The name of the tour says it all. This is the real deal. This entire tour includes the rural northeast of the DPRK which is way off the usual tourist trail and combining the must-see sights of Pyongyang and the DMZ with a connecting domestic flight, something that is certainly unique for an experience in North Korea.
Our journey first starts in Beijing. If you’d like to make more of your time in China, why not visit its best ghost city in our Ordos-Kangbashi ghost city tour? Then, from Beijing, we’ll board our overnight sleeper train to Tumen, a border town of China that lays directly across the Tumen River from North Korea, only a stone’s throw away. Once arriving, we’ll have time to explore this unique town and spend the evening at a local hotel.
The following morning we’ll go through Chinese immigration and become one of the very few western tourists to walk across a bridge into North Korea which was first opened by us back in 2012. Here we’ll be met by our friendly local Korean guides and head directly to Wangjaesan grand monument, one of the most impressive in the country and a must-see for any fan of grand socialist monuments.
We’ll then make our way to Hoeryong city, a beautiful town famous within the country for ceramics, apricots, and the hometown of Kim Jong Suk (Kim Jong Il’s mother). Other highlights include Kim Ki Song middle school where we’ll involve ourselves in an English class; most of these students have most likely never seen a westerner before.
Next on our agenda will be the infamous Chongjin industrial city, where we’ll be able to visit a local kindergarten where the workers of the Kim Chaek steelworks factory send their children to study. We’ll also explore the recently renovated square centred in North Korea’s third-largest city and the revolutionary museum that holds history on the battle for liberation against the Japanese during WWII.
Our next destination is Mt Chilbo, famous for its incredible nature of both land and sea. Here we’ll indulge in the only homestay available in the country for two nights. This is a one of a kind experience that will lead us to spend our time eating, drinking, playing sports and exchanging photos with our Korean homestay family. We’ll also take advantage of this mountainous region and go for gentle hikes along the peaks for spectacular views. After saying goodbye to our Korean families, we’ll make our way to Orang Airport to board one of the very few domestic flights to Pyongyang city. This concludes our adventure and rare sights of the rural northeast of the DPRK.
Once arriving in Pyongyang, we’ll dig deep into the must-see sights of the capital. We’ll be visiting the Mausoleum of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the Korean War Museum, riding the deep and mystifying Pyongyang Metro, drinking at the local microbreweries, Kim Il Sung Square and much much more. And of course, no trip to North Korea is ever complete without a day visit to the DMZ to see where both North and South Korea separate their land.
Meet your YPT guide at 10:00am 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.
Take the overnight sleeper train at 1:00pm for Tumen City.
During the journey, your YPT guide will be happy to answer any DPRK based questions you might have and use his Chinese ability to keep you stocked up with drinks and food for the journey.
Sunday 24th October
Arrival in Tumen at 3:06pm
Check into a hotel situated within walking distance of the border
A chance to hang out by the river to have dinner and look over the border in the DPRK, this is also a great place to buy local souvenirs
Dinner at local Chinese restaurant with North East Chinese speciality dishes – 50RMB
Overnight in Tumen
Monday 25th October
Up early to drive to the border to go through some very relaxed but also curious Chinese customs.
Walk the bridge into the DPRK to meet your local guides and proceed through DPRK customs officials.
Get your first taste of North Korean cuisine with lunch at a local restaurant in Namyang city square complete with a performance
Drive to Wangjaesan Grand Monument – one of the most spectacular monuments in the DPRK
Drive to Hoeryong city (2 hours) – Population 140,000, This city is most famous in the country for white apricots, ceramics and being the birthplace of President Kim Il Sung’s revolutionary hero wife, and Kim Jong Il’s mother – Kim Jong Suk.
We’ll pay a very special visit to Kim Ki Song Middle School – they have an English class here full of students learning basic English. We use this time to join the students, ask them questions and let them ask us questions. This is one of our favourite stops on the tour.
Check into the Hoeryong Hotel
Dinner, drinks and overnight at the hotel
Tuesday 26th October – Korean Home stay
Visit the statue of Mother Kim Jong Suk and her revolutionary museum.
Visit the native home of Kim Jong Suk
Visit Hoeryong School Children’s Palace
Drive to Chongjin City (2 hours) – Chongjin is North Korea’s third-largest city with a heavy focus on the steelworks and fishing industry.
Check-in at Chongjin Hotel – formally a hotel used to accommodate Soviet scientists back in the 80’s
Lunch at the Chongjin Seamen’s Club – here you can try Chongjin’s best noodle dish
Visit the newly renovated Chongjin Square to see the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il
Explore the square to visit the newly built Electronic Library – here the locals have a chance to use their local intranet for research, practice their typing skills and to play locally made computer games
Visit the Revolutionary Museum of Chongjin
Visit the Kim Chaek Steel Complex Kindergarten for a children’s performance – before visiting we can stop by a local store to pick up some stationary or candy for the students
Chongjin Art Gallery – One of the best art galleries in the country to offer unique propaganda artwork
Visit the Soviet Martyrs Cemetery – this cemetery was built to commemorate the Russians who landed in Chongjin to battle the Japanese Aggressors during WW2. The cemetery has an incredible view of Chongjin’s east port.
Dinner and drinks at Namgang Restaurant – during dinner we’ll have the option to dance and sing with the Korean waitresses.
You can have the option to visit the new Namgang hot spot for a hot bath and swimming. (60 RMB extra)
Overnight and drinks at Chongjin Hotel
Wednesday 27th October – Korean home stay
Stop by the Chongjin Foreign Language Institute to greet the students and join in on a class. This is also a fantastic opportunity to speak with the students to get a better understanding of their lives in Chongjin
Susongchon Foodstuffs Factory – where bread, soju and other sweets are made locally in Chongjin city
Drive to Mt. Chilbo (3 hours) stopping along the coastal road for some gorgeous scenic views
On the way stopping at the North Hamngyong Mushroom Factory – Here we can see how mushrooms are produced as well as sample the local product.
Arrive at the entrance to Mt. Chilbo for an explanation of the area using the world’s largest mineral painting map as a guide.
Lunch at Outer Chilbo Hotel
Begin your easy hike through the mountains of Chilbo – this region is the most famous part of North Hamgyong province and has lots of colourful stories to explain the various rock structures.
On the way stopping by Kaesim Buddhist Temple and meet the local monk
Trip Highlight – Drive to the home stay village where we’ll be greeted by our families and then taken to our homes. We encourage to bring gifts and photos from your home countries as a nice gesture.
Dinner and home stay overnight at the village – two guests per family
Thursday 28th October – Korean home stay
We’ll begin another hike, this time up to Tokgol and Gangsonmun areas – these are the highest peaks of the Mt. Chilbo area and we’ll have stunning views of both the land and the sea.
Picnic lunch once we reach the top
Spectate or play volleyball with the locals, play with the children, help with some light chores or walk around to meet the neighbours!
Jump on a local fisherman’s boat and drive out to see to see the magnificent Mt. Chilbo from afar (20 RMB extra)
Optional Korean wrestling and volleyball tournament with the villagers.
Dinner at the home stay village
Bonfire party on the beach with the villagers providing entertainment by singing songs and dancing.
Overnight with our Korean home stay families.
Friday 29th October
Morning chores with home stay family such as sweeping, washing dishes, watering vegetables in the front yard, playing with the dog, etc– not a must but a very polite gesture as a thank you for accommodating you
Drive to Orang county on the way stopping at:
Yombun revolutionary site – this beautiful scenic site named for being one of the first places on the east coast where villagers discovered a new way to get sea salt despite the east sea being almost tideless.
Gyongsong Revolutionary Museum
Jipsam Revolutionary Site with picnic lunch along the beach
Arrive at Orang Airport and board a local domestic Air Koryo flight at 3:00pm flying to Pyongyang city – here we’ll say goodbye to our local North Hamgyong guides!
Arriving in Pyongyang at 3:50pm and be greeted by our local Pyongyang guides
Head towards the capital and stopping at the Three Revolutions Exhibition centre – the exhibition primarily showcases the three primary fields of revolution – ideological, technical, and cultural.
Stop by and stretch our legs along the new Ryomyong Street in Pyongyang – the street was opened in 2017 and lined with modern DPRK apartments and high-rises, one of them is the third tallest in the city.
Dinner at a local Korean restaurant on Ryomyong Street
Check in and overnight at Sosan Hotel
Saturday 30th October
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 – 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: small bunches are 2 euro, larger ones 4).
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.
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.
Lunch at the Chongryu Korean Hot Pot restaurant.
Visit the recently renovated Korean War Museum – let the expert local guide show you around the enormous museum featuring dioramas, locally used weapons, tanks, and captured American equipment
USS Pueblo – The only US Naval Ship still held captive by another nation.
Juche Tower – The tallest stone tower in the world it represents the eternally burning Korean Juche Ideology. Visit to the top is 40RMB for a panoramic view of the city
Visit Kwangbok department store – here we can buy locally made items and exchange our foreign currency into local DPRK Won
Dinner at a local restaurant to try the famous Pyongyang cold noodles or Korean Bibimbap with a special performance from the waitresses
Spectate the Mass Games – The world’s largest performance. Tickets can be purchased with cash only and reserved whilst on tour in North Korea.
Overnight at Sosan Hotel
Sunday 31st October
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun – The mausoleum for the Great Leader President Kim Il Sung and the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il.
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.
Lunch at the Moran Hill Restaurant
Walk along Moran Hill where Korean families gather for outdoor BBQ, singing and dancing on their day off. Fantastic for photos and mingling.
Stop by the Mansudae Art Studio where all the art works, portraits and monuments from the government are produced
Quick coffee break at Pyongyang’s “hipster cafe” the Kumrung Cafe for some of Pyongyang’s best coffee.
Monument to the Party Foundation- Built in 1995 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the worker’s party.
Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace – the DPRK’s largest schoolchildren’s palace. We’ll have a chance to visit classrooms to see students studying their elective subjects including dancing, sports, musical instruments, calligraphy, computer science, embroidery and more. The students of the palace will put on a spectacular performance.
Drinks at the Taedongang #3 brewery with seven different beers on tap! (Beers 1.5 euro each). Softdrinks and coffee available
Dinner at the Pyongyang Duck BBQ Restaurant.
Overnight in Sosan Hotel.
Monday 1st November
Up nice and early for the drive to Kaesong city (2 and a half hours)
Panmunjon DMZ Village – see the DMZ and the treaty and conferences rooms where the armistice was signed all in the company of a friendly KPA officer guide (you can also take pictures of soldiers here!).
Koryo Museum – the oldest university in Korea and now a converted museum of local history. Also the site of the best propaganda and stamp/postcard shop in the DPRK!
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 40 RMB).
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 by the South Koreans during the 70’s. We can even see South Korean watch towers along the hill from the DPRK post
Drop by Sariwon City (Capital of North Hwanghae province) to walk in the local folk custom park and view the city from the mountain top pagoda. Also if you like you can try Makkoli in a local Makkoli Bar.
Photo opportunity of the Monument to the Three Charters of National Reunification, standing over the Reunification Highway.
Dinner at the Lamb BBQ Restaurant.
Overnight at the Sosan Hotel.
Tuesday 2nd November
Flight members depart at 8:50am for Beijing arriving 9:50am in Beijing local time
Train members depart at 10:25am for Beijing.
Wednesday 3rd November
Train members arrive at Beijing Railway Station at 9:00am.
• Twin share accommodation (single supplements are available for an extra 40 EUR per night).
• Train in and out Beijing-Tumen and then Pyongyang-Beijing.
• Domestic flight from Orang to Pyongyang
• All meals in the DPRK unless specified in the itinerary.
• Korean and western guides
• Air-conditioned bus and driver.
• All entrances (unless otherwise stated)