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’.
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 YPT guide at 8:30am at Beijing West Railway Station (North Square) to collect your train tickets. We’ll then head into the railway station and grab a coffee in Starbucks and go over the orientation for the trip ahead.
Take the highspeed train from Beijing West Railway Station to Chairman Mao’s hometown of Shaoshan in Hunan province departing at 10:00am and arriving at 5:00pm.
Check in to a rural hotel and dinner at Mao’s family restaurant, where, if we are lucky, we’ll get to meet the very sweet Yang mama, a community pillar and shrewd businesswoman of the town who has met Mao herself!
Night-time exploration of Shaoshan, visiting the old railway station and the Martyr park of Shaoshan.
Overnight in Shaoshan
Tuesday 29th June – Shaoshan
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 famous 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.
OPTIONAL – Spectate the amazing performance Mao Zedong of China, which involves hundreds of dancers, singers and acrobats depicting highlights of the life of the Chairman and the history of China, from Colonialism to the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. The show takes about an hour and a half and is an incredible display of technology and directing. It has been playing every night for over 2000 times. (240 RMB per person)
Overnight in Shaoshan.
Wednesday 30th June- Shaoshan – Luohe
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 highspeed train to Luohe departing at 2:10pm and arriving at 5:49pm.
Night exploration of Luohe
Overnight in Luohe
Thursday 1st July- Nanjiecun
Morning transfer in our private car to Nanjiecun Collective Village (45 minutes)
Welcome and orientation from our local guide for the next two days
Our first stop is the Museum of Nanjiecun, which explains its rise from a People’s Commune in the Mao Era, through a brief experiment with decollectivisation in the early 1980s before recollectivising as it remains today. This great little museum explains the importance of collective society in Nanjiecun and the success they had in combining industrialization and agriculture to rise to fame all throughout China.
Lunch at the collective canteen
In the afternoon we check out the local school, where residents pay no tuition fees, here we can watch or take part in an English lesson
Drive out to the edge of the collective where there is a very impressive botanical gardens, but also a ‘Walk through Chinese revolutionary history’ which has models of Mao’s birthplace in Shaoshan, the site of the Zunyi conference, the Zaoyuan cave house and Baota pagoda in Yan’an and the Xibaipo reovolutionary site. This site attracts school groups from all around the province and beyond to learn about China’s communist history.
In the late afternoon, we will wander around the East is Red Square, where the statue of Chairman Mao stands under a rainbow in the middle of huge portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, one of the only places in China where we can see the open veneration of Mao’s Marxist-Leninist roots.
Trip highlight – we meet up with a local Communist Party cadre for a discussion about Nanjiecun and Maoism in history and China today, with the opportunity to ask as many questions as we can!
Post-discussion dinner and drinks at Nanjiecun’s one and only all-you-can-eat-and-drink barbeque, overnight in Nanjiecun.
Friday 2nd July – Nanjiecun
Look around the Nanjiecun fields and collective agricultural works. The local guide will show us the irrigation, mechanisation and collective agricultural projects that have been promoted to the extent that Nanjiecun today is a model industrial village. Learn about how the farmer’s life in a collective is different to the family plots in other parts of China.
Visit a local person’s flat. All housing is provided for free, including furniture and all utility bills, to local residents, and complete with a portrait of Mao that hangs in the lounge. Here we can chat with the local resident about what life in the collective is like.
Walk along the specially built walkway, or ‘red corridor’, which was purposely built for students to walk from their home to the school and thus sheltering them from the rain or harsh sun and also remind them of Nanjiecun’s main objectives and it’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist roots through a series of posters on the sides
Lunch in the collective canteen
After lunch we head to the rest home where rooms are provided free to retired residents of the collective and chat with some of the people there about their lives in Nanjiecun
Visit the local mosque, built for the roughly 10% of the residents who are Hui Muslim
Visit the 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!
Stop by the shop where you can get your fill of Mao memorabilia and books about Nanjiecun collective
We head out to Chaoyangmen gate, decorated with revolutionary carvings, before going to an outdoor barbecue for dinner and drinks
Overnight in Nanjiecun.
Saturday 3rd July Nanjiecun – Beijing
Last morning walk around the square to listen to the revolutionary music playing throughout the village
Transfer back to Luohe for the high-speed rail to Beijing at 2:20pm.
Lunch of Nanjiecun noodles on the train!
On arrival we first check into the central Zhong Gu Hotel
Go out for dinner and drinks
Overnight in Beijing
Sunday 4th July – Beijing
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 Revolutionary History where we can see an overview of Mao’s life and the Chinese Revolution, as well as seeing how it is interpreted by the CCP today
Peking Duck for lunch
Catch the Beijing metro over to the 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.
End of the China leg of our tour. Free evening and overnight in Beijing before meeting the next day to begin trip to North Korea.
Monday 5th July
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 6th July
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 12.55pm (Meet the group at Air Koryo check in counter at 10.00am). Flight group arrive in Pyongyang at 4:00pm 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
Wednesday 7th July
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 40RMB or 5 euro).
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 with the opportunity enjoy Makkeoli sold by a local family (5RMB)
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 Sosan hotel
Thursday 8th July
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
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 flowers if you wish: 40RMB or 5 euros)
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.
Overnight at the Sosan hotel
Friday 9th July
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 stop by the Kwangbok supermarket, where you will get to see local people purchasing foodstuff, it is the one opportunity for you to use local currency and maybe buy locally produced snacks for tomorrow’s train ride (or flight!).
Visit Kaeson Youth Park (entry 15RMB or 2 euros, rides 20 to 40RMB extra each depending on how awesome they are).
Overnight at the Sosan hotel
Saturday 10th July
Flight members depart from Pyongyang to Beijing at 8:50am on Air Koryo arriving in Beijing at 9:50am local Beijing time
• All transport to complete the itinerary
• Accommodation in twin share rooms (Single Supplement €200)
• Breakfasts and lunches
• All entrance tickets unless otherwise stated
• YPT guide throughout and local guide in places
• Twin share accommodation (single supplements are available for an extra €160).
• 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).