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Exploring North Korea: Mt. Paekdu to the DMZ

Secluded from the world, North Korea is a country hidden behind a secretive veil. Travelers are now welcome to experience this private country with this exceptional eight-day tour. Discover the unknown Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and journey where few have visited. You’ll start the adventure of a lifetime in the grand capital of Pyongyang. Here, you’ll learn about North Korean culture, while touring significant national monuments. Next, head to Chilbo and interact with local North Korean families in a traditional homestay village nestled in the misty mountains. Finally, you’ll venture to the famous Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and see the border that divides North and South Korea.

Highlights   Pricing


  • Hike to the top of Mount Paektu and enjoy a scenic picnic lunch at the summit
  • Meet local families at a traditional homestay village in the Chilbo mountains
  • Visit the famous DMZ, and see where North and South Korea divide
  • Explore the private capital of Pyongyang and experience North Korea’s nationalistic pride
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Start your adventure in the mysterious capital of Pyongyang and meet your friendly guide at the airport in the afternoon. Next, you’ll head into town and stop at Mansudae Grand Monument, a large bronze statue depicting the famous Kim II Sung. Here, you’ll pay your respects and lay flowers at the statue’s feet while your guide tells stories about the late leader. From there, you’ll visit the Arch of Triumph and Fountain Park, before checking into the comfortable Yanggakdo Hotel.

Day 2

After breakfast, you’ll enjoy a short flight to Samjiyon and see Lake Chon from the sky, the largest crater lake in the world. Once on land, you’ll hike up the beautiful Paektu Mountain and stop for a hearty picnic lunch at the summit. In the afternoon, you’ll take a tour of the Paekdusan Secret Camp, where Kim Il Sung supposedly directed key battles during WWII. Next, you’ll stop at the stunning Rimyongsu waterfalls and walk through Samjiyon, a quaint town nestled in the misty mountains.

Day 3

Begin the day with a visit to the Samjiyon Grand Monument and then board a flight to Mount Chilbo. Here, you’ll take a private guided tour of the breathtaking mountain range. After, you’ll journey to a homestay village where you’ll enjoy an authentic Korean dinner with local families. In the evening, check into the accommodating Outer Chilbosan Hotel and rest up for an exciting day ahead.

Day 4

Enjoy a scenic drive to Chongjin, North Korea’s third-largest city. Here, you’ll discover the Chongjin Revolutionary Museum and learn about the history of the city and its role in the Korean revolution. Next, visit the Steelworks Kindergarten and enjoy a musical and dance performance by local children. Finish the day with dinner, drinks and nightlife at the Fisherman’s Club and stay the night at the cozy Tourist Hotel.

Day 5

Depart Chongjin and fly back to Pyongyang first thing in the morning. Once back in the capital, you’ll take a lift up Junche Tower and experience a gorgeous view from the top. After lunch, walk along Moranbong Hill, a landscape famous for its lush scenery and political significance. Continue to the Mangyongdae Native House and see where Kim II Sung was born. Next, you’ll take a tour of the Mansudae Art Studio and admire thousands of artists’ works with woodcuts, drawings, oil paintings, embroidery and more.

Day 6

Start the day with a picturesque drive to Kaesong. Here, you’ll walk along the famous Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and be escorted by car through Panmunjom, an abandoned village situated along the border between North and South Korea. Next, you’ll tour the Kaesong Koryo Museum and witness ancient artefacts from the Koryo Dynasty. After a hearty lunch at the Ginseng Restaurant, return to Pyongyang and stop at the Mansudae Grand Monument and Party Foundation Monument, both of which hold great nationalistic importance.

Day 7

After breakfast, take a stroll through Kumsusan Memorial Palace, the elaborate residence of Kim II Sung, and visit the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery, a memorial to North Korean soldiers who fought in the Korean War. In the afternoon, enjoy a trolleybus ride from the railway station to the Arch of Triumph and walk through the grand Kim Il Sung Square.

Day 8

On your final day, you’ll take a tour of the Paekdusan Architecture Institute, a center where architects design buildings of great national importance in North Korea. After, you’ll take a stroll through the Pyongyang Metro Museum, a gallery that describes the construction and opening of the deepest subway system in the world. Finish the day with a visit to the Korean War Heroes Cemetery and enjoy one last authentic Korean meal at the Ansan Restaurant before heading to the airport for your flight home or to your next exciting destination. 


Suggested Accommodations

Koryo Hotel, Yanggakdo International Hotel

Koryo Hotel

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.


Yanggakdo International Hotel

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.

Paegaebong Hotel

Paegaebong Hotel

This hotel is located just outside the town of Samjiyon which is the largest town in this Mt Paekdu region. The hotel is basic but comfortable although the hot water is not 24/7 and there may be power cuts so bring a torch – a proper DPRK experience! There is a small shop selling drinks and snacks and also a table tennis room, but after the walking you will be likely wanting an early night anyway In the lobby is a stunning painting of leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il standing at the top of Mt Paekdu in the sunset. The food served here tends have the potato as the staple as this is the main crop grown in the region – the potato pancakes are delicious (as is the vodka!). Surrounding the hotel are pine forests so make sure you open your window and breathe in the fresh air.
Homestay Village, Mt. Chilbo

Homestay Village, Mt. Chilbo

The area around Mt. Chilbo in North Korea is one of the most beautiful regions in the country - while also being home to the country’s only Homestay Village, where a local family welcomes tourists in to sleep, eat and live with them. Guests have the rare opportunity to experience true Korean life, from cooking and enjoying traditional cuisine, hiking the area or playing sports with the kids or simply chatting with their host families. While guests should expect basic accommodation, they will experience exceptional hospitality. 

Chong Jin Tourist Hotel

Chong Jin Tourist Hotel

On a once-in-a-lifetime visit to Chong Jin, the third-largest city in North Korea, guests can enjoy a stay at Chong Jin Tourist Hotel. While this hotel is very basic, offering limited running water within each room, it is in close proximity to a local bathhouse, complete with a traditional Korean sauna. The hotel restaurant serves meals throughout the day and the hotel shop can provide necessary amenities as well as snacks and alcoholic beverages.  

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Our co-founder & CEO Catherine Heald found North Korea "mindblowing" - she was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful landscapes and welcoming, friendly people.
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