On January 22nd 2020 the North Korean government made a daring decision to be the first country in the world to close their borders to all incoming travellers to prevent any possible spread of COVID-19 to the country. Whilst at the time this sort of decision was criticised by most for being over the top, the majority nations around the world would soon follow with similar restrictions.
An entire year has gone by since the border closure which leaves us the perfect opportunity to recap over the past year and list (not in any particular order) of what we’re most looking forward to when North Korea reopens for tourism. You may also read more about when will North Korea open for tourism by following the link.
Yangdok Hot Springs and Ski Resort
The Yangdok Hot Springs and Ski Resort is located 120km from Pyongyang hidden within the mountain ranges of Yangdok county to promote better health for visitors. It opened to domestic guests on January 10th 2020, just a few weeks before the border closure.
The resort complex features indoor and outdoor spas, ski slopes, a horse-riding course, a billiards hall, a virtual golf studio, gym, arcade basketball machines, bars, hotel rooms and restaurants.
Although the announcement to allow foreign tourists to the resort complex are yet to be announced, we are very excited to arrange visits and overnight stays to the resort allowing tourists more to see and do during the winter season in North Korea. This is quite an opportunity for North Korean tourism.
Renovated Pyongyang Golf Course
The Pyongyang Golf Course first opened in 1988 and reopened in 2020 after completing major renovation to modernise the resort’s facilities and golf equipment. The golf resort now has 10 two-storey villas equipped with kitchens available for golf guests.
Resort facilities such as an indoor swimming pool, billiards, a gym, golf simulator, ping pong tables, golf clothing and equipment store, and numerous restaurants and bars are also available. Prior to the renovations it was not possible for guests to stay overnight at the resort which now adds a more relaxing and non-rushed element to visits. Check out our Pyongyang golf extensions which can be added to any of your visits with us to North Korea.
Unlocking Manpo City
Ever since YPT were the first group of westerners to cross the Namyang Tumen border in 2012, we have continued to pioneer new North Korean tourism routes, pitching back and forth new ideas for tours with enthusiasm and discussing possibilities of opening destinations previously not accessible to foreigners. One destination we are completely obsessed with is the city of Manpo. Manpo is located in Chagang province on the border of China directly opposite the Chinese city of Ji’an. Although we have previously ran tours here for only Chinese tourists, we are eager to open this city to nationalities outside of China to unlock the newest DPRK town to foreigners in eight years!
Samjiyon New City
Samjiyon city located in Ryanggang province along the Chinese border is a popular tourist destination in North Korea due to the city’s proximity to Mt. Paektu. During 2019 the entire city underwent a large-scale demolition and reconstruction project and phase II was completed on the 9th December 2019.
Pegae Peak Ski Hill, Samjiyon Stadium, Samjiyon Township Shop, Samjiyon People’s Hospital. and factories such as the Samjiyon Souvenir Factory and Blueberry Drink Factory are new additions to the town. As well as many of the streets, residential apartments, shops and factories have been modernised.
Once confirmed we will be adding more items to explore and do in Samjiyon as part of our annual Victory Day Mt. Paektu tour.
President Kim Il Sung’s 110th Birthday
April 15th 2022 will mark the 110th birthday celebrations for North Korea’s first leader, Kim Il Sung. Looking back at the massive events that were held for the eternal president’s 100th birthday back in 2012, without a doubt we are expecting this to be the largest celebration of the decade with Mass Games performances, a North Korean military parade, mass dance events, and fireworks.
We have three incredible tours lined up to capture and partake in all events held for this unique occasion for North Korea.
- Kim Il Sung 110th Birthday tour – €895 5 days / €1245 8 days / €1445 10 days
- Pyongyang Marathon & Kim Il Sung Birthday tour – €995 5 days / €1395 9 days
- Kim Il Sung Ultra Budget tour – €475 3 days
Sampling North Korea’s newest beer
A new brewery popped up in Rason – North Korea’s Special Economic Zone, called Tumangang Beer. Named after the river that divides the northeast of North Korea from China and Russia. The brewery is supposedly a joint venture with a Chinese company and their aim is to compete with North Korea’s most famous and popular beer, Taedonggang Beer.
Every year we host a few group tours to Rason and the northeast of DPRK so we’re just as excited to taste Rason’s newest drop. North Korean tourism will be all the buzz.
Kalma Beach Resort
Although still under construction, the Kalma Beach Resort and tourist zone located within the coastal city of Wonsan is expected to open sometime in 2022. The entire resort is built along a five kilometre stretch of beach, with dozens of large hotels, swimming pools and leisure centres offering beachside views. Other amenities such as an international telecommunication company will be located within the resort hopefully offering foreign guests internet connection to the outside world.
The resort is located nearby the new Kalma International Airport which is also only a two hour drive away from the stunning Mt. Kumgang ranges. Imagine as North Korea reopens for tourism, how it’ll be like to say you’ve hit the beaches there. More is yet to be released on the resort zone so stay tuned!
Exploring two newly renovated Pyongyang Metro Stations
The Pyongyang Metro is usually on the top of tourists ‘must see’ lists when visiting North Korea, and we here at YPT certainly do class ourselves as train enthusiasts. The Pyongyang Metro was first put into operation in 1973 and by 1987 it had 16 metro stations in total with two lines. Within recent years the busiest subway stations of Triumph station and Reunification station on line 1 had renovations made to modernise the stations with LED lights and LCD monitors broadcasting North Korean TV.
During 2020, Korean War Victory station and Comrades in Arms station, the two stations that allow passengers to transit between line 1 and 2 of the Pyongyang Metro was renovated. Previously these two stations weren’t possible to visit by tourists, even on our annual Full Pyongyang Metro tour so we’re hoping we can unlock these two new stations making the total amount of Pyongyang stations allowed to visit up to 15 out of 16! As North Korea reopens for tourism in the near future, we can explore these extra routes together!
New Yalu River Dandong Bridge
This may not be as exciting for tourists but for us this is a very welcomed newly added route that’ll help ease all logistical problems that were faced in 2018 and 2019 by an increase of visitors. The New Yalu River Dandong Bridge features six car lanes and connects Dandong’s new district to the southern suburbs of Sinuiju in North Korea.
The sole purpose of this bridge is to redirect all freight trucks that previously clogged the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, which was the only bridge connecting the two cities, that made crossing between the two countries lengthy and at certain times during peak tourist seasons impossible. With the new addition of the mega bridge, we expect both the Chinese and North Korean immigration to allow more tourists to cross in and out of the country without limited tickets being available or delays. We’re looking forward to these advancements as North Korea reopens tourism.