North Korea Unveiled | Small Group Tour for Seniors
Featuring visits to the Demilitarised Zone in Panmunjom, the Fatherland Liberation Museum, and the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.
- 1. See Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun, where Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s bodies lie in state.
- 2. Stand at the northern side of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) in Panmunjom, just meters away from South Korea.
- 3. Visit the Victorious Fatherland Liberation Museum, to see the history of the Korean War from the North’s perspective.
- 4. Pyongyang Metro, deepest in the world, beautifully ornate like the one in Moscow. Take a ride with the locals in one of the carriages.
|02 May 2024 |
Ends 08 May 2024 • days
Small group tour of North Korea
Long regarded as one of the most secretive countries in the world, North Korea can now be unveiled with Odyssey Traveller's small group tour for seniors, where we visit numerous Museums and historically significant site, as well as experiencing the excitement of the October 10 Party Foundation Day celebrations. We sample local food and drink, experience traditional customs, and get a feel for the city of Pyongyang.
North Korea Small Group Tour Itinerary
We fly together from Beijing to Pyongyang where we'll spend 4 nights. After arrival we immediately start exploring the country, visiting the Arch of Triumph, Mansudae Grand Monument and the Chollima Statue.
Next day we visit the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun, where Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s bodies lie in state. We spend the rest of the day with having a picnic at Ryonggak mountain park, then touring the capital, exploring the War Museum, Kwangbok Supermarket and viewing the daily lives of the people of North Korea.
We also get the chance to experience the life around the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), the border between North and South Korea. Another particular highlight of the trip is a ride on the Pyongyang Metro, the deepest subway system in the world. Constructed during the 1970s, it displays a similarly grand style to its predecessor in Moscow, with some of the stops featuring elaborate murals and mosaics, as well as ornate pillars and chandeliers. This visit includes a ride with the locals.
We chosen two articles for you to explore: a Telegraph article about taking the train through North Korea and a picture gallery.
Day 1: Beijing
A day of rest and at your own leisure until 5pm, when we meet our Tour leader in the hotel lobby for welcome drinks, dinner, and a pre-tour briefing.
Day 2: Beijing to Pyongyang
Accommodation: Yanggak Island International Hotel
Today, we assemble at Koryo Air flight counter in Beijing International Airport terminal 2 for quick briefing session before taking Air Koryo flight JS152 to Pyongyang at 13:00
13:00 – (Beijing time) – Estimated flight take off time.
15:00 – (Pyongyang time, 30 mins later than Beijing time) – Estimated time of arrival in Pyongyang.
After clearing customs – Meet our Korean guides at Sunan International Airport.
Half hour drive to Pyongyang. On the way to the centre of town we stop at the Arch of Triumph, built to mark the 1945 liberation from Japan.
We will then visit the Mansudae Grand Monument, which consists of two large statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il flanked by sculptures depicting the Korean people’s experiences during Japanese colonialism and the Korean War. We walk over to the Chollima Statue, a bronze statue built in 1961 of workers riding a pegasus-like creature from Korean folklore. The statue commemorates the Chollima Movement, the DPRK’s post-war (post-Korean war) mass mobilisation and reconstruction movement launched in 1956. We will also examine some of the propaganda murals along the way.
Tonight, we enjoy dinner in the hotel. Guests can also make use of the hotel’s entertainment facilities which include a bar, pool and billiards hall, karaoke room, and bowling alley, or retire early for the night.
Day 3: Pyongyang
Accommodation: Yanggak Island International Hotel
AM – After breakfast in the hotel, we will visit the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun, where the bodies of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state. We will view exhibits dedicated to their lives and take a group photo in front of the building. Be sure to pack a set of formal attire for this visit. Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery, a hillside graveyard of anti-Japanese heroes, each one marked with a personalised bronze bust. After this we’ll take a 30 min drive to the lovely Ryonggak mountain park area just outside the city for a picnic lunch and a great view over Pyongyang if we ascend to the summit.
PM – After lunch, at at Ryongak Mountain picnic are,a we head back into the city and go to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. Here, we will see a depiction of the history of the Korean War from the North’s point of view as well as a grand panorama of the Battle of Daejon and captured and downed American vehicles, tanks, artillery and planes. We will also visit the USS Pueblo, which was accused of being a spy ship, captured and kept as a trophy in 1968. We’ll next see some locals shopping at the Kwangbok Supermarket. The main middle-class shopping centre in Pyongyang and the only place foreigners can use local money. We’ll take an evening trip to a local funfair to see how people entertain themselves in the evening. Use the rides with the locals or just people-watch!
Tonight, we enjoy dinner at Paradise Restaurant on Chollima Street.
Day 4: Pyongyang
Accommodation: Yanggak Island International Hotel
AM – After breakfast in the hotel, we make a two and a half hour drive from Pyongyang to Kaesong, near the border with South Korea.
We will next drive to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), border between the North and South.
Here we will visit the armistice talk hall, the armistice signing hall and Panmunjom Peace Village from the northern side where we will be able to get right up to the border with South Korea.
After driving back to Kaesong, we will visit the Koryo History Museum. This museum is dedicated to Kaesong’s past as capital of Korea. Exhibits are housed in Kaesong’s former Confucian Academy (Songgyungwan).
Next, a quick visit to the postcard and stamp shop across the road
A traditional Korean style lunch will then be had at Ryongtong restaurant in Kaesong.
PM – After lunch, first we visit the historical Sonjuk Bridge; site of a political assassination that led to the rise of Korea’s final dynasty, a UNESCO world heritage site head to the top of Jannam Hill, in the centre of Kaesong, where a view over the only old-town in the DPRK can be had. See the Ri Dynasty buildings and mingle with any locals who might be hanging out here (it is popular with artists and older people relaxing). We next set off back to Pyongyang, a two and a half hour drive.
Dinner tonight will be at the Chongchon Restaurant in East Pyongyang.
Day 5: Pyongyang
Accommodation: Yanggak Island International Hotel
Today is the anniversary of the Oct 10th 1945 founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea – the Party that has ruled the DPRK ever since its inception. This is one of the major holidays for the North Korean people and we’ll be there to join in with what’s going on, soak up some holiday atmosphere, and see what kind of party the Party throws!
AM – After breakfast in the hotel, we will visit Kim Il Sung Square, the geographical and political heart of the city and home to North Korea’s famous military parades. From here we will have a walk through the streets to the Foreign Languages Bookshop, the best place to buy books by and about the DPRK’s leaders as well as some picture books, postcards, DVDs, etc. After this we will visit the Juche Tower. We will observe the exterior of the tower from the base before stepping inside to have a look at the interior and then taking the elevator to the top for a spectacular view of Pyongyang (this costs approximately $5 out of pocket to be paid in Chinese yuan, euros or US dollars).
We will then visit the Pyongyang Metro, deepest in the world. First built during the 1970s, it displays a similar grand style to its predecessor in Moscow, some of the stops featuring elaborate murals and mosaics as well as ornate pillars and chandeliers. This visit will include a ride with the locals for several stops in one of the train carriages.
PM – We’ll stop at the golden lane bowling centre which is a very popular place with families and youth on national holidays. Play a game, use the bar, or just watch the people enjoying themselves. We then join university students in one of Pyongyang’s public squares for a round of communal dancing in celebration of The Party Foundation Day. The option to select a local dancing partner will be available for all those brave enough to attempt to pick up the dance moves on the fly. Such ‘mass dance’ events are the local analogue of the disco, where youths are able to find a potential romantic partner.
During the evening we will visit a local Bar, which is open to foreign tourists. This bar serves some of the local brews, and on a public holiday should be packed with locals lending it a truly buzzing atmosphere. In the evening fireworks are expected so we will head back to Kim Il Sung Square to join the masses in watching the display, a great finish to the tour!
Tonight, we enjoy dinner at Duck BBQ Restaurant.
Day 6: Pyongyang to Beijing
AM – Breakfast, check-out and then a drive to Pyongyang Train Station for our train back to Beijing
10:10AM (Pyongyang time) – train departure.
Day 7: Beijing
Estimated time of arrival in Beijing. Arrival in Beijing Station.
We will be met by a guide and transfer to either hotels or airport for onwards flights. Program concludes.
- Maximum group size of 14.
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- Flight from BEIJING – PYONGYANG
- Hotel standard Twin/Double with breakfast
- Meals as listed,
- Coach as per itinerary above
- English speaking local guides
- All admissions as per itinerary
- Train from Pyongyang to Beijing
- Tipping for local guide
- China and North Korea Visa
What’s not included in our Tour
- International economy flights on Air China Airline SYDNEY – BEIJING return
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.
- Additional tours
- Meals not mentioned in itinerary
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, moderate walking on uneven surfaces between 3 - 5 kilometers per day. Suitable for most fitness levels
Make it a private tour
Easing your journey
Crossing international borders with restrictions
The list of requirements to travel internationally has changed and will continue to change for several years. Odyssey is here to assist you in managing your way through these requirements:
For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.
Book With Confidence
If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Reading List Download PDF
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
A National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle finalist, Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy is a remarkable view into North Korea, as seen through the lives of six ordinary citizens.
Award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, where displays of affection are punished, informants are rewarded, and an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors, and through meticulous and sensitive reporting we see her subjects fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we witness their profound, life-altering disillusionment with the government and their realization that, rather than providing them with lives of abundance, their country has betrayed them.
By Barbara DemickAmazon
North Korea's Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground Is Transforming a Closed Society
The story of North Korea's information underground and how it inspires people to seek better lives beyond their country’s borders
One of the least understood countries in the world, North Korea has long been known for its repressive regime. Yet it is far from being an impenetrable black box. Media flows covertly into the country, and fault lines are appearing in the government’s sealed informational borders. Drawing on deeply personal interviews with North Korean defectors from all walks of life, ranging from propaganda artists to diplomats, Jieun Baek tells the story of North Korea’s information underground—the network of citizens who take extraordinary risks by circulating illicit content such as foreign films, television shows, soap operas, books, and encyclopedias. By fostering an awareness of life outside North Korea and enhancing cultural knowledge, the materials these citizens disseminate are affecting the social and political consciousness of a people, as well as their everyday lives.
By Jieun BaekAmazon
My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth
Most people want out of North Korea. Wendy Simmons wanted in.
In My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth, Wendy shares a glimpse of North Korea as it’s never been seen before. Even though it’s the scariest place on Earth, somehow Wendy forgot to check her sense of humor at the border.
But Wendy’s initial amusement and bewilderment soon turned to frustration and growing paranoia. Before long, she learned the essential conundrum of “tourism” in North Korea: Travel is truly a love affair. But, just like love, it’s a two-way street. And North Korea deprives you of all this. They want you to fall in love with the singular vision of the country they’re willing to show you and nothing more.
Through poignant, laugh-out-loud essays and 92 never-before-published color photographs of North Korea, Wendy chronicles one of the strangest vacations ever. Along the way, she bares all while undergoing an inner journey as convoluted as the country itself.
By Wendy E. SimmonsAmazon
North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors
North Korea is one of the most troubled societies on earth. The country's 24 million people live under a violent dictatorship led by a single family, which relentlessly pursues the development of nuclear arms, which periodically incites risky military clashes with the larger, richer, liberal South, and which forces each and every person to play a role in the "theater state" even as it pays little more than lip service to the wellbeing of the overwhelming majority.
With this deeply anachronistic system eventually failed in the 1990s, it triggered a famine that decimated the countryside and obliterated the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people. However, it also changed life forever for those who survived.
A lawless form of marketization came to replace the iron rice bowl of work in state companies, and the Orwellian mind control of the Korean Workers' Party was replaced for many by dreams of trade and profit. A new North Korea Society was born from the horrors of the era—one that is more susceptible to outside information than ever before with the advent of k-pop and video-carrying USB sticks. This is the North Korean society that is described in this book.
In seven fascinating chapters the authors explore what life is actually like in modern North Korea today for the ordinary "man and woman on the street." They interview experts and tap a broad variety of sources to bring a startling new insider's view of North Korean society—from members of Pyongyang's ruling families to defectors from different periods and regions, to diplomats and NGOs with years of experience in the country, to cross-border traders from neighboring China, and textual accounts appearing in English, Korean and Chinese sources. The resulting stories reveal the horror as well as the innovation and humor which abound in this fascinating country.
By Daniel TudorAmazon
Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea
THE STORY THEY COULDN'T HACK: In this international bestseller, a high-ranking counterintelligence agent describes his life as a former poet laureate to Kim Jong-il and his breathtaking escape to freedom.
As North Korea’s State Poet Laureate, Jang Jin-sung led a charmed life. With food provisions (even as the country suffered through its great famine), a travel pass, access to strictly censored information, and audiences with Kim Jong-il himself, his life in Pyongyang seemed safe and secure. But this privileged existence was about to be shattered. When a strictly forbidden magazine he lent to a friend goes missing, Jang Jin-sung must flee for his life.
Never before has a member of the elite described the inner workings of this totalitarian state and its propaganda machine. An astonishing exposé told through the heart-stopping story of Jang Jin-sung’s escape to South Korea, Dear Leader is an “impossibly dramatic story…one of the best depictions yet of North Korea’s nightmare” (Publishers Weekly).
By Jang Jin-sungAmazon
Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite
A haunting account of teaching English to the sons of North Korea's ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il's reign
Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: Without you, there is no motherland. Without you, there is no us. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields—except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has gone undercover as a missionary and a teacher. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them English, all under the watchful eye of the regime.
Life at PUST is lonely and claustrophobic, especially for Suki, whose letters are read by censors and who must hide her notes and photographs not only from her minders but from her colleagues—evangelical Christian missionaries who don't know or choose to ignore that Suki doesn't share their faith. As the weeks pass, she is mystified by how easily her students lie, unnerved by their obedience to the regime. At the same time, they offer Suki tantalizing glimpses of their private selves—their boyish enthusiasm, their eagerness to please, the flashes of curiosity that have not yet been extinguished. She in turn begins to hint at the existence of a world beyond their own—at such exotic activities as surfing the Internet or traveling freely and, more dangerously, at electoral democracy and other ideas forbidden in a country where defectors risk torture and execution. But when Kim Jong-il dies, and the boys she has come to love appear devastated, she wonders whether the gulf between her world and theirs can ever be bridged.
Without You, There Is No Us offers a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life in the world's most unknowable country, and at the privileged young men she calls "soldiers and slaves."
By Suki KimAmazon
North Korea Unveiled | Small Group Tour for Seniors