Young Pioneer Tours

Staying at the Yanggakdo Hotel

Introduction

The Yanggakdo International Hotel (양각도국제호텔) is most famous for being known as “the hotel on the island” or regularly mistaken as the only hotel tourists can stay at in Pyongyang which isn’t true.

The Yanggakdo Hotel was first opened in 1995 and is classed as a deluxe hotel with a North Korean four-star rating. The hotel closed in November 2018 to undergo major renovations in the lobby and basement, and minor renovations on the exterior of the building. It was reopened in April 2019 a few days before the Pyongyang Marathon and Kim Il Sung birthday events.

It is the largest hotel operating in Pyongyang with 1001 hotel rooms and standing 47 floors tall with a revolving restaurant located on the top floor to complete the soviet niche design. The Ryugyong Hotel was planned to be the largest hotel with 105 floors but is yet to be completed. 

Location

The Yanggakdo Hotel is situated on the Yanggak Island which translates to “horn of the ram (male sheep)” because of the shape of the island. It’s located on the Taedong River which divides Pyongyang city into east and west.

The hotel is five minutes from the Pyongyang Railway Station by car, 45 minutes to Pyongyang Airport and 8 minutes to Kim Il Sung Square which is located centrally in Pyongyang.

Facilities

The majority of the facilities can be found on the ground floor, mezzanine floor, or the basement of the hotel.

Ground Floor (lobby)

A large bar and café are located not far from the reception desk, a Korean and Chinese restaurant located near the back of the hotel and another café located on the mezzanine floor. The Yanggakdo supermarket which stocks items such as souvenirs, medicine, snacks and drinks. The tailors is located on the third floor and can be accessed by the stairs. Feel free to ask any of the hotel’s staff to directions during your stay.

Basement

Pyongyang Casino – This is one of the two casinos that are available in North Korea, the other is in Rason. The casino is owned and operated by Chinese. The staff can speak a little English and can assist you with anything you need. Baccarat, Blackjack are poker are available. North Korean locals are not allowed to enter as gambling is illegal for North Koreans but it’s legal for foreigners to gamble in the DPRK.

Swimming Pool – The swimming pool is 25 meters long, costs 25RMB to enter and includes a shower room and a bar by the pool.

Massage – the massage centre is located near the pool and can cost from 200RMB for a massage.

Bowling – the bowling centre has three bowling lanes and a bar

Karaoke (KTV) – the KTV here is a large room with projection screens and tv’s placed around the bar, it works as a public room so the patrons can take turns singing and sharing songs. English, Chinese, Russian songs are available.

Billiards – three pool tables accompanied by very professional playing staff and a bar

Ping Pong – two ping pong tables with again, very professional playing staff that are more than happy to join you. Also accompanied by a bar.

Barbers & Hairdressers – here tourists and locals can get their hair styled, cut or shave for 40RMB. Tourists can opt for haircuts that fall out of the norm for North Koreans.

Pyongyang Cold Noodle house – for those who have craving for a delicious Pyongyang cold noodles dish this restaurant is opened quite late.

Rooms

The Yanggakdo’s rooms are clean and spacious, and offer great surrounding views of the city. Each rooms are fully furnished with air-condition, and have all the accoutrements you might expect of a high-end hotel elsewhere excluding Wifi. Each room has slippers, complimentary toiletries, towels, and flat screen TV with international channels.

Our tours at the Yanggakdo include the standard twin room and with our connections we’re able to secure the higher floors for better views. If you’d like to upgrade to the suite or the deluxe suite please let us know during your booking.

Tips for staying at the Yanggakdo Hotel

Beat the rush – during national holidays the hotel can at times be completely booked out. The morning and afternoon peak hour from tourists departing the hotel and arriving back from a days tour can leave you waiting for the elevator between 10 to 20 minutes or sometimes longer. In the morning we recommend heading down to the lobby 20 minutes ahead of your schedule to help deal with delays. During the evening, take a break and enjoy some activities downstairs before making your way up to your room.

Draft Beer – the Yanggakdo Draft Beer was once very famous for its taste and price. However, we feel that the beer isn’t as great as it used to be and has been driven up by costs. So, go for a bottled Taedonggang beer instead.

The best view – head up to the revolving restaurant during the day or in the morning before your group departs for the most spectacular view of Pyongyang from the hotel. During the evening, the city is rather dark so photography is quite limited through the glass windows. The restaurant charges more for drinks that are also offered in other bars within the hotel.

Challenge local staff to a game – some nights at the hotel can be a little slow, so the staff are well up for a game of billiards, ping pong or bowling if you’re keen. You can make it a little more interesting by betting a drink or snack to the winner.

Tailor a suit – the hotel offers the most varieties in Pyongyang when it comes to having your own North Korean suit tailored.

Cheeky WiFi – the Pyongyang casino in the basement has WiFi that allows players to connect whilst they gamble. The staff are reluctant on handing out the WiFi password to anyone, so serious betters only. The internet connection is patchy so don’t expect solid or secured connections.

Late evening snack – if you’re still feeling a bit peckish after a long day, the Korean Restaurant on the ground floor stays open quite late and offers affordable and delicious local meals. We highly recommend the fried rice dish of Bibimbap.

Bookstore bargain? – the bookstore may be very tempting on your first evening of arrival, however the same reading materials are offered at the Pyongyang Foreign Language Bookstore at a considerately cheaper price.

How can I stay at the Yanggakdo Hotel?

We have a few scheduled group tours that includes staying at the Yanggakdo Hotel. We recommend the Sosan Hotel over the Yanggakdo mostly due to the cheaper cost and staff friendliness you’ll find at the Sosan. However, we can also arrange your accommodation at the Yanggakdo on your very own independent North Korean tour

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