Step off the beaten path and take a trip unique to any other by travelling to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), more commonly known as North Korea. This is the definition of a remote getaway, with North Korea’s strongly isolationist policies having made it almost entirely cut-off from the rest of the world. The isolated nature of North Korea has caused life there to be seemingly stuck in the past, leaving it as one of the last frontiers for adventure seekers. Marvel at the nation’s intense patriotism as you step outside your world and into a whole new culture with our five-day Classic North Korea itinerary.
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Touch down in Pyongyang and set out right away on your first day of exploration in North Korea's capital. Begin by visiting the massive Kim II Sung Square at the center of the city. Here, you’ll get a sense of the country’s intense nationalism as the surrounding buildings display portraits of Kim II-sung and Kim Jong-il. Relax as you are driven to Yanggakdo Island in the center of the city. Unwind in your suite at Korea’s main deluxe 47-story-high hotel, the Yanggakdo Hotel.
Visit the imposing Juche Tower, crowned with an expansive red flame that lights up the city at night. Next, see the Party Foundation Monument, composed of three larger than life fists gripping a hammer, sickle, and writing brush. Learn about the North Korean perspective on the Korean War as you peruse the expansive Victorious Fatherland War Museum. Here, you can see captured US military hardware and board the USS Pueblo, the only US Navy ship currently held captive. Finish the day at the Schoolchildren’s Palace, an afterschool center where you’ll gain deeper insight into the country’s heavy focus on educating children in the arts.
Enjoy a scenic drive from Pyongyang for a daytrip to Kaesong, five miles outside the Korean Demilitarized Zone. While the two sides have yet to reach a peace agreement, observe an area of the longest standing truce in history. View the blue sheds and rooms where peace was discussed. Next, travel to the DPRK’s west coast port town, Nampo. Check into the Nampo Hot Springs Resort, an intimate compound of villas with their own hot springs bath. Relax in the natural, fresh, hot water.
Begin the journey to Mt. Myohyang, but first stop off at the West Sea Barrage to see one of North Korea’s national prides. The system of dams allows 50,000-ton ships through by way of a three lock chambers system. Play with the children at the Nampo Orphanage, before returning to Pyongyang. Take a 30-minute wander from the Arch of Triumph to the bottom of Moranbong hill all the way up to the Mansudae Grand Monument. Next, visit the traditional Mangyongdae Native House, the birthplace of President Kim II Sung. Move on to climb aboard the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence ship North Korea captured in 1968. After your full day, make the short journey to Mt. Myohyang and check into the pyramid-esque Hyangsan Hotel, nestled on the mountain.
Take a tour of the extravagant International Friendship Exhibition, a grand temple that displays foreign gifts to Kim II Sung and Kim Jong II. One highlight includes a bullet-proof limousine from Stalin. Discover the serene Pohyon Buddhist Temple complex housing hundreds of Buddhist scriptures and treasures. The journey ends as you are returned to Pyongyang for your voyage home.
This large hotel in the center of Pyongyang is easily identified by its two soaring towers connected by an impressive atrium. The Koryo is ideally located within walking distance from the Tower of the Juche Idea and just across the river from Kim Il Sung Square. The rooms, though perhaps a little dated, are clean and well-equipped with soft beds and flat-screen HDTVs with Western news channels, while the bathrooms have hot running water, clean towels and toiletries. The hotel provides everything its guests could want, including a swimming pool with massage center, a well-stocked bookstore and a souvenir shop, which sells everything from stamps to fruit and even traditional Korean dresses. Guests will be kept entertained in any of the four bars on-site, which include a karaoke bar and, on the ground floor, a microbrewery; all the shops, bars and restaurants accept foreign Euros and US Dollars. Perhaps the highlight of this hotel is the revolving restaurant on the top floor of one of its towers, from which visitors can enjoy traditional Korean cuisine, accompanied by stunning views of the great city.
Opened in 1995 and the second-tallest building in North Korea, the Yanggakdo is currently Pyongyang's only luxury hotel and one of the city's most noticeable landmarks. The hotel has over 1000 rooms as well as a panoramic revolving restaurant on its 47th floor. There are also 4 other restaurants serving Korean, Chinese & Japanese cuisine. Facilities include bowling alley, a pool room, a swimming pool, a barber shop, a casino and a massage club, and the hotel is adjacent to the Pyongyang International Cinema Hall.