The essential core tour experience starts on Saturday 7 September when you fly to North Korea from Beijing. It ends on Thursday 12 September when you fly back to Beijing from Pyongyang.
We have one post-tour option and two pre-tour options that we recommend you consider adding to this core experience. Please read on to learn more about these three options.
After the narratives, we provide a date/calendar listing of what happens each day.
1. Beijing Post-Tour Option
We recommend you do not arrange to travel on out of Beijing on the day you return back from Pyongyang. The schedule for the flight back to Beijing can change (and did change for us, leaving an hour earlier, in 2012); and there is a danger that a revised schedule with a later departure time, plus delays in the air traffic control system (more so around busy Beijing than at Pyongyang) could result in you getting back to Beijing later than whatever you had arranged as an onwards flight to somewhere else.
So it seems prudent to add an overnight in Beijing ‘just in case’. Furthermore, if you spend a night or more in Beijing both before and after the tour to North Korea, that means you can leave a suitcase of stuff in Beijing – things you don’t need in North Korea – making it easier to travel light to North Korea.
Our Beijing Post-Tour option comprises a transfer from the airport back to our central city hotel for the night, one night of accommodation, and breakfast the next morning.
We can also arrange transfers back to the airport for you the next day or whenever else, although you’d probably find taking a regular taxi works just as well.
We’ll have a firm price for this post-tour option closer to travel time, depending on the hotel we choose and the number of people we expect to be sharing the coach transfer. But as a preliminary guess, it will probably be in the order of $90.
2. Beijing Pre-Tour Option
You do need to be in Beijing the day before our tour to North Korea starts. This is to enable us all to attend a formal briefing at the Tour Operator’s offices in central Beijing on Friday afternoon, and to have our North Korean visas distributed to us.
To be sure you are able to make the briefing meeting on Friday, most people will choose to fly in to Beijing on Thursday (rather than Friday morning and risk delays/problems/etc preventing their making the briefing meeting, and therefore, preventing them from being able to travel to North Korea the next day).
You can of course arrange to do all this yourself, any way you like. As long as you are present at the briefing on Friday afternoon and at the airport on Saturday morning, nothing else really matters!
But most people last year chose to participate in our Beijing pre-tour option. This comprises two nights in a central hotel (ie Thursday and Friday nights) with breakfast each morning. In addition, on the Friday we had a slightly more than half day tour, then transferred to the briefing, then transferred back to the hotel, and in the evening, we went out for a Peking Duck dinner at one of the most famous Peking Duck restaurants in the city. On Saturday, we then had a transfer from the airport to the hotel.
The group as a whole voted on what type of tour we’d do on the Friday (we chose to visit the Lama Temple, and go on a hutong tour; other options include a Great Wall visit/walk or a city sights type tour). The group also voted for whether they preferred a duck or a traditional hot pot type dinner. We’ll again allow the people who have chosen this option to express their preferences for what we include.
We can also arrange for transfers in from the airport to the hotel. It is depressingly common for people to have problems with taxi drivers who don’t know the hotel their passengers want them to go to, with some of our group reporting they ended up paying over $100 for a taxi fare, way more than a pre-arranged transfer with private car, driver, and English speaking guide/escort would cost.
So, this option makes it convenient for you to attend the Friday briefing, and if you also take the post-tour option in Beijing, you can leave any unneeded bags at the hotel while in North Korea. We’ll have a firm price closer to when we travel, but as a guess, it will probably be about $250.
Some people will want to spend more time in Beijing before we go to North Korea, and of course we can add extra days to your time in Beijing, too. But we also have another option that fits in with the Beijing pre-tour option, our South Korean pre-tour option.
3. South Korea Pre-Tour Option
If you’ve never been to South Korea before, or even if you’ve not been in the last ten years or so, it is very interesting to visit South Korea as well as North Korea, so as to give you a concurrent perspective on both countries, their divergences and their commonalities.
It is also tremendous fun to go up to the DMZ from the South Korean side, and hear their story about the 1950-1953 war, and then less than a week later, go down to the DMZ from the North Korean side, and hear their side of the story too. You’ll get to stand on exactly opposite points of the DMZ, and can joke about ‘going the long way’ around, between them (ie via Seoul, Beijing and Pyongyang, rather than just walking 50 yards in a straight line).
Our South Korean pre-tour option includes three nights of accommodation in a central Seoul hotel with breakfasts every morning. We also provide a city sights tour around Seoul, and a day tour up to the DMZ. Of course, if you want to stay longer, you can arrive earlier and we’ll be happy to add extra nights onto your stay.
This price will also be firmed up closer to travel time, but is estimated to be about $400.
4. The ‘Complete’ Package
If you want to do as much as possible, we’d recommend you do the South Korean option, then the Beijing pre-tour option, then the Beijing post-tour option too.
If you want to spend more time in South Korea or elsewhere, you can do this prior to the commencement of our optional activities.
If you wanted to spend more time in Beijing or elsewhere in China, you could add this on after your return from North Korea.
We hope the preceding comments, and the calendar below, help to explain things for you. Of course, if you have further questions, please go ahead and ask us, that’s what we’re here for.
|Day/Date||S Korea Pre-Tour option||Beijing Pre and Post Tour options||N Korea Main Tour|
|You can fly earlier to spend more time in S Korea if you wish|
|Sun 1 Sep||Fly to Korea from US today to arrive in Seoul on Monday|
|Mon 2 Sep||Arrive Seoul, overnight at hotel|
|Tue 3 Sep||Seoul city sights, night 2||You can fly earlier to spend more time in Beijing if you wish|
|Wed 4 Sep||DMZ day tour, night 3||We recommend you fly to Beijing from US today to arrive on Thursday (if you’re not doing the South Korean option)|
|Thu 5 Sep||fly to Beijing||Arrive Beijing, overnight at hotel|
|Fri 6 Sep||Beijing tour, briefing for everyone, dinner, overnight at hotel||(Briefing in Beijing)|
|Sat 7 Sep||transfer to airport, fly to N Korea||Fly from Beijing to Pyongyang, Day 1 of the North Korean tour|
|Sun 8 Sep||Day 2|
|Mon 9 Sep||Day 3|
|Tue 10 Sep||Day 4|
|Wed 11 Sep||Day 5|
|Thu 12 Sep||arrive Beijing, transfer to hotel||fly back to Beijing|
|Fri 13 Sep||end of Beijing post tour option (or extend longer)|