Join YPT for a week of Maoist adventure, combined with 5 days of touring North Korea on a tour themed around the relationship between China and North Korea. We’ll be joining a local Communist Party cadre for a discussion group about Maoism and politics in China today, as well as having a discussion group with a North Korean cadre where we can learn more about Korean communism and Juche ideology. This tour is suitable for the first time North Korea visitor, and the political geek alike!
This tour is led by YPT’s China Tours Manager, fluent in Chinese and an expert on Maoist history!
Our time in the commune is sandwiched between a trip to Mao’s birthplace Shaoshan, where we can see ‘red tourism’ in action and get a feel for how modern Chinese people still revere their Chairman – and a day in Beijing, where we visit Mao’s mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, the Museum of the Revolution which tells the story of Mao’s journey from Shaoshan to Beijing, and the Military Museum which concentrates on the ‘War to Resist the US and Aid Korea’, the Korean War.
During our DPRK visit we’ll drive out of the capital to the grave of Chairman Mao’s own son, Mao Anying, who was killed by a UN napalm attack, reportedly while he was cooking fried rice for his lunch. In Pyongyang we’ll visit the must-see sights and have an in-depth look in the Korean War Museum, visiting the exhibition on Chinese involvement in the Korean War against the UN and US forces. This section of the Museum is usually out of bounds for anyone but Chinese tourists so gaining access to this is certainly a unique highlight. And no trip to the DPRK is complete without a visit to the DMZ, where North meets South!
Meet your guide at 10:00 outside the main entrance to Beijing West Station to collect your tickets. We’ll then head into the station and grab a coffee in Starbucks and go over the orientation for the trip.
Take the High Speed Rail from Beijing West Station to Chairman Mao’s hometown of Shaoshan in Hunan province (11:43-19:10).
Check in to a rural hotel and dinner, before some night-time exploration of Shaoshan.
Tuesday 12th June
In the morning, we begin to explore the main parts of Shaoshan, visiting Chairman Mao’s ancestral home which is usually busy with Chinese ‘red tourists’ dressing up in Red Army uniforms paying their respects to the Chairman.
Lunch of Hunan noodles.
Walking tour of Shaoshan including the central Mao Zedong Square with his statue, Nan’an School where Mao started his education, the Mao Zedong Memorial Museum and the Relic Hall of Mao Zedong, filled with personal artefacts and pictures from his early years.
Local Hunanese dinner, including Mao’s favourite dish of braised pork.
Overnight in Shaoshan.
Wednesday 13th June
Head out of town to explore the Hunan countryside, we also visit the Dripping Water Cave where Mao held meetings during the Cultural Revolution.
Lunch of Changsha Rice Noodles.
Take the High Speed Rail to Luohe (14:10-17:49).
Transfer to Nanjiecun People’s Commune, where collective farming, rural industry and a veneration of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought maintain the last realm of Maoism in China.
Welcome meal and first look around the commune.
Overnight in Nanjiecun Commune Visitors Guesthouse.
Thursday 14th June
We check out the commune school, where locals pay no tuition fees, here we can watch or take part in an English lesson, and also the commune health centre where we can find out more about the free health insurance provision for all locals.
Visit the Instant Noodle Factory, famed throughout China and a good example of an industrial project which was given the capital and support to become a national brand, take some noodles away with you for lunch or save them for the train!
Continue to check out the industrial sites of the town, visiting the brickworks and talking to the workers and the building projects for commune-owned housing for the residents.
In the late afternoon, we will wander around the Cultural Square, where the statue of Chairman Mao stands in the middle of huge portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, one of the few places where we can see the veneration of Mao’s Marxist-Leninist roots.
TRIP HIGHLIGHT – we meet up with a local Communist Party cadre for a discussion about Maoism in history and in China today, involving some locals to hear about their thoughts on the Maoist legacy and with the opportunity to ask as many questions as we can!
Post-discussion Dinner and drinks, overnight in Nanjiecun.
Friday 15th June
Look around the Nanjiecun fields and agricultural works. The local guide will show us the irrigation, mechanisation and collective agricultural projects that have been promoted in the commune. Learn about how the farmer’s life in a collective is different to the family plots in other parts of China.
In the afternoon, we get the chance to get our hands dirty and work with the farmers in the field to get an even closer look at their daily lives.
Dinner and overnight in Nanjiecun.
Saturday 16th June
Transfer to Luohe and High Speed Rail to Beijing (09:54-13:39).
Visit the Beijing Military Museum. Here we get a closer look at the Chinese point of view of the Korean War – the War to Resist America and Defend Korea. From the captured UN military equipment to Mao’s own personal sacrifices in the war, in which his son Mao Anying was killed.
Dinner of Beijing local specialities and overnight.
Sunday 17th June
Our journey nears its end with a visit Mao’s final resting place, his mausoleum in the centre of Tiananmen Square.
Visit the Museum of the Revolution where we can see the overview of Mao’s life and the Chinese Revolution, his path from Hunan peasant through the Long March to Yan’an in the northwest, taking over the leadership of the Communist Party and its eventual nationwide victory.
End of Revolutionary Tour, free evening before meeting the next day to begin DPRK trip.
Monday 18th June
Meet your YPT guide at 1:30pm at the Beijing Zhong Gu Hotel near Beijing Railway Station found here. During this meeting, we’ll go through the tour’s itinerary, receive DPRK visas and tickets, as well as a great chance to meet your fellow travellers and to discuss any other questions you may have about the DPRK.
Train takers depart Beijing Central station at 5:25pm for the 24-hour sleeper ride to Pyongyang
Tuesday 19th June
Train group arrive at Dandong at 7:00am for Chinese border control then depart for Sinuiju at 10:00am for the extensive border control from the DPRK side
Flight takers depart Beijing Airport Terminal 2 on Air Koryo at 12.55pm (Meet the group at Air Koryo check in counter at 10.00am). Flight group arrive in Pyongyang at 3:30pm to a warm welcome from your Korean guides
Train group arrive at 5:00pm to an equally warm welcome
In the evening your YPT guide will show you around the hotel before taking you for drinks and to get to know your Korean guides
Dinner and overnight at the Koryo Hotel
Wednesday 20th June
Up nice and early to drive to Kaesong and the DMZ
Koryo Museum- Korea’s first university and now a museum of history and culture. Also home of the best stamp and propaganda poster shop in the DPRK, so don’t forget your wallet!
The DMZ- See one of the tensest places on earth complete with a friendly KPA officer who will not only give you a guided tour but also keep you safe. Also the only place you can take photographs of and even with a soldier!
Lunch at the Thongil Restaurant in Kaesong City- try your hand at traditional Korean Pansangi- a series of dishes served in bronze bowls. (Optional extras- Dog soup 5 euro, Ginseng Stuffed Whole Chicken 30 euro- can be split between several).
The concrete wall of the DMZ – this is a little off the beaten track and gives us a great glimpse at the wall which was erected b the South Koreans during the 70’s. We can even see South Korean watch towers along the hill from the DPRK post.
Drive back to Pyongyang stopping in Sariwon to see the folklore park and enjoy Makkoli in a local bar if you wish.
Drive back to Pyongyang
Photo opportunity of the Monument to the Three Charters of National Reunification, standing over the Thongil Highway.
Stop by Taedonggang Brewery #3 for micro brewed beers, juices or coffee!
Dinner at a KITC restaurant to try the famous Pyongyang Cold Noodles or Korean Bibimbap
Overnight at the Koryo hotel
Thursday 21st June
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun – The mausoleum where the Great Leader President Kim Il Sung and the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il lie in state
Walk through Mansudae Fountain Park and see the mosaic pictures of President Kim Il Sung and the leader Kim Jong Il
Visit Mansudae Grand Monument to show our respects to the President Kim Il Sung and the Leader Kim Jong Il. (Optional extra- you can present flowers if you wish: small bunches are 2 euro, larger ones 4)
Lunch at a local Korean hot pot restaurant
Pyongyang Metro! Ride from Stop 1 to Stop 2 then on to stop 6! Exiting to:
The Arch of Triumph- The largest Victory Arch on the planet- it celebrates the victory over the Japanese and the return of the general Kim Il Sung to his home city
Visit the recently renovated Korean War Museum, concentrating on the exhibition on China’s role in the war which is not usually shown to anyone but Chinese tour groups – let the expert local military guide show you around the enormous museum featuring dioramas, locally used weapons, tanks etc, and captured American equipment!
USS Pueblo – The only US Naval Ship still held captive by another country
Juche Tower- The tallest stone tower in the world it represents the eternally burning Korean Juche Ideology
China Korea Friendship Tower – built on the Moran Hill this tower was built in the late 1950s to commemorate the Chinese sacrifice in the Korean War and the friendship between the two socialist countries
Dinner at the Famous Lamb BBQ with singing and dancing waitresses
TRIP HIGHLIGHT – Head back to the hotel where we join a discussion group with a local party cadre, who will tell us about politics and ideology in the DPRK and where we have the chance to ask questions and discuss the Juche idea. Hopefully the discussion will continue over beer and soju in the hotel bar!
Overnight at the Koryo hotel
Friday 22nd June
We leave Pyongyang early for the drive to Hoechang County, and to the cemetery where Chairman Mao’s son, Mao Anying, is buried. The bumpy roads are an experience on their own, and a good chance to see the Korean countryside which feels far removed from Pyongyang
Lunch at the Hoechang Hotel
Arrive at the Cemetery for Fallen Chinese Soldiers in the Korean War. Hundreds of Chinese People’s Volunteer Army soldiers were buried here and it is a sight for top-level Chinese delegations to come and pay their respects.
Walk up to the pavilion and the murals depicting the Chinese contribution to the Korean War
Visit Mao Anying’s grave – the son of Chairman Mao, he was killed by a UN napalm attack and was buried in this cemetery, though some claim his body was later sent back to China
Drive to the site of the headquarters of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army in the DPRK
Drive back to Pyongyang and dinner at the National Restaurant
Visit Kaeson Youth Park (entry 2 euros, rides 3 to 5 euros extra each depending on how awesome they are).
Overnight at the Koryo hotel
Saturday 23rd June
Flight members depart from Pyongyang to Beijing at 8:20am on Air Koryo arriving in Beijing at 9:50am local Beijing time
• Twin share accommodation (single supplements are available for an extra 40 EUR per night).
• Train in and out Beijing-Pyongyang-Beijing. Flights are extra.
• All meals in the DPRK unless specified in the itinerary.
• Korean and western guides
• Air-conditioned bus and driver.
• All entrances (unless otherwise stated).