Want to experience North Korea while upgrading your photography skills? This is your tour. The Photography Tour is led by Tongil Tours’ Expert Partner Reuben Teo, a photographer and media artist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Learn photography tips and techniques while you survey the most important destinations of Pyongyang, the DMZ, the east coast of North Korea, and much more. All levels welcome.
- HELICOPTER ride over Pyongyang for some great photos! (with 8+ people on tour)
- UPGRADE your photography skills with Reuben daily as you survey the culture, art, & society of North Korea. Each morning at breakfast, Reuben will introduce an element of photography on which the group will focus throughout the day. You’ll be traveling to places that are especially good for photography.
- BE DIFFERENT: Get a travel destination in your portfolio that is very, very rare;
- HAVE FUN: Pyongyang pub crawl, karaoke, souvenir shopping; make lasting friendships with others on tour;
- SOAK UP THE SIGHTS of the North Korean countryside, and enjoy on of the DPRK’s most beautiful natural areas as you hike Mount Myohyang;
- BUILD FRIENDSHIPS and connections with the locals;
- EXPERIENCE THE HISTORY of the DMZ, and learn in detail the North Korean perspective on the Korean War; stand at the northern side of the DMZ in Panmunjom, just metres away from South Korea;
- TASTE the local liquors and beers; hang out in a Pyongyang pub;
MEET YOUR TOUR EXPERT
Reuben Teo, a Tongil Tours Expert Partner, will be leading this tour. Reuben is an accomplished and talented photographer, and will be teaching about photography each morning, while also coaching participants throughout the day. Reuben has visited the DPRK twice, at which time he took some amazing photographs of the country. Browse some of his work below.
- Reuben’s website here
Links to Reuben’s photos of the DPRK:
- Catalog of Reuben’s DPRK photography here
- DPRK Panoramas here
- Panoramas of Pyongyang (these are amazing) here
- DPRK landscape panoramas here
Sites that feature Reuben’s work:
Reuben lives in Kuala Lumpur with his wife Fann where he is a professional photographer and designer.
Please note that minor changes in itinerary may apply for reasons beyond the control of Tongil Tours.
ARRIVAL IN PYONGYANG
10 AM (Beijing time) – A Tongil Tours staff member will be ready to meet participants in Beijing International Airport. Assemble at Koryo Air flight counter in Beijing International Airport Terminal 2 for quick briefing session before taking Air Koryo flight JS 152 to Pyongyang at 12:55pm.
12:55 midday – (Beijing time) – Estimated flight take off time. Flight time – approx. two hours.
3:30PM – (Pyongyang time, half an hour later than Beijing time) – Estimated time of arrival in Pyongyang.
PM – Meet our Korean guides at Sunan International Airport.
Half hour drive to Pyongyang.
Mansu Hill Grand Monument
The largest and most famous pair of bronze statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il that can be found in each of North Korea’s major cities. They are situated on a hill in the centre of Pyongyang offering magnificent views of the city. The statues are 22 metres high and flanked on both sides by elaborate sculptures, one depicting Korea’s struggle for independence against Japanese colonialism, the other dealing with socialist revolution.
Kaeson Youth Park
Open at night time and located right next to Pyongyang’s Arch of Triumph (“kaeson” means “triumph”) and Kim Il Sung Stadium at the foot of Moran Hill park, Kaeson Youth Park is perhaps Pyongyang’s most popular amusement park. Here you can try out six heart-racing rides including a vertical drop, “belly down” rollercoaster and pendulum. You can also ride the bumper cars, have a snack at a food stall or restaurant, or visit the game centre. A good place to rub shoulders with the locals.
Overnight in the Yanggak Island Hotel.
Guests now have free time to use any of the entertainment facilities in the hotel (pool/billiards room, karaoke, bowling alley, shop etc.) or retire early for the night.
PYONGYANG CITY TOUR & MUSEUMS + PUB VISIT
AM – Breakfast in the hotel.
Pyongyang Central Zoo
Reopened after renovations in 2016, the Pyongyang Central Zoo features a variety of animals, from elephants to fish to reptiles, in indoor and outdoor enclosures. It also contains a natural history museum with life-sized dinosaur models.
Moran Hill Park
Moran Hill (“Moran” meaning “peony”) in central Pyongyang forms a beautiful park which has been a popular leisure spot for locals since premodern times. Take a leisurely stroll through the grounds and enjoy the wonderful view of the Taedong River and centre of Pyongyang from Ulmildae and other Yi Dynasty pavilions atop the peak. On weekends and public holidays the park is full of picnicking Koreans engaged in drinking, song and dance. These are good opportunities to mix with the locals. Practice your best moves—you may be pulled into a dance!
PM – Lunch.
Mangyongdae Native House
The humble thatched hut on the outskirts of Pyongyang where North Korea’s first leader Kim Il Sung was born and raised. Now a site of revolutionary pilgrimage and prominent North Korean cultural icon, visitors can see his family home and possessions and drink from the well. Usually busy with locals coming to pay tribute and take souvenir photos, especially on occasions such as the leader’s birthday and other public holidays.
Containing 16 stops and two lines, the Pyongyang Metro is one of the deepest subway systems in the world. First constructed in the 1960s, it displays a similar grand style to its predecessor in Moscow, with stops featuring elaborate murals, mosaics and sculptures alongside ornate pillars and chandeliers. Visitors can descend into the subway down an escalator with a vertical depth of over 50 metres, and tour from stop to stop while riding in the subway trains alongside local passengers.
This tour’s Pyongyang Metro tour will be an extended one, getting off at more stops than usual.
Located along the banks of the Taedong River and opposite Kim Il Sung Square and the Grand People’s Study House in central Pyongyang, the Juche Tower is a monument dedicated to North Korea’s governing political ideology of Juche. The structure features a unique layered stone tower design topped with a torch which glows at night. A bronze statue of a worker, farmer and intellectual holding aloft the Korean Workers’ Party emblem decorates its base. Visitors can view the structure from the outside before entering to see the museum on the inside and taking an elevator to the top to enjoy a stunning view of Pyongyang.
After, we’ll go for a stroll down the Taedong River and cross the Okryu Bridge.
After dinner, we’ll head to a local bar for some drinks.
Overnight in the Yanggak Island Hotel.
KAESONG, DMZ AND SHOPPING
AM – After breakfast, we will begin the two-hour drive to Kaesong and the DMZ.
The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) at Panmunjom and the Joint Security Area (JSA)
Here tourists can visit the Armistice Talks Hall, the Armistice Signing Hall and Panmunjom Peace Village (also known as the “Joint Security Area”) from the northern side. At Panmunjom Peace Village it is possible to view the south from metres away at the balcony of Panmun Pavilion. Get right up to the border with South Korea, even technically cross it in one of the negotiation huts which lie between the northern and southern sides of the compound and are bisected by the border.
PM- After driving back to Kaesong, we will enjoy a lunch consisting of local specialties.
Koryo History Museum
This museum is dedicated to Kaesong’s past as capital of Koryo Dynasty Korea (which lasted from 919 to 1394 AD). Exhibits are housed in Kaesong’s former Confucian Academy (Songgyungwan), which was established in 992 AD and became the highest educational institution in Korea throughout the Koryo and Yi Dynasties. The present structures were built in the early 17th century.
Next, a quick visit to the postcard and stamp shop across the road.
Constructed in 1290, Sonjuk Bridge is a Koryo dynasty stone bridge located in central Kaesong City. It is well known as the site where famed Confucian scholar and statesman Chŏng Mongju was assassinated in 1392, generally believed to have been carried out under the orders of Ri Bangwon, son of the founder of the Choson Dynasty Ri Songgye because of Chŏng Mongju’s continued loyalty to the previous Koryo Dynasty. The bridge was closed to traffic in 1780 and made into a monument celebrating Chŏng Mongju’s loyalty. After viewing the monument, step out onto the street to get a glimpse of daily activity along one of central Kaesong’s bustling thoroughfares.
Tomb of King Kongmin
Completed in 1372, this is the tomb of King Kongmin, 31st king of the Koryo Dynasty and his wife, Mongolian princess and later Korean queen, Queen Noguk. Consisting of two burial mounds adorned with stone carvings and statues on the top of a hill outside Kaesong, the site offers a splendid scenic view of the surrounding countryside.
Drive to Sariwon, halfway between Kaesong and Pyongyang.
Sariwon Folk Street
A folk culture-themed street in downtown Sariwon adorned with traditional style gates, ponds and pavilions. Visitors can see reconstructions of some of Korea’s most famous traditional structures and cultural artifacts. Usually a popular spot for locals to engage in leisure. Climb the hill behind the park for a great view of Sariwon City.
Drive back to Pyongyang.
Overnight in the Yanggak Island Hotel.
AM – Breakfast.
Drive to Mount Myohyang (approx. two hours).
Mount Myohyang is situated in North Pyongan Province north of Pyongyang. Literally “Mysterious Fragrant Mountain”, Mt. Myohyang is one of the most famous mountains in the Korean peninsula. It is known for its scenic beauty and as a sacred place with various myths and legends surrounding it. Visitors can enjoy hikes here among the mountain’s majestic pine forests, splendid streams and waterfalls and breath-taking peaks which offer splendid views of the mountain range and surrounding countryside. It is also the location of the International Friendship Exhibition, where gifts from foreigners to North Korea’s leaders are stored and exhibited.
PM – Lunch.
Mount Myohyang Manpok Hiking Trail
A mildly strenuous hiking trail that follows graceful mountain streams and waterfalls up through lush pine forests to several successive viewing platforms. Popular among local hikers.
First founded as early as the 10th century, the present structures that make up this picturesque Buddhist hermitage date from the 16th century. Perched at the top of a cliff and offering views of two waterfalls, this site offers some of the best scenery Korea has to offer.
Overnight in the deluxe Hyangsan Hotel.
AM – Breakfast.
An expansive cave network located near Mount Myohyang in North Pyongan Province. Abounds with weird and fantastically shaped rock formations and underground rivers and waterfalls. The local guides here love to indulge in a bit of adult humour when describing the shapes of some of the stalactites and stalagmites!
Drive back to Pyongyang (approx. two hours).
PM – Lunch.
Next, we will view a performance at Pyongyang Schoolchildren’s Palace.
We will then visit a local Middle or High School, where we will be given a tour of the grounds and then drop in on an English lesson where we will be able to chat and interact with the students.
Grand People’s Study House
Located on Kim Il Sung Square opposite the Juche Tower in the heart of Pyongyang, this monumental building constructed in the Korean neoclassical style is North Korea’s national library. Visitors can enjoy a tour of the inside, the grandly-built lobby, reception, reading and study rooms, and finish off with the balcony which offers a wonderful view of central Pyongyang.
After this, we will go for a walk down Victory Street.
Overnight in the Yanggak Island Hotel.
RETURN TO BEIJING
AM – After breakfast, we drive to Sunan airport for Air Koryo JS 251 Y back to Beijing.
10:30AM (Pyongyang time) – Estimated departure time. Flight time – approximately two hours.
12 noon- (Beijing time, half an hour earlier than Pyongyang time) – Estimated arrival time.
We conclude our journey in Beijing Capital Airport, terminal 2.
To ensure the best possible experience for all involved, we’ll have a dinner in Beijing the day prior to tour departure when we will go through some important points relating to the tour and allow an opportunity for any final questions. For anyone who can’t make it, we can quickly brief you before departure in Beijing.Pre-departure email
Before departure, we will send out a pre-departure email with general information to note for the trip such as what to pack, and other important information.Optional reading list
With all of our tours, we send our participants an optional reading list (consisting mostly of items either free for view on the internet, or that will be shared with participants) to assist travellers in contextualising their North Korea travel experience. This is sent to travellers after a booking has been finalised.Optional academic briefing
As specialists in educational tourism to the DPRK, we firmly believe in delivering an experience that is not only fun, but also allows travellers to learn a little about the country. We can arrange for academic experts in North Korean studies to conduct a 90 minute academic seminar over Skype. Contact us for more information.
Included in the tour fee:
- Round trip air ticket from Beijing to Pyongyang (Pyongyang-Beijing return by train surcharge – €65 euro, also payable in AUD, USD, or RMB)
- Twin room lodging and accommodation in the DPRK (single room surcharge- €40 euro per night, also payable in AUD, USD, or RMB)
- Three meals a day in the DPRK (excluding optional meals in out of pocket restaurants)
- All transportation in the DPRK
- Local English-speaking DPRK guides
- Korean-speaking Western academic guide from Tongil Tours
- Most admission fees
Not included in the tour fee:
- Round-trip airfare to Beijing from home country
- Beijing hotel accommodations
- DPRK Visa and Handling, plus delivery in Beijing prior to departure (EUR 50)
- Chinese visa fees and processing (if necessary)
- Travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance (required prior to departure)
- Gifts, souvenirs, snacks, hotel services, miscellaneous purchases
- Extra drinks during meals (one complimentary beer and bottled water included with most meals)
- Out of pocket expenses (see below))
Out of pocket expenses
These expenses are not included in the tour fee. It will be necessary to bring a little extra in cash – either Chinese yuan, Euros, or US dollars, into North Korea to pay for these expenses on the day. Prices are listed in euros, but may also be payed in USD or RMB. Note that prices are subject to change.
- Kaeson Youth Park ticket, €20 euro. Entry without going on the rides, €5 euro
- Tips for the guides and driver (in total from each traveller), €5 euro per night stayed
- Juche Tower elevator ticket (for those wishing to see the view at the top), €5 euro
- Micro-brewed beer (a pint) – €2 euro approx.
- Possibility for a visit to a café, Italian, hamburger, or other special restaurant – €7- €14 euro approx.
- Ryongmun Caves entry, €4 euro
- Pyongyang Central Zoo entry, €10 euro
- This tour can be customised for any private group or delegation
- STARTS & ENDS IN BEIJING
- BOOKING DEADLINE: four weeks prior to tour commencement
8 DAYS 7 NIGHTS in DPRK
> AUG 22-AUG 29 | 2017
BONUS :: This tour includes the Day of Sungun holiday celebrations.
EUR €1995, also payable in AUD, USD or RMB.
Deposit due at time of application. EUR €500.
All trip prices are per person based on double occupancy. If you’re travelling on your own, we’ll pair you up with a roommate of the same gender so that you can pay the same rate as other travellers. Prices are subject to change based on North Korean rate changes. Prices do not include airfare to and from Beijing.
6-STEP BOOKING PROCESS
Travelling to North Korea and China with Tongil Tours is easier than you think.