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Liberation Day in North Korea (DPRK)

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Best Season: August

Starting from EUR 2500/- per person.

Liberation Day 2019 marks the 74th anniversary of the end of Japanese occupation. It is a major public holiday in North Korea and we’ll give you the chance to spend the day joining in any possible celebrations held in Pyongyang that day. Expect some dancing with the locals in Moranbong Park, and possibly joining in a Mass Dance with university students!

As well as the Liberation Day festivities, a city tour of Pyongyang and visits to several other towns around Pyongyang – the highlight of this tour is a domestic charter flight to visit the sacred Mt Paekdu and Lake Chon!

 

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All about the Liberation Day in North Korea (DPRK).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Charter flight to Mt.Paekdu – the sacred mountain in Korea’s northeast.
  • Liberation Day Celebrations on August 15
  • Kumsusan Memorial Palace (Mausoleum of the leaders), captured spy ship.
  • USS Pueblo and other Pyongyang highlights (ride on a 1960s trolleybus through the city.
  • Panmunjom/DMZ – the border with South Korea.
  • The beautiful Mt Myohyang and International Friendship Exhibition.

FACTFILE:

  • Type of Tour : Iconic journey
  • Tour Duration : 09 Nights / 10 Days
  • Best Season : August
  • Ex-Destination : Beijing
  • Accommodation (Nights) : Hotel – 09
  • Food Plan : All meals on the tour apart from the meals in Beijing and on the train back to Beijing.
  • Travel & Transport : Flights to and from the DPRK are on the national airline, Air Koryo, or Air China. In the DPRK you will travel by bus or minibus depending on the size of the group. Flight to & from Samjiyon Town; Pyongyang to Beijing by Train.
  1. Day 0 Briefing Day at Beijing

    AM

    Recommended latest arrival in Beijing.

    PM

    Our group assembles for a mandatory pre-tour group briefing at our local associates Tours office in Beijing. This briefing will last approximately one hour and designed so that you will get the most out of your tour. It will cover travel etiquette, safety, and practicalities for travel in the DPRK. Have your last minute questions answered and meet your fellow travelers. Please be punctual – you can come early, pay any outstanding tour fees and browse our collection of Korean art.

    Overnight: Hotel in Beijing not included in the tour.

  2. Day 1 Arrival in Pyongyang

    AM

    Free bus from the local associates Tours office to Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 2. Exact time TBC at the pre-tour briefing. Alternatively meet the group at the Air Koryo check-in counter.

    PM

    Flight departure from Beijing. A 1.5 hour flight with basic lunch (no vegetarian option). Arrival to Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport. DPRK immigration and customs, meet your Korean guides, and transfer to the city.

    Arch of Triumph – Massive archway commemorating the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule. Made for the 70th anniversary of President Kim Il Sung in 1982.

    Overnight: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang. Home away from home for most (but not all!) foreign visitors to Pyongyang, this 47-story hotel is located on an island in the middle of the Taedong River and offers great views of the city. Comfortable rooms and comprehensive leisure facilities: swimming pool, spa, billiards, bowling, gift shops, tea houses, beer brewed on-site, and a Chinese-run casino.

  3. Day 2 Pyongyang - Liberation Day

    AM

    Mansudae Fountain Park – The historic centre of Pyongyang popular with local citizens after school and on weekends. Flanked by examples of ancient, socialist, and modern architecture.

    Mansudae Grand Monument – Enormous bronze statues of President Kim Il Sung and Leader Kim Jong Il overlooking downtown Pyongyang. A presentation of flowers and bow by the group is customary here (5 EUR). Please note this is a government-administered sight and visits are subject to cancellation. Visits are optional and require a certain dress code (close-toed shoes and covered legs and shoulders). Here we will also see the Chollima Monument, or ‘thousand ri (400 km or 250 mile) horse’ – a symbol of speed – commemorating the quick rebuilding of the country in the 1950’s following the Korean War.

    Mangyongdae Native House – Birthplace and childhood home of President Kim Il Sung. A traditional Korean house set in beautiful natural surroundings.

    PM

    Moranbong Park – We’ll take a stroll in Pyongyang’s central park popular with locals for picnics, dances, and sports (especially on holidays such as the one today!). The park is filled with historic pavilions, walls, and monuments- modern and ancient, a few of which are among the traditional ‘Eight Great Sights of Pyongyang’.

    Tower of the Juche Idea – Iconic tower dedicated to the DPRK’s guiding philosophy on the Taedong River. Take the elevator to the top for great views of the city (elevator ticket is 5 EUR).

    Monument to the Party Foundation – Iconic structure featuring the hammer, sickle, writing brush which represent the workers, farmers, and intellectuals that make up the Worker’s Party of Korea.

    Mass Dance – As it’s a national holiday, we expect to see large student organized dances held around Pyongyang on major holidays (weather dependent). Join in the fun!

    Circus (approx. 20 EUR per person) – A one hour circus show including clowns, trapeze artists, jugglers, and much more. The shows here are especially popular with locals on national holidays.

    Drive west along the ‘Youth Hero Highway’ to Nampo (45 minutes to 1 hour drive), the port city of Pyongyang at the mouth of the Taedong River on the West Sea.

    Overnight: Ryonggang Hot Spa Hotel – Compound with holiday houses and a main building for dinner and entertainment. Spa bath in every room with mineral water from the Sindok Spring – the most famous mineral spa in the DPRK. Billiards, karaoke, and ping pong. Bring a torch!

     

  4. Day 3 Pyongyang - Excursion to Nampo & Pyongyang Sightseeing

    AM

    West Sea Barrage – An 8 km concrete, steel, and earthen barrage constructed between the Taedong River estuary and the West Sea for land reclamation, irrigation, flood prevention, and power generation. It also acts as a ship locks and fish ladder. One of the DPRK’s greatest engineering feats.

    Chongsan-Ri Cooperative Farm – A farm located between Nampo and Pyongyang. Learn about rural life in Korea and see the green houses and the farm’s kindergarten.

    Mt. Ryonggak BBQ – A BBQ lunch in a woodland setting just outside of Pyongyang.

    PM

    Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and USS Pueblo – We’ll tour this world-class museum led by a local museum guides. Renovated in 2012 and its exhibits of Korean War from the DPRK perspective containing artefacts, documents, photos, and lifelike dioramas. The exterior grounds house the War Victory Monument and displays of Korean People’s Army Hero Equipment and captured equipment from the US military, including the spy ship USS Pueblo. Central to the understanding of the country today and highlight of the trip.

    Schoolchildren’s Palace – Tour one of Pyongyang’s centres of extracurricular excellence with study rooms for fine arts, dance, sports, and music, then watch a spectacular performance put on by the students.

    Kaeson Funfair – We’ll take on the rides of Pyongyang’s newest funfair with the locals: pirate ship, vominator, rollercoaster, bumper cars, arcades, and more. Tickets purchased on the spot (1 EUR entry, 2-7 EUR for rides).

    Overnight: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang.

  5. Day 4 Pyongyang Sightseeing; Drive to Mt. Myohyang

    AM

    Mansudae Art Studio – The DPRK’s centre of artistic excellence; where the majority of sculptures, mosaics, and paintings around the country are made. Visit workshops to see artists at work and an exhibition where pieces are sold.

    Pyongyang Metro Tour – One of the deepest metro systems in the world with stunning artwork reflecting the name of each station. We’ll ride six stations on the Chollima Line.

    Jonsung Revolutionary Site – A system of underground tunnels and bunkers used by Korean government’s cabinet during the 1950’s.  Learn about life underground during the years of American bombing.

    PM

    City Walk – We’ll take a walk through central Pyongyang from the city’s Grand Theatre down to Kim Il Sung Square.

    Kim II Sung Square – Pyongyang’s central square lined with government ministries, museum and The Grand People’s Study House, Korea’s national library. See the centre of it all!

    Foreign Languages Bookshop – Store selling Korean publications translated into English, German, French, Russian, Chinese, and Spanish. Also pick up DVDs, postcards, and small works of art.

    Grand People’s Study House – National library and public university in traditional Korean style with great views of Kim Il Sung Square. Learn about education in the DPRK.

    Approx. 2½ hours drive north, passing rivers valleys and hills is Mt. Myohyang, the mountain of mysterious fragrance.

    Overnight: Chongchon Hotel – Basic but clean hotel at Mt. Myohyang. Book and souvenir shop, billiards, ping-pong, and karaoke.

  6. Day 5 Mt Myohyang - Pongyang

    AM

    International Friendship Exhibition – An exhibition hall displaying gifts of all kinds given to the DPRK leaders by foreign states, leaders, and organizations. The exhibition is a fascinating look into material culture in the second half of the 20th century. Highlights include a plane given by the Soviet Union, basketball signed by Michael Jordan from the US State Department, and vodka given by Dennis Rodman. The visit takes most of the morning.

    Pohyon Buddhist Temple -A peaceful temple dating back to 1042 with stone pagoda and repository of a print blocks and historic text of the Tripitaka Koreana, Buddhist scriptures first produced to invoke divine assistance from foreign invasion during the Koryo Dynasty.

    PM

    Ryongmun Caves – A subterranean complex of limestone caves and grottoes. Led by an experienced local guide, you will see weirdly (and suggestively) shaped rocks and stalactites/stalagmites and hear a wealth of stories and legends about each – some not appropriate for young audiences.

    Approx. 2½ hours drive back to Pyongyang.

    Overnight: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang.

     

  7. Day 6 Pyongyang Sightseeing

    AM

    Kumsusan Palace of the Sun – Mausoleum of the DPRK leadership where President Kim II Sung and Leader Kim Jong II lie in state and the most solemn location on the itinerary. Please note formal dress is required. Men require collared shirt with tie, dark non-jean pants, and dark shoes. Women require covered shoulders, knee-length dress or pants, and closed toed shoes. The visit will take most of the morning and visitors are asked to bow a number of times inside. This is a state administered site and visits are subject to local conditions. Cancellations are rare but possible.

    PM

    Trolleybus Ride – A ride through Pyongyang on one of the city’s famous trolleybuses

    Kwangbok Department Store – Exchange for Korean currency and shop with the citizens of Pyongyang! Try the snack stand on the first floor for some of Pyongyang’s best local eats.

    Maeri Shooting Range – Shoot at targets with low caliber sports pistols and rifles in the facility that trained Olympic medalists. Pay by the bullet (0.50 – 1 EUR) depending on the type of gun and target.

    Mansugyo Beer Bar– A standing bar serving seven type of local beer (0.50 -1 EUR per beer). Popular with locals after work and on weekends!

    Overnight: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang.

  8. Day 7 Fly to Samjiyon Town; Excursion to Lake Chon, Mt Paekdu, Rimyongsu Waterfall

    AM

    In the morning, we will take charter flight to Samjiyon Town, the gateway to Mt. Paekdu located in the far north of the country. A 1 hour flight.

    Lake Chon – The highest crater lake in the world. It is possible to hike the last few km of the overlooking summit or ride a funicular railway to the top for spectacular views. From here one can either walk down or cable car (weather permitting) to the lake itself to sample the crystal-clear waters.

    PM

    Mt. Paekdu Secret Camp – The guerrilla headquarters of General Kim Il Sung during the anti-Japanese struggle set in hidden alpine valley lined by towering peaks and said to be the birthplace of leader Kim Jong Il. See the reconstructed camp telling of how the guerrillas lived year in and year out.

    Rimyongsu Waterfall – A scenic waterfall which never freezes due despite chilling alpine winters. The waterfall also provides hydroelectric power to neighboring villages.

    Overnight: Paegaebong Hotel, Samjiyon – Very basic hotel with limited hot water. Bring a torch!

  9. Day 8 SamjiyonSightseeing; Flight back to Pyongyang

    AM

    Samjiyon Grand Monument – Group of bronze statues, including one of President Kim Il Sung, and stone monuments next to a scenic alpine lake. One of three ‘grand monuments’ in the country.

    Samjiyon Schoolchildren’s Palace – Centre of extracurricular activities in the arts, music, and sports for local children.

    After lunch we will take our charter flight back to Pyongyang Sunan Airport.

    Overnight: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang.

     

  10. Day 9 Pyongyang – Excursion to Kaesong&Demilitarised Zone

    AM

    Drive 2½ hours south along the ‘Reunification Highway’ to Kaesong, ancient capital of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392 AD) located near today’s Korean Demilitarised Zone.

    Panmunjom Truce Village – Located in the middle of the 4 km wide Demilitarised Zone, Panmunjom is the site of the signing of the 1953 armistice at the end of the Korean War. This is the only location where visitors can directly view soldiers from both sides and the demarcation line dividing Korea. On some days it is possible to enter the hut straddling both Koreas and there cross temporarily into the south.

    Kaesong Koryo Museum – Once the Songgyung Academy, a Confucian school, and now a museum on the Koryo Dynasty exhibiting historical objects, statues, pagodas, and porcelain from that era. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Kaesong Korean Stamp Exhibition Hall – Store selling stamps, postcards, local ginseng, souvenirs, art, and more! One of the best postcard collections in the country and friendly staff.

    Traditional Royal Korean Lunch (Pangsanggi) – A meal made of 12 dishes served in brass bowls fit for the kings of old. The more dishes, the more distinguished the guest! Traditional Korean ’sweet meat soup’ is an option here (5 EUR).

    PM

    Concrete Wall and view of DMZ -View of a complex fortification system erected on the southern boundary of the DMZ accompanied by a military guide. The wall is seen as evidence of intent to permanently divide the nation. We take a 45 minute drive through scenic countryside.

    Drive back to Pyongyang with a stop at the Monument to the Three Charters of Reunification, a large stone archway over the highway memorializing joint agreements between north and south. 2½ hours drive.

    Duck Barbecue Restaurant – South Pyongyang’s famous grilled duck restaurant that has seen many teary-eyed farewells.

    Overnight: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang.

  11. Day 10 Pyongyang – Final Departure

    Departure Day from Pyongyang and Return to Beijing by train.

    AM

    Train departure by international sleeper train to Beijing with scheduled arrival to Beijing Station. We typically book soft sleeper (four beds per cabin) for the return journey. Please note that in some rare instances, soft sleeper tickets may sell out and we will book hard sleeper (six beds per cabin) instead.

  • Accommodation (Nights) : Hotel – 09
The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance.
  1. Accommodation: 3*/4* Hotels on twin sharing basis.

 

  1. Food: All meals on the tour apart from the meals in Beijing and on the train back to Beijing.

 

  1. Travel:
  • Flight from Beijing – Pyongyang.
  • Flight from Pyongyang to Samjiyon Town & back.
  • Train Pyongyang – Beijing.

 

  1. Others:
  • Two local Korean guides, and a driver per group.
  • For groups of 10 or more, a local Tours tour leader
  • Goods and Services Tax as applicable.
  • International flight fares.
  • Internal flight fares.
  • DPRK visa fee 50 EUR

An invitation from North Korean national is required through the Ministry of External Affairs. All requests are referred to North Korea and it takes approximately 2 to 3 weeks for approval. Visa is valid for 90 days and is issued for a stay of 30 days for single entry only.

 

  • Optional flight back to Beijing at end of the tour (50 EUR)
  • Optional single room supplement of 40 EUR per night
  • Tips for the local Korean guides and driver (approx 10-15 EUR per day)
  • Optional activities such as the lift up the Juche Tower (5 EUR) or a visit to the funfair (approx. 2 EUR entrance fee per person)
  • Entry tickets for special events if applicable – for example Pyongyang Circus (approx. 20 EUR per person)
  • Meals include a complimentary beer and water, but you will need to purchase extra drinks if needed.
  • Any Souvenirs
  • SINUIJU EXTENSION: RMB 50 for the bus across the bridge to Dandong to be paid on the spot to the local guides.
  • Other not mentioned meals or refreshments.
  • Other not mentioned tours, activities or extras.
  • Any expenses of personal nature such as mineral water, laundry, liquor, etc.
  • Any kind of insurance such as travel, accident, theft, medical, evacuation, etc.
  • Tips to hotel staff, driver, guide, etc.
  • Any extra costs incurred due to extension/change of the itinerary because of natural calamities, flight delays, road blocks, vehicle breakdown, etc. factors beyond the control of “Countryside Adventure Holidays Pvt. Ltd.” and its associates.
  • Items not specified in the above in “Cost Includes”.

All hotel rooms on our all-inclusive group tours feature twin beds and will be shared. If you’d like a room to yourself then you can upgrade for an extra 40 EUR per night. This rises to 50 EUR per night if you’re on one of our marathon tours due to the shortage of rooms over this period. If you’re travelling by yourself, and you do not wish to upgrade, then you will share a twin room with another tourist of the same gender. If you’re on tour with someone you know then you’ll share a room (twin sharing) with that person. So, unless you don’t really like them, then in which case we can put you with someone else.

Return by plane not train – The vast majority of our tours enter the DPRK by plane. But the default setting upon your return is the 24-hour international train from Pyongyang to Beijing. For an extra 50 EUR you can opt for the plane back instead. The flight takes around 90 minutes. Please note that some tours are designed to only return by plane, and have no train option. In this case, there is of course no flight surcharge, as it is included in the package — these tours are clearly marked as having flight return. Please let us know if you have any questions about trains, planes, or automobiles.

Extra Costs In Addition To The Tour Fee:

The tour is sold all-inclusive from Beijing to DPRK and back again and so the only extra costs you will have are:

  • Special events – if there is an event outside the itinerary such as a revolutionary opera or football match we may offer it as an extra – a ticket usually costs EUR 20. We will provide alternative (and free!) arrangements if you do not wish to participate.
  • Funfair – often included on the itinerary as an optional visit – entry costs EUR 2, rides are between EUR 4-7
  • Fee for the lift to go up the Juche Tower (EUR 5)
  • Tip for DPRK guides & driver (see below for guidelines)
  • Spending money – aside from souvenirs and the items mentioned above, you might also want money for drinks in the evenings (beer is cheap, from EUR 1 per bottle). The hotels also offer various forms of entertainment such as bowling, swimming, karaoke etc. These all cost a couple of EUR per person.
  • Flowers at the Mansudae Grand Monument & the Revolutionary Martyrs’ cemetery (around EUR 5 per bunch. If on a group tour the tour leader buys on behalf of group but feel free to get your own bunch too).
  • Tour DVD – sometimes a cameraman from KITC accompanies the group to film what you are doing and make a 90 min DVD of your tour which can be acquired for approx. EUR 50 depending on length of tour.

DPRK is not a tipping culture, however it is customary to tip the tour guides and driver, there is no need to tip anyone else such as bellhops, waiters, etc. On group tours the tour leader will collect a group tip at the end of the tour and divide it between the guides and driver. The recommended and international standard daily rate is EUR 10-15 per tour participant for group tours. This recommendation is a minimum amount and if you wish to and can give more then it will be greatly appreciated!

If you are travelling on an independent tour please consult your itinerary for recommended tipping.

Note: Supplement Cost will be Applicable

Helicopter Flight over Pyongyang:

In Nov 2015, after years of asking, Local Associates Partner finally got the first-ever tourists on a pleasure flight over Pyongyang in a Soviet Mi-17 Helicopter. That landmark group’s sightseeing trip through the skies lasted around 40 minutes or so, and is now a regular feature on our group tours — as long as the minimum number of eight participants is reached. The helicopter follows a circuit over the capital, and along the Taedong River, taking in such sights as the May Day stadium, the new science centre, and, of course, the Ryugyang Hotel. We first asked for this as an option for our tourists a good decade ago, so if you’re keen on a bird’s-eye view of Pyongyang then sign up now while our heli-tours are still going. Get to the chopper!

Visit The DPRK Border Town Of Sinuiju:

This North Korean border city has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Chinese day-trippers over the years, now thanks to the efforts of the local associates the border town has been opened to Western visitors since 2014. Accessible either as a day trip from Dandong, or as an overnight extension to any of our tours that exit the DPRK by train, a trip here will take you to the banks of the Yalu/Amnok river on the DPRK side, as well as a local art gallery, a kindergarten specializing in uni-cycling and performance skills (really!), a local park, museum, and (of course) statues of the DPRK’s Leaders. Either the day trip or the tour extension offer a great look at this frontier city.

Visit Dandong — The Chinese Gateway To The DPRK

Little-known but certainly a city deserving your time and attention. This is China’s most fascinating border city for sure. Historically and strategically crucial to China’s power in the region and looking across the Yalu into North Korea, the differences between the two countries are clearly laid out and this makes Dandong perfect as an extension to any DPRK tour. See the highlights of the city and surrounding area. Enjoy some of the best street food (particularly the fresh seafood) in China, try the famous Yalu River beer, enjoy nightlife and a walk along the river where locals play games and promenade. Easy to get around and populated by friendly and helpful local, this is an ideal extension too for visitors to China looking to go somewhere other than the usual Beijing-Shanghai-Xi’an axis of tourism.

Hit The Slopes At Masik Pass Ski Resort

Opened in 2013 as the first major ski resort in the DPRK, Masik (meaning ‘horse resting place’) features 9 main runs and 2 beginner slopes. The resort opened amid plenty of controversy and speculation around the world but is now operational and open for visitors during the snowy season. The hotel here is the best in the country and even offers pricey internet connections in the rooms for guests as well as a lovely swimming pool. The ski runs here vary in difficulty but the highlights are the 5+km longest run from the summit of the mountain to the hotel in the valley, and the fun bunny-slope with options for tube riding as well as skiing. Equipment to fit any size can be rented here too.

Hotel Booking In Beijing

Our Local associates are able to arrange hotel bookings in Beijing. There are four hotels on offer with different levels of comfort and all located a short walk from our local associate’s office.

  • Groups will be in the experienced hands of two or three local Korean guides. Furthermore, for groups of 10 or more, a member of the local associate’s team will accompany the trip. Please note that when on tour your day-to-day itinerary may differ to what is advertised above. Your tour leader will ensure, however, that everything available at the time is covered, and replacement options are provided where needed. We will also add in extras when there is time (such as a visit to a local bar or amusement park).
  • We visit the DPRK regularly so know all the best places to go, and how to make the most of your days there to guarantee the experience of a lifetime.
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