North Korea.. Behind the Iron Curtain.
September 06 to 20, 2018
For decades North Korea has been one of the world's most secretive societies. It is one of the few countries still under nominally communist rule. North Korea occupies the northern half of a mountainous peninsula. The country's geographic area is approximately 46,540 square miles, slightly smaller than Mississippi. North Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China and Russia on the north, on the east by the East Sea of Korea, on the west by the West Sea of Korea, and on the south by South Korea. Hills and mountains cover almost the entire country, with narrow valleys and small plains in between. The major mountain ranges are located in the north-central and northeastern sections of North Korea and along the eastern coast. We invite you to join us on this remarkable adventure to this “truly untraveled” place. Be among the first to peek into another world: the unchanged Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and experience this new destination before tourism’s influence alters its character. Seasoned travelers know how thrilling it is to explore such places that have been closed to the outside world for more than a half century. It’s a veritable time capsule that promises visitors a real glimpse into the past as well as a rare insight into the modern reality of this last intact remnant of the Cold War. And true to our heritage of exploring new and unknown lands, STS is privileged to offer this wonderful opportunity to learn about and engage with the people of North Korea. Enjoy the moment by interacting with locals at plazas, fairs, and other outings and go home feeling changed by the extraordinary experience of traveling to the DPRK.
Per person sharing in double occupancy (air and land from LAX or JFK): $5,995.00
Single Supplement: $700.00
Led by STS Tour Manager and the local Korean guides throughout the journey
Credit for not using our included airfare $650.00
Price based on a group size minimum of 4 and maximum of 10 participants
Your tour does not include
- Fuel surcharges, airport taxes, security charges (approx. $450 subject to change until tickets are issued)
- Expenses of personal nature such as camera/video recorder fees, drinks, souvenirs, telephone, laundry bills, etc
- Meals not specified in the itinerary and any other service/s not specified above.
- Travel insurance (HIGHLY recommended)
- Any additional expenses incurred due to flight delays/cancellations (dayrooms, hotel nights or transfers)
- Any funfair rides uses (ranging from 1 – 4 EUR) and tickets to any special events that may occur which are not known in advance; football matches, special circus show, etc. usually these cost 20 EUR per person and are always an option rather than mandated.
Your tour includes
- Round trip airfare from Los-Angeles-Beijing-Los-Angeles (STS reserves the right to change airlines).
- Round trip airfare Beijing-Pyongyang-Beijing
- Accommodation in the hotels as per the program
- Meals as specified in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner);
- Bottle of water on bus daily
- Airport transfers (if arriving/departing on scheduled flights)
- Air conditioned transportation in DPRK
- Services of local English speaking guide in DPRK
- All activities described in the tour and entrance fees to all sites mentioned
- DPRK visa fee.
- Gratuities to guides, drivers and porters
II Active – Some hikes, slightly more demanding walks at or to sites, few elevations, comfortable but busy schedule and some long rides.
*** Superior: Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards. (3 or 4 stars)
The Fine Print: Please bear in mind that North Korea is not a “normal” travel destination. As a result the itinerary may differ at times from the original plans due to factors beyond our control. We will of course endeavor to ensure that all of the sites mentioned will be visited. We reserve the right to change the order of activities or places visited due to unforeseen schedule conflicts or in order to make the itinerary run smoothly. You must be in good health to participate as there are days with some long walks. Elevations can reach up to 3,000 ft above sea level. Some drive days may be long and can be slightly tiring in nature but we will be making frequent restroom stops. Bathroom facilities along the way may be rather primitive.
Note on visas: To travel to DPRK most tourists will require a double-entry visa for China and DPRK visa. However, if you arrive and depart directly from and to international destinations from Beijing airport you can visit Beijing on a transit visa without a double entry visa as long as your stay is less than 72 hours. The visas to DPRK are issued in Beijing on a separate piece of paper so there will be nothing stamped in your passport. For all travelers we will assist with arrangements of DPRK visa. We need to submit visa application form to DPRK Consul in Beijing 60 days prior to the start date of the trip, WITHOUT need for actual passport, just a scanned copy of it. Please be warned that we cannot confirm visa issue until it has been stamped by the DPRK Consul in Beijing. Although it is extremely rare to have a visa application refused, there is always a small chance of this happening. For more details regarding the Chinese transit and DPRK visa don’t hesitate to contact us.
Journalism and Photography: The laws of DPRK prohibit journalists and photographers (full or part-time) from traveling on tourist visas. We ask journalists/photographers to please respect our position and DO NOT APLLY for this trip. Photography is possible but there are some restrictions. Be very careful what you photograph – the golden rule is to always ask your guide or tour leader.
View Tour Itinerary
Thu-Fri, Sep 06-07
NYC – Beijing
Depart from JFK in New York City arriving in Beijing the following day, Sep 7’Th. You will be met and transferred to the hotel for check in. You will take walk (10 min) for group assembles in the office our partner agent for a pre-tour briefing which will last approximately 1 hour and is designed so that you will get the best out of your tour. Overnight at the hotel.
Sat, Sep 08
Beijing – Pyongyang
After breakfast, take flight to Pyongyang, upon arrival meet and transfer to Yanggakdo hotel for check in. First you will visit the Arch of Triumph built in 1982 to commemorate Korean independence from Japan. Later on we will visit Fountain Park which is located in the heart of the city, a brief stop to see some of the architecture of the centre. Sometimes locals have wedding photos here. Our next stop is Mansudae Grand Monument. It is complex of statues and reliefs centered on bronze statues of DPRK Leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. It is customary to lay flowers here. (B,D)
Sun, Sep 09
National Holiday "Pyongyang"
Today is a national holiday expect to see a mass dance taking place and possibly even one of the famous parades!; University students dress in their finest and gather together in various public spots around Pyongyang to dance together. After breakfast, start your day with the visit to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun (Thurs and Sun only) 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. We will also visit 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. Afterwards visit Juche Tower at 150m height, topped with a flickering red torch, is the highest stone monument in the world. In the afternoon we will visit the famous Moranbong Park. In the evening we will enjoy fireworks and Kim Il Sung Square. Before dinner you’ll visit Paradise Micro-Brewery. Then return to you hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Mon, Sep 10
Today we will see USS Pueblo – American espionage ship captured in 1968. It was an international incident at the time and the crew was held for 11 months before being released. Guides will explain the North Korean version of how it all happened. Later on we will proceed to Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum – Korean War Museum, hear the DPRK side of the story. Very impressive new museum opened in 2013. After lunch walk in Moranbong park where locals go for picnics and to relax, your next stop is Schoolchildren’s Palace – a center of excellence for local children, with a stunning performance, then to the Kwangbok Supermarket where you can use local currency and shop where Pyongyangers buy their goods alongside some curious locals! Then finish your day with visiting Golden Lane Bowling Centre where Pyongyang’s residents go for their ten-pin fix. Afterwards return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Tue, Sep 11
After driving to the nearby city of Pyongsong enjoy a morning tour of the Paeksong Revolutionary Site, which is where Kim Il Sung University was moved to in 1952 during the Korean War; a hidden academic base! Take a walk through the old classrooms and kitchens. Next stop is Anguk Buddhist Temple, Dating from the 6th century this beautiful Buddhist Temple managed to survive the Korean War undestroyed (a fate not shared by most other temples throughout the country) and so retains its ancient style and architectural structure. Our next stop before the lunch is the leather goods Factory. See the factory floor and meet the management. After lunch we have a short drive to Kim Jong Suk Higher Middle School. The headmaster here is very welcoming and will take us on a tour of the school, where you can see what middle-school students typically study in the DPRK. Afterwards drive back to Pyongyang and enjoy evening at the local beer bar. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Wed, Sep 12
After breakfast drive to Myohyang and enjoy visiting Pohyon Buddhist Temple It was destroyed during the Korean War, but was rebuilt as a working temple, complete with North Korean monks, Next stop is 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 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. After Lunch enjoy walking in the surrounding are with the beautiful scenery and stunning waterfalls, afterwards drive back to Pyongyang for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Thu, Sep 13
Today we will visit the Korean Art Gallery and Foreign Languages Bookshop. Afterwards we wil visit the June 9th secondary school, Maternity Hospital and Mansudae Art Studio. This is where most of the country’s paintings, mosaics and statues are made. Enjoy your lunch on Boat trip on Taedong River, after lunch will visit Mangyongdae Native House – the native birthplace of President Kim Il Sung. To finish off your day’s sightseeing go deep underground for a ride on the Pyongyang Metro - the deepest underground system in the world and the designs of the main stations are stunning with superb lighting and mosaics. We can make stop at the Pyolmuri coffee shop. Return to you hotel for dinner and overnight (B,L,D)
Fri, Sep 14
Pyongyang - Wonsan
Start your day with walking from Grand Theatre to Kim Il Sung Square which is Pyongyang’s largest. This is where the capital’s mass dances take place and the military parades pass through. Afterwards visit 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. You will tour the lecture rooms and hopefully get to see a few classes. In the midafternoon we drive to Wonsan. We will make stop to visit the Ulim waterfalls which were discovered by KPA soldiers blasting through a valley in 2001, the Ulim means “echo” is a peaceful and tranquil place. Continue drive to Wonsan, dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Sat, Sep 15
After breakfast drive to Hamhung arrive around midday. Start visiting Tongbong co-operative farm – a model farm visited a number of times by Kim Jong Il you’ll have a tour of the farm including a farmer’s house and Kindergarten and can shop at the village store for local goods. Your next stop is Kim Il Sung & Kim Jong Il Statues which are Set on a hillside on the edge of town next to the Revolutionary Museum, this area affords views over the city Centre and farmland outside of the metropolitan area. Afterwards transfer to Hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Sun, Sep 16
After breakfast, start your day with the visit to Hungnam Fertiliser factory which is a rare chance to see a bit of heavy industry in North Korea, tour the museum at the factory where Kim Il Sung made his famous quote ‘Fertiliser is rice, and rice itself, is Communism.” Afterwards you will visit the Ancient House of Ri Song Gye and Hamhung Grand Theatre; the iconic building of the city, dominating the central area and bordered by a pleasant lake and park. After lunch drive to Wonsan and visit Agricultural University which is housed in beautiful surroundings, tour the lecture rooms of this important educational institution and meet students set to become the agricultural leaders of the future, your next stop is Songdowon Schoolchildren’s Camp Where local and international children spend some weeks in summer playing and learning in a classic socialist institution. Afterwards transfer to Dongmyong Hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Mon, Sep 17
Wonsan -MT Kumgang
After breakfast, drive to Mt Kumgang, upon arrival enjoy having a short walk round the very scenic and lovely Samil Lagoon, After lunch heading on another long hike into the Diamond Mountains. This time you will see a number of locally famous and beautiful temples, waterfalls, peaks, and pools. Afterwards transfer to Kumgansang hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Tue, Sep 18
MT Kumgang-Wonsan- Pyongyang
After breakfast drive back to Wonsan. Visit Sokgwan Temple en route after lunch return to Pyongyang, upon arrival have a brief walk in the city and transfer to hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Wed, Sep 19
After breakfast drive to Kaesong. Visit Panmunjom/DMZ Which a village that spans both sides of the DMZ, marking the division between North & South Korea, where soldiers from both sides go toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose, your next stop will be Koryo Museum which comprises more than 20 buildings with the typical features of a Confucian educational institute of that time. Koryo Museum has a collection of historical objects, including statues and porcelain and is a UNESCO world heritage site, your last stop before lunch is visiting Stamp shop. After lunch you will visit the Statue of President Kim Il Sung, Jannamsan Park with an amazing view over the only old town in the DPRK, and Tomb of King Kongmin (also a UNESCO site) which is a twin-domed tomb of the 31st King of the Koryo dynasty. Afterwards return to Pyongyang for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Thu, Sep 20
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight back to Beijing and then to your onward connection to the USA (B)
We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed