Itinerary – Architecture, Art and Design Tour

October 21-28 2017

Fri 20th Oct – TOUR BRIEFING


4PM: The group assembles in the office for a pre-tour briefing, which will last approximately 1 hour and is designed so that you will get the best out of your tour.


Sat 21st Oct – ARRIVAL DAY


AM: Meet together outside the office (time to be confirmed) and head to Beijing Airport T2 for our flight from Beijing to Pyongyang (1.5 hrs), the showcase capital of the DPRK

PM: Drive 160 km south along the ‘Reunification Highway’ to Kaesong, historical capital of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392) and near the Korean Demilitarised Zone. Kayagum Performance – Traditional Korean stringed instrument performance at the Minsok Folk Hotel.

OVERNIGHT: Minsok Folk Hotel, Kaesong


Sun 22nd Oct – KAESONG/DMZ


AM: Following a traditional breakfast in the Minsok’s charming traditional restaurant, our first visit is to Panmunjom and the DMZ, where North and South Korea continue their decades-old face-off. It is possible to go right up to the huts that straddle the demarcation line, and to ascend to a balcony for a panoramic view of the border area and over into the South. We then drive back into the city of Kaesong and visit the Kaesong Koryo Museum, which is housed in a beautiful old Confucian University, to learn about the long, rich history of the building and surrounding area. We will then have lunch in a local restaurant in the centre of Kaesong’s old town, before taking a guided walk around the city’s charming old streets and courtyards.
PM: Kaesong Schoolchildren’s Palace – The first schoolchildren’s palace in the DPRK and centre of extracurricular excellence where the youth of Kaesong come to hone their skills in music, dance, sports, mechanics, taxidermy, and more! Manwoldae and Chomsongdae – The ruins of the Koryo Dynasty palace and an ancient astronomical observatory. Tomb of King Kongmin– Tomb of the 31st king of the Koryo Dynasty, a talented statesman and prolific painter, and his Mongolian wife set the end of a picturesque valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sonjuk Bridge – Small stone bridge built in 1290 which was the site of the assassination of loyal Koryo Dynasty minister Jong Mong Ju by a son of Ri Song Gye, founder of the next dynasty, in 1392. This bloody act extinguished the Koryo which had ruled over Korea for 474 years and is said to have left a permanent mark on the bridge to this day.
OVERNIGHT: Janamsan Hotel, Kaesong


: Gwanum Temple, Taehung Mountain Fortress, and Pakyon Waterfall – Light hike in a forested valley from a Ri Dynasty temple devoted to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy to a scenic waterfall. Part of the temple’s facade remain unfinished recalling the filial devotion of the master craftsman charged with the temple’s construction. A nearby cave grotto contains an intricately carved marble statue dating back to the Koryo Dynasty. The valley walk and waterfall are flanked by inscriptions from both ancient and modern visitors. Part of a mountain fortress, once charged with the defense of the ancient capital, bisects the hike. The autumn scenery provides an extra treat! Drive to Sariwon, the provincial seat of North Hwanghae Province and regional centre of agriculture and industry. Lunch at the March 8th (International Women’s Day) Hotel, arguably the most strangest locations in the DPRK on account of its eccentric interior decor mixing socialist realism with faux classical furnishing
PM: Migok Co-Operative Farm – Learn about rural life in the DPRK at this farming community on the bucolic plains of Sariwon. Visit the farm’s museum, view point, and a local home. Songbul Temple and Jongbang Mountain Fortress – A Buddhist temple with representative Koryo Dynasty architecture in the hills above Sariwon. A room contains a wooden sculpture of one-thousand Buddhas, each with its own unique garb and facial expression. Return to Pyongyang via the Monument to the Three Charters of Reunification, a massive stone archway over the highway, and the Ri In Mo Monument, a bronze bust of one of the DPRK’s ‘long-term unconverted prisoners’ who spent decades captive in the south after the Korean War. Both arch and monument are located near Pyongyang’s Tongil (Reunification) Street and its massive modernist high-rises. Dinner at south Pyongyang’s famous Duck Meat Restaurant for a taste of Korean barbecue.
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang



AM: Paekdusan Architectural Academy – A visit to the DPRK’s premier architectural design studio. We’ll tour the grounds and meet with architects responsible for some of Pyongyang’s most distinct buildings. Lunch at the Yanggakdo Hotel Revolving Restaurant for a 360 degree view of the city.
PM: Walk in Moranbong Park, or ‘Magnolia Hill Park’, Pyongyang’s central park occupying the former inner castle of the ancient city, and home to traditional pavilions and Moranbong Theatre (1946), one of the earliest examples of post-liberation architecture. The park also contains the Liberation Tower dedicated to Soviet soldiers who died in the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. From Moranbong Park we’ll continue with a walk through the Central District Walk, the modern heart of Pyongyang. We’ll pass Okryugwan, Pyongyang’s massive neo-traditional waterfront restaurant; the classical Taedong Cinema (1957) topped with ornate statues; Widow Paek’s House, one of few colonial era buildings to have survived the Korean War; and the Taedong Gate, the old city’s riverside gate, before arriving at Kim Il Sung Square. Central Art Museum – A tour of Korean art from ancient tomb murals on through the socialist realism of today
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang




AM: Pyongyang Metro Tour with a Mansudae Art Studio Artist – We’ll tour stations of both the Chollima and the Hyoksin Lines, each with distinctive murals, mosaics, or bronze work reflecting the station’s name, accompanied by an artist from the DPRK’s distinguished Mansudae Art Studio. Arch of Triumph – A massive archway made for the 70th anniversary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung in 1982 and commemorating the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. Larger than its counterpart in Paris. Nearby is Kim Il Sung Stadium. Mansudae Grand Monument – Enormous bronze statues of President Kim Il Sung and Leader Kim Jong Il overlooking the centre of Pyongyang. A presentation of flowers and bow by the group is customary here. See the nearby Chollima Monument of a mythical horse said to be able to run a ‘thousand li (400 km or 250 miles)’. The Chollima was symbol of the movement to rebuild the country following the devastation of the Korean War and today has come to represent speed and quality.
PM: National Embroidery Institute – Research centre, workshop, and exhibition hall for the Korean art of needlework with great views of the towering 105-story Ryugyong Hotel. Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum – 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 artifacts, documents, photos, and lifelike dioramas. The exterior grounds house the War Victory Monument and displays of Korean People’s Army Hero Equipment and captures equipment from the US military, including the USS Pueblo. Central to the understanding of the country today and highlight of the trip. Mansugyo Beer Bar – Take a break from the tour at one of Pyongyang’s newest bars. Seven types of beer on tap (0.50 – 1 EUR a glass).
OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang




AM: Kumsusan Palace of the Sun – Mausoleum of the DPRK leadership where President Kim Il Sung and Leader Kim Jong Il 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. Lunch at Kwangbok Department Store Food Court – Take your pick of local dishes from this department store food court popular with the district’s residents (1-5 EUR paid on the spot).

PM: Walk in West Pyongyang – A walk on west Pyongyang’s modernist Kwangbok Street, lined with massive modernist apartments built in the 1980’s, to the retro-futuristic Chongnyon (Youth) Hotel, one of the most unique structures in Korea. We’ll continue on for a walk along Sports Street to view a series of stadiums and arenas originally made for the 1989 World Festival of Youth and Students and dedicated to individual sports. The walk will end at the Sosan Hotel and Ryanggang Hotel, two buildings with distinct architecture, overlooking the street below. Mangyondae Native House – Birthplace and childhood home of President Kim Il Sung. A traditional Korean house in a beautiful natural surrounding. Mangyondae Schoolchildren’s Palace – Tour one of Pyongyang’s two centres of extracurricular excellence where music, dance, arts, and sports are taught, followed by an hour long student performance

OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang




AM: Changgwangwon Health Complex – Huge health and leisure facility with Olympic-sized pool, barber shops, beauty salons, massage, and saunas. Leave feeling ten years younger, locals say! Tickets for activities (3-10 EUR) purchased on the spot. One of our favorites! Mirae (Future) Scientists’ Street Complex and Apartment Visit – walk in the newly built residential district for scientists and academics to view its unique modern architecture, followed by a visit to a local apartment. A trip highlight! Okryugwan – A meal at Pyongyang’s most famous restaurant. Housed in a huge traditional building on the banks of the Taedong River. Okgyuwan specialises in Pyongyang Cold Noodles.

PM: May Day Stadium – Tour the grounds and facilities of one of the world’s largest stadiums, once used for the DPRK’s Arirang Mass Games and now for major sports events. Walk in East Pyongyang – Walk through the district on the east bank of the Taedong from the Taesong Department Store, a large shop selling foreign goods, to the Party Foundation Monument, a massive stone hammer, sickle, and writing brush sculpture representing the worker, farmer, and intellectual makeup of the party. The walk will continue to Central Youth Hall (exterior only), a large theatre and exhibition centre with space-age design.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 $6 for great views of the city.

OVERNIGHT: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang


Sat 28th Oct – DEPARTURE DAY


AM: The flight departs Pyongyang at 09:00 and arrives in Beijing at approx 10:00am. The train departs Pyongyang at 10:40am and arrives in Beijing next morning at approx 08:30am. End of tour.

: $2,390
DPRK VISA FEE: $75 (to be paid at the pre-tour meeting)
PRE-TOUR MEETING: Friday 20th October, 4PM, at our office in Beijing
EXPECTED WEATHER: It will be cool in the mornings and evenings but warm during the day, around 18°C.
Room upgrades available – please ask for more information.



1. Flight Beijing-Pyongyang, plane/train Pyongyang-Beijing

2. All meals on the tour except on the train out of DPRK – see below

3. Hotel accommodations in DPRK

4. All entry fees

5. Two guides and a driver per group

6. All transportation in DPRK

7. Transportation to Beijing airport prior to departure to DPRK.

NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR FEE (all payments paid in cash) :

1. Transportation from your country to Beijing and hotel stay in Beijing

2. Travel insurance (can be purchased at the pre-tour briefing)

3. Optional single room supplement of $60 per night (must be booked in advance and can be pre-paid in US with credit card)

4. Spending money for drinks and souvenirs

5. DPRK visa fee ($75)

6. Tip for the guides (approx $7/day)

7. Meals on the train out of DPRK – (bring your own food or eat dinner and lunch in the buffet car approx $10 per person)

8. The lift up the Juche Tower (approx $6)

9. Meals will have a complimentary beer but you will have to pay for extra drinks above those provided. If you are vegetarian or have special dietary requirements then please inform us beforehand