14 days

North Korea Expedition - Apex of Adventure

North Korea Expedition - Apex of Adventure


Mount Myohyang

Kumgang Mountains

Trip rating
  • Off the beaten tourist path doesn't quite cut it when it comes to describing North Korea! Our journey reveals this mysterious, unsettling and intriguing country where you will be one of only a handful of Westerners permitted to enter each year.

    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!


    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 at the office of our North Korean partners. We will collect our North Korea visa and hear more about what to expect on our travels there.
    • 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

    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 compulsory activity for visitors to Pyongyang.
    • 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.
    • We may also pass 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 sometimes-revolving restaurant of the 47th floor.
    Yanggakdo International Hotel or similar

    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 endeavor 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 (not included in tour costs)
    • After lunch back at the hotel, you'll take a walk on Moran Hill. This is Pyongyang's top recreation site and an amazing place to see locals enjoying their day off.
    • 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.
    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 (optional)
    • 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 need to 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 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.
    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 - Lake Sijung

    • You won't stay in Pyongyang for long as 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 mountainous 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 optional 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 involves 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.
    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.
    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.
    • You'll take a different view of Korean life today 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 (optional), 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

    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

    • An experienced, English-speaking Peregrine leader and specialist local guides at some sites
    • North Korean guides throughout our stay in the country
    • Authentic Accommodation includes: 11 nights hotel, 1 night overnight train, 1 night guesthouse
    • Meals: 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 11 dinners
    • Arrival transfer
    • Entrance fees and sightseeing as per the itinerary
    • Flight Beijing - Pyongyang and overnight sleeper train Pyongyang - Beijing
    • Chinese and North Korean visa support

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Departure transfer
    • Visas
    • Meals unless specified in the itinerary and alternative options in North Korea
    • Insurance
    • Optional additional tours or activities during free time
    • Laundry - may be available at locations where we stay two or more nights
    • Tips - this is something to consider, and it might be worthwhile speaking to your group about making a group contribution at the end of the trip
    • Flowers for important monuments and sights in North Korea

    Safety Information

    Crime against foreigners in North Korea is rare. Take sensible precautions to protect your belongings.

    Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, the Korean peninsula has been divided by a de-militarised zone (DMZ) separating the DPRK and the Republic of Korea. Peace has been maintained under an Armistice Agreement.

    The level of tension on the Korean peninsula can change with little notice. It increased after the sinking of the South Korean Navy Ship Cheonan and an artillery attack against Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, when DPRK carried out two missile tests in 2012 and a nuclear test in 2013 and during regular South Korean-US military exercises in early 2013.

    Insults or jokes about the North Korean political system and its leadership are severely frowned upon. Foreigners have sometimes found themselves in trouble for not paying what was deemed to be a sufficient level of respect.

    Any technology incorporating Global Positioning Systems must be left with North Korean customs on entry into the country and collected on departure. Foreign mobile phones can be brought into the country but must be registered at the airport. They can only be used in North Korea by purchasing a North Korean SIM card.

    Avoid bringing books or other written material in the Korean language. Any literature deemed subversive or pornographic by the North Korean authorities may be confiscated.

    Always carry some form of identification. Hotels will want passports for registration, but these can usually be reclaimed quickly.

    Ask permission before taking photographs. Avoid taking photographs of Korean officials or guarded buildings.

  • 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
Style: Small Group

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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