|03 Sep - 19 Sep|
This morning make your own way to Beijing Capital Airport, Terminal 2, to depart at approximately 1300 on the Air Koryo flight to Pyongyang (schedules TBC). The short flight will bring the group into Pyongyang at approximately 1530 local time. On clearing customs/immigration meet with your Korean guides and driver. From the airport head to the city and check into the Seosan Hotel, here checking in for a 3 night stay. After time to freshen up head out for a leisurely welcome dinner in the Kwangbok Circus Restaurant. (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 Mansudae Fountain Park. Ascending Mansu Hill visit the Mansudae Grand Monument, the centrepiece 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. Last site of the morning will be to visit the Grand People’s Study House— the national library and a major centre of learning.
After lunch in a city restaurant continue with our busy introductory city tour by heading 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 into Moranbong, the main city park. Moranbong is a great location for people watching and admiring the scenery of the Taedong River below. Exit the park via the Liberation Tower. From Moranbong enjoy two more famous Pyongyang landmarks, 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. From the Juche Tower enjoy a quick drink (at your own expense) at the Taedonggang Microbrewery before returning to the hotel. After a busy full day of sightseeing dinner, this evening is scheduled in the Golden Cup No. 2 Restaurant, just a short walk from the hotel. (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 reasonably 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 the wife and moth-er of Kim Il Sung. If the weather is clear you will from here be afforded good views over Pyongyang. Return to the hotel for lunch and the chance to change into more casual clothes.
Spend the afternoon exploring the high-lights of Pyongyang’s western suburb, starting with a visit to the Mangyondae Native House, birthplace of President Kim Il Sung. From the native house visit the Kwangbok Supermarket and the Mangyondae Schoolchildren’s Palace. 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. At the recently refurbished Mangyondae Schoolchildren’s Palace enjoy a tour/performance of this impressive facility. This is one of two centres in Pyongyang where talented youth can enjoy extra curricular activities in a variety of arts and disciplines. Last site of the day will be to let off steam in the Maeri Shooting Range, where you can (for a small fee) enjoy target shooting with pistols or rifles. After a brief walk in the nearby Sport Street (Chongchun Sport Village) enjoy dinner before returning to your hotel. (B,L,D)
After two full days of sightseeing in Pyongyang, we depart the capital this morning, heading south-west along the Youth Hero Highway to the port city of Nampo. From Nampo we will board a private motorboat and 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 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. After lunch in the Hanggu Hotel visit the Nampo Orphanage before spending the bulk of the afternoon driving north to Mt. Myohyang, a journey of approximately 200km. On arrival in the region visit the Pohyon Temple, founded in 1042 yet sadly heavily damaged in the Korean War. After a busy day check into the luxurious Hyangsan Hotel for dinner and a two-night stay. (B,L,D)
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 a lamb BBQ lunch at the Hyangsan Hotel enjoy the option of a light 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 leisurely walk of around 3 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 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. We will spend the morning driving to the small city of Sariwon, south of Pyongyang, making a couple of stops en-route to stretch our legs, including a stop at the impressive Monument To The Three-Point Charter For National Reunification. After lunch in Sariwon at the March 8th Hotel press further south to 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 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, 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 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. This evening, enjoy dinner in a city restaurant near the hotel. (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 city. Celebrations / events in Korea are normally not known until the 11th hour, and we have thus today factored in a degree of 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 and Regent escort will do their utmost to ensure you will see as much as is permitted on this special day. Local fees will be payable to attend any special events.
Departing Kaesong we head north back to Pyongyang. Back in the capital enjoy a leisurely stroll along Mirae Scientists Street, a newly developed highrise street in central Pyongyang, not far from the Yanggakdo Hotel. After lunch in a nearby Pizzeria transfer to the airport to board a chartered aircraft (most likely an Antonov 24) for a flight of around 70 minutes north to Samjiyon. (Scheduled departure/arrival time 1530/1640).
This border region is home to Mt. Paekdu – a peak of great spiritual symbolism to the Korean people, enhanced by the fact that it was the home of the Korean People’s Army during the war against the Japanese. Arriving in Samjiyon visit the impressive and beautifully located Samjiyon Grand Monument at Lake Samji before transferring to the Begebong Hotel for dinner and a two-night stay. (B,L,D)
Heading out this morning we will drive to Mt. Paekdu. Arriving at the roadhead/checkpoint at the foot of Mt. Paekdu, 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 Paekdu 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 arriving mid-afternoon at the Begebong Hotel. This afternoon there should 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)
Checking out of the Begebong 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 check into the Chongjin Hotel (or theChonmasan Hotel—TBC) for an overnight stay, here having lunch also. This afternoon commence sightseeing in the city with visits to the Susongchon Combined Foodstuffs Factory (where we will likely tour the production facilities before enjoying a musical performance from the staff), the Steelworkers 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 we will enjoy dinner in the Foreign Sailors’ Club before returning to our hotel for the night. (B,L,D)
Enjoy further sightseeing in Chongjin this morning with visits to the Russian War Memorial (which also affords good views over the city), e-library and the Chongjin Art Studio (a good place to pick up artworks). We will also enjoy a tour of the central city on a private trolleybus. After lunch back at the hotel check out and drive back to Orang airport, visiting the attractive coastal site of Yombun en-route. From Orang we will take a flight of around 45 minutes to Hamhung, North Korea’s second most populous city and a major industrial hub. On arriving in Hamhung we will dispense with our aircraft, as from here we will travel overland back to Pyongyang. From the airport we will transfer to the Majon Hotel, a beachfront hotel and one of the best hotels in all of Korea. We will check in here for a two-night stay. Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
After a busy few days of travelling, we will today enjoy a far more leisurely pace. This morning tour Hamhung, with visits to the Hungnam Fertiliser Factory, Hamhung Bongung (the house where Ri Song Gye, founder-king of the Ri dynasty resided) and the exterior of the Hamhung Grand Theatre in the main city square. Enjoy lunch in central Hamhung at the Sinhunsan Restaurant. Returning to the Majon Hotel enjoy a few hours of leisure time— those who wish can enjoy a dip from the private hotel beach into the East Sea Of Korea (Sea of Japan), or enjoy the various facilities on offer in the hotel (fees apply). This evening, enjoy a Lamb BBQ dinner on the beach. (B,L,D)
Departing Hamhung we head south to the Dongbong Co-Operative Farm before pressing onto the pleasant city of Wonsan, likely breaking the journey en-route at the Ko Song Ryong Tea House. Arriving in Wonsan check into the Tongmyong Hotel for an overnight stay. After a welcome lunch in the nearby Kalmaegi Restaurant enjoy a walk to Jandok Islet, a lovely spot from where one can mingle with the locals at leisure (a small entry fee applies to enter Jandok).
Checking out of the Tongmyong Hotel enjoy the morning sightseeing in Wonsan. Start the day with a walk to an art shop, one of the best spots to purchase socialist realist art. Leaving central Wonsan make the short drive to 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. Departing Wonsan drive to Masikryong, a journey of approximately 30km.
On arrival in Masikryong check into the Masikryong Hotel, a newly constructed 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. This afternoon 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. Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning depart Masikryong and spend the morning driving to Pyongyang, a journey of 185km, breaking the journey en-route at the Sinphyong Tea House. Arriving back into Pyongyang check into the Potonggang Hotel for a 2-night stay. 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 for a tour of the Mansudae Art Studio—the organisation responsible for the most famous artworks and statues in the DPRK. Before dinner in a city restaurant enjoy refreshments (at your own expense) in the nearby Mansugyo Bar, a popular bar for locals to knock back a cold beer or two. (B,L,D)
Today enjoy your last day in Korea with a full day of sightseeing in the capital. The day will start with 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 press on for a visit to the recently refurbished May Day Stadium, here enjoying a tour of what is arguably the largest stadium in the world.
This afternoon, enjoy a trip to the Circus before enjoying any final sightseeing in Pyongyang. 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 the Taedonggang Diplomatic Club, one of the top restaurants in the city. (B,L,D)
This morning the group will be transferred to the airport to depart Pyongyang at approximately 0820 on the Air Koryo flight to Beijing. Upon your arrival in Beijing (scheduled for 0950) tour arrangements end. (B)
03 Sep 2019
19 Sep 2019
This was probably the best guided tour holiday we have ever had. The tour leader, Carl, was brilliant, making sure we all got as much out of the trip as possible. North Korea is a fascinating country and we are sure to visit again.
Overall, a fabulous trip with brilliant guides and an excellent driver. I hope to be booking with Regent again. Thank you for a truly fascinating trip – I loved every minute and am keen to return.