New Year’s in North Korea
4 nights, 5 days in DPRK + 1 Night in Beijing
Beijing → Kaesong/DMZ → Pyongyang
Ring in the New Year with the Pyongyang Bell in North Korea! You will not find a more exotic and interesting New Year’s Eve lineup anywhere on the planet! We’ll be staying at the historic Koryo Hotel, a popular hotel for locals and foreigners alike that is located in central Pyongyang. We’ll spend the morning of New Year’s Eve with a visit to the DMZ before returning to Pyongyang for an awesome night of beer, Korean soju and karaoke. There will be fireworks over the Taedong River and, at midnight, we’ll count down the seconds to the ringing of the Pyongyang Bell, which is North Korea’s traditional way of welcoming the new year. On New Year’s Day, we’ll continue the North Korean style celebrations by eating songpyeon, a traditional half-moon sized rice cake. We’ll also get to enjoy the indoor facilities of the brand new Munsu Water Park, shoot a rifle at the newly renovated Meari Shooting Range and ride horses at the new Mirim Horseback Riding Club. Join us this New Year’s Eve for an experience you will not forget!
December 29: Overnight in Beijing
Arrive in Beijing, PRC and check-in at or after 2pm at the Holiday Inn Express Beijing Dongzhimen near the popular Sanlitun Village (or a similar hotel).
7pm: We will welcome you in the lobby of the hotel and will assist the group to a traditional Beijing dinner for group orientation.
December 30: Depart for Pyongyang
AM: Meet the group at the lobby of the hotel to receive DPRK visas and for group transportation to the Beijing Capital International Airport.
PM: Fly to Pyongyang, capital of the DPRK and home to many of the country’s most famous cultural sites. Local North Korean tour guides greet you at the airport. Your stay in Pyongyang will be at the famous Koryo Hotel. En route to the hotel, stop at the Arch of Triumph, the world’s largest triumphal arc. Check into the hotel and enjoy a welcome dinner. Optional drinks at the Rakwon Paradise Microbrewery ($1 drafts!).
December 31: Kaesong/DMZ
AM: On this New Year’s Eve, depart for Kaesong, the ancient capital of the Koryo dynasty and home to 12 newly appointed UNESCO World Heritage sites (approximately 2 hour drive by coach). Visit the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. Participate in a tour by a North Korean military officer who will take you to the “front lines” between North and South Korea, to the building where the Armistice Agreement ending the Korean War in 1953 was signed, and to the neutral blue houses where diplomatic discussions are sometimes held. Photo opportunities will be available here.
PM: Enjoy a traditional Kaesong style meal Pansanggi for lunch. Take a quick tour of the Koryo History Museum and pick up the best DPRK stamps and postcards at the Koryo Stamp Shop. Pass by the Sonjuk Bridge, one of the new UNESCO World Heritage sites before heading back to Pyongyang to learn about the Korean War through the perspective of the North Koreans at the newly renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and the USS Pueblo (the “American Spy Ship” captured in 1968). After dinner, walk in the third largest public square in the world, the Kim Il Sung Square, as we wait for fireworks in Pyongyang! Have NYE drinks at the Taedonggang Microbrewery No. 3, the trendiest bar in town. At midnight, we’ll listen to the Pyongyang Bell ring at the Taedong Gate, akin to seeing the ball drop in Times Square, as we usher in the New Year. Overnight at the Koryo Hotel.
January 1: New Year’s Pyongyang Style!
AM: Spend the 2015 New Year’s day in Pyongyang and see how the North Koreans celebrate the new Juche year. Start the day at the Mansudae Grand Monument, famous for its large, bronze statutes of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Locals often visit this site on New Year’s day and pay their respects by bowing and laying flowers at the feet of the statues. Visit the Mangyongdae Native House, where late president Kim Il Sung was born. Take a ride on the Pyongyang Metro, the world’s deepest metro taking you approximately 360 feet underground.
PM:This afternoon, we’ll try some traditional rice cakes (songpyeon), a must for any Korean on New Year’s day. We’re working on a possible family visit to see how the local North Korean people celebrate this important day (to be confirmed). Get ready for a lesson in Korean culture as we learn some of the traditional Korean games and sing along to Korean songs (we’ll have romanized song sheets prepared!). Then we’ll head to the brand new Mirim Horse Riding Club built in the suburbs of Pyongyang for your chance to ride a horse in North Korea! We make one more afternoon stop at Meari Shooting Range, where you can shoot a small calibre rifle at this newly renovated shooting grounds. After dinner, cap off the night with drinks at the Diplomatic Club, a hang-out place frequented by expats, diplomats and even locals. Overnight at the Koryo Hotel.
January 2: Life in Pyongyang
AM: Attend a viewing at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which houses the preserved bodies of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il (formal dress is required for this event). Your next Pyongyang stop is at the Tower of Juche Idea, a large 150-meter structure dedicated to the Juche philosophy conceived of by Kim Il Sung. Stop in at the Foreign Languages Bookshop for iconic DPRK souvenirs and trinkets.
PM: After lunch, get a slice of North Korean life at the new Munsu Water Park. There’s an indoor pool and water activities here. This place is sure to be crowded for New Year’s, so pack your bathing suits and get ready to have some fun! We’ll then head to the Mansudae Schoolchildren’s Palace for a special New Year’s art performance. Finish the tour over pizza and pasta with our local Korean guides at Pyongyang’s very own Italian Specialty Restaurant.
January 3: Farewell
AM: Say your goodbyes as you head back to Beijing. Estimated time of arrival is 10:00 a.m. local time, although flight times are subject to final confirmation. Please reserve connecting flights departing after 2pm local time, to allow sufficient time for immigration/customs clearance, baggage claim and re-check-in.
This itinerary is subject to change at any time.
- 1 Night Beijing hotel and orientation dinner
- Transportation to the Beijing airport before Pyongyang flight
- DPRK visa fees and handling
- Round trip ticket from Beijing to Pyongyang on Air Koryo
- 4 nights’ DPRK hotel accommodations (double occupancy, 4 stars)
- 3 meals per day
- Coach transportation in DPRK
- Two local DPRK guides
- One local driver
- Admission fees (except those listed below)
- Private sedan transportation from Beijing International Airport to hotel (approximately $75)
- Round-trip airfare to Beijing from home country
- Chinese visa fees and processing, if applicable
- Travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance (required)
- Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, etc.)
- Extra drinks during meals (one complimentary beer included)
- Tips for guides and drivers (please budget $10 per day per traveler)
Special Entrance Fees for Optional Events
(Some entrance fees are priced in Euros. We strongly recommend to bring exact change in Euros to pay at the door; USD is accepted, but may be subject to an unfavorable exchange rate)
- Munsu Water Park: approximately 20 Euros
- Mirim Horse Riding Club: approximately 30 Euros
- Pyongyang circus: 20 Euros
- Pyongyang symphony: 30 Euros
- Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum & Pueblo: 10 Euros (new entrance fee due to re-opening and renovation of museum)
- Extra a la carte items incurred during meals (i.e., dog meat soup, Kaesong chicken soup, wine at the pizza/pasta restaurant, specialty restaurants such as the Okryu cold noodle restaurant, all roughly $5-10)
- Amusement park entrance and rides, approximately 1-3 Euros each, elevator to the top of the Juche Tower, 5 euros)
- Beer at microbreweries ($1-3 per draft)