Description

We’re excited to bring the opportunity for amateur runners to take part in the Pyongyang Marathon for the third year running. This race can be run either as a full marathon or as a half marathon. There is also a 10k race. Hundreds of local runners take part as well as some elite foreign runners. Anyone taking part in this tour who prefer to watch or photograph the marathon instead of running are more than welcome to do so. Also, local football matches take place in Kim Il Sung stadium after the start of the race so you can be there for this too!

On this tour, you will also see both the giant celebrations for the anniversary of the birth of eternal President Kim Il Sung as well as getting out of the city to experience some of the highlights of the country should you consider joining us on this amazing tour. We’ll experience the most of this Holdiday, mix it up with locals on their days off (bowling, visiting a local bar, spending time in local parks). We then travel away from the city for a more real and rural experience of the DPRK.

Itinerary

Saturday, 9th April – ARRIVAL DAY

AM: This morning we will head to Beijing Airport Terminal 2 for our flight Beijing to Pyongyang (1.5 hrs) - the showcase capital of the DPRK.

PM: Upon arrival in Pyongyang (approximately 4pm - DPRK is 30 min 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 will visit the Arch of Triumph built in 1982 to commemorate Korean independence from Japan, this is – put simply – much like the famous Parisian monument, but bigger.

OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang

Sunday 10th April – PYONGYANG MARATHON

AM: This morning we head straight for Kim Il Sung Stadium for the highlight of the tour: the PYONGYANG MARATHON. This is only the third year that the marathon has been open to amateur runners so get your shorts on, limber up, and start running! You can do a 10km run, half marathon or a full marathon. Running through the streets of Pyongyang with hundreds of local runners is guaranteed to be an amazing experience. Those who are not running can either watch from the streets, and cheer on those participating, or – alternatively – attend a local football match inside Kim Il Sung Stadium (where the marathon also starts and finishes). There is often a large crowd at this time of year so a good atmosphere and some amazing photos can be expected!

PM: After the marathon we will head back to the hotel for a shower, change of clothes and lunch. You can then choose whether to spend the afternoon relaxing at Munsu Water Park (Entrance costs EUR 10) OR take an afternoon city tour of Pyongyang. The city tour starts at the Juche Tower, the highest stone monument in the world. Take the lift to the top for stunning views over Pyongyang (entrance costs EUR 5). Next, a photo stop at the Party Foundation Monument – an iconic sculpture of a hammer, sickle and calligraphy brush which was constructed to celebrate 50 years of Workers’ Party rule. Then we go deep underground for a ride on the Pyongyang Metro, which is the deepest subway system in the world. The designs of the main stations are stunning, and particularly notable for their superb lighting and mosaics. This is a great chance to interact with local people, especially if you are prepared to learnsome basic greetings in Korean. Last visit of the day is to Mangyongdae Native House – the native birthplace of President Kim Il Sung.

OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang

Monday 11th April – PYONGSONG

AM: This morning we drive 40 mins north of Pyongyang to the town of Pyongsong. First we’ll visit  Paeksong Revolutionary Site, which is where Kim Il Sung University was moved to in 1952 during the Korean War; a hidden academic base! Take a walk through the old classrooms and kitchens. Next we’ll stop by the local Ponghak beer factory, which has only very recently opened to foreign visitors. Be among the very first tourists to visit this factory! Before lunch we visit Kim Jong Suk Higher Middle School (named after the mother of Kim Jong Il). The headmaster here is very welcoming and will take us on a tour of the school, where you can see what middle-school students typically study in the DPRK. If you are brave enough then you are encouraged to jump in and chat to students in their English class! This can often be a valuable first opportunity for English-language learners in Pyongsong to converse with a native English speaker. 

PM: A fter the lunch we’ll also drop by Pyongsong Central Square before driving 3 hours down to our overnight stay in the city of Kaesong where we’ll check into the hotel in time for dinner. 

OVERNIGHT: Minsok Folk Hotel, Kaesong (a beautiful courtyard hotel with Li 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).

*Please note that the area around Kaesong is considered to be a malarial area by the WHO, however, provided tourists take proper precautions(use good mosquito repellant and mosquito nets – these are provided in the hotel we use) there is very little risk of contracting the disease from the places that we visit. The WHO state that there is no need to take malaria prophylaxis when visiting and in any case, this is not recommended for visits of less than 1-2 weeks. We have never had any cases of our tourists contracting the disease.

Tuesday 12th April – KAESONG & THE DMZ

AM: This morning we’ll walk from the hotel though the old streets of Kaesong up to Janam Hill for views over Kaesong City. Then we take a short drive (approx 20 minutes) to Panmunjom/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 where you can take pictures of (and even with) members of the DPRK military. Next, we head back to Kaesong and visit the Kaesong Koryo Museum, a beautiful old Confucian University, to learn about the history of the area. The stamp shop here is excellent too. Lunch is a traditional pansanggi meal – something like Korean tapas. 

PM: We’ll then drive out to the Concrete Wall, an observation post deep in the DMZ where you can view South Korean positions and see the anti-tank barrier that stretches across the peninsular. Next we drive back to Pyongyang and stop by the Golden Lane Bowling Centrewhere Pyongyang’s residents go for their ten-pin fix. This is a great chance to mix with local people. Even if you don’t end up playing, it’s worth grabbing a seat here to watch everyone have some fun. There is also a shooting range next door where you can fire 20 rounds for $6.

OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang

Wednesday 13th April – NAMPHO & THE WEST COAST

AM: First on this morning’s itinerary is a tram ride around the city. Pyongyang’s tram system was laid down following the end of the Korean War and is still the way in which vast swathes of the population get to work and travel around. Red Star Travel is pleased to offer chartered trips on these magnificent retro-machines, many with interesting stories of their decades of service and millions of km travelled, see the city as the locals do and get some great photos along the way! We then visit the Foreign Languages Bookshopand take a leisurely stroll through the streets of Pyongyang. On our journey, we walk through the heart of the city, and stop by Kim Il Sung Square, which is Pyongyang’s largest. This is where the capital’s mass dances take place and the military parades pass through.

PM:This afternoon we drive to the west coast to the city of Nampho. On the way we’ll visit Chongsan-Ri Co-operative Farm – the DPRK’s most famous farm that was visited a number of times by the President Kim Il Sung. We’ll have a tour of the farm including a farmer’s house and Kindergarten. We will also stop off at Kangso Mineral Water Factory – where you can see naturally carbonated water being bottled. We then head for our overnight stop - the Dragon River Hot Spa guesthouse. This is 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. It is here that we can experience the famous Nampho petrol clam BBQ (The cost is $5 per person but you can still watch for free if you don't want to have any of the clams)

OVERNIGHT: Dragon River Hot Spa Hotel, Nampho

Thursday 14th April – PYONGYANG CITY TOUR

AM: First stop this morning is to the West Sea Barrage – an 8km-long dam separating the Taedong river from the West Sea of Korea. Back in Pyongyang we visit The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum where you can learn the history of the Korean War from the North Korean perspective. The museum’s different rooms explain the origins of the conflict, and include highly impressive dioramas, tanks, planes, and much more. Then it’s on to the USS Pueblo – an American spy ship captured by the DPRK navy in 1968.

PM: After lunch we visit the DPRK’s centre of artistic excellence, Mansudae Art Studio. This is where most of the country’s paintings, mosaics and statues are made. It’s possible to visit several different workshops here and see the artists at work. Next it’s time for a tour of Mangyongdae School Children’s Palace - a centre of extra-curricular activities for gifted children – we’ll walk around 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. We’ll then head to Paradise Micro-Brewery and Bar and after dinner you’ll have the chance to try out some of the rides at Kaeson Youth Funfair - one of the most popular nightspots in Pyongyang. It was renovated in 2010. All the rides are from Italy. Even if you can’t summon up the courage to go on a rollercoaster or two, this is still a great place for people watching, and the locals are generally more than happy to have their photos taken here!

OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang

Friday 15th April – 104th BIRTHDAY OF PRESIDENT KIM IL SUNG CELEBRATIONS

DPRK HOLIDAY: We start off the holiday with a visit is to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun where North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state. This is a place of utmost importance for Koreans and tourists should behave accordingly. Men should wear a shirt and tie; women should dress smartly. The rest of the day will be dedicated to events commemorating the holiday. We’ll visit the Mansudae Grand Monuments – the giant bronze statues of North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. This is a very important place for Koreans and visitors are requested to follow local customs, which include placing a bouquet of flowers at the monument and bowing in front of the statues.  The exact nature and timing of these events will not be confirmed until we get to the DPRK but based on our experience of being in the country for this holiday in previous years we expect the following: Kimilsungia Flower Show (free to enter) - this greenhouse is dedicated to the cultivation of the Kimilsungia (orchid) and the Kimjongilia (begonia) - today the displays will be focused on the former flower. This place is usually packed on this special day; Pyongyang Symphony Orchestra - usually held in the afternoon this concert of Korean and western music is stunning ($20); Pyongyang Circus - also in the afternoon this is another stunning performance showcasing the talents of the DPRK's acrobats and other entertainers ($20). For these events that require additional payment, we will always offer a free alternative such as a walk in the city or visiting a coffee shop - the itinerary will be confirmed on the spot in Pyongyang. We will also take a walk in Moranbong Park - located in the centre of Pyongyang this is a favourite 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. Also popular places to visit on a holiday are our next two stops. As today is a national holiday we expect to see a mass dance taking place. University students dress in their finest and gather together in various public spots around Pyongyang to dance together (a great time for young couples to meet for the first time) - an impressive spectacle indeed. We’ll round off the celebrations with our farewell dinner at Pyongyang’s first Pizza Restaurant.

OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang

Saturday 16th April - DEPARTURE DAY

Today is departure day.

AM: The flight departs Pyongyang at 09:00 and arrives in Beijing at approx 10:00am. 

TOUR FEE INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:

∙Round-trip airfare on Air Koryo from Beijing to Pyongyang

·All meals on the tour except on the train out of DPRK – see below

·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:

·Spending money for drinks and souvenirs

·Tip for the guides

·Entry tickets for special events if applicable – for example Revolutionary Opera if being staged, or a visit to the funfair

·Admission to the Munsu Water Park

∙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.

Pyongyang Marathon Tour


DURATION: nights, 8 days  
TOUR DATES: This tour departs April 9th, 2016.
TOUR PACKAGE PRICE: $2400/person