Liberation Day 2015 – the most auspicious day of the year in the Democratic Peoples Republic Of Korea (DPRK). It will be with lots of fun fare as the DPRK observes the 70th anniversary of the end of the Japanese occupation. Every year, Liberation Day stands out as THE most important event of the year. The 70th anniversary is expected to include parades, dances, fireworks, mass games, fireworks and other celebrations. Certainly a tour of a lifetime especially when many expect the days of the last bastion of Communism may be short lived.
|Price (From)||:||US$ -|
|Includes international air|
Day 01: Arrive Beijing/Pyongyang
This morning we will meet at our office in Beijing (time to be confirmed at the pre-tour briefing the day before) and together head to Beijing Airport Terminal 2 for our flight Beijing to Pyongyang (1.5 hrs) - the showcase capital of the DPRK. Upon arrival in Pyongyang (approximately 4pm - DPRK is one hour ahead of China), we proceed through immigration and customs and meet our guides who will accompany us during our stay. On arrival we will visit the Arch of Triumph, built in 1982 to commemorate Korean independence from Japan. This is, put simply, much like the famous Parisian monument, but bigger. We also stop by the Mansudae Grand Monument, the giant bronze statues of North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. This is a very important place for Koreans and visitors are requested to follow local customs, which include placing a bouquet of flowers at the monument and bowing in front of the statues.
Overnight: Yanggakdo Hotel (1 night) (D)
Day 02: Panmunjom/DMZ & Kaesong
After an early breakfast we take a 2.5-hour drive south to Kaesong, which is a historic city near the DMZ. After arriving in Kaesong we take a short drive (approx 20 minutes) to Panmunjom/DMZ where North and South Korea continue their decades-old face-off. It is possible to go into one of the huts that straddle the demarcation line and actually cross over into South Korea! This is one of the few places where you can take pictures of (and even with) members of the DPRK military. Next, we head back to Kaesong and visit the Kaesong Koryo Museum, a beautiful old Confucian University, to learn about the history of the area. The stamp shop here is excellent too. Lunch is a traditional pansanggi meal – something like Korean tapas. We then drive for around 20 minutes to the beautiful Tomb of King Kongmin, the twin-domed tomb of the 31st King of the Koryo Dynasty (AD 918-1392) and his wife. The tomb has recently been made a World Heritage Site. We’ll then drive out to the Concrete Wall, an observation post deep in the DMZ where you can view South Korean positions and see the anti-tank barrier that stretches across the peninsular. We’ll head back to Kaesong and check into the hotel before dinner.
Overnight: Minsok Hotel (1 night) (B, L, D)
(a beautiful courtyard hotel with Li dynasty housing where guests sleep on heated floors in traditional Korean style; basic - sporadic hot water and frequent power cuts but a great experience as you are living literally next door to the local inhabitants. ALTERNATIVE OPTION: If you would rather sleep in a proper bed then there is the option of choosing the 1970s socialist style JANAMSAN HOTEL, interestingly decorated and with a much better chance of hot water! Please confirm upon booking which of these hotels you would prefer – there is no difference in cost).
Please note that the area around Kaesong is considered to be a malarial area by the WHO, however, provided tourists take proper precautions (use good mosquito repellant and mosquito nets – these are provided in the hotel we use) there is very little risk of contracting the disease from the places that we visit. The WHO state that there is no need to take malaria prophylaxis when visiting and in any case, this is not recommended for visits of less than 1-2 weeks. We have never had any cases of our tourists contracting the disease. However, please be warned that most travelers to an area with malaria are deferred from donating blood for 1 year after their return so this may affect you if you are a regular blood donor.
Day 03: Liberation Day Celebrations!
We’ll have an early breakfast and drive back to Pyongyang for the start of Liberation Day, the biggest day of the year in the DPRK calendar for 2015, the 70th anniversary of the end of the Japanese occupation, a devastating 40-year period for people all across Korea. This date is a big one every year but the 70th anniversary is expected to include parades, dances, fireworks, and other celebrations, lasting on through the month of August and beyond. Before the festivities get into full swing we visit the Foreign Languages Bookshop and take a leisurely stroll through the streets of Pyongyang. On our journey, we walk through the heart of the city, and stop by Kim Il Sung Square where the military parades pass through. Next on our itinerary is a tram ride around the city. Pyongyang’s tram system was laid down following the end of the Korean War and is still the way in which vast swathes of the population get to work and travel around. This afternoon we take a walk in Moranbong Park. Located in the centre of Pyongyang, this is a favorite place for locals and during the holiday periods it is not unusual to come across a group of Koreans dancing. Make sure to learn basic Korean (the guides can help with this), to meet and greet people and you might even get the opportunity to join in. Next stop is the Juche Tower. At 150m, and topped with a flickering red torch, this is the highest stone monument in the world. Take the lift to the top for stunning views over Pyongyang (entrance costs USD 10.00). Then we stop by the Party Foundation Monument, an iconic sculpture of a hammer, sickle and calligraphy brush, which was constructed to celebrate 50 years of Workers’ Party rule. As today is a national holiday we expect to see University students dress in their finest and gather together in various public spots around Pyongyang to dance together (a great time for young couples to meet for the first time). If time permits we’ll go to the Golden Lane Bowling Centre, where Pyongyang’s residents go for their ten-pin fix. This is a great chance to mix with local people. Even if you don’t end up playing, it’s worth grabbing a seat here to watch everyone have some fun. There is also a shooting range next door where you can fire 20 rounds for USD 10.00. We’ll round off the holiday celebrations with a well-deserved drink at Taedonggang Number 3 Bar before dinner in Pyongyang’s first Pizza Restaurant!
Overnight: Yanggakdo Hotel (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 04: Pyongyang City Tour/Nampo & The West Coast
Our first visit is to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun,where North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state. This is a place of utmost importance for Koreans and tourists should behave accordingly. Men should wear a shirt and tie, and women should dress smartly. Next we take a short drive to the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery. Here, you will see superb individually-crafted bronze busts of the country’s anti-Japanese heroes, including one of Kim Jong Suk (the mother of Kim Jong Il). The cemetery was designed to overlook the city, the idea being that the fallen martyrs should have a view of their country being rebuilt. Next, we go deep underground for a ride on the Pyongyang Metro, which is the deepest subway system in the world. The designs of the main stations are stunning, and particularly notable for their superb lighting and mosaics. This is a great chance to interact with local people, especially if you are prepared to learn some basic greetings in Korean.
After lunch we drive to the outskirts of the city to Mangyongdae Native House, the native birthplace of President Kim Il Sung. If time allows we’ll also walk up the hill to a pavilion that overlooks the Taedong River. We then make our way to the west coast, stopping off for a visit to Chongsan-Ri Co-operative Farm, the DPRK’s most famous farm, which was visited a number of times by the President Kim Il Sung. We’ll have a tour of the farm, which will include a visit to a farmer’s house and a Kindergarten. Next we stop off at Kangso Mineral Water Factory, where you can see naturally-carbonated water being bottled. On the way to our hotel we go to the West Sea Barrage, an 8km-long dam separating the Taedong river from the West Sea of Korea. We then head for our overnight stop, the Dragon River Hot Spa guesthouse. This is a complex of guesthouses where each room has a private bath, which can be filled with water direct from the hot springs, said to have many medicinal benefits. It is here that we can experience the famous Nampo petrol clam BBQ (costs USD 10.00 per person but you can still watch for free if you don't want to have any of the clams).
Overnight: Dragon River Hot Spa Hotel (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 05: Pyongyang City Tour
We drive back the Youth Hero Highway to Pyongyang and head to The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, where you can learn the history of the Korean War from the North Korean perspective. The museum’s different rooms explain the origins of the conflict, and include highly impressive dioramas, tanks, planes, and much more. Then it’s on to the USS Pueblo, an American spy ship captured by the DPRK navy in 1968. After lunch we go to the DPRK’s centre of artistic excellence, Mansudae Art Studio. This is where most of the country’s paintings, mosaics and statues are made. It’s possible to visit several different workshops here and see the artists at work. It’s then time to stretch our legs as we have a leisurely stroll through the city from the Arch of Triumph to the Pyongyang Grand Theatre. The city tour ends with a tour of the Party Founding Museum, one of the very few public buildings in Pyongyang, which survived the Korean War, and one which preserves its distinctly pre-revolutionary flavor and décor both inside and out. This building acted as the headquarters of the Korean Workers’ Party’s Central Committee shortly after liberation in 1945, and it is possible to see the office which President Kim Il Sung used at that time. A truly historic place!
Overnight: Yanggakdo Hotel (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 06: Pyongyang City Tour
After an early breakfast we return to Pyongyang and take a tour of the Grand People’s Study House. Supposedly stocked with over 3 million books, this enormous library/place of study has a great view over Kim Il Sung Square. We will tour the lecture rooms and hopefully get to see a few classes. After this we’ll have a tour of Pyongyang’s Railway Museum. Before lunch we visit Jonsong Revolutionary Site, a system of tunnels used as a wartime base for the KPA and their commander Kim Il Sung. Here we will see the preserved rooms where soldiers and officers slept, lived and had meetings. The office of Kim Il Sung’s right-hand-man Kim Chaek is also here. Kim Chaek died of a heart attack at his desk during the conflict and has since had a city, a country, and a university named after him as one of the republic’s most venerated heroes.
Afternoon we drive to Mt Myohyang, the Mountain of Mysterious Fragrance, two hours north of Pyongyang. It’s said that the air is so fresh here that, regardless of how much alcohol you drink, you won’t have a hangover the next day (provided you sleep with your window open, of course). We’ll leave that up to you to test out! Next is a hike in Manpok Valley, a 1-2 hour walk up and down the mountains, following a trail that passes waterfalls and unusual rocks, all set in a stunning landscape. It’s a popular place for locals to take a day trip. After the hike we check into our hotel before dinner.
Overnight: Chongchon Hotel (1 night) (B, L, D)
(a basic but comfortable hotel surrounded by beautiful scenery; no 24 hr hot water. UPGRADE OPTION: For USD 180.00 per person you can stay in the Hyangsan Hotel - renovated in 2010 this is one of the top hotels in the country and perfect for those who want a little luxury)
Day 07: Mt. Myohyang
Our first visit of the day is to the area’s main attraction, the International Friendship Exhibition. Built in 1978, these two huge subterranean halls are filled with gifts to the leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, presented to them by people from all over the world, including heads of state, as well as ordinary citizens. It’s estimated that if you spent one minute in front of each gift it would take over a year to see the whole exhibition. Before stopping for lunch, we take a look around the nearby thousand-year-old Pohyon Buddhist Temple. It was destroyed during the Korean War, but was rebuilt as a working temple, complete with North Korean monks. Afternoon we then head back south, towards the capital, stopping en route at the Ryongmun Caves, a stunning series of grottoes and subterranean caves that we’re led around. The local guides here know how to tell a good story about the meaning of the unusually shaped rocks, and they don’t shy away from the more salacious tales! On our arrival back to Pyongyang we have a well-deserved drink at Paradise Micro-Brewery and Bar.
Overnight: Yanggakdo Hotel (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 08: Mt. Paekdu
This morning after an early breakfast, we’ll head to the airport in time to catch our flight to Mt. Paekdu (1 hour). Mt Paekdu is the tallest mountain in Korea (2750m) and is regarded as sacred by both North and South Koreans as it was the birthplace of the mythical founder of the Korean nation, King Tangun. It is also important to North Koreans as it is where Kim Il Sung based himself when fighting against the Japanese before Liberation because Kim Jong Il was also allegedly born here. Upon arrival at the mountain, the bus will wait at the car park and we take a hike to the top, which takes around 45 minutes. Here we will have stunning views over the area and of the mirror-like Lake Chon, the highest crater lake in the world. We will spend around 2 hours in the area. After lunch we’ll visit Paekdusan Secret Camp. This was the base of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army during the fight against the Japanese occupation. It is also, according to the DPRK, the birthplace of Kim Jong Il and we visit the log cabin where he was born - you can even see the toys he played with as a child. Next we head to a local lumberjacks' settlement to see the beautiful Rimyongsu waterfalls before heading back to Samjiyon Town where our hotel is located. Dinner is at the hotel. Make sure you try the local vodka kamchasul- this area is a big potato-growing region so they form the basis of many of the dishes and drinks.
Overnight: Pegaebong Hotel (1 night) (B, L, D)
(a hotel is located in Samji Town this hotel is clean and comfortable; limited hot water and possible power cuts)
Day 09: Samjiyon
After an early breakfast we’ll visit Samji Schoolchildren’s Palace, the local centre of excellence for children. We’ll also get to see a small, charming performance put on by the students. Next we’re heading off to the Samjiyon Monument, a statue of President Kim Il Sung and sculptures of the guerillas who fought against the Japanese built in 1949 to immortalize his revolutionary exploits in the area. Next we drive to Pochonbo, the site of a significant battle between the Korean guerilla army and Japanese forces. Here you can see the former command post and town hall from Japanese times as well as a statue of Kim Il Sung. Lunch is a picnic at the battle monument. We then drive the 1hr back to Samjiyon for our flight back to Pyongyang and arrive in Pyongyang in the late afternoon. After arrival we head to Sunrise department store and coffee shop. We will have our farewell dinner at the famous Pyongyang Duck BBQ.
Overnight: Yanggakdo Hotel (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 10: Pyongyang/Depart
Today is departure day. Flight departs Pyongyang at 09:00am and arrives in Beijing at approx 10:00am.
* We have group tours to the DPRK throughout the year with various durations; therefore, please contact us for details if this tour/date does not suit your requirements.
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
English Speaking Departures (Please contact us for information on French, German, Italian and Spanish speaking departures).
This is a suggested program for private tours. Please contact us for details.
|Departure(s)||Per Person on Twin Sharing||Single Room Supplement|
|2020||This is a suggested program for private tours. Please contact us for details.|
Estimated International Airfare
(International airfare is NOT included in this tour)
If you would like to have a tour on dates other than the above ones or with a customised itinerary, please contact us and we will be happy to work out an exclusive program for you.
You may e-mail us at email@example.com or call 1-604-264-7378. Residents of U.S.A./Canada may call us toll free at 1-800-663-0844.
Inquire About this Trip
Tour Application Form