Uncover the secrets of North Korea on this unique expedition trip

Not just for the marathoners among us, this journey into the heart of secretive North Korea comes with a whole slew of incredible sights and experiences. This journey begins and ends in Beijing, and the marathon takes place early on, leaving a week to get under the skin of this isolated nation. Travel around the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, its capital of Pyongyang and surrounding sights like Pyongsong and the demilitarised zone (DMZ). Visit a range of monuments and museums dedicated to the leaders of the country and learn about the history of this truly fascinating place thanks to the North Korean guide who will join you on this journey.


Start
Beijing, China
Finish
Beijing, China
Countries
China, North Korea
Style
Original
Theme
Expedition
Code
CJSNC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 10, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • North Korea is a country that’s shrouded in mystery and doesn’t open its borders widely to the rest of the world. This is a unique foreign travel experience that allows you access to this fascinating country.

  • You have the choice of running a marathon, half-marathon or 10 kilometre’ run through the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang. This event also caters for those who aren’t active runners, with the chance to watch a football match while the run takes place.

  • Even though the media usually depicts North Korea as a concrete state with communist flags everywhere, there are parts of the country that are bursting with picturesque landscapes and waterfalls.

  • The overnight train journey from Pyongyang to Beijing is the perfect way to see the guarded landscape of North Korea, as well as rubbing shoulders with the locals.

  • A visit to the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea is an eye-opening part of this trip. Learn about the history of the Korean War and the on-going tension between the two countries.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Even though this trip is centred on the Pyongyang Marathon, you don’t have to be an active runner to enjoy this trip. The marathon takes place in the morning/early afternoon of day three, but you can sit the event out and watch a football game in the stadium while some of your fellow travellers run.

  • This trip adheres to some of North Korea’s strict rules and traditions, so it’s important to be open-minded and respectful. This is a great way to embrace a culture that’s not easily accessible to the rest of the world.

  • Contact with local people is possible, it’s allowed and is legal - both for you to talk to locals and for them to talk to you. Although, it can prove difficult for several reasons: the main one being the language barrier (foreign languages are not widely spoken in DPRK). Other reasons include the fact that people are generally very wary of foreigners and are also shy, conservative and careful of drawing unwanted attention. You’re free to attempt a dialogue with a local, but don’t be surprised if they’re not interested in talking to you. However, it can be extremely rewarding when you do manage to make some contact. Your guides will also help make it possible.

  • There’s a long, overnight train ride back to Beijing, which can take around 14 hours. Even though you won’t be staying in first class, the beds are still comfortable with sheets provided. This is an ideal opportunity to rub shoulders with the locals and learn more about the area.

  • Tourists are not allowed to travel around freely. At all times, other than in the hotel, you’ll be accompanied by two guides and a driver regardless of how many people there are in your group. Please remember this is not a policy set by our travel company, but by local authorities.

Itinerary

Nimen Hao! Welcome to China.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 4 pm. You'll make your way with your Intrepid representative from your hotel to the local office of Intrepid's North Korea partner. Here we will have our pre-tour meeting and collect our DPRK visas and flight tickets.
The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing is quickly shedding its historical face in favour of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places to go that will give you a great insight into the nation's ancient past as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture. Please ensure you obtain a double entry visa for China before departure.
After the welcome meeting the evening is then free to explore some of the city. Get acquainted with your fellow travellers, witness one of the famous acrobatic shows or try some authentic Chinese dumplings at a local restaurant.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The morning is free to do as you please. Our flight to Pyongyang is at 13:40, Transfer to Beijing Airport. After a short flight to Pyongyang (approximately two hours) with Air China, you'll meet our two North Korean guides who will accompany the group during our time in North Korea. The contrast to Beijing's busy street life will be apparent when you venture out of the airport to the Mansudae Grand Monument - this is a compulsory activity for every visitor to Pyongyang. Your leader will ask for 5 Euro per group, which is used for purchasing flowers to rest at the feet of the immortalised great leaders.

Afterwards visit the Arch of Triumph, which commemorates Kim Il-sung's role in the military resistance against Japanese rule. You may also pass through Fountain Park - a great example of soviet style statues, sculptures and of course, fountains. After an afternoon of sightseeing, arrive at your hotel for the evening. Soon after check in, you’ll have dinner at one of the onsite restaurants.
Accommodation
  • Yanggakdo Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pyongyang - Mansudae Grand Monument
  • Pyongyang - Arch of Triumph
  • Pyongyang - Fountain Park
Meals Included
  • Dinner
This morning head out of the capital and drive to Mount Myohyang (Myohyangsan), which is around two hours north of Pyongyang. Visit the Pyohon Temple, a great example of traditional Buddhist architecture. Continue on to the International Friendship Exhibition where you can leave a gift in the name of diplomacy, if you desire. The North Pyongan province is bursting with idyllic landscapes and waterfalls, making it the perfect region to travel through. If possible, we will go for a walk around the area to a waterfall. There's an option for lunch either at a hotel (included) or a Korean BBQ right near the waterfall (20 EUR pp). Return back to Pyongyang before heading out for dinner with the group to a BBQ lamb restuarant. An option for fun tonight is to go ten pin bowling with your group and guides.
Accommodation
  • Yanggakdo Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mt Myohyang - Day Trip
  • Mt Myohyangsan - Pohyon Temple
  • Mt Myohyang - International Friendship Exhibition
Optional Activities
  • Pyonyang - Ten Pin Bowling - EUR2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today is the event of the Pyongyang Marathon. It’s important to know that you can still travel on this trip even if you’re not an active runner. You will be transferred from the hotel to the starting point or the stadium. At the time of booking, you would've selected and paid (marathon options are priced separately from trip cost, to give our travellers the choice) for one of the following options:

1) Full Marathon 42.2 km
2) Half Marathon 21.1 km
3) 10k Marathon
4) Football (Soccer) match - (travellers will remain in main stadium, and watch a local football match while marathon runners compete).

After the marathon’s closing ceremony, enjoy lunch at the Yanggakdo Hotel’s Revolving Restaurant.

This afternoon we can stroll in the Moran Hills - a favourite recreation area for locals on their day off. We then continue on and visit Mangyongdae Native House, where Kim Il-Sung was born and raised. While this small, simple cottage might seem an odd choice to visit, the North Koreans who flock to it consider it a holy site. Today we also have a chance to travel on the Pyongyang Metro. The rules are strict (no walking on the escalator!) but your guide will let you know what is expected. Enjoy hot pot tonight for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pyongyang - Pyongyang Marathon
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
You’ll then pay a visit to Juche Tower, which is a 150-metre-tall structure erected to honour the 70th birthday of Kim Il-sung (an optional view from the top costs approximately 5 Euro). From here head to the Monument to Party Foundation – a structure dedicated to the Communist Party and socialist principles of North Korea. Check out the local propaganda art style at the Mansudae Art Studio. We'll have a packed lunch today.

This afternoon, drive to nearby Nampo (approx. 1 hour) to see the West Barrage. Plenty of fun tonight if you would like to head to the Kaeson Funfair after dinner (Entry 1 EUR pp, games & rides 1-4 EUR pp)!
Accommodation
  • Yanggakdo Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pyongyang - Juche Tower
  • Pyongyang - Mansudae Grand Monument
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Drive to Kaesong (2.5 hours) and one of the most fascinating places in North Korea, the demilitarised zone (DMZ). This is where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement was signed - thereby pausing the Korean War. Travel through the abandoned village of Panmunjom on your way to the 38th parallel north (the border between North and South Korea prior to the Korean War).

After lunch, step back in time and visit the Koryo Museum in Kaesong, which is an ancient Confucian University that houses over 1000 artefacts from the Koryo period.

Other activities today may include a performance at a local school, or visiting a stamp shop to find out about one of the most popular hobbies for local Koreans - stamp collecting!

Our included dinner will be at a Chinese restaurant, but if you would like to take your guides and driver out for a treat, we hear they like pizza (10-20 EUR pp)!
Accommodation
  • Yanggakdo Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kaesong - Koryo Museum
  • Kaesong - Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Take in the Grand People's Study House, the massive central library of North Korea, the Central Art Gallery, stop in at a Foreign Language Bookstore and we walk up to Kim Il Sung Square. After lunch move on to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. A museum guide will accompany you and provide depth and insight into the Korean War from a local’s perspective. You’ll also visit the USS Pueblo, the controversial US warship captured by the North Koreans in 1968. Find out what goes on at the Pyongyang Film Stidios. Farewell dinner with your North Korean guides tonight at a restaurant specialising in duck dishes. Perhaps visit the Paradise Department store tonight and try the draft beer!
Accommodation
  • Yanggakdo Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pyongyang - National Film Studios
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
In the morning, board a train and depart Pyongyang at 10:10, bidding farewell to your local North Korean guides.

Pass through Sinuiju – DPRK Customs, and arrive in Dandong, the city on the Chinese side of the border (taking approximately 6-7 hours). After being stamped back into China (double entry China visa required), disembark the train and walk through Chinese customs with your luggage. Board the Chinese overnight train to Beijing, which should take around 14 hours to the Chinese capital.
Accommodation
  • Overnight train (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The overnight train arrives into Beijing Central train station at approximately 08:30 am. Transfer to your hotel and spend the rest of the day as you wish before out optional final night dinner tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Your 'North Korea Pyongyang Marathon' adventure ends in Beijing today
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

6 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

Private bus, Plane, Subway/Metro, Overnight sleeper train

Accommodation

Hotel (8 nights), Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Pyongyang - Mansudae Grand Monument
  • Pyongyang - Arch of Triumph
  • Pyongyang - Fountain Park
  • Mt Myohyang - Day Trip
  • Mt Myohyangsan - Pohyon Temple
  • Mt Myohyang - International Friendship Exhibition
  • Pyongyang - Pyongyang Marathon
  • Pyongyang - Juche Tower
  • Kaesong - Koryo Museum
  • Kaesong - Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
  • Pyongyang - National Film Studios

Dates & availability

Trip search is unavailable.

Jump to a departure month

Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip. See under the Single Traveller section of your Trip Notes for more information.
2. US citizens can book this trip, however they are restricted from using the overnight train service from Pyongyang to Beijing. US Citizens must exit North Korea by plane only. If you or your client are of US Citizenship please get in contact with Intrepid and we can discuss the options with you.
3. At the time of booking, you will need to select one of the below options:
1) Full Marathon 42.2 km
2) Half Marathon 21.1 km
3) 10k Marathon
4) Football match ticket
5. A double entry Chinese Visa is required for this trip.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.