|08 Sep - 19 Sep|
One of our most popular tours of the year, the 2020 departure of our September Classic Tour focuses not only on the very best of the southwest of the country, but also includes a special visit, by chartered aircraft, to the remote and lesser visited northeast of the country.
This 11 night / 12 day tour starts off with 2 complete days of sightseeing in Pyongyang, with our time in the capital coinciding 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, which we will of course strive to attend/witness. Departing the capital on day 4 we will enjoy our first glimpses of rural North Korea with a 2 day / 1 night excursion to Mt. Myohyang, before we return to Pyongyang for further sightseeing, which will include a visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun (the mausoleum of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il), together with an visit to the West Sea Barrage, near Nampo. Leaving Pyongyang once more 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 returning to Pyongyang and making our way to Kaesong (where we will spend the night), before visiting Panmunjom and the DMZ. Returning to Pyongyang once more we will enjoy one last night in the capital before our memorable adventure sadly comes to an end.
This small group tour will operate for a minimum of 10 and a maximum of just 16 persons. Please note that if demand sees fit we may operate this tour as two or more distinct separate groups, but no single party will be more than 16 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 Arirang Restaurant, one of our favourite dining options in central Pyongyang. (Snack On Flight/D)
Today enjoy a full day sightseeing in Pyongyang. The itinerary will be flexible, but is 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 expect to have lunch today in the Ansan Restaurant— another of our favourite restaurants in Pyongyang. (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 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. At this time of year common events are mass dances in the main city squares, together with commemorative opera/circus performances.
Enjoy a further full day 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 the fountain park 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. Pushing on 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 another busy day of sightseeing. (B/L/D)
After checking out of the Yanggakdo Hotel we will this morning visit the Fatherland Liberation War Museum and the USS Pueblo, an 850 tonne 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 depart the capital and start our 155km journey north towards Mt. Myohyang. En-route to this beautiful region we will break the journey in the lesser visited city of Anju and here visit the Paeksang Pavilion (here enjoying a quick packed lunch) before we get back on the road. On arrival in the mountains we will check into the Hyangsan Hotel for an overnight stay. After checking in there will be time, for those who wish, to enjoy a couple of hours guided hiking in the hills. 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 dinner at the hotel. (B/L/D)
After checking out we will 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! We will today enjoy a barbecue lunch at a suitable spot on the banks of the Myohyang Stream (or back under cover near the hotel should rain be expected), with all the food being cooked and prepared for the group by staff from the Hyangsan Hotel. Our last stop in the area will be a visit to the Pohyon Temple, founded in 1042 yet sadly heavily damaged in the Korean War. From Pohyon we will depart the Myohyang region and spend the rest of the afternoon returning to Pyongyang, where we will drop into the Mansugyo Bar (or similar) for a quick drink or two (at your own expense) before returning to our hotel. On arrival check back into the Yanggakdo Hotel for a two night stay and here have dinner. (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 your hotel change into more comfortable clothes and here have lunch. This afternoon we will drive west along the Youth Hero Highway, heading towards and through the port city of Nampo before arriving at 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 we will here visit Pi Islet for an explanation and introduction to the history of the barrage. Returning to Pyongyang and it’s western suburb of Mangyongdae we will visit 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 dinner in the basement restaurant of the supermarket before returning to our hotel for the rest of the evening at leisure. (B/L/D)
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 1960s 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).
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.
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)
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)
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 Pyongyang via Wonsan Kalma Airport. Upon arrival in Pyongyang we will have a late lunch at the airport before setting off, almost as far south as possible, to Kaesong. Before arriving in this small city we will stop 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 after a long day of travelling check into the Janamsan Hotel for dinner and an overnight stay. (B/L/D)
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 head to Kaesong and visit the Koryo History Museum before we hit the road and return to Pyongyang and the Yanggakdo Hotel, here checking in for our last night in the country. After some time to freshen up back at the hotel head out for a farewell dinner aboard the Taedonggang Restaurant Boat, as pleasant a spot as any to enjoy our farewell meal. (B/L/D)
This morning the group will be transferred to the airport to depart Pyongyang at approximately 0830 on the Air Koryo flight to Beijing. Upon your arrival in Beijing (scheduled for 0950, but times TBC) tour arrangements end. (B)
|Itinerary Dates||From Price||Single Room Supp.|
08 Sep 2020
19 Sep 2020