For Army day 2019 we will be running our second ever Chollima express tour, for those short on time or funds but are still keen to visit North Korea!
The tour is priced at just 555EUR starting and ending in Dandong and includes train travel, hotel, and all meals, tours, and guides within North Korea.
Please note this a vary fast paced tour with just one full day and two nights in Pyongyang. We'll squeeze in some evening sightseeing to make the most of your time in the country!
1. nap: Meet your Lupine tour leader in Dandong outside the railway station at 07:30. The train departs and we cross the Yalu river on the Sino-Korea Friendship bridge over to Sinuiju. The train stops at North Korean customs where we will remain for around 2 hours before continuing the journey to Pyongyang. View the Korean countryside and workers in the fields through the train windows throughout your journey to the capital. The journey is a great chance to mix with locals on the train and also stand on the bustling platforms while the train stops at each town along the way. We reach Pyongyang in time for dinner and to head out and see Kim Il-sng square lit up at night. Evening spent out in the company of the locals at either the bowling alley or funfair.
Overnight in a city centre hotel.
2. nap: Today is Army day in North Korea! We'll spend the day around the capital, beginning with an early visit to large bronze statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il before heading on to the incredibly vast Korean War musuem, home to the USS Pueblo, the only US Navy ship held by a foreign power. We'll then head on to visit the Juche tower before having lunch.
In the afternoon we'll take a ride for 6 stops along the ornate Pyongyang Metro before emerging at the base of the Arch of Triumph where we'll have the opportunity to climb to the top.
In the early evening we join in with the celebrations, which sometimes include a Mass Dance being held in one of the squares where you will you be able to interact and even dance with locals! We'll nip into the export store to grab some souvenirs before heading to our very favourite dinner spot, the Duck BBQ Restaurant.
We'll head back in to the city at night to see some more sights and hopefully visit the circus or funfair.
3. nap: In the morning we'll head out early to see the city in the morning before heading to Pyongyang station to catch the 10:00 train to Pyongyang. Arrival in to Dandong around 17:00 where the tour ends.
Lupine tour leader:A Lupine tour leader will accompany the group from China to Pyongyang and assist you through customs. If the group is bigger than 10 the tour leader will accompany for the whole tour.
Visas:We take care of this for you and issue you with a North Korean visa on arrival. The cost is 50 Euros.
Dandong add-on: For an extra 15 EUR (if sharing a room) or 30 EUR (if travelling alone) you can depart Beijing a day earlier and have a full extra day in Dandong to break up the journey. We can also arrange full day trips of Dandong for 105 EUR*/person which include a trip to Tiger Mountain Great wall, boat trip along the Yalu river, broken bridge walk, Korean war museum and lunch.
*The day tour includes lunch and costs just 105€/person if taken the day before one of our groups enters North Korea, on other days the tour costs 125€/person.
Additional days: We can add extra days in North Korea on request. Prices range between 125-255EUR per day, depending on how many others are taking the extra day.
Entrance fees:Not all of the evening activities are included.
Flights: Return/one way flights can be added on request. Please contact us for up to date schedules and prices.
What does the price include?
For those starting the tour in Dandong, the price includes all meals, tours, transport and accommodation within North Korea as well as $50,000 medical insurance for within DPRK. Travel from Dandong to North Korea and back is also included. Accommodation is a twin room in the 4 star Yanggakdo hotel.
For those taking the Beijing option, all the above is included as well as return sleeper train from Beijing (six berth cabin). Bullet train option is available!
What does the price not include?
International flights to China, North Korean visa, Chinese double entry visa and travel insurance are not included.
Tips (budget 2-5 Euros per day) are also optional extras as well as money for alcoholic drinks and souvenirs.
Rooms are allocated on a twin basis but if you prefer to have a single room there is a supplement of 52 Euros per night to pay on arrival into Pyongyang.
Can I take photographs?
Control over photography is a lot more relaxed than in recent years. Photographs and video can be taken at all tourist sites and all over Pyongyang. It is not allowed on the train or anywhere around military personnel (except the DMZ).
When do I get my visa?
We can have your visa sent to your nearest North Korean Embassy or we can have it issued for you in Dandong ready for collection at the start of the tour. Our staff will have it ready waiting for you in Dandong. The visa issued in Dandong costs €50 and is issued as a separate piece of paper that is taken away at the end of your visit and there is no stamp left in your passport. For UK citizens who prefer a visa sticker inside their passport, we can arrange these for issue in London for £20. Please note the visas in London will only be issued 4-10 days before the tour so this is only an option if you are planning to leave the UK a 2-3 days before the tour.
Can I fly instead of taking the train?
We can arrange return flights from Shenyang to Pyongyang for 335 EUR (or 240 EUR if more than 10 people in the group flying).
For those looking to take the train in and fly out, we can arrange flights to Beijing for approximately 225 EUR (or lower if the group size is over 10) one way or from 335 EUR for return flights. These flights are with Air Koryo. Air China flight prices are also available on request.
Please note these prices include a deduction from the price of the train tickets that you would no longer need to if taking the flight option. These are also average prices and subject to local currency fluctuations (RMB). Exact price will be given on day of booking.
For those flying from Beijing, we require you to arrive in Beijing the day before your flight so we can deliver your visa and flight tickets to your hotel.
Do I need a visa for China?
Most nationalities require a visa for China. You will require a double entry visa to facilitate your first entry on arrival and then your second entry upon departure from North Korea. We will provide you with the invitation required to obtain this visa.
For those flying in and out of North Korea, there is now the option of a 72 hour visa free period in Beijing. To make use of this you are required to show proof of your onward flight ticket and North Korean visa at Chinese immigration. We can send you copies of these by email in advance and you can pick up the physical copies on arrival (or we can arrange them in advance to be picked up from your nearest Embassy). If you are going to use copies of the visa and flight ticket that we send to you then you MUST check with your airline in advance to check that they will accept copies at check in. It is unlikely they will refuse boarding but it is better to let them know in advance to avoid any issues on the day. Please note that the 72 hour visa is only valid for international flights heading direct into Beijing..
Is North Korea safe?
North Korea is considered one of the safest tourist destinations in the world. Our customers have never had any problems with either crime, or the authorities. The only way you are likely to put yourself in any kind of trouble is by disobeying the guides orders, breaking the law or constantly criticising the North Korean leaders or government. We urge you to respect your guides views and wishes otherwise constant disrespect and criticism is likely to lead to deportation or in extreme circumstances, jail.
We also advise anyone with a missionary background or links with the Korean War to stay away due to arrests made during 2013.
Americans need to exercise a little more caution than other nationalities but as long as you use common sense you encounter no problems.
Do I have any freedom in North Korea?
Your government guides will be with you at all times of day and you are unable to venture off on your own. When back at your hotel you are free to spend time as you wish around the hotel and its grounds.
What is the Mass Games?
The Mass Games or 'Arirang' is one of the greatest spectacles in the world. It is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest event of its kind on earth. There is a cast of more than 100,000 people including dancers, martial arts experts, a military tattoo acrobats and most awe inspiring of all the backdrop; an awe inspiring constantly changing human mosaic that displays panoramas, political slogans and cartoons.
When does the Mass Games take place?
The Mass Games usually takes place from early August until the end of September. They have not taken place since 2013 and we do not know when (if ever) they will launch again.
Can I take my phone?
As of 2013, mobile phones are allowed into North Korea. However, your sim card will not work with the local Koryolink network. International phonecalls can be made from the hotel for approximately 2 Euros per minute.
What are the moral implications of visiting North Korea?
Some believe it is wrong to visit North Korea as your money is going direct to their government rather than into the hands of locals. However, others believe visiting the country can help benefit the people you meet by making them aware of the outside world. There isn't really a clear right or wrong answer to whether you should visit or not so we advise you to research the topic yourself and make your own decision.
How do I get to Dandong?
If you take our Beijing extension, you will travel from Beijing to Dandong on return sleeper trains. You will sleep in the 2nd class hard sleeper carriages (6 berths per cabin). For an additional 35 EUR we can upgrade you to a soft sleeper (4 berths per cabin - subject to availability). The train departs Beijing at 17.30 and arrives at 7.17 the following morning.
If you prefer to make your own way to Dandong, there are a few other options other than the overnight train from Dandong:
-Take a bullet train from Beijing to Shenyang (around 5 hours) and then take a bus or taxi to Dandong (3 hours).
- Fly from Beijing to Dandong. There is one early afternoon flight per day and it will cost around 120 EUR.
- If you are travelling from South Korea you can take a direct overnight ferry from Incheon, prices start around 140 EUR.
What else is there to do around Dandong?
Dandong is in North Eastern China, a seldom visited area on the tourist map of China. However, it works as a great start off point to a visit to North Korea, getting an early flavour of North Korea through the many Koreans living here and through viewing the contrast between Chinese and Korean life on either side of the river.
The region also has a wealth of great sites to visit. A few of them are listed below (for more info please contact us):
Tiger Mountain Great Wall, Yalu river, Benxi Water Caves, Changbaishan National Nature Reserve, Jingpohu National Forest Park, Qianshan National Park, Wudalianchi National Forest Park.
What are the trains like?
The overnight trains between Beijing and Dandong take around 13 hours and have a restaurant carriage and 3 separate classes: seating only, hard sleepers (6 berths per cabin) and soft sleepers (4 berths per cabin).
The trains between Dandong to Pyongyang take around 6 hours and have a restaurant carriage and sleeping and seating compartments.
Where can we stay in Dandong?
For luxury you can stay at the 5 star Crowne Plaza. Prices are reasonable but please be aware it is located quite far out of the centre of Dandong. For views, we recommend the 4 star Zhonglian Hotel which faces the Broken Bridge and over into North Korea. For convenience and price we recommend the 3 star Rui Xie Dan Tie hotel by the train station.
What currency can I use in North Korea?
Foreigners are not allowed to use the local currency (Won). You can use Euros, Dollars or RMB. Euros offer the best rate. ATM's are not available in North Korea and generally it is difficult to exchange other currencies.
What souvenirs can I buy in North Korea?
The souvenir shops offer everything from t shirts (10 Euros), North Korean stamp sets (5-10 Euros), CDs (5 Euros) and DVDs (7 Euros) to books (5 Euros+), traditional and propaganda artwork (10 Euros+), locally made beer (1-2 Euros) and much more.
Is there a dress code?
For tours which include a visit to the Mausoleum of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, you must bring formal dress. For men, shoes, trousers, collared shirt and preferably tie are required. For women, shoes and smart dress or trousers and shirt are required. At all other times there are no restrictions on clothing.