Day 2: Pyongyang/Nampho/Ryonggang Hot Spa Hotel
(Casual dress for the day)
AM: After breakfast we check out of hotel in Pyongyang and visit the Pyongyang National Gift Palace which is new for Koryo tourists. See gifts given to DPRK’s leaders from Koreans around the world, from the sublime to the even more sublime! Our next visit is Mangyongdae Native House - the native birthplace of President Kim Il Sung. Then we walk up the hill (past the mosaic of President Kim Il Sung as a child thinking of leaving to fight against the Japanese occupation of his country) to the pavilion overlooking the Taedong River. And take a walk on Kim Il Sung Square - Pyongyang’s largest square in the heart of the city. This is where the military parades pass through and the mass dances take place - you can see the podium on which the leaders stand to view these incredible displays - not even an annual event. From here we walk to the Foreign Languages Bookshop - read up on what you are seeing here and buy your gifts and night time reading and to Pyongyang Grand Theatre- another chance to walk with locals in the downtown.
PM: After lunch we drive along the Youth Hero Highway which leads to Nampo. This 10-lane highway was built by student shock brigades during the Arduous March in the late 90's. Our first stop is to see some local industry at the Kangso Mineral Water factory, initially a South Korean and North Korean joint project but with the deterioration of relationships during the Lee Myung Bak presidency the major market in South Korea was closed. Upon arrival in Nampho we’ll visit West Sea Barrage overlooking the picturesque scene- an 8km long dam separating the Taedong River from the West Sea of Korea.) Then we’ll visit West Sea Barrage. It stops Pyongyang being flooded by preventing tidal surges as well as providing more agricultural land. Regarded as a great feat of engineering, the project was personally overseen by President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il. Our final destination for the day is the Dragon River Hot Spa guesthouse - a complex of guesthouses where each room has a private bath which can be filled with water direct from the hot springs - said to have many medicinal benefits. Time permitting, it is here that we can experience the famous Nampho petrol clam BBQ (costs EUR 5 per person but you can still watch for free if you don't want to have any of the clams).
OVERNIGHT: Ryonggang Hot Spa Hotel, Nampho
Day 3: Nampho/Pyongyang/Mt.Myohyang (Casual dress for the day)
AM: After breakfast we’ll check out of Hot Spa Hotel and we visit to Chongsan Cooperative Farm- a chance to see how farming works in the DPRK at this model farm of socialist rural construction. President Kim Il Sung created the Chongsan-ri Spirit and method - combining Juche with farming - and this farm makes sure you are aware of his many visits and instances of ‘on the spot guidance’. Visits to a farmer’s home are possible. Next we visit Mangyongdae Native House - the native birthplace of DPRK President Kim Il Sung.
PM: After lunch we’ll drive to Mt Myohyang - the Mountain of Mysterious Fragrance, two hours north of Pyongyang. It is said that the air here is so fresh that regardless of how much alcohol you drink while staying here, provided you sleep with your window open you won't have a hangover the next day. A great place for a hike up to 4 hours (time permitting) following a stream and waterfalls.We look around the nearby thousand year old Pohyon Buddhist Temple. It was destroyed during the Korean War but was rebuilt as a working temple complete with DPRK monks. We’ll do the Manpok Valley hike – a 1 – 2hr walk up and down the mountains on a trail passing waterfalls and unusual rocks set in a stunning landscape - a popular place for locals to take a day trip. Take sensible shoes as it can be slippy.
OVERNIGHT: Chongchon Hotel, Mt. Myohyang (basic but comfortable hotel surrounded by beautiful scenery; no 24 hr hot water) UPGRADE OPTION: For EUR 60 per person you can stay in the Hyangsan Hotel - renovated in 2010 this is one of the top hotels in the country and perfect for those who want a little luxury
Day 4: Mt. Myohyang/Pyongyang/Pyongsong
(Casual dress code for the day)
AM: After breakfast we’ll check out of Chongchon Hotel we visit the International Friendship Exhibition. Built in 1978, these 2 huge subterranean halls are filled with gifts to the leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il presented to them by people all over the world - from heads of state to ordinary citizens. The gifts are divided into region and they estimate that if you spent one minute in front of each gift it would take over 1 year to see the whole exhibition - we will only be shown a small sample! This year, they have opened a new room showcasing gifts presented to the new leader Kim Jong Un.
PM: After we return to Pyongyang we visit the Museum of Metro Construction. Almost as big the metro itself, this huge exhibition is mainly dedicated to showing the involvement of President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il in the construction of the capital's underground system. It may sound dull but it is also fascinating- and one of the more bizarre museums you will ever have visited. One of the highlights is a massive diorama set in an underground cavern which blends real objects with a painted background. There is even a “Museum of the Construction of the Museum of Metro Construction”. Then we’ll take chartered rides on 1 or 2 types of trams (from tram depot of to Mangyongdae tram depot and from Mangyongdae tram depot to Pyongyang Train Station tram depot) in Pyongyang. After that we will drive to Pyongsong for 40 minutes. Pyongsong is a scientists’ town where it has Academy of Science. We’ll visit Paeksong Revolutionary site (During the Korean War Kim Il Sung university moved here and President Kim Il Sung looked around). Then we visit Kim Jong Suk Middle School No.1 (This middle school is the most appropriate one for us to participate in DPRK English class and have case-study exchange activity with local students).
OVERNIGHT: Pyongsong Jangsusan Hotel (a hotel in the center of the town)
Day 5: Pyongyang/Wonsan (Casual dress for the day)
AM: After we check out of Jangsusan Hotel we’ll drive back to Pyongyang. In Pyongyang we head to the Railway Museum. This newly re-opened facility details the history of the DPRK railway and the involvement of the leaders in its development. See how the DPRK does the locomotion! Next we head back into the city and visit the 150m Juche Tower, the highest stone monument in the world (topped with a flickering red torch). We are given an explanation of the country's guiding Juche philosophy often translated as 'self-reliance'. OPTION: We can take the lift to the top for stunning views over Pyongyang. Then we take chartered rides on 4 types of trolleybuses (1st Line: from DPRK-China Friendship Tower trolleybus depot to Three Revolution Exhibition. 2nd Line: from Pyongyang Train depot to Maranbong Circus. 3rd Line: Munsu Waterpark to Pyongyang Maternity Hospital). We drive south down the coast back to Wonsan. This is a stunning drive meandering through agricultural areas and small towns and villages. The drive will take around 4 hrs. Wonsan (population around 400,000) is a major port on the east coast and is also famous to Koreans for being the place that President Kim Il Sung first stepped onto the soil of a liberated Korea in 1945. Wonsan also used to be the only direct transportation link between the DPRK and Japan as it is where the Mangyongbong-92 ferry sailed to Niigata from.
PM: Our first stop in Wonsan is the Songdowon Schoolchildren’s Camp. This is where talented schoolchildren come between April and October to learn outdoor education skills such as camping. It also hosts foreign students here - mainly from countries of the world. Our next stop is Wonsan Agricultural University - the most important agricultural university in the country. It was visited by the leaders on many occasions and you can even see marks dotted around the beautiful grounds showing where they stood for photos! After checking into our hotel we take an optional walk along the city pier before dinner. There is a charge of EUR 1 for access but is well worth it for the great views of the Wonsan skyline and it is a popular spot with fisherman and promenading locals - photography can be sensitive here though so be careful.
OVERNIGHT: Dongmyong Hotel, Wonsan (overlooking the East Sea this hotel is clean and comfortable with facilities such as bar, billiards and 24 hr hot water)
Day 6: Wonsan/Mt.Kumgang (Casual dress code for the day)
AM: After breakfast we check out of the hotel and drive south approximately 2 hours to the Mt Kumgang area. It used to be the Hyundai Asan Tourist Resort and catered exclusively to tourists from South Korea who wanted to see this stunning area. However, in 2008 the resort was shut down after a south Korean tourist was shot by an over-zealous border guard. The area is now back up and running but only to tourists who visit from DPRK-proper. Upon arrival we take a short walk round Samil Lagoon before having lunch at Mokran Restaurant which is located at the foot of the Kuryong (Nine Dragon) Waterfalls.
PM: After lunch it is time to get your hiking boots on for some exercise. We will hike around 2 hours along pathways alongside waterfalls to the first main waterfall. You can take this at your own pace as we will spend a couple of hours in the area so go as fast or as slow as you like. For those who are feeling energetic there is the option to go even further up some very steep paths/steps to the highest point where you get stunning views across the area. This takes around another hour to the top.
OVERNIGHT: Kumgangsan Hotel, Mt Kumgang (a deluxe class hotel in a beautiful setting amidst the mountains; selected foreign TV channels and internet access available in the telecommunications centre)
Day 7: Mt.Kumgang/Wonsan/Hamhung (Casual dress for the day)
AM: After breakfast we drive to Hamhung - DPRK’s second largest city. It is a largely industrial area but has some beautiful coastline. This is a stunning drive meandering through agricultural areas and small towns and villages. We will stop at several spots to take photos of the beautiful scenery. The drive will take around 4 hrs. Lunch is at the Sinhungsan Hotel in Hamhung.
PM: After lunch we visit some of the sights of Hamhung including the local park with statues of the great leaders Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il, ancient city fort remains, and the central square with views of the local architecture including the beautifully retro Hamhung Grand Theatre. We visit Hungnam Fertiliser Factory to see some local DPRK industry. We will also visit the Ancient Home of Ri Song Gye - the founder of Ri Dynasty. This is a beautifully restored traditional palace with some interesting stories - don't leave without asking the local guide to tell you the story behind the giant pair of shoes. Lunch is in the city. We then make our way to the coast for our overnight stay. Here you can swim in the beautifully clean East Sea of Korea. There may also be the opportunity to sample seafood BBQ for EUR 5 per person.
OVERNIGHT: Majon Guesthouse, Hamhung (complex of chalets with private beach; basic facilities and no running water)
Day 8: Hamhung/Wonsan/Pyongyang (Casual dress code for the day)
AM: After we check out of the hotel lunch we return to Wonsan stopping off at Tongbong Cooperative Farm where we get an introduction to how cooperative farming works in the DPRK. There is a shop here where you can buy locally made products (some great kitsch stationary and even Wellington boots!), a kindergarten and also a visit to a farmer's house is included.
PM: After lunch in Wonsan we’ll drive back to Pyongyang (4 hrs with break at the Sinpyong rest house halfway). After we arrive in Pyongyang we have two itinerary options. The first is a visit to the newly-opened Pyongyang Folk Village and Culture Park. Full of scale models of famous spots in Pyongyang and around the whole DPRK, this park showcases Korea's heritage from the past to the present day. Second is a visit to the Golden Lane Bowling Centre where Pyongyang poeple go for their ten-pin fix. It also has some early 90s arcade games. Even if you do not play it is worth grabbing a seat and to enjoy watching locals having some fun. It is one of the most popular places for boys and girls to meet or take their dates. After dinner there is an optional visit to Kaeson Youth funfair. Located near the Arch of Triumph, this funfair was renovated in 2010 and all the rides are from Italy. It is one of the most popular nightspots in Pyongyang. Even if you can't summon up the courage to try any of the rides, it is still a great place for people watching and the locals are generally more than happy to have their photos taken here - bear in mind that a group of foreign tourists provides just as much of an attraction for them as the rides themselves! (Entry fee is payable beforehand).
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang.
Day 9: Pyongyang (Casual dress code for the day)
AM: After breakfast we visit the newly-opened Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum (Korean War Museum). It built in 1953 right after the end of the Korean War on July 27th. In 2012 it was closed for renovation and opened again in July 2013. Doubled in size it is also the site of the USS Pueblo - the US spy ship which was captured in 1968. This was moored on the Taedong River until December 2012 when it mysteriously disappeared. Next we’ll visit the War Victory Monuments. Built on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the end of the Korean War 27th July 1993 (in DPRK referred to as the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War and the end of the war as “Victory Day”) - it comprises of a series of monuments which show the key battles during the war. Then we’ll take the drive to Mansudae Art Studio - the DPRK centre of artistic excellence where most of the paintings, mosaics, statues, etc are all made. It is possible to visit several workshops and see the artists at work - ink painting, oil painting, embroidery and ceramics. They also have a very good shop with some quality pieces of art and ceramics for sale.
PM: After lunch we visit Taedong Gate ( Eastern Gate of Pyongyang walled city), Ryonguang Pavillion. Then we takechartered ride on Sccoda brand bus. (TBD). Then we’ll enjoyPyongyang Symphony Orchestra - usually held in the afternoon this concert of Korean and western music is stunning (EUR 20);Pyongyang Circus - also in the afternoon this is another stunning performance showcasing the talents of the DPRK's acrobats and other entertainers (EUR 20). We then take a 2.5 hr drive south to Kaesong, an historical city near the DMZ which avoided being destroyed in the Korean War as it was chosen as the place for armistice talks. Kaesong was also a capital of Koryo Dynasty, 1stunified kingdom in the Korean history and an original place ofGinseng products, special product of DPRK. There is a service station halfway where we will stop for a rest. This is a popular place for tourists to take photos of themselves standing in the middle of this empty highway.
OVERNIGHT: Kaesong Minsok(Folk) Hotel (beautiful courtyard hotel with Korean feudal dynasty housing where guests sleep on heated floors in traditional Korean style; basic - sporadic hot water and frequent power cuts but a great experience as you are living literally next door to the local inhabitants)
Day 10: Kaesong/Pyongyang (Casual Dress Code for the day)
AM: After breakfast we take a short drive (approx 20 minutes) toPanmunjom/DMZ where North and South Korea continue their decades old face-off. It is possible to go into one of the huts that straddle the demarcation line and actually cross over into South Korea! This is one of the few places you can take pictures of - and even with - members of the DPRK military. After this memorable visit we head back to Kaesong city and visit the Kaesong Koryo Museum, which is a beautiful old Confucian University, to learn about the history of the area. There is also a collection of steles and pavilions from around the area. The stamp shop here is excellent too. Lunch is a traditional pansanggi meal. Up to 10 different dishes served in gold bowls.
PM: After Lunch we will back to Pyongyang. And we visit the Schoolchildren’s Palacee or Local School- a centre of extra-curricular activities for gifted children- for a tour of the classrooms with children demonstrating their talents including music, art, taekwondo and speech-making. As a finale we get to see an impressive performance by the students. Before dinner we have walk time from Koryo Hotel to Pyongyang Grand Theatreand we head to the Paradise micro-brewery & bar to try some of the local brews.
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang.
TOUR FEE INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
∙Round-trip airfare on Air Koryo from Beijing to Pyongyang
∙All Hotel accommodations
∙Most entry fees
∙Two guides and a driver per group
∙All transportation in DPRK
∙DPRK visa fee
NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR FEE:
∙Spending money for drinks and souvenirs
∙Tip for the guides
∙Entry tickets for Amusement Parks
∙Entry tickets for special events if applicable – for example Revolutionary Opera, Pyongyang Circus if being staged, or a visit to the funfair
∙Meals will have a complimentary beer but you will have to pay for extra drinks above those provided. If you are vegetarian or have special dietary requirements then please inform us beforehand
∙Room upgrades available – please ask for more information.
Day 11: Pyongyang/Beijing
Today is departure day. The flight departs Pyongyang at 9:00am and arrives in Beijing at approx 10:00am
DURATION: 10 nights, 11 days
TOUR DATES: This tour departs April through October, 2016.
TOUR PACKAGE PRICE: $2800/person
Day 1: Beijing/Pyongyang (Casual dress code for the day)
AM: This morning we will together head to Beijing Airport Terminal 2 for our flight Beijing to Pyongyang (1.5 hrs) - the showcase capital of the DPRK with a population of approximately 3 million.
PM: Upon arrival in Pyongyang (approximately 4pm - DPRK is one hour ahead of China), we proceed through immigration and customs and meet our guides who will accompany us during our stay. On our way to the hotel we’ll visit the Mansudae Grand Monument - statues of DPRK leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il flank ed by powerful sculptures telling the story of the anti-Japanese War, the rebuilding of the country and finally the Korean War. President Kim Il Sung's statue has been here since 1972 but General Kim Jong Il's was added in 2012 on the occasion of President Kim Il Sung's 100th birthday. This is a very important place for Koreans and visitors are requested to follow the local custom and bow in front of the statues after placing down a bouquet of flowers. And we will visit the Arch of Triumph (it's bigger than the one in Paris). This is the first place President Kim Il Sung gave a triumphal speech to the Korean people after the surrender of the Japanese
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo International Hotel, one of the deluxe-class hotels, Pyongyang, in DPRK located on an island in the River Taedong which flows through the middle of the city.
• Mansudae Grand Monument • DMZ – the border with South Korea • Mt. Myohyang International Friendship Exhibition and Pohyon Temple • Arch of Triumph • Kaesong Koryo Museum • The newly-opened Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum Korean War Museum • Pyongyang National Gift Palace • Kim Jong Suk Middle School No.1 • Grand People’s Study House • Mangyongdae Native House • Pyongyang Railway Museum • Museum of Metro Construction • West Sea Barrage • A ride on the Pyongyang Metro • Kim Il Sung Square • Schoolchildren’s Palace or Local School • Ryonggang Hot Spa Resort • Kumsusan Palace of the Sun (Mausoleum of the great leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il) • Wonsan • Hamhung • Mt. Kumgang • Pyongyang Circus • Chongsan Cooperative Farm