14 days

North Korea Expedition - Apex of Adventure

North Korea Expedition - Apex of Adventure

Kumgang Mountains

Mount Myohyang

Pyongyang

Trip rating
  • Known as ‘The Hermit Kingdom’, North Korea offers one of the most surreal travel experiences imaginable. A rogue and reclusive state that refuses to play ball with the rest of the world, gaining a snapshot of life here is a privilege few can lay claim to. From the epic, eerie monuments of Pyongyang and the tension of the Demilitarised Zone to the serene Kumgang Mountains – every new spectacle raises as many questions as it answers.

     

     

    Why we love it

    • Experience the traditional Korean way of sleeping with a surprisingly comfortable night spent on heated floors, like the Koreans have done for centuries
    • Get up close to all the larger-than-life monuments to the late Great Leader in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang
    • Visit the pristine Kumgang Mountains and relax for the night with mud treatments and a massage
    • To see a country where mobile phones and internet are rare and the state’s rule is unquestioned will make this journey one to remember
    • Always being accompanied by two government-approved local guides adds to the out-of-this-world North Korean experience!

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Beijing

    • You can arrive in Beijing at your leisure today.
    • After being met at the airport, you will be transferred to your hotel in the centrally located Xuanwu District.
    • Today will be free to take in the sites of some of the nearby attractions, like Tiananmen square, the Temple of Heaven or the Forbidden city.
    • This evening there will be a group meeting, and afterwards, you will head out for dinner to sample some of Beijing's finest, maybe some dumplings or Peking duck.
    Dong Fang Hotel or similar
    Dinner

    Day 2 - Pyongyang

    • Today the adventure begins as you head into North Korea.
    • After a short flight, you will arrive in Pyongyang airport, where you will be met by your local North Korean guides.
    • The contrast to Beijing's bustle will be significant as you venture out of the airport and straight to the Mansudae Grand Monument, a must do for visitors to Pyongyang... literally.
    • After laying flowers at the immortalised Great Leader's feet, you will set off for a bit more sightseeing before heading to your hotel.
    • You'll visit the Arch of Triumph, commemorating Kim Il-sung's role in the military resistance against Japanese rule from 1925 to 1945. Counting the 25,500 blocks of white granite that represent each day in Kim Il-sung's then 70 years, (is optional of course!)
    • Another option is passing through Fountain Park, a great example of soviet style statues, sculptures and of course, fountains.
    • After an afternoon of sightseeing, you will arrive at your hotel. Once checked in, you will have dinner at one of five onsite restaurants, including the sometime-revolving restaurant of the 47th floor.
    Yanggakdo International Hotel or similar
    Dinner

    Day 3 - Pyongyang

    • The adventure continues today as you get to know the capital of Pyongyang and its people.
    • Your morning will be spent visiting some of the best-known sights the city has to offer, and your local North Korean guides will endeavour to educate you on the finer qualities of life in the mysterious North.
    • One of your first stops will be the Grand People's Study House, one of the few buildings constructed in the traditional Korean style. Another monument built to commemorate the illustrious leader's 70th birthday, its main purpose is basically this, 'a big study house for the entire people'.
    • You will visit the Korean Central Art Gallery next, where you will get a sense for how important art is to the North Korean cultural identity, before heading to Kim Il Sung Square, a place most Westerners are familiar with. It's often televised packed full of frog marching military and baton twirling citizens parading for their leader.
    • After lunch at the Mangyongdae KITC Restuarant, where you can sample some more local fare like naengmyon (cold noodles) and bulgogi (barbecued beef), you'll head out for more monument viewing.
    • The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum highlights the North Koreans' battle against the Japanese, and later the Americans. A museum guide will accompany you through the various exhibitions of original military equipment, providing you with a fascinating insight into the Korean War from a local's perspective.
    • You will also visit the USS Pueblo, the controversial US warship captured by the North Koreans in 1968.
    • After an afternoon of military history, you will head to the Pyongyang Film Studios where we can take a look 'behind-the-scenes' at one of Kim Jong-il's favourite places and possibly even spot a movie being filmed.
    • After an action packed day, you will wind down at the Changwang Health Complex where there are opportunities for a swim or sauna - or even a haircut and a shave.
    • Dinner tonight is at one of the hotel restaurants, where you can relax and reflect on a rather eventful day.
    Yanggakdo International Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 4 - Pyongyang

    • Today brings with it another day of touring the sites of Pyongyang.
    • In the morning, you'll visit the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery, the final resting place of Koreans who died fighting the Japanese during the occupation. Here, as with the Arch of Triumph, it is respectful to purchase several bouquets of flowers to lay at the feet of some of the statues.
    • After lunch back at the hotel, you'll take a walk in Moran Hill. This is Pyongyang's top recreation site and an amazing place to see locals enjoying their day off. A very peaceful, relaxing place, it's the ideal spot to mingle with the locals and perhaps make some new friends.
    • This afternoon, you'll also visit the famous Pyongyang Metro. Built several stories underground so it can double as an air raid shelter in the event of another war, the metro is a grand place with exquisite light features - though be sure to pay attention to your guide for the appropriate rules - like not walking on the escalators, even in a hurry.
    • Tonight is a real treat. After a delicious dinner at the Chongryu Hotpot Restaurant, you will head over to the Kaeson Funfair. This is North Korea at its quirky best, with rides, games and plenty of neon to see you through! Entry is approximately €1 and games range between €1- €4, just make sure you hold on when you ride the 'Wheel of Death'...
    Yanggakdo International Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Mount Myohyang

    • Today you will head out of the capital, and drive to Mount Myohyang.
    • Before you set out though, you will pay a visit to the Juche Tower, a 150-metre-tall structure erected again to honour the 70th birthday of Kim Il-sung. It costs €5 to get to the top to take in the view.
    • The Monument to Party Foundation is also on your list this morning. This impressive structure, dedicated to the Communist Party and Socialist principles of North Korea, was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the party's rule.
    • You will also stop by the Mansudae Art Studio, where over 1000 artists are employed across a range of disciplines to continue the rich cultural heritage of artistic production. All works embody the spirit of the socialist state, and the technical skills of the artists here are world-renowned.
    • Lunch today will either be back at the hotel, or, we can arrange to visit a pizza restaurant. For an additional cost - €10-20 depending on what you order - you can experience a little taste of home, North Korean style.
    • It is worth noting that any meals taken off the scheduled stops will need to be paid for at your own expense and will include the cost of the guide's meal as well.
    • Once lunch is finished, you will check out of the hotel and head to Mount Myohyang, about a two-hour drive.
    • You will arrive and check into the hotel, then head off to visit the Buddhist Temple, an amazing example of traditional architecture. Then it's back to the hotel for dinner.
    Hyangsan Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 6 - Kaesong

    • Your first stop this morning will be the International Friendship Exhibition, where you can see the gifts given to Kim Il Sung from worldwide dignitaries, and see representations of the Great Leader in wax.
    • The area surrounding the exhibition is quite beautiful and you will have some time to walk through the gardens and waterfalls that make up the region.
    • Once more you will have the option to dine away from the designated restaurants and order a picnic to enjoy in the outdoors. At approx €20 it is a great way to enjoy the outdoors before you head back to Pyongyang in the afternoon.
    • After visiting the School Children's Palace for a tour and a performance, you will have dinner at a delicious lamb BBQ restaurant, and then drive to Kaesong.
    • Here you will retire to your hotel, where you will be immersed in traditional Korean practices - including sleeping on the heated floor!
    Hotel
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - DMZ

    • One of the most fascinating places in North Korea is the demilitarised zone, where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement was signed - thereby pausing the Korean War.
    • This morning you will travel through the abandoned village of Panmunjom on your way to the 38th parallel north.
    • After touring the DMZ, you will step back in time and visit the Koryo Museum, an ancient Confucian University, housing over 1000 artefacts from the Koryo period.
    • Before you head back to Pyongyang, you will have a traditional lunch at the Tongil Restaurant.
    Yanggakdo International Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 8 - Sijung

    • You won't stay in Pyongyang for long; today you will head out of the capital again, and drive to Wonsan.
    • Here you will take lunch at the Dongmyong hotel, before driving on towards the Kumgang Mountains, a spectacular mountainanous area, well known for its spa treatments.
    • You will arrive in the Kumgang Mountains in the late afternoon, where you can go for a sunset walk around Star Kumgang Lake. This area is breathtaking with tall cliffs on one side, trees on the other, and a local beach.
    • You will enjoy the outdoors and the serenity this area has to offer, before setting off once more to your final destination, Sijung Guesthouse, situated on the shore of Lake Sijung.
    • After indulging in some spa treatments or a massage, you'll enjoy dinner at the guesthouse before retiring, a truly relaxing day.
    Sijung Guesthouse or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9 - Wonsan

    • This morning will be quite relaxing; with a trip to the beach if weather permits, or you can indulge in some more spa pampering.
    • Mid-morning you'll head off again to Wonsan, and stop off for lunch at the Dongmyong Hotel. You'll be staying here tonight so after checking in, you can head out to explore the region.
    • You will get a rare insight into life for the rural people of North Korea, when you visit a local cooperative farm. This is a working farm, and you will spend some time getting to know the people and seeing how they work - with a few song and dance numbers thrown in as well!
    • Depending on the time of year, you may also visit the school children's camp or pop down to the beach for some more swimming.
    • The Central Square is also worth a visit, and you will stop by on your way back to the hotel, where you will have dinner.
    Hotel
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 10 - Nampo

    • You will continue to explore the North Korean countryside today as you head towards Nampo.
    • Your drive takes you via Pyongyang, and you will stop off in Koryo for lunch.
    • From there it's around another hour until you reach the Nampo Hot Springs Hotel, your home for the evening.
    • Each room has its own private bath that can be filled with water directly from the hot springs. Relax and enjoy the medicinal benefits - the locals have been doing so for generations.
    Hotel
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 11 - Pyongyang

    • Today is your last full day in North Korea, and you will spend it exploring some of its hidden corners.
    • Your first stop is a local orphanage, where you're given the opportunity to contribute to the children's daily needs.
    • After visiting with the children, you'll take a different view of Korean life and explore its manufacturing side at Kangso Mineral Water Factory.
    • Lunch today is a hidden gem - the Pyongyang Mullet Soup Restaurant. You can try your hand at some more local delicacies, such as the appealingly named 'grey mullet soup'...
    • On your way back to the capital, you'll pass Chonsamri cooperative farm, providing you with another chance to explore the working life of ordinary citizens.
    • To round off your last day in North Korea, you'll let your hair down and head to the Golden Lane Bowling Centre, where for €2.50, we can play a round or two of 10 pin bowling, perhaps even challenging a few of the locals to test your skills!
    • The Paradise Department Store rounds off your day. Visiting a socialist department store is a real eye opener, and one must-do here is to try the draft beer!
    • You will have a farewell dinner tonight at a local BBQ duck restaurant, before retiring to the Yanggakdo hotel once more. There will be much to reflect on tonight, as your journey through North Korea comes to an end.
    Yanggakdo International Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 12-13 - Beijing

    • You will say a sad farewell to North Korea this morning, as you board your Beijing bound train.
    • Once you’ve passed through Sinuiju – DPRK Customs, you will arrive in Dandong, the city on the Chinese side of the border. After being stamped back into China you will disembark the train and go through Chinese customs (with your luggage). You will then board the overnight train arriving in Beijing early the next morning.
    Dong Fang Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 14 - Beijing

    • Your North Korean adventure will come to an end this morning.
    • Peregrine tour leaders are on hand to help you with your ongoing travel arrangements.
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Local tour leader
    • Two local North Korean guides
    • Transport
    • Sightseeing
    • Entrance fees
    • All meals in North Korea

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • departure taxes
    • Arrival and departure transfer
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Other meals and drinks (meals on overnight train)
    • Optional additional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips and items of a personal nature.
    • Bouquets of Flowers for Important Monuments i.e Mansudae

    Safety Information

    Pay close attention to your personal security and, to the extent possible in the DPRK, monitor the Korean media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

  • Map Itinerary

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PCNK
Group size 4 - 15
Start City: Beijing, China
End City: Beijing, China

What to know

Venturing well away from cities and into remote areas, this trip takes you right off the beaten track. Accommodation and facilities my be basic but the rewards are immeasurable.

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