Cambodia Dark Tourism & North Korea Liberation Day Combo
Come with us on this epic combo tour as we head on a dark tourism exploration of Cambodia and enter North Korea to join the massive celebrations for Liberation day!
On this combo tour we first spend 7 days travelling from Siem Reap to the capital city of Phnom Penh taking in the must-see sights like Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields. We also take you through the 18th Century Khmer stronghold of Udong near Kampong Chhnang, where you can hike to the mountaintop pagoda. Of course, we’ll be heading off the beaten track too and visiting Anlong Veng – the last hideout and retirement home of the Khmer Rouge.
Unique highlights of Anlong Veng include abandoned checkpoints, homemade museums and unmarked graves related to the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge. No trip to Cambodia is complete without a true jungle trek into the wilderness as we take you to where very few foreigners have visited before, the last home and bunker of Pol Pot – the leader of the Khmer Rouge.
You’ll then head to the southwest of the country to Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia and home to some of the most important and forgotten sites related to the Killing Fields. You’ll also ride on a makeshift bamboo train locals created to make use of the old abandoned French railway lines and visit the Phnom Sampeau bat cave which houses the natural pest control for Cambodia’s rice fields.
After flying from Phnom Penh to Beijing get ready to celebrate Liberation day in North Korea, which marks the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea and is considered one of the biggest national holidays.
During our tour, we’ll visit the Mausoleum where both President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il lay in state. We’ll also experience the deep Pyongyang metro as we ride not two but six stations of line 1! We’ll also have an opportunity to visit the Korean War Museum and see the North Korean’s story of the war that took place against the Americans. No trip to the DPRK is complete without visiting Panmumjom (the DMZ) from the Northside where North and South Korea meet head-on! We’ll spend an evening down at Kaesong city at a Traditional Korean Folklore hotel, only 8km from the DMZ!
Stay longer with us on our must-see Group B option for the Sinuiju extension as we spend a night in the DPRK border town city opposite Dandong in China. This city is way off the beaten track and gives you an in-depth look into this busy little city. We’ll visit a Kindergarten, explore the central square of Sinuiju city, go for a hike to Dongrim waterfall (we recommend swimming under the waterfall too), visit a co-op farm, and even walk along the river that divides China and North Korea.
The Mass Games, the world’s largest performance with over 100,000 performers is expected to take place during this tour! Now is your chance to watch this grand spectacular performance. Tickets are on-top of tour cost and is paid in cash during your tour in Pyongyang. We highly recommend securing your spot on tour early as we expect spaces to fill up very quickly.
Arrival in Siem Reap and meet the YPT guide at our centrally located hotel at 2:00pm – location details will be confirmed nearer the time.
Explore the old French town and visit the night market before dinner in one of the many great restaurants on Pub Street – there will be Angkor beers and, for anyone daring enough to try, fried tarantula.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Friday 6th August
Wake up nice and early at 5:00am to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat for incredible photos.
We grab breakfast and then begin exploring the remaining areas of Angkor archaeological park. Make sure to bring plenty of sun cream and water for the trip to this unique UNESCO heritage site.
Drop by the Siem Reap War Museum which houses a vast outdoor collection of Soviet helicopters, tanks and small weapons, all of which can be handled, so it makes for a pretty good photo op!
The Landmine Museum and Relief Centre houses abandoned children who attend the school next to the museum, it gives an interesting insight to the still present effects of the Vietnam War.
A visit to the Angkor Panorama Museum built and funded by North Korea. This museum boasts a 360° mural made by the North Korean painters of Mansudae Art Studio depicting the history of the Angkor era.
Dinner in Siem Reap’s very own North Korean run and staffed restaurant.
Drinks on Pub Street.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Saturday 7th August
Breakfast and then head to the Angkor National Museum to have a better understanding on local art, culture and the architecture of the Khmer Kingdom.
Begin our journey north towards the Thai border to Anlong Veng – the last hideout and retirement home of the Khmer Rouge (2 hour drive) – it doesn’t get much more dark tourism than the history of the Khmer Rouge!
On arrival we grab a local lunch of noodle soup and check into our hotel.
Driving tour of Anlong Veng, specifically visiting the former house of Ta Mok – a close comrade of Pol Pot.
Drive up the mountains right along the border and visit the graves of Son Sen and Ta Mok before heading to the unkept grave of Pol Pot.
Dinner and drinks in Anlong Veng.
Overnight in Heng Hotel, built along the same road as Pol Pot’s grave.
Sunday 8th August
Breakfast and drive to Anlong Veng Peace Observatory for a spectacular view of the Cambodian plateau and the former mountain home of Ta Mok.
You are then paired with a motorbike driver and drive completely off-road to the former home and bunker of Pol Pot buried deep in the Cambodian jungle. This is an amazing journey where you will see some incredible scenery.
Head back into town for local seafood lunch.
Begin the 4 hour car journey to Battambang city.
Ride the famous bamboo train! This is literally a train built of bamboo sitting on wheels; it’s still used by the locals to transport rice on abandoned train tracks. We’ll ride a couple of stops and then visit a brick factory at the end of the line.
Visit Phnom Sampeau cave, this was one of the killing caves of the Khmer Rouge. We climb to the top and watch as hundreds of thousands of bats exit the cave every evening at dusk.
Dinner and check out the Battambang nightlife.
Overnight at Sanctuary Villa.
Monday 9th August
Breakfast and drive to Kampong Chhnang (3 hours).
On arrival we check into hotel and go for lunch.
Visit the bustling market and floating village – Kampong Chhnang is one of the main rice production and fishing areas of Cambodia.
Head out to the Khmer Rouge forced labour airport and mass grave.
In the late afternoon we visit the 18th Century Khmer fortress of Udong, where we can climb to the top for stunning 360 degree views or enjoy a Khmer BBQ and some cold beers at the bottom!
Overnight in Kampong Chhnang
Tuesday 10th August
Breakfast and drive 3 hours to Phnom Penh – the capital city.
Check into hotel and lunch.
Stop by the Royal Palace, home to Cambodia’s kings since the 1860s. You’ll also be able to see the Silver Pagoda, made with over 5,000 silver tiles.
Visit the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek – the largest mass grave in the country and a cruel reminder of the atrocities inflicted upon people during the Khmer Rouge period. This is one of the most haunting places in the world and the history is still recent.
Tuol Sleng (S21) genocide museum where there is an opportunity to meet one of the last survivors of the prison. Prisoners tortured here were mostly transferred to Choeung Ek.
Wander around the Boeung kak region of Phnom Penh. This used to be a bustling region of the central city, however the residents were all evicted to make way for property developments. Now the area is left barren, as the ground is too soft to build anything on. 4000 residents were evicted from this area and protests sometimes still occur.
Make a stop to see the outside of the house of the prime minister, which is located right next to the independence monument in the very centre of Phnom Penh.
We recover from the long day with dinner and a pub crawl in Phnom Penh to party Cambodia style.
Overnight at OK Boutique Hotel.
Wednesday 11th August
Catch a very early flight to Beijing, China
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.
Thursday 12th August
Train group arrive at Dandong at 7:00am for Chinese border control then depart for Sinuiju at 10:30am for the extensive border control from the DPRK side
Flight takers depart Beijing Airport Terminal 2 on Air Koryo at 2:00pm (Meet group at Air Koryo check in counter).
Flight group arrive in Pyongyang at 5:00pm to a warm welcome from your Korean guides.
Train group arrive at 6:45pm to an equally warm welcome.
Dinner at a local Korean restaurant on Ryomyong Street
Check in and overnight at the Sosan Hotel.
Friday 13th August
Breakfast in Pyongyang and drive down to Kaesong City (2 and a half hours) stopping for a quick rest and refreshments on the way at a local tea house
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!
Koryo Museum- the oldest university in Korea and now a converted museum of local history. Located next door is the best propaganda and stamp/postcard shop in the DPRK
Lunch at a local restaurant in Kaesong City – try your hand at traditional Korean Pansangi – a series of dishes served in bronze bowls. (Option extra – dog meat soup or as the locals call it sweet soup for 5 euros per person)
Drop by Sariwon City (capital of North Hwanghae Province) to walk in the local folk custom park and view the city from the mountain pagoda.
Try locally brewed Makkoli from a nearby local brewhouse,
Photo opportunity of the Monument to the Three Charters of National Reunification, standing over the Thongil Highway.
Dinner and drinks at the Duck BBQ restaurant
Overnight at the Sosan Hotel
Saturday 14th August
Walkthrough Mansudae Fountain Park and see the mosaic pictures of President Kim Il Sung and the leader Kim Jong Il.
Visit Mansudae Grand Monument – the two large bronze statues of President Kim Il Sung and Leader Kim Jong Il overlooking the city (Optional extra – you can present a bouquet of flowers for 5 euro).
Grand People’s Study House – library and academic centre for adult learners. This grand building is built in the Korean style and affords a great view over the central square.
Foreign Language Bookshop – shopping central for books, pins, DVD’s, CD’s and periodicals in English and other foreign languages, followed by a brisk walk to:
Kim Il Sung Square – the central square of Pyongyang City.
Lunch at local Korean 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 Kwangbok department store – here we can buy locally made items and exchange our foreign currency into local DPRK Won!
Juche Tower – The tallest stone tower in the world, it represents the eternally burning Korean Juche Ideology.
Workers Party Foundation Monument – built in 1995 to signify the 50th anniversary of the Workers Party of Korea.
Stop by Mansugyo Beer Bar – a local bar to join the locals for refreshments
Dinner at KITC Restaurant in Mangyongdae District to try Pyongyang’s famous Cold Noodle Dish or the traditional Korean BiBimBap dish with Korean performance
Overnight in Sosan Hotel.
Sunday 15th August – Liberation Day!
Kumsusan Palace of the sun- Where President Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il lie in state.
Revolutionary Martyr’s Cemetery – the resting place of the greatest anti-Japanese revolutionary fighters, each grave features a bronze bust of the hero laid to rest within.
Lunch at the Korean Hot Pot Restaurant
We’ll take a stroll through Moranbong Park where locals gather to meet, picnic, drink and dance – don’t be shy to join in on the dancing
Korean War Museum – Let the expert local 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 nation.
Special celebratory events (optional: approx 20 euros) – Yet to be confirmed but we will take part in any holiday events that are possible for tourists to attend. These may include a circus performance, symphony red orchestra performance and possibly some other surprises.
Spectate and/or join in on the Pyongyang university students performing a mass dance near an iconic DPRK monument – fantastic for rare photo opportunities!
Dinner at the New Hope Restaurant
Spectate the Mass Games – The world’s largest performance. Tickets can be purchased with cash only and reserved whilst on tour in North Korea.
Go to Kim Il Sung Square to watch the fireworks over the Taedong River and Juche Tower – to be confirmed
Overnight in Sosan Hotel.
Monday 16th August
Flight members depart at 9:00am for Beijing on Air Koryo. (Arriving at 10:00am Beijing time).
Group A & B train members depart at 10:25am. Group A train members will arrive in Beijing Railway Station at 9:00am on Tuesday the 17th August.
Group B continues on:
Arrive in the remote village of Dongrim at 2:30pm – Dongrim is the nearest town outside of Sinuiju, located south amongst the valleys of the east coast of the peninsula.
Your local Korean guides will meet you as you step onto the platform.
Drive to Dongrim Hotel to check-in and prepare for afternoon hiking.
Hike to Dongrim Waterfall and explore the surrounding valley of the mountain range, during warmer weather you can take a dip beneath the waterfall.
Dinner and overnight at the Dongrim Hotel – a brand new swanky hotel with a swimming pool. sauna, table tennis, massage, bars, karaoke, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts
Tuesday 17th August
1 hour drive to Sinuiju city on the way stopping at:
Sinamri Co-operative farm – we’ll look out to where the locals grow rice, cabbage, chilli and cucumbers
Tour the Pomhayanggi Cosmetics Factory and meet some of the local workers that produce some of DPRKorea’s most famous cosmetics
Visit the mosaic images of the “Three Tigers of Mt. Paektu” Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Suk.
Explore the large central square of Sinuiju and see the statue of President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il
Visit the North Phyongan Province Revolutionary History Museum – This will go into detail about the history of the local province.
Lunch at Myohyangsan Travel Company Restaurant which also features a great souvenir shop.
Head to the local Folklore Park where there may be chances to engage in traditional Korean activities and some more modern activities too (extra charges apply for partaking in the local games, these will vary from game to game) or you can simply walk around and enjoy the scenery and watch the locals
Visit the Art Studio which holds over 250 pieces of DPRK fine arts in six large halls – some very cool and eye opening art pieces here!
Bonbu Kindergarten and performance – Famous for training the Children who perform in the skipping scene of the Arirang Mass games as well as its long history of training artistic performers. The performance here is the best of any Kindergarten in the country.
Explore Amnok park and walk down to the Amnok River (Yalu River) and see the original Korean/Chinese Friendship Bridge bombed by the Americans during the Korean War. Very few tourist are able to view the bridge from the DPRK side!
Board the 4:30pm bus and go through Korean customs to finish tour in Dandong, China.
Board the 6:30pm overnight train from Dandong to Beijing.
• All transport from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
• Accommodation on single room basis
• Entrance fees unless otherwise stated
• Local and Foreign English speaking guides
• Breakfasts and lunches
• 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).