Explore Tour Leader, national and local guides plus drivers.
North Korea Adventure Tour
Details may vary depending on departure date. Please choose
North Korea is one of the most isolated places on earth and one of the last bastions of Communism. We explore the outstanding natural beauty of its Kumgang Mountains, admire the flamboyant architecture of its socialist capital Pyongyang and stand on the border separating South Korea’s peninsula. This exciting adventure offers an unusual insight into the country’s political and ideological heritage.
Pyongyang - Explore the capital, admire the socialist architecture and visit the Mansudae Monument, a tribute to Kim Il Sung
Wonsan - Discover the beautiful scenery in this little visited region
Panmunjon - Stand at the world‘s most fortified border
Beijing - Visit Tiananmen Square and the incredible Forbidden City
Staff Member Simon Grove travelled on this tour in 2005.
"If you think you have seen it all, go to North Korea. Where else is there a country with communist dynasty, an iconic leader who has “passed away” but remains the “Eternal President”, cherished by the population. The architecture is grand and foreboding, the scenery is beautiful and the people are very proud. The travel experience is truly unique."
Cross Tiananmen Square and visit the Forbidden City
This morning we’ll explore the Chinese capital, the political and cultural centre of the country. Beijing has mostly been the capital since the days of Kublai Khan, and is a more dominant factor in people’s lives today than ever before. All clocks in China are set by Beijing time. Today we visit the Forbidden City, the one-time home of the Ming and the Manchu (Qing) emperors, a treasure trove of eastern wares. The recent history of China is similar to that of North Korea in that the Chinese followed the Communist ideolgy of a freedom fighter who became the dominant leader. The influence of Mao in China remains strong today, with his imposing portrait located above the southern gate of the Forbidden City, overlooking Tiananmen Square. There is free time this afternoon for personal exploration of this amazing city.
We take the short flight from Beijing to Pyongyang. Pyongyang is the showpiece of North Korea, and is unique. We are now in a country where every aspect of life is dominated by the State and the ideology of Kim Il Sung, the Great Leader. To live in Pyongyang is considered an honour to the citizens of North Korea, who require permits to enter, or leave the city. Our tour starts with the obligatory visit to the Mansudae Monument, a huge bronze tribute to Kim II Sung, where flowers are laid as a mark of respect by all who visit. We then take the Metro, with its immaculate marble clad stations. Here kitsch chandeliers light enormous mosaics depicting heroic citizens from all walks of life stretching the length of the platforms on both sides. We travel to the impressive Arch of Triumph before returning to our hotel.
When in North Korea the order of sightseeing may be changed once in the country.
Overnight Comfortable HotelIncluded meals: Dinner
Drive to Kaesong and visit the DMZ
We depart Pyongyang along the deserted roads to reach the ancient capital at Kaesong where visit the twin tombs of King Kongmin and his wife who ruled Korea in the 14th century. Kaesong was once the most important city on the peninsular being the first unified capital, and remaining so for nearly 400 years. It remained in South Korea at the outbreak of hostilities of the 1950-3 war and therefore was protected from the bombing that destroyed almost every ancient monument in the North. We drive south to Panmunjon, which is the last frontier in the Cold War. Lying along the 38th Parallel this is one of the most tense and fortified borders in the world, where over a million soldiers are on constant guard. Our Military guide shows us around areas where the armistice agreement was signed in 1953 and talks freely of the North Korean perspective of the current situation. This almost serene setting, where soldiers from the North and South stand almost side by side, is an acute reminder of the tragic division of the peninsula. At our local style hotel, we sleep in the traditional manner on a mattress on a heated floor.
Overnight Standard HotelIncluded meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Return to Pyongyang and continue site seeing
Retracing our footsteps along the near empty road we return to Pyongyang. A typical visit this afternoon will include an ascent of the 170m high Juche Tower, a symbol of the country’s guiding ideology, Juche. This is based on a self reliance and the principle that each individual is master of their own destiny, and has held the country together for 50 years, outliving many other forms of communism.
We begin this morning with a visit to the captured US spy ship Pueblo. In the afternoon a short drive takes us to Manyongdae – the birth place of Kim II Sung, which is visited by hundreds of Koreans every day to see where the first thoughts of liberation were founded. Later we drive to Moranbong Park where there is the opportunity to take a stroll in the park and the unique opportunity to mix with the locals enjoying their day off.
Todays drive sees us cross the breadth of the country to the port city of Wonsan. After lunch and a visit to a co-operative farm we continue south to Lake Suijung. We stay in a small motel on the edge of the lake. The mud of lake Suijung is reputed to have great medicinal properties - there's the opportunity to test this with an optional mud bath and massage.
Overnight Standard HotelIncluded meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Explore the Kumgang Mountains
Leaving our idyllic location we head into the heart of the Kumgang mountains, into an area only recently opened up to tourism in North Korea. Although geographically in the north, this region was leased from the government by the South Korean Hyundai corporation and was visited by tourist from the south. With the abrupt end of this arrangement, once again this destination is only accessible to tourists from the north. There is the opportunity for some gentle walks in the region before heading back to Wonsan where we spend the night.
Overnight Standard Hotel
Visit to the Father Liberation War museum
Leaving Wonsan we return to Pyongyang. The Father Liberation War museum (opened in 1953) is not to be missed; its fascinating to hear the DRPK’s side of the story. Exhibits include a massive collection of war memorabilia, a chilling reminder of the brutality of the “forgotten war”. We’ll also take a walk in the sculpture park of monuments to the war, which was unveiled in 1993 to mark the 40th anniversary of its end. The main statue is titled “Victory” and is an impressive sculpture of a Korean soldier and a red flag.
This morning we take the train from Pyongyang through the countryside to the border town of Sinuiju on the banks of the Yalu River. The Yalu River bridge was bombed by the Americans during the Korean war and provides a stark reminder of the turbulent history of the Korean peninsula. Across the river at Dandong, Chinese carriages are joined to the train and we journey on through the night to Beijing.
Overnight Basic TrainIncluded meals: Breakfast
We arrive back in the Chinese capital this morning. The rest of the day is left free to explore or perhaps make some some last minute purchases in the bustling stores and markets.
Overnight Comfortable Hotel
Tour ends Beijing
Included meals: Breakfast
Please note that from time to time our itineraries may be amended, either for operational reasons or in response to feedback from customers. Please ensure you have read the latest Tour Notes before booking or travelling on your tour.
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