So December, and thus the end of the year, seems to have appeared from nowhere; meaning our thoughts move onto all the exciting things happening next year in North Korea. If you have not seen it already, the Young Pioneer Tours 2016 DPRK tour schedule is up, ready, and probably our most adventurous ever.
January and February see us taking in some discounted winter tours, as well as celebrating the birthday of Leader Kim Jong Il, but is in March when we start raving it up by celebrating St Patricks Day in North Korea. How does a pub crawl around Pyongyang sound? Having two Irish guides, it’s hardly a surprise that we were the first company to do a St Patrick’s Day DPRK trip, and this is now firmly in the YPT tour schedule (with a bunch of Irish having already signed up). Will there be Guinness in Pyongyang? We guarantee it!
Moving onto April and one of the biggest events of the year in the DPRK – the Pyongyang Marathon. For the last two years we have taken big groups in to take part in the Pyongyang Marathon Tour, and we expect 2016 to be no different. Hopefully someone from YPT will win first place like last year! The Pyongyang Marathon truly is not only a great tour, but also a great chance to see Pyongyang and interact with people. We have four tours planned around the Marathon, to accommodate for as many schedules and budgets as possible.
Two years ago YPT ran the first ever volunteer tour into North Korea, and as of 2016 we have decided that the Farming Volunteer trip to the DPRK will be run as a non- profit enterprise, with all proceeds being donated to our adopted cooperative farm. Not only a great tour, it’s for a great cause! This is an incredible and unique opportunity to not only have you build relations with farmers and their families but to learn a thing or two about traditional organic farming, a skill that the DPRKoreans are renowned for.
June sees us creating another first, cycling around Pyongyang! Yes, we know other companies have done cycling tours, but Young Pioneer Tours are the first to offer cycling around Pyongyang. At the end of the tour we will be donating our bikes to the Korean people. (Bicycle included in tour cost) June brings us another trip that is now a YPT staple, our in house invented DPRK Borderlands trip where we drive from the far north of North Korea from Tumen down the borderlands to Dandong. Whilst this trip does not actually go into the country it offers a truly unique insight in the contemporary relationship between the DPRK and China, it can also be combined with our All Koreas tour for great discounts.
August sees us taking our third trip to the Rason International Trade Exhibition, through our friends at Paektu Cultural Exchange. In 2015 we didn’t just take part; we actually ran our very own stall selling an eclectic mix of watches fans and battery chargers! In 2016 we again aim to be running our own stall, but also helping to bring in others with an interest in marketing their goods. When in Rason city we enter on official visas, which means we have a much greater degree of freedom than normal tourists would.
August also sees YPT doing our first ever gambling tour to North Korea. Rason City in the Rason Special Economic Zone is the only place currently in the DPRK where laws are slightly more open for businesses, the Emperor Hotel and Casino is aside from being without doubt the best hotel in North Korea also the only truly 5 star, and foreign owned hotel in the country. Our casino tour has us staying at the Emperor Hotel and also covers the 500 Euro minimum bet entrance fee of chips for the casino. If you want a weird and off the beaten track North Korea experience this truly is it!
Although we do not have an official tour planned for the Pyongyang International Film festival, it does represent a great time to be in the country. The festival itself is held every two years on even numbers and has films presented on a range of subjects from a range of countries. A few years ago they even premiered Bend it Like Beckham! Whilst we also have an action packed October and November, it’s the big events of December where we start getting quirky again. We’ll be having a slightly out of the ordinary Christmas in Pyongyang, closely followed by our New Years Party in North Korea.
So that’s a small smattering of some of our highlights for 2016, but check out our full list for more information and to book your budget tour to North Korea. See you in the DPRK!.