Why Young Pioneer Tours?
We at Young Pioneer Tours started from humble beginnings as a group of expats living in China brought together by our love of being on the road. By the nature of our own travel we learnt what makes and breaks a good trip which made starting our tours much easier. Now years down the line and countless tours behind us we have tweaked and experimented with our tours to try and best fulfil what you guys out there are looking for, making a lot of new friends and having some interesting and bizarre experiences along the way. We try and find ways to keep our tours as cheap as possible to encourage all walks of life to come and see our destinations, a factor that has been key in the growth of YPT.
All our tours come with an experienced YPT guide who can get you doings thing you couldn’t do without them there to make it happen, something that can be very important in certain places.
There is an attitude to travel commonly associated with experienced backpackers that we fully believe in, going out of your way to help others on the road, share experience and make friends where ever you can. It’s this attitude that has opened doors to us that can’t be opened in other ways. Our guides have developed close bonds with the local guides and our regular customers while maintaining the professionalism required to make everything come together to give people great memories and stories to go home with. We have a great reputation for awfully fun guides that bring out the travel bug in people while ensuring everything runs smoothly.
Opening doors for people and bringing together like-minded travellers has become our main driving force and always pushes us to get the most out each destination at a budget price. We love what we do and the community we are involved in and will keep trying to push the envelope for opening tourism in places often forgotten.
What separates YPT from the crowd in our own humble opinion is our professional, friendly and super fun guides that accompany every group tour, and not only enjoy fabulous relations with our colleagues in the DPRK, but have the first hand knowledge and know how to open doors that would otherwise remained closed if not traveling with us. All guides work full time for the company, and are supported by a great team of staff that help out in the office.
GARETH JOHNSON – 32 – UK
I founded YPT way back in 2008, as at the time I found there was nothing in the way of a budget company that catered to the demographic of people that would not usually do “group tours”, so felt I could combine my love of travel with my new found love for the people and culture of the DPRK! Later I was lucky enough to meet people that shared my ideas and passions, which has led us to where we are today!
In the DPRK my favourite place is hard to say, but would probably be a combination of Mt Paektu and Chongjin. Paektu simply for what it represents, and its utter beauty, and Chongjin simply because it is so rarely visited and offers a real interesting insight into the the DPRK, both from a business and social point of view. The seafood in Chongjin is also great, plentiful and cheap!
Aside from the DPRK I like to “pioneer” our new destinations, such as Transnistria, and Iran. Having lived away from the UK since 2001, and having visited many countries, I still get the biggest thrill in soaking up a new place and everything it has to offer. I am pretty sure this is something I will never grow out of!
What I love most about YPT and my job is that the people we attract on our tours are people that I would genuinely be happy to be traveling with from a personal point of view. They are “my” kind of people, and I am happy to say I have made a lot of friends through the job.
TROY COLLINGS – 26 – NEW ZEALAND
I’ve been guiding tours since May 2009 and I think it’s the best job in the world. I love visiting the DPRK and feel fortunate to have some wonderful friends there and to be able to see things changing over time.
My favourite city would have to be Pyongyang mostly because it has more nightlife. Kaeson Youth Park is absolutely amazing, and the superman style roller coaster there is legitimately world class scary. The view of the city by night from the top of the freefall is also breathtaking.
I also have a soft spot for Rason, it’s the only place in the DPRK where tourists can visit a local market, and I love to go there, get some fresh seafood and have it with dinner that evening. I also like the barbers shop there, it’s so relaxing to just sit down and get an old-fashioned close shave.
I tend to find the two most common questions I get asked about my job (not the DPRK) are how did I get this job and does it get boring seeing the same things and eating in the same places? Well the answer to the first is pretty simple: Luck. I was fortunate enough to meet Gareth, become friends, travel to the DPRK with YPT and then wanted to get involved.
Finally: it never gets boring. I love the little discoveries on every trip, the excitement of any new destination and most importantly making new friends and sharing an adventure with a group of like minded individuals.
SHAN COLLINGS – 29 – CHINA
I joined YPT in 2009, and have been guiding DPRK tours since then. I fell in love with the DPRK from my first trip there. Not only because of the friendly people, beautiful sights and colourful events there, but it also resonates with my Chinese background.
My favorite city is Rason (OK, technically not a city but a zone, but it’s my favourite anyhow!) because you can see more aspects of real Korean life. My favorite place to visit in the DPRK is the Chonsam co-operative farm just outside Wonsan city. Experiencing the model countryside life of the local people always makes me feel closer to them, I also love children so I like the nursery and the kindergarten there.
I also guide a lot of YPT’s group tours to Tibet. I always find it so spiritual to camp at Mt Everest base camp, it seems like I can nearly touch the sky and as a photography nut I love capturing the scenery, people and clouds there.
I hope one day I can show you these places!
RICHIE FENNER – 23 – UK
I’ve been doing tours non stop since Jan 2011, an addiction I forsee lasting many more years. It has become a true passion of mine, combining my love for travel with the chance to show and teach people about the Korean people and the DPRK with all it’s wonderful quirks.
For myself, Mt. Myohyang stands out as my favourite site in the DPRK. For it’s home to the spectacular International Friendship Exhibition, where all the greatest gifts the country has received are stored. A place where even walking through the entrance is a memorable experience. The sheer volume and intricacy of gifts from all over the world is overwhelming, yet fascinating to catch a glimpse of history that is seen by so few.
Besides the DPRK, I like to stay heavily involved with our Eurasian Adventure Tours. Feeling quite at home on sleeper trains, I find the Trans-Siberian is the perfect way to see the transition of Asia to Europe followed by snaking down the old Eastern block which is a timeless backpacking route that should be on any travelbugs ‘to do list’.
As with the rest of the YPT team, I have meet a lot of amazing people guiding tours, and the road brings people together in a way unlike any other. It’s these friendships I’ve made that get me excited at the start of every new tour.
CHRISTOPHER WHITE – 32 – USA
I joined the YPT team in early 2012. I moved from America in 2011 to China to explore business opportunities. As a friend and customer of YPT group, I quickly became interested in their exciting company. When the opportunity arose for me to join the team I jumped at it. I have a passion for traveling and business. I enjoy meeting new people and exploring new places.
Having unique jobs has always been part of my life. I have had jobs ranging from commercial deep-sea diving, wild land firefighting, K9 trainer for bomb dogs and so on. As an American being a tour guide to places like the DPRK, Burma, Iran is a really unique and exciting opportunity.
Our team works hard and plays hard which is great. But what really makes our company and my job awesome is our customers. YTP has created a global network of liked mined fun loving travelers that continue to make this a great experience.
JAY K0R0NKEWIZ – 20 – UK
I started working with YPT in 2012 and I’ve been loving every second. I’m captivated by the DPRK’s culture, which reflects a totally different lifestyle to those like me who grew up in the west. The politics and system of governance is my pet niche though, I devour all the related literature I can and find it utterly fascinating.
My favourite part of the DPRK has to be Pyongyang. The city is like no other, and the doors that YPT can open because of our great relations with the Koreans make every trip there truly unforgettable.
Apart from the DPRK, I’m working to open up new destinations and find awesome new unique-to-YPT activities to make our already impressive itineraries even more so.