Be among the first to peek into another world: the unchanged Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Seasoned travelers know how difficult it is to find truly untraveled places to explore in our modern world, and the importance of seizing an opportunity to be among the first to experience a new destination before tourism’s influence alters its character. North Korea—officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK— is just such a place. Mostly closed to the outside world for more than a half century, this secretive and largely unchanged land has only begun to welcome foreign visitors. It’s a veritable time capsule that promises visitors a real glimpse into the past as well as rare insight into the modern reality of this last intact remnant of the Cold War. And true to our heritage of exploring new and unknown lands, MTS is among the first to embrace this wonderful opportunity to learn about and engage with the people of North Korea. (NOTE: This entire trip occurs below 6,000' elevation)
- Get a glimpse into the past as well as a rare insight into the modern reality of this last intact remnant of the Cold War
- Visit notable places like Panmunjom and Pyongyang as well as journey farther afield to remote areas like Mount Paekdu (September departure) and Kumgangsan (April departure)
- Enjoy informal opportunities to interact with locals at plazas, fairs, and other outings
- Come away feeling changed by the extraordinary experience of traveling to the unparalleled DPRK
Duration: 11 days Start Location: Beijing End Location: BeijingDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Fly to Beijing
Upon arrival at Beijing Capital Airport, catch the convenient Hilton Capital Airport shuttle to the hotel. In the evening there will be a trip briefing for the group, followed by a welcome dinner.
NOTE: This entire trip occurs below 6,000 feet elevation.
Day 2 : Beijing to Pyongyang
Today we transfer to the Beijing Capital Airport for our Air Koryo flight to Pyongyang (we are currently scheduled to fly on Air Koryo flight 152, which departs Beijing at 1:00 p.m. and arrives in Pyongyang at 4:00 p.m. After proceeding through immigration and customs, we are met by our local Korean guides. We visit the Arch of Triumph, modeled on and larger than that of Paris, before transferring to our hotel. Our hotel for tonight is Yanggakdo Hotel on an island in the Taedong River that flows through the center of Pyongyang. The hotel is the best they have, and there's a bar with good beer. (The beer is good because Kim Jong II hired German brewers to set up a brewery in the bar.) Welcome dinner at hotel.
Day 3 : Pyongyang
Today we tour Pyongyang from the Grand People's Study House, an enormous library and public university building modeled in traditional Korean style with great views over Kim Il Sung Square; to the Korean Art Gallery and Pyongyang Folk Village, featuring scale models of many of Pyongyang's ancient and modern buildings. Enjoy lunch at the Yanggakdo Revolving Restaurant. In the afternoon we embark on a secondary school visit as well as a visit to the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital to gain insight into public facilities in the DPRK. We walk through Moran Park and have the chance to interact with locals before trying the draft beer at Paradise Department Store. Dinner at Koryo Hotel Restaurant.
Day 4 : Drive to Mount Myohyang
This morning we drive two hours to Mount Myohyang, a remote and pristine area. Upon arrival, our first visit will be to the International Friendship Exhibition, a series of enormous subterranean exhibition rooms housing gifts given to the DPRK's leaders by foreign political figures, politicians and organizations. Lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon we embark on a 4-5 hour hike in the Mapok Valley, passing waterfalls and unusual rocks set in a stunning landscape. We have dinner at the hotel, the fanciest hotel in the DPRK and the only hotel in the DPRK with Internet access.
Day 5 : Mount Myohyang to Pyongyang
This morning we visit an historical Buddhist temple that originates from 1042 AD, but has been rebuilt many times. We then visit the Ryongmun and Paengryong Caves, natural grottoes on the road back to Pyongyang. The vast array of stalactites and stalagmites combined with colorful local legends about the places make it an interesting stop. Korean barbeque picnic lunch. After our return to Pyongyang, we visit the Golden Lane Bowling Center. This visit will be a highlight of our trip as it's one of the best places to truly interact with locals. Lamb barbeque dinner.
Day 6 : Pyongyang
Today we visit the public areas of Pyongyang and have a great chance to interact with locals, as it's a public holiday. We visit Juche Tower, featuring panoramic views of the city from the top; Monument to Party Foundation, the Foreign Languages Bookstore and walk along the boulevard to Kim Il Sung Square, Pyongyang's largest square in the heart of the city. It features portraits of President Kim Il Sung as well as Marx and Lenin. We take lunch at a hotpot restaurant. In the afternoon we visit Mansuadae Art Studio, Pyongyang's center of artistic excellence; Mangyongdae Native House, the birthplace of Kim Il Sung and the USS Pueblo, a US espionage ship captured in 1968 and held as a trophy ever since. Then we ride the Pyongyang Metro, having the distinction as the deepest metro in the world, adorned with mosaics and chandeliers. A Mass Dance can be expected on Kim Il Sung Square. Dinner at a pizza restaurant.
Day 7 : Pyongyang to Mount Paekdu
Today we transfer to the airport for our charter flight to Mount Paekdu. Located in a remote region near the Chinese border, Mount Paekdu is worshipped by both Koreans and the Manchus of Manchuria as the place of their ancestral origin. Only a tiny number of Westerners have ever been here, as it was closed to all foreigners until recently. Mount Paekdu is a dormant volcano, and in its crater is the spectacularly beautiful crater lake Chonji, or Heaven Lake. We arrive mid-morning at Samjiyon Airport, take a funicular railway to the crater rim, then take a cable car down to the lake. After a lakeside picnic lunch, we visit the Secret Camp of Kim Il Sung's anti-Japanese guerrilla army and birthplace of Kim Jong Il. After a full day on the mountain, we spend the night at the Pegaebong Hotel in Samjiyon, a mountain town surrounded by forests on the shore of Lake Samji.
Day 8 : Mount Paekdu to Chongjin
Today we visit Samjiyon Grand Monument, the largest set of statues in the country, before transferring to the airport for our flight to Orang on the East Coast. From Orang, we drive to Chongjin, the DPRK's second largest city and a very controlled place, along the East Coast Road. We have lunch at the hotel. Afterwards we take in the Central Square, Revolutionary Museum (the main attraction of this city shows exploits in the area), Cultural Exhibition Center, and Steelworks Kindergarten, where we will be treated to a fascinating performance. Drinks and dinner at the Fishermen's Club, one of the few fishermen's clubs in the DPRK that can be visited by tourists. It is a place for local people and foreign seamen as well.
Day 9 : Chongjin to Pyongyang
This morning we visit revolutionary sites related to the anti-Japanese period on the way to Orang Airport. We have lunch at one of the revolutionary sites. Then we fly to Pyongyang and transfer to the city center. There we will visit the Mansudae Grand Monument, 60 foot high bronze statues of Present Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, flanked by reliefs of workers, soldiers and citizens. Next on the agenda is the Pyongyang Embroidery Institute, located at the foot of the towering Ryugyong Hotel (105 storey pyramid). The institute showcases the Korean art of needlework. We conclude our day's sightseeing with a visit to Fountain Park, before returning to our hotel for dinner in the revolving restaurant.
Day 10 : Pyongyang to Panmunjom/DMZ
Today we drive to Kaesong, an ancient city and capital of the Koryo Dynasty (918-932 AD) from which Korea takes its name. The area is riddled with historic temples and monuments, and we visit the best preserved, the beautiful twin-domed Tomb of King Kongmin and his Mongol princess wife, Queen Noguk. In the afternoon, we drive 6 miles east of Kaesong to Panmunjom in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) boundary between North and South Korea. Technically known as the Joint Security Area, it is a circular area about 800 yards in diameter that is bisected by the Military Demarcation Line (MDL)—the North/South Korean border. Set squarely on the MDL are three small blue huts simply called the Conference Rooms of the Military Armistice Commission, the UN Agency that conducts negotiations between the two Koreas. The tension here is like a thick fog. We'll be able to visit the main Military Armistice Conference Room with its long conference table, through the middle of which runs the border. We get back to Pyongyang in the late afternoon. Tonight we have a farewell dinner at a barbequed duck restaurant.
Day 11 : Pyongyang to Beijing
Today we rise early and transfer to the airport for our return flight to Beijing at 9:00 a.m., arriving at 10:00 a.m. Upon arrival, connect to your homeward bound flights or other plans.
DATES: Best time to go: April, September Departures: Apr 22, 2015 - May 2, 2015 Sep 2 - 12, 2015
$800 single supplement
$5,495 (9-10 members)
$800 single supplement
Rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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