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Published on : Sunday, July 12, 2015
A Beijing-based tour company specializing in North Korea, Koryo Tours tour is giving tourists an opportunity to earn new bragging rights by offering an exceptional train journey that goes far beyond the country’s “already exposed” capital. Koryo Tours’ 11-day train tour, dubbed “Eastern Adventure by Rail,” departs October 2 from Pyongyang and includes stops at Mt. Myohyang, Hamhung, Chongjin and the coastal city of Wonsan. The tour will be Koryo’s second journey-by-rail within the country.
According to Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours, “But this year’s tour will include more unseen places. It’ll be the first time we have a train ride between Pyongyang and Mountain Myohyang. It’ll also be the first time we will be taking a local tram ride in Chongjin.”
Mt. Myohyang — the Mountain of Mysterious Fragrance is a scenic area with air so fresh that you won’t even get a hangover — no matter how much you drink. On the flipside, Chongjin is an industrial city in the northeastern side of the country that specializes in steelwork.
For years foreigners have been allowed to ride the international train service between Pyongyang and Beijing, but now for the second time they’ve been allowed to travel within the country by rail. Rail journeys will mostly take place during the day but there will be one overnight train ride of about 13 hours from Chongjin to Wonsan near the end of the tour.
“The journey will be taken on a 1970s vintage diesel locomotive. It’s a very reliable train. There is a dining car and there are beds in the passenger car, too,” says Cockerell.
Tourism in North Korea is highly restricted, so booking a guided tour with one of the dozen or so companies endorsed by the state-run Korea International Travel Company is the only way in — even if you’re flying solo. U.S. citizens still face restrictions that don’t apply to other travelers.