This 10 day trip includes the ‘must-sees’ of any highlights tour of North Korea yet also manages to squeeze in visits to the lesser visited Mt. Paekdu & Chongjin by chartered aircraft. As an added bonus, this tour coincides with the 70th Anniversary of the Foundation of the DPR Korea, expected to be the biggest event in the country’s calendar for 2018, with major celebrations expected across the country. If you are looking for as much variety as possible, but time is tight, this special tour ticks all the boxes. Visits include Pyongyang, Kaesong & the DMZ, Mt. Paekdu, Chongjin and Mt. Myohyang.
This small group tour will operate for a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 16 persons.
For those looking for a more in-depth tour at a similar time of year, our longest tour of 2018, Pioneering North Korea, will operate from the 28th August - 13th September. Please contact us for further information.
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 visit 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 here head to the Taedonngang Microbrewery Bar for a welcome 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 a city restaurant transfer to the Yanggakdo Hotel and check in for a two night stay. After checking in enjoy the rest of the evening free at your leisure. (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 mother 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. This afternoon 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 into Moranbong, the main city park. Moranbong is a great location for people watching and admiring the scenery of the Taedong River below.
Moving on, cross the Taedong River and visit the Monument to the Foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Your last visits of the day will start at the Mansudae Fountain Park. From here ascend Mansu Hill and 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). After dinner in a city restaurant return to the Yanggakdo Hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning check out of your hotel and head south towards Kaesong. 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, the group 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. Back in Kaesong visit the pleasant Koryo History Museum. Also visit the nearby Stamp Shop – a great spot for picking up a wide range of postcards and stamps. 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. After a busy day of sightseeing check into the Janamsan Hotel for dinner and an overnight stay. (B,L,D)
Departing Kaesong head north back to Pyongyang. Back in the capital enjoy a leisurely stroll along Mirae Scientists Street, a newly developed high-rise street in central Pyongyang, not far from the Yanggakdo Hotel. After lunch 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 Baegebong Hotel for dinner and a two night stay. (B,L,D)
Heading out this morning 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, 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 Baegaebong 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 Bagaebong 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 and is closer to Vladivostok than Pyongyang. On arriving in Chongjin we will check into the Chongjin Hotel for an overnight stay and here have lunch. This afternoon commence sightseeing in the city with visits to the Susongchon Combined Foodstuffs Factory (where we will tour the production facilities be-fore enjoying a musical performance from the staff), the Steelworkers Kin-dergarten (where we will 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 the Foreign Sailors’ Club before returning to your 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). Also enjoy a tour of the central city on a private trolley-bus. 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 take a flight of around 45 minutes to Hamhung (where some passengers will disembark) before travelling onto Pyongyang, a journey of approximately 45 minutes. On arrival back in Pyongyang immediately head north to Mt. Myohyang and on arrival, after a busy afternoon of travelling, check into the Chongchon Hotel for dinner and an overnight stay. (B,L,D)
This morning check out of your hotel and visit the attractive 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 mountain-side, are home to 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 visit the Pohyon Temple, founded in 1042 yet sadly heavily damaged in the Korean War. This afternoon return to Pyongyang and the Yanggakdo Hotel, checking in for dinner and a 2 night stay. (B,L,D)
Today is a major national holiday, and as such we anticipate various special events and celebrations, and a general jovial atmosphere across the country. Celebrations / events in Korea are normally not known until the 11th hour, and we have thus today factored in a full day of fully flexible sightseeing, which will strive to include as many city sights, events and celebrations as possible. Local fees will be payable to attend any special events. (B,L,D)
This morning the group will be trans-ferred 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)
OPTIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO DEPART BY RAIL
Day 10, Monday 10th September: This morning transfer to the train station and depart Pyongyang on the 1010 train to Beijing, 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 speed on through the night towards Beijing. 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, Tuesday 11th September: This morning arrive into the Chinese capital at 0833. All arrangements will end with your arrival into Beijing.
We can also arrange for the tour to end upon your arrival in Dandong. This will normally result in a minor reduction in tour cost. Please contact us for further details.
I would like to say a big thanks to our guide Carl Meadows, who even on my third visit to North Korea still managed to make it enjoyable, comfortable and full of adventure. Thanks again.
Any trip to North Korea is always good, and with Carl as tour leader it is impossible to fault.