New Year’s in North Korea 5-Nights
5 Nights, 6 Days in DPRK
Beijing → Pyongyang → Kaesong/DMZ → Mt. Myohyang → Beijing
Ring in the New Year in North Korea at the Kim Il Sung Square with thousands of Pyongyangites! When you arrive, join up with the NYE group in Pyongyang for an awesome night of Korean beer. 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 morning, see how locals celebrate the New Year with a special visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the late leaders lie in state. We’ll continue the North Korean style celebrations by eating songpyeon, a traditional half-moon sized rice cake and visiting a local family. Then travel to the DMZ where you can be among the few to say that you’ve been in both North and South Korea at the same time. Lastly, we’ll go to the Myohyang Mountains, take in the snowy mountainscape, visit the Pohyon Temple, one of the most well-known temples during the Koryo Dynasty, and the International Friendship Exhibition, an impressive national treasure house that stores all of the gifts given to the Kim leaders over time. Join us this New Year’s Eve for an experience you will not forget!
Day 1: Depart for Pyongyang
AM: Meet us at the Beijing Capital International Airport for group check-in. DPRK visas will be handed out at this time.
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.
Day 2: Myohyang Mountains
AM: This winter morning, take a journey outside the city and drive 2 hours north crossing lakes, fields and beautiful landscapes. Visit the International Friendship Exhibition, a national treasure house that contains gifts given to the Kim leaders in over 150 rooms. At the top of the building, look out into the mountains and enjoy the views over tea/coffee.
PM: Have lunch at the luxurious Hyangsan Hotel. We’ll then walk around the historic Buddhist Pohyon Temple, built in 1042 but rebuilt between 1441 and 1765. Return to Pyongyang for an overnight at the Koryo Hotel.
Day 3: Pyongyang City Tour and New Year’s in Kim Il Sung Square!
AM: 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. 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.
PM: After lunch, 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). Take in the sights along the Taedong River and explore the old Taedong Gate and Ryongwang Pavilion. Then we’ll head on foot to the Foreign Languages Bookshop for iconic DPRK souvenirs and trinkets. Stop at the Party Foundation Monument for a few photos. Then have drinks at the Taedonggang Microbrewery (Korean craft brews!). Afterwards, walk in the third largest public square in the world, the Kim Il Sung Square, as we wait for fireworks in Pyongyang! 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.
Day 4: 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. 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).
PM:This afternoon, we’ll try some traditional rice cakes (songpyeon), a must for any Korean on New Year’s day. We’ve organized a special home visit with a local family to see how the North Korean people celebrate this important day. Check out more of Pyongyang life at your choice of the Golden Lanes Bowling Alley , the open air ice skate rink or the Meari Shooting Range, where you can shoot a small calibre rifle at this newly renovated shooting grounds. See the world-class Pyongyang Circus (subject to availability). After dinner, cap off the night with an evening stroll through the Mansudae Fountain Park and on bustling Changjon Street. We’re working on other exclusive events for this afternoon (TBA). Overnight at the Koryo Hotel.
Day 5: Kaesong/DMZ
AM: 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. Visit the Tomb of King Wanggon, the important founder of the Koryo Dynasty before heading back to Pyongyang. Overnight at the Koryo Hotel.
Day 6: 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.
- DPRK visa fees and handling
- Round trip ticket from Beijing to Pyongyang on Air Koryo
- 5 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)
- Pyongyang circus: 20 Euros
- Pyongyang symphony: 30 Euros
- 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)