For our All Koreas tours in 2018, our Part 1 tour starts with a Borderlands road trip of a lifetime. Although this tour is entirely in China, we take you through all the border towns, where North Koreans, Chinese Koreans and even South Koreans mingle freely whilst we give you views into the DPRK that are impossible to see even when you’re in the country.
Dandong – Mt.Paektu – Tumen
The trip starts in Dandong, the respectable city of Chinese-North Korean relations, before we work our way across two Chinese provinces, taking in Mt. Paektu (Mt. Changbai to the Chinese) and all major North Korean border crossings before finishing in Tumen, where the North Korean side of the river lies just a few metres away. On the way, we pass through towns where the less respectable underbelly of Chinese-North Korean relations is not far from the surface!
We’ll stop off along many checkpoints and scenic spots to give you the absolute best and safest opportunity to take photos of the DPRK… no rules apply! During our trip, we’ll also experience the slightly different side of China with the quirkiness of the locals and the eeriness of the towns.
This first part of the trip is one of the most interesting and adventurous ones we have ever offered, with a great amount of research going into where to go and what to do. While we have included as much as we can into the printed itinerary, the real adventure lies in the things we have yet to experience on the tour. This is not just a tour; it is travelling along the very front line of the modern DPRK and seeing how it relates to its closest neighbour and biggest ally.
Tumen – Namyang
For Part 2 of the tour, we cross over a cold war-esque bridge from Tumen in China to Namyang in North Korea and become one of the very few western tourists to walk across. This entire tour includes the rural northeast of the DPRK which is way off the usual tourist trail. It also combines 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.
Once we enter 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 city famous for pretty girls, 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 the DPRK’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 home-stay available in the country. This is a one of a kind experience will lead us to spend our day and night eating, drinking, playing sports and exchanging photos with our Korean home-stays family. We’ll also take advantage of the mountains here and go for gentle hikes along the peak 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 of the rural northeast of Korea.
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 t.