing

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