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April 15th, known as 'The Day of the Sun', is one of the biggest holidays in the North Korean calendar and 2018 marks the the 106th anniversary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung in 1912. The holiday is typically met with student-organised mass dances in the streets, a flower festival in which different work units and organisations across society compete for highest honours, and possibly a firework display in the evening. This 5-night special tour of North Korea will join the festivities of President Kim Il-Sung’s Birthday on April 15 and is designed to visit all the major must-see sights in one action-packed itinerary you’ll never forget.
Apart from these celebrations, we'll visit historic Kaesong DMZ, the former capital of the Koryo dynasty, nearby the modern Korean Demilitarised Zone, where North and South Korea continue their decades-old face-off. We'll also visit Nampo, a port city on the west coast, to see the DPRK's economic heartland, bathe in the healing waters of Dragon Hot Spa, and have the chance to try a 'petrol' clam BBQ - a local specialty.
***NOTE: Our price is inclusive of train ticket Beijing - Pyongyang via Dandong AND flight ticket Pyongyang - Beijing on Air Koryo. This tour can be organized privately upon request.
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Day 01: Train Beijing - Dandong
Before starting this Kim Il Sung Birthday Tour 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.
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 welcomed dinner at the a local restaurant!
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 (open on Thursday and Sunday; and closed during May - June periodclosed in May and June).
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, we will visit the Mangyongdae Native House, the birthplace and childhood home of President Kim Il Sung. 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.
After lunch, we will go walking on Moran Hill, a park place buzzing with festivities as locals celebrate the Day of the Sun with picnics and dancing! We’ll then learn about the DPRK’s guiding philosophy, the Juche Tower, located on the Taedong River. 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.
We will also have a photo stop at the massive Monument to Party Founding, built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea, featuring the hammer, sickle, writing brush which represent the workers, farmers, and intellectuals. Then check out the Kimilsungia Flower Festival, a multi-floor display of the flowers named after each of the late leaders which is only open during this time of year.
Optional: Take a one hour circus show including clowns, trapeze artists, jugglers, and much more at the incredible Pyongyang Circus (optional; 20 EUR entry fee paid at the door).
Afterwards, we will take part in the day’s festivities which will usually include an unforgettable mass dance event in Kim Il-Sung Square where you’ll even get to join and celebrate with the locals if you wish. The Day of the Sun usually also includes a fireworks display. Continue the celebrations over a Korean bibimbap dinner and get the chance to taste local Korean draft beers at the Taedonggang Microbrewery!
In the morning, enjoy a 2.5 hour drive south along the 'Reunification Highway' to the historic city of Kaesong. 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.
This morning we venture north of Pyongyang into countryside to visit the picturesque Mt. Myohyang (Myohyangsan). This will be a 2 hour drive filled with beautiful scenery, providing a great look at what life is like outside of the capital.
On arrival, first we will hike the Manphok Valley trail, this area is popular with picnicking locals and filled with dense forest, waterfalls and temples with great views (bring comfortable shoes; all hiking is optional and at your own pace). There will be plenty of opportunities for photos here!
Check-in hotel then spend time for refreshment. Afterwards, we will visit the International Friendship Exhibition, a massive complex containing the gifts given to the Great Leaders by foreign dignitaries over the years, displayed proudly in over 150 rooms. There’s even a basketball signed by Michael Jordan presented by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Take the elevator to the top floor and enjoy the mountain view and fresh air while sipping organic mountain root tea. We will then visit the ancient Buddhist Pohyon Temple, founded under the Koryo Dynasty and remains populated by practicing Korean Buddhist monks.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will depart for the western industrial port city of Nampo. It takes us some 3 hour drive. Our first stop will be the Chongsanri Cooperative Farm, part of a system of collective farms catering to the agriculture needs of surrounding communities. Learn about farming and rural living in the DPRK at this farming community.
We will meet a local caretaker to learn of their role here, see inside their home, and also visit the impressive bronze monument of President Kim Il-Sung with local farmers. Afterwards, we will visit the Three Mausoleums of Kangso, a UNESCO site, to see ancient and original Koguryo tombs. Drive through Nampo city to see local port life go by and stop at the Nampo City Square containing large monuments depicting the Great Leaders. For lunch we will enjoy a famous Nampo specialty, Gray Mullet Soup.
Then it’s onward to the jewel of Nampo, an 8 km concrete, steel, and earthen barrage constructed between the Taedong River estuary and the West Sea for land reclamation, irrigation, flood prevention, and power generation. It also acts as a ship locks and fish ladder. One of the DPRK’s greatest engineering feats. If time permits (and subject to availability) we will stop at either the Chollima Steelworks or Kangso Mineral Water Factory, both famous names within North Korea, to get a glimpse into the workings of local industry.
Return to the capital and visit Kwangbok Supermarket, a five-story department complex filled with local and imported product and the only place in Pyongyang where foreigners are able to exchange and use the local North Korean Won. If your energy allows, visit Science and Technology Centre, a newly built atom-shaped educational facility, library, computer lab, and exhibition of the latest developments in science and technology for students of all ages, educators, and researchers alike.
For farewell dinner, we will visit South Pyongyang’s famous Duck Barbecue Restaurant, where you can grill your own meats or have Jeongol, a Korean-style hotpot at a local restaurant.
The Kim Il Sung Birthday Tour 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 (for 02 pax, cheaper if more)
Tour Price Includes
DPRK visa fees and handling
06 night accommodation (5 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
Surcharge for the flight on departure day from Pyongyang
Travel and medical insurances
Tips for the local Korean guides and driver
Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, souvenirs...)
Other flights not indicated
When to Go
See estimated monthly temperature and rainfall for this itinerary