North Korea is notoriously secretive, and even those few people who have visited this enigma of a country have barely been beyond the capital of Pyongyang.
However, British-run, Beijing-based tour company Koryo Tours is hoping to change that with their 11-day train tour of the country. The “Eastern Adventure by Rail” tour promises rare glimpses of North Korea’s lesser known spots.
The tour has been years in the making as North Korea wouldn’t sanction train tours until recently — foreigners were previously only allowed to ride the country’s international train service.
While the tour’s website says that it’s open to US citizens, realistically, getting a visa won’t be easy as North Korea’s tourism is tightly controlled. Regardless, the US Department of State strongly suggests that US citizens do not travel to North Korea at this time. However, Koryo assures visitors that the country is safe for Americans, and that they have been doing this for 22 years without a single incident.
Passengers will traverse the country in a vintage 1970s locomotive that’s equipped with a dining car. It will take visitors from Pyongyang to the industrial city of Chongjin (also known as the City of Iron), and claims that visitors will be “among the first foreigners to experience the spectacular scenery between the capital and the remote North-East Coast [sic].”
The train will make stops at Mount Myohyang — aka the Mountain of Mysterious Fragrance — remote towns like Sinpho and Kimchaek, larger cities like Hamhung and the coastal city of Wonsan, and pass by secluded farms and isolated beaches.
The trip itself will be tightly controlled, as those on it won’t be able to go anywhere without a guide, take photos as they please, or criticise the North Korean Government. On the upside, Koryo helpfully advises that North Koreans won’t try and brainwash you, but that in return you should also not try to “‘liberate’ their minds.”
Furthermore, unlike other nationalities taking the tour (it’s open to anyone but South Koreans), American citizens will have to pay a surcharge in order to leave the tour by plane, as North Korea still has a policy in place that restricts them from entering and leaving the country by train (from China for example).
The 11-day tour, which will take place in October, costs $US3,165.
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