Day 2: Pyongyang/Nampho/Ryonggang Hot Spa Hotel
(Business casual dress for the day)
AM: This morning we’ll check out of the hotel and go to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun where DPRK leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state. Opened 3 years after the demise of President Kim Il Sung in 1994, the building used to be his offices. In 2011 it closed after the demise of General Kim Jong Il but re-opened at the end of 2012. This is a place of utmost importance for Koreans and tourists should behave accordingly. Men should wear a shirt and tie, women should dress formally. The entire visit takes around 1.5 hrs and you are not allowed to take your camera in but after visiting the rooms inside we come back out to take photos from the square in front of the impressive building. We'll 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 begin the afternoon driving along the Youth Hero Highway which leads to Nampho, a coast port city of Korea West Sea. This 10-lane highway was built by student shock brigades during the Arduous March in the late 90's. Upon arrival in Nampho we’ll take a sightseeing boat at Nampho Trade Port and sail straight to the 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 (Casual dress code for the day)
(Day of the founding of the Korean People’s Army)
AM: After breakfast we’ll check out of Hot Spa Hotel and we start off the holiday with a 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 will go walking in the city centre to soak up the holiday atmosphere and this will include Moranbong Park. Located in the centre of Pyongyang this is a favorite place for locals and during the holiday periods it is not unusual to come across a group of Koreans dancing. Make sure to learn basic Korean - the guides can help - to meet and greet people and you might even get the opportunity to join in. During the week Koreans come here to study, enjoy nature and of course go on a romantic walk. Then we take a city tram or city trolley bus from Mangyongdae Amusement Park to Pyongyang Train Station (This is a special experience for us to tour in Pyongyang city by city tram or city trolley bus.) And we walk from Pyongyang Train Station to Kim Il Sung Square. Next we 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'. Take the lift to the top for stunning views over Pyongyang. After this we head to the nearby Party Foundation Monument - an iconic sculpture of a hammer, sickle and calligraphy brush commemorating 50 years of the Workers' Party rule. And we’ll go to Pyongyang Indoor Stadium to enjoy Celebratory Mass Dance with local university students (the most appropriate place to watch and participate in the dance). After Mass Dance we’ll have another chance to walk from Pyongyang Indoor Stadium to Koryo Hotel with local people.
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang
Day 4: Pyongyang/Kaesong (Casual dress code for the day)
AM: After breakfast we check out of hotel and 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 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, 1st unified kingdom in the Korean history and an original place of Ginseng 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. Upon arrival in Kaesong we 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. We then take a 20 minute drive to visit the beautiful Tomb of King Kongmin - the twin-domed tomb of the 31st King of the Koryo Dynasty (918 - 1392 AD) and his wife which remained largely undamaged during the Korean War. Ask the guide to tell you the story of how the area got its name of “Oh dear hill”. We then return to Pyongyang for our farewell dinner.
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 5: Kaesong/Pyongyang (Casual dress code for the day)
AM: After check-out of Minsok Hotel we walk through Kaesong old town and arrive at lookout point at Janam Hill near the bronze statue of President Kim Il Sung. Then we take a short drive (approx 15 minutes) to Panmunjom/DMZ where North and South Korea continue their decades old face-off. We arrive at the entrance to the DMZ and clear entry and security procedures there. We then proceed into the DMZ to tour the houses where DPRK and United States had armistice talks and the armistice agreement was signed in 1953 and the Line of Control that separates Korean Peninsula. Photography restrictions should be followed. Military guides and officers from the Korean People’s Army will accompany the group in the DMZ at all times. Lunch is a traditional bansanggi meal-up to 10 different dishes served in gold bowls.
PM: This afternoon we’ll return to Pyongyang (2.5 hrs) and go deep underground for a ride on the Pyongyang Metro - the deepest underground system in the world and the designs of the main stations are stunning with superb lighting and mosaics. We start at Puhung (Rehabilitation) Station, and then take the train to the next station Yonggwang (Glory). Here we get off to take pictures before getting back on the train and going through 3 stops and getting off at the fourth which is Kaeson (Triumphant Return). A total of six stations. A great chance to have interaction with the locals if you are prepared to learn basic greetings in Korean - and if you meet students get them to greet you in English! Pyongyang Symphony Orchestra - usually held in the afternoon this concert of Korean and western music is stunning. Pyongyang Circus - also in the afternoon this is another stunning performance showcasing the talents of the DPRK's acrobats and other entertainers. For these events that require additional payment. After dinner there is the option of trying out some rides at Kaeson Funfair - the city's best evening entertainment. 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. A group of foreign tourists provide just as much of an attraction for them as the rides themselves!
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang
Day 6: Pyongyang/Beijing
Today is departure day. The flight departs Pyongyang at 09:00 and arrives in Beijing at approx 10:00.
TOUR FEE INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
∙Round-trip airfare on Air Koryo from Beijing to Pyongyang
∙All Hotel accommodation
∙All entry fees
∙DPRK visa fee
∙Two guides and a driver per group
∙All transportation in DPRK
NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR FEE:
∙Optional single room supplement of EUR 40 per night
∙Spending money for drinks and souvenirs
∙Tip for the guides
∙Entry tickets for special events if applicable – for example Revolutionary Opera, Pyongyang Circus if being staged, or a visit to the funfair
∙Lift ticket up the Juche Tower
∙Meals will include a complimentary beer but you will have to pay for additional drinks. If you are vegetarian or have special dietary requirements then please inform us beforehand
∙Room upgrades available – please ask for more information.
DURATION: 5 nights, 6 days
TOUR DATES: This tour departs April 22nd, 23rd, and 24th in 2016
TOUR PACKAGE PRICE: $1900/person
Day 1: Beijing/Pyongyang (Casual dress 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 –bigger than the one in Paris. Important in Korean history as 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 • Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun • Mt. Myohyang and Pohyon Temple • Arch of Triumph • Kaesong Koryo Museum • Nampho • Party Foundation Monument • Mass Dance • The newly-opened Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum Korean War Museum • Mangyongdae Native House • Tomb of King Kongmin • A ride on the Pyongyang Metro • Kim Il Sung Square • Schoolchildrenâs Palace or Local School • Pyongyang Symphony Orchestra • Pyongyang Circus • Kaeson Funfair