Top Tips on a Trip to North Korea
In May of 2011, I had the privilege of visiting North Korea, the mysterious country. For those that do not know, North Korea cannot be visited unless you are someone very special or with a tour. As I am no one special, I ended up going with Young Pioneer Tours. There are many tour companies with different prices but at the end of the day, they all take you to similar places. YPT on the other hand tries to do different things such as visiting a beer factory. Their tour groups tends to be very diverse and their North Korean tour guides are friendly and very informed as well. My tour was 5 days and 4 nights. (I will be putting down my itinerary below.) Our tour company took care of our visas and round-trip flight to and from Pyongyang.
Couple of tips
– Bring Euros or Chinese RMB. Those are the 2 currencies that the DPRK will accept from foreigners.
– Take a picture of your visa when you receive it as once you get to the DPRK they will take it away from you
– They will take away your cell phones and return it at the end of the trip.
– Use common sense; don’t ask questions like “are there concentration camps” to the DPRK tour guides. They will respond with a no, then hate you for the whole trip. This can also ruin the trip for the rest of the tour group.
– Drink the DPRK beers, it’s really good and it’s a lot better than the Chinese beers.
– The DPRK folks will show you only the good things about their country. There are definitely bad things about the country that you will never see.
– The North Koreans are as curious about your culture as they are of yours. Talk to them and get to know them. ***Remember; don’t put them in a hairy position, as they will be the first to be punished. Most likely, their families as well will be punished.
27th April (Wed)
·Meet your western Guide Troy at 2 pm in the SanLiTun district of Beijing to go through DPRK procedure, and to receive your tickets and visa.
·Departure at 17.25 from Beijing Station for the 24-hour sleeper trip to Pyongyang.
28th April (Thurs)
·7 am Arrival at Dandong for China border formalities before crossing over into Sinuiju. At Sinuiju your guide will show you to the cheapest gift shop in North Korea! Situated at Sinuiju Station.
·19.30 arrival in Pyongyang to be greeted by your Korean tour guides.
Transfer to the Yanggakdo Hotel
Dinner and drinks, quick look around the hotel and overnight.
29th April (Fri)
· Drive to Kaesong City
·Panmunjom (village situated at the DMZ)
·Lunch at Kaesong Folk Customs Hotel (traditional Korean banquet)
·Tomb of King Kong Min
·Drive back to Pyongyang
·Raekwon Beer bar
·Dinner at local restaurant and overnight at Yanggakdo Hotel
30th April (Sat)
·Drive to Mt. Myohang
·International Friendship Exhibition
·Lunch at Chongchun Hotel
·Drive back to Pyongyang
·Revolution exhibition (Industrial hall)
·Handicrafts souvenir shop
·Duck BBQ Dinner
·Magic show OR night drive to see the water fountain
1st May (Sun)
·Kumsusan Memorial Palace (Mausoleum of Kim Il Sung)
·May Day Celebration Art Performance and Sports Festival of Working Class in Mt. Daesong Funfair (chance to go on the rides!)
·Chongryu Korean Hot Pot Lunch
·Party Foundation Monument
·Mansundae Grand Monument (The big statue of Kim Il Sung)
·Mangyongdae (Birth place of Kim Il Sung)
·Walking on Moronbong Hill. This is without doubt the highlight of the trip, with your chance to play football, have a tug of war, and eat drink and dance yourself merry with the celebrating Koreans!
·Foreign Language Bookstore
·Kim Il Sung Square
·Koryo Hotel for a look and a dark beer.
·Drinks at “the diplo”, Pyongyang’s number one nightspot!
·Overnight at Yanggakdo Hotel
2nd May (Mon)
Departure by Air China (afternoon), or train 10.10 for Beijing