At Asia Senses Travel we’re adventurers at heart. Our journeys are all about discovering new places and cultures while creating unforgettable memories through physical activity and breathtaking scenery.
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North Korea (DPRK) may not be known as an ideal family or summer get-away, but give it a try then you will find it one of the most unforgettable trips of a lifetime. Our Family Tour to North Korea is an annual favourite which gives you the highlights of North Korea, including the capital Pyongyang and historic Kaesong on the Korean Demilitarised Zone, while also taking time to see the country's rarely visited east coast.
On the east coast, you will see the port city of Wonsan and the industrial centre of Hamhung, while having the chance to explore the hiking trails in Mt Kumgang. This really is a perfect family (DPRK) North Korea tour for seeing some of the places that are not frequented by tourists. Don’t forget to pack your swimmers if your travel dates coincide the summer time!
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Day 01: Train Beijing - Dandong
Before starting this Family Tour to North Korea with us, we have a pre-tour briefing today at the train station that covers regulations, etiquette, safety, and practicalities for travel in North Korea. The briefing lasts approximately one hour followed by a question and answer session. Please be punctual for the briefing. You can come early, meet your fellow travellers and pay any outstanding tour fees. A proper briefing is an essential part of travel to North Korea. After that, we will provide you with assistance with the boarding the overnight train to Dandong where we transit another train to Pyongyang. Your North Korea tour has already begun.
Overnight hard sleeper train
Day 02: Dandong - Pyongyang Arrival
The train arrives into Dandong train station in the morning. You have some hours free before continue boarding another train to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea (DPRK). The train is supposed to departs at 10 am then arrives at 5.30 pm. A lunch box is provided on train.
Arrive into Pyongyang, the capital of the DPRK and home to many of the most iconic monuments and political sites, you will be met by our Asia Senses Korean tour guides with a warm welcome, then transferred to the city. En route to the hotel, our guides will point out the Arch of Triumph, the world’s largest triumphal arch. From the top, we will get our first panorama view of Pyongyang city!
Afterwards, we will head over to the Mansudae Grand Monument, an important site famous for its large, bronze statues of President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il. It is customary to bow and lay flowers here. Stroll through the Mansudae Fountain Park, a serene meeting spot for students and an often used backdrop for wedding photos.
We will then check into then spend time for refreshment. If the time permits, have an optional visit to the Kaeson Youth Amusement Park where the thrillseekers among us can brave the rides with Pyongyang locals on a night out. Enjoy our welcome dinner at the Koryo Hotel’s top floor revolving restaurant!
Spend the first night of your North Korea tour package overnight in Pyongyang.
Day 03: Pyongyang City Tour - Sariwon - Kaesong (DMZ)
Start the day with a visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the grand mausoleum where the late leaders lie in state and the most solemn location on the itinerary (closed in May and June). Please note formal dress is required. Men require collared shirt with tie, dark non-jean pants, and dark shoes. Women require covered shoulders, knee-length dress or pants, and closed toed shoes. Afterwards, take a walk in the Kim Il Sung Square, the 3rd largest public square in the world and home to many of the North Korean military parades broadcasted internationally during important holiday events.
Stroll in relaxed manner through the city to the Foreign Languages Bookshop which provides the best chance in the DPRK to pick up postcards, publications, posters and other trinkets that make perfect souvenirs. Then visit the Grand People’s Study House, an extensive library used to further education and the heart of study on the national Juche ideology. The viewing deck here provides a great photo opportunity of the Kim Il Sung Square and Taedong River!
After lunch, we will visit the Mangyongdae Native House, the birthplace and childhood home of President Kim Il Sung, a traditional Korean house in a beautiful natural surrounding. We will then head deep underground to take a 5-stop ride on the Pyongyang Metro, the deepest metro in the world with stunning artwork reflecting the name of each station. Ride six stations on the Chollima Line. We’ll then learn about the DPRK’s defining ideology, the Juche philosophy, on a visit to the iconic Tower of Juche Idea. For those who wish to take the lift 150-meters to the top, you’ll enjoy the best views in Pyongyang city. Elevator ticket is 5 EUR.
Drive south along the 'Reunification Highway' to Sariwon, the provincial seat of North Hwanghae Province and a centre of agriculture and industry. There is an opportunity to make a stop at the Monument to the Three Charters of Reunification, a large stone archway over the highway memorializing joint agreements between north and south. 1.5 hour drive. Once arrival, visit Sariwon Folk Village and City View, mock-up of a traditional Korean town which includes a history museum, food street, and pavilions. There is a small tavern or pub selling Makoli, traditional Korean rice wine. Climb a nearby hill for a view of Sariwon City and the surrounding plains.
Continue to Kaesong, historic capital of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392) and today located near the Korean Demilitarised Zone. Your travel to North Korea tour is not complete without a visit to this historic place. Take this chance to visit the tomb of the 31st king of the Koryo Dynasty, King Kongmin, a talented statesman and prolific painter, and his Mongolian wife. The tomb was recognized as A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue to Kaesong and spend a night there.
Waking up in Kaesong is the rare experience few North Korea holidays can give you. After breakfast, visit the Old City Walk and South Gate. A morning stroll through Kaesong’s historic district lined with homes dating back to the late Ri Dynasty to the city’s historic South Gate.
We will head for the DMZ where we’ll hear from our guides a perspective of the Korean War that often gets discredited or unheard. At the DMZ, explore Panmunjom Armistice Village, shake hands at the exact place that the Armistice Agreement was signed between UN forces and the DPRK in 1953, and wave hello to the South at the blue houses in the Joint Security Area. Here we will be accompanied by military guides from the Korean People's Army.
Afterwards, we will head to the Koryo History Museum or Kaesong Koryo Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to learn about the Koryo Dynasty (where the name Korea originates). You’ll also have a chance to pick from the most varied range of stamps, postcards, local ginseng, souvenirs, art, and more in the country at the Koryo Stamp Shop.
For lunch, enjoy Pansanggi, a historic Kaesong cuisine traditionally served for royalty. It is made of 12 dishes served in brass bowls fit for the kings of old. The more dishes, the more distinguished the guest! Afterwards, stop at the original Sonjuk Bridge, a UNESCO site.
On our return to Pyongyang, we will visit the newly renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and the USS Pueblo in its new spot (the “American Spy Ship” captured in 1968). We will then enjoy dinner at a local Korean BBQ restaurant, a favorite among locals where we will cook our own meats at the table! End the night with a casual evening walk on the new Ryomyong Street, home to Pyongyang’s most extravagant apartment complexes and opened in just April 2017 to international media attention.
Overnight at hotel in Pyongyang.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overnight in Pyongyang at Yanggakdo International Hotel
Day 05: Pyongyang - Drive to Hamhung
Drive east in 6 to 7 hours across the width of the peninsula before heading north to Hamhung, the second largest city of the DPRK and major centre of industry. Enroute we will have some rest stops at Sinpyong Lake and Ulim Waterfall near Wonsan. Hidden amongst the mountains on the road to Wonsan, ‘Echo’ Waterfall is a scenic stopover to enjoy lunch, stretch you legs, or go for a dip in the pool beneath.
Start the tour in Hamhung with a visit to the Tongbong Co-operative Farm, a local farm in the outskirts of Hamhung. View the machinery barn, a local home, and the farm shop to buy some locally made products. It is a model village with about 1000 farmers. They grow rice, paddy rice, millet, corn, vegetables, poultry and pigs. There are kindergarten, and shop (enjoy local shopping) in the farm. You will also have a chance to visit a farmer's house.
Continue to Home of Ri Song Gye, home of the first king of the Ri Dynasty (1392-1910) who extinguished the Koryo Dynasty, only to be then ousted by his own son. A traditional hall and pavilion and associated naughty stories of the former king’s retirement years – some not appropriate for the youth!
In the morning, we visit the Hungnam Fertilizer Factory, a massive chemical-industrial plant producing various kinds of fertilizers. Tour of the plant control room, production facilities, and packing plant - just don’t light up next to the Ammonium Nitrate! Then visit the exterior of the Grand Theatre and Central Square, the largest theatre building in the country.
Drive south to Wonsan, a major port city on the East Sea, stopping at scenic spots along the way. Afterwards, stroll into the city of Wonsan and have a guided tour of the Revolutionary Sites that played a prominent role in the fight against Japanese occupation and the Korean War. We will also get a tour of the Wonsan University of Agriculture, touted as the top institution for agricultural development in the country. The DPRK’s premier agricultural university set among beautiful hillside scenery. Tour the grounds and the neo-Romanesque teaching hall, originally built by Germans living in the area in the early 20th century.
Continue to Kangwon Province Art Gallery, a small art exhibition selling artwork by local artists, followed by a visit to Songdowon International Schoolchildren’s Camp, a classic socialist summer camp where Korean and international children can spend two weeks learning socialist values and teamwork.
Visit the Wonsan City Docks which includes a central square and bronze monuments to the Great Leaders. Walk along the pier between dozens of fisherman to the Jangdok Islet where you can buy seafood that was caught just seconds ago by local vendors (there’s a 1 Euro fee to be paid at the entrance). We will get a picturesque view of the Wonsan skyline from here. Enjoy a city leisurely stroll through Wonsan before settling in for dinner at a local seafood restaurant.
Enjoy a 2.5 -3 hour drive south along the East Sea coast to the scenic Mount Kumgang, the ‘Diamond Mountain’ noted in East Asian history and famous in Korean legend. Home of some of Korea’s most spectacular natural landscapes and best hiking.
Upon arrival, explore the Samil Lagoon, a charming green-water coastal lagoon lined by pine forests. Named for the ‘three-day’ stay (sam-il) of a king in days gone-by to take in the full beauty of the area.
After lunch, spend the afternoon hiking in the Mount Kumgang area – ‘The Diamond Mountain’ – a series of peaks and canyons rising above Korea’s eastern seaboard and regarded since time immemorial as one of the most scenic regions in East Asia. A 8 km (round-trip) hike to a scenic ‘Nine-Dragons’ waterfall will take us through forests, along mountain streams and by emerald pools.
Back to the hotel, you can relax in the facilities of Kumgangsan's hot spa or treat yourself to a massage (approx 10-15 USD). This is a highlight of any trip to North Korea.
Drive back north to Wonsan in the morning then visit Former Wonsan Railway Station Revolutionary Site which was used as a preserved Japanese colonial era train station, waiting room, guesthouse, and the train which future President Kim Il Sung rode to Pyongyang during the liberation of the country in 1945.
Spend time to relax and swim on the beautiful beaches of Wonsan. Approx. Before we leave back for Pyongyang capital, you can take the new Masikryong ski lift to the peak for an incredible morning view over the untouched mountain ranges (the ski lift is optional and the fee a $15 fee to be paid at the ski lift.)
Watch North Korean countryside life go by as we head back to Pyongyang, and on our arrival we will be treated to an evening cruise on the new full service ferry, Mujigae, docked on the Taedong River across from the Juche Tower (optional for $1.50 entrance fee). Another choice is to visit the Mansugyo Beer Bar, a new standing bar serving seven type of local beer (0.50 -1 EUR per beer). Popular with locals after work.
Those who want to swim, rock climb, get a haircut and work out all in the same place can visit the Munsu Water Park, a massive water park in North Korea! It is opened to locals and foreigners alike (2 EUR entrance fee, 10 EUR access to pools, 2EUR rock climbing).
Overnight at hotel in Pyongyang.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overnight in Pyongyang at Yanggakdo International Hotel
Day 09: Farewell
The Family Tour to North Korea wraps up today. This morning, you will be transferred by our guides and driver to Pyongyang Sunan International ariport to catch the flight back to Beijing. Flight departure from Pyongyang on Air Koryo Flight JS 151 at 08:25 with scheduled arrival at Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) Terminal 2 at 09:55 local time and basic breakfast on board is provided by the airlines (no vegetarian option). If you wish to train out of Pyongyang, please let us know.
Private Tour Price (2 Pax Up)
Tour Price Includes
DPRK visa fees and handling
08 night accommodation (7 nights in DPRK, 1 night on train)
01 train ticket Beijing - Pyongyang with transfer at Dandong
01 international flight Pyongyang - Beijing
Meals as mentioned
Meals in DPRK include a complimentary beer and water
Coach/car transportation in DPRK
Two local English-speaking Korean guides and a driver per group
Bottled drinking water per touring days.
Transfer from hotel in Pyongyang to airport
Tour Price Excludes
Other (domestic and international) flights not mentioned in the program
Optional single room supplement (35 EUR or 44 USD per night)
Tips for the local Korean guides and driver (please budget 10 USD per day per traveler)
Travel and medical insurances
Beer at microbreweries (1-3 USD per draft)
Extra drinks if needed
Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, etc.) and souvenirs
Private transportation from Beijing International Airport to hotel (approximately 75 USD)
Hotel accommodations before and after DPRK tour
Chinese visa fees and processing, if applicable
Elevator to the top of the Juche Tower, 5 EUR or 6 USD
Elevator to the top of the Arch of Triumph, 5 EUR or 6 USD
Flowers to be laid at the Mansudae Grand Monument, 3-5 EUR or 4-6 USD
Pyongyang circus (if playing): 20 EUR or 25 USD
Meari Shooting Range: rifle and per bullet fees apply
Kaeson Amusement park entrance and rides, approximately 1-3 EUR or 2-4 USD each
Optional activities such as a visit to the funfair (approx. 2 EUR or 3 USD per person)
When to Go
See estimated monthly temperature and rainfall for this itinerary