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3 reviews for this tour
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Inside North Korea
What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour
Inside North Korea is a unique trip within a unique country, quite like no other. We were fortunate to be in Pyongyang during the Arirang Mass Games at the huge May Day Stadium (late September). If you can time your trip to coincide with this festival and secure tickets you will not be disappointed.
How Was Your Explore Tour Leader
We travelled with a European tour leader and three local guides from KITC (the government owned travel company). If surrendering your independence and freedoms for a little over a week sounds like a high price, in my opinion it is well worth it. The guides we had were very experienced and so relaxed and wonderful people prepared to answer all the questions they were able to and share with us political and social information on their country.
What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour
To North Koreans, North Korea is the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea).
The most striking aspect of travel in DPRK is the restriction on freedom of movement in that there isnt any. Opting out is not an option. Due to the need to keep the group occupied, the days are long.
The locals, especially outside of Pyongyang, often waved as our bus passed through villages and towns, children bow and adults are generally friendly though, sometimes, wary and suspicious. At no point in our journey did we feel threatened or in any danger. We were treated like guests but you must be prepared to obey the guides and frequently bow at monuments.
Hotels were largely of an acceptable and clean standard but there was one night stop in Lake Sijung that was basic and filthy. Take a barrier like a cotton or silk sleep sheet.
Do You Have Anything Else To Add
If you have a sweet tooth, take some chocolate and sweets. With the exception of the odd slice of apple, we did not see any fruit during our trip - buy some in Beijing and take it with you. Vegetarians will find they have plenty of choice. They brew their own beer, which is flavourful and cheap. Spirits (with the exception of mind blowing rice wine) are expensive and limited. Coffee is expensive and so not widely available and, where it is, it is freeze dried. If you are a coffee addict, take caffeine tables or you'll be in trouble!
Ibuprofen is very hard to obtain and is very expensive, if you take a surplus please leave it with the guides. Pens, from China, are readily available and cheap so taking them is a waste of time. Cigarettes are practically a form of currency and make very good tips.
Sitting at Beijing Airport waiting for our flight, it dawned upon me that some of the people dotted around the departure lounge wore matching red pin badges. That was when it finally sunk in that I was on the way to North Korea.
Pyongyang was as I imagined, with tower blocks and huge communist statues, best viewed from the 31st floor of our hotel on an island (which also boasted a revolving restaurant). I found the DMZ not nearly as tense as I expected and the countryside beautiful and mountainous - travelling through it involved many tunnels and bridges. A fascinating tour, topped off with brilliant tour leader and lovely, knowledgable local guides. However many guide books you read, this trip will surprise you, so just go with an open mind and open eyes, and respect for the local people. (KO -19th September 2011)