All aboard the Wigan to Pyongyang express!
We’ll begin our tour from our humble Lupine office in Wigan and travel eastwards through with stops in the cities of London, Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow, Irkutsk, Ulaanbaatar, Beijing and Dandong, before crossing the border into North Korea for an unforgettable tour of the secretive state.
There’s plenty of time to relax on board the trains with the diverse vistas passing you by, whilst you share stories with other passengers. There’s also time to spend in each of these captivating cities, plus guided tours in Mongolia and Siberia so that you can experience more of these historic lands.
Once in North Korea we’ll take a memorable tour of the capital, Mount Myoyang and the DMZ before heading back into China to finish our tour; complete with an abundance of memories.
Arrive into Wigan and join the group as we all go for a pub dinner.
In the morning we depart Wigan for London. On arrival we will take the tube up to Highgate Cemetery in North London to pay our respects to Karl Marx; the first of the communist figures we will visit on this tour. We'll then travel down to St. Pancras station to board the Eurostar service to Brussels, arriving early evening. Free time in the evening and overnight in Brussels.
After breakfast we will get back on the train to Berlin. We arrive in the late afternoon and spend two nights in the city.
Today you have the option of taking free time in Berlin, or your tour leader will help to facilitate a tour to see the city's highlights, by public transport
After breakfast we will board the train to Warsaw, arriving in the afternoon. We will have a couple of hours free time before departing on the overnight train to Kiev.
We arrive into Kiev this morning and drop our bags in storage before taking a tour of the city. A little free time afterwards before returning to the station in the evening for the overnight sleeper train to Moscow.
We arrive into Moscow in the morning and take a tour of the city in the afternoon, including a visit to Lenin's mausoleum to see him lying in state. Overnight in Moscow.
A free morning before heading to the train station where we start our journey into Moscow's suburbs and then onwards East towards Siberia.
Relax onboard the train as you travel further Eastwards towards Yekaterinburg through the verdant rolling foothill landscapes of the Ural Mountains
Relax onboard the train and make the most of the restaurant car as you head towards Omsk and pass the 2102km point, which officially marks the border of Siberia. Give your legs a stretch at each stop and buy food from the many sellers on the platforms.
Travel onwards towards Krasnoyarsk as you pass through the busiest section of railway in the world. Freight trains, mainly full of coal heading towards the Ural smelting works from the Kubas Basin. Further along you will cross one of the world's longest rivers on the 870m long Ob River bridge.
Arrival into Irkutsk in the morning. Transfer to your hotel and spend the day at leisure around Irkutsk. Maybe go for a leisurely stroll and take in the beautiful wooden buildings before visiting the Church of the Saviour, the Znamensky monastery and Irkutsk Museum. Later, head to the market to pick up some supplies then head out for a tradition Siberian meal at one of the city's many restaurants before continuing onto a bar or club later.
Our driver will pick us up in the morning and we will head north 250 km along the Primorsky Mountains on Baikal's western shore towards Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world at 1673m. We have a coffee stop en-route before arriving at the Olkhon Island ferry around 14:00. After a short stroll around the ferry stop we make the crossing to Olkhon Island, 71km long and 14.5km wide; making it the largest lake island in the world. Olkhon is populated primarily by the Buryati people who are of Mongolian descent and whose Buddhist practices coexist with their shamanism. Upon arrival you are transferred to your accommodation at a fisherman's family guesthouse, made up of wooden chalets. After lunch group members can explore the village and visit the museum of Local Lore. A walking excursion can be done through the village to the Cape of Burkhan to see the famous Crag of Shaman (Rock Temple) which was generally regarded as one of the 9 sanctuaries of Asia. Return to dine on a local Baikal speciality of home-cooked grayling (when available), before spending the rest of the evening at leisure.
In the morning depart to explore Olkhon Island and classic Lake Baikal vistas. Head north and make your first stop at Sagaan-Khushun Cape, a beautiful cliff covered in red lichen. Then head forward to the coastal sand dunes and stretches of beach along the way, including the 200m high cliffs of Khoboy Cape at the northern tip of the island. After a picnic-lunch (Baikal omul fish-soup), cooked on an open fire in Uzuri bay you will return to Khuzir village. Experience a traditional Russian banya (sauna) before being served a traditional Olkhon dinner. Again spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
After a farewell breakfast in the guesthouse, we will depart and drive back to the ferry-station. Cross the strait to the mainland and drive to Irkutsk. There is an en-route coffee stop soon after the ferry crossing. Arrival into Irkutsk at approximately 18:00. Check back into your accommodation and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
Transfer to the train station in the morning for our train to Mongolia. You’ll spend the day onboard the train, passing through the semi-autonomous region of Buryatia and the shores of Goose Lake. Arrive at the Russian border town of Naushki ready for your crossing into Mongolia. After passports are checked you enter Mongolia and witness a rapid change of scenery with the pine and birch forests making way for the beautiful green pastures of the Selenge River basin.
Arrive into Ulan Bator early morning. Transfer to your accommodation and the rest of the day can be spent at your leisure around the capital. Maybe visit Sukhbaatar Square, Nairamdal Park, the Gandantegchinlen Khiid Temple and National Museum of Mongolian History before heading for dinner at any one of a wide range of restaurants; we recommend you try a traditional Mongolian barbecue. In the evening you could visit the Tumen Ekh Ensemble Palace to view contortionists, dancers, opera singers and the bizarre Mongolian throat singers!
Our driver will pick us up in the morning and drive us to Terelj National Park, 50 miles northeast of Ulan Bator. Enter the park and immediately feel the cool alpine air and view the magnificent mountain scenery. You will be taken to see local artists and to view hawks and eagles and even camels! You then transfer from the minibus onto horseback* and a journey into the valleys past streams and through winding mountain paths. Continuing on foot you begin a mountain hike up to Ariyapala Temple crossing a rope bridge along the way. After ascending the steps to the temple you will have the chance to meditate or simply sit back and admire the amazing views. You then return to your horses and head back to Turtle Rock and the Ger Camp where you will spend the night. The camp is set in the spectacular Gorkhi River valley. Settle down in your Ger then meet the farmer and his family who own the camp. Spend the rest of the afternoon taking leisurely strolls on green meadows carpeted with edelweiss and a variety of other wildflowers; view incredible rock formations against a backdrop of pine-covered mountains; and stroll along the banks of a mountain stream. Return to your camp and relax for the evening. Dinner cooked on a stove inside your Ger and eat it outside (weather dependent) under a huge starlit sky. When the temperature drops head inside the Ger and light up your stove to keep you warm during the night.
After breakfast we head to visit the Chinggis Khan complex outside Ulan Bator. Go up inside the huge statue before returning to your accommodation in Ulan Bator with the afternoon spent at leisure. Maybe visit the National Modern Art Gallery, the Museum of National History and the Winter Palace of Bogd Khaan. Visit the huge State Department Store before eating dinner at one of the city's many restaurants and maybe spend the evening watching the ballet at the State Opera & Ballet Theatre or a live rock or jazz band at River Sounds.
Arise early for our transfer to the station where you can order breakfast before the morning train to Beijing arrives. Head south through hundreds of miles of the Gobi desert, as far as your eyes can see. Have dinner in the extravagant Chinese restaurant carriage before arriving at the border around 21:00.
Travel through incredible Chinese countryside, crossing the Great Wall of China and finally arriving in Beijing in the afternoon and transfer to our hotel. Evening at leisure.
Today we will take a tour of Mutianyu Great Wall.
A tour of the Forbidden City and Chairman Mao's mausoleum before departing Beijing Railway Station at 17:25 onboard the train to Dandong. Relax in the restaurant car before returning to your cabins to sleep overnight.
Arrive into Dandong at 07:15 and have breakfast before taking a full day tour of Dandong; the Chinese border city. We'll visit the Eastern section of the Great Wall as well as taking a boat trip along the Yalu river and the 'broken bridge' between China and North Korea. Overnight in Dandong.
The train to Pyongyang departs at 10:00 and we cross the Yalu River on the Sino-Korea Friendship Bridge over to Sinuiji. The train stops at North Korean customs where we will remain for around 2 hours before continuing the journey to Pyongyang. View the Korean countryside and workers in the fields through the train windows throughout your journey to the capital. Packed lunch provided on the train. The journey is a great chance to mix with locals on the train and also stand on the bustling platforms while the train stops at each town along the way. We reach Pyongyang in time for dinner at the Yanggakdo hotel. Evening spent at leisure around the hotel grounds. Check out the hotel's microbrewery or head up to the revolving bar on the top floor with incredible vistas of Pyongyang. There's also the chance to go bowling, play pool or perform on karaoke!
After breakfast we are driven to Mount Myohang to explore one of the most beautiful areas in the Korean peninsula. On arrival we visit the International Friendship Exhibition Hall, a huge complex consisting of over 100,000 gifts given by various world leaders and figures to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Including the extravagant sight of two trains given to Kim Il Sung by Chairman Mao and Joseph Stalin! After visiting the exhibit highlights we are taken onto the balcony of the exhibition hall to view the breathtaking scenery of the area. We leave the exhibition hall and drive to nearby Pohyon Temple. The temple dates from the 11th Century and the founding of the Koryo Dynasty. It is one of the few remaining Buddhist temples in North Korea. The local guide will give you a tour of the site and introduce you the the temple's monks. After lunch in Myohang-ch'on we return to Pyongyang and visit the Arch of Triumph and Mangyongdae Native House. Afterwards we will visit the Youth palace to watch a special performance by local children. We will go for a traditional Korean meal before returning to the hotel in the evening.
After breakfast we head to Panmunjom, the 'truce village' that straddles the North/South Korean border and visit the Armistice Hall, where the truce was signed at the end of the Korean war. We are given talks by North Korean military personnel explaining the history of the site before heading over to visit the DMZ or Military Demarcation line; an area that Bill Clinton described as 'one of the most dangerous places in the world'. If there are no tourists on the Southern side then we will have the chance to go inside the blue buildings which straddle the border. Once inside you can walk freely across the North and South border. Afterwards we drive to Kaesong to visit the Koryo History Museum before a traditional Kaesong lunch. We then return to Pyongyang in the afternoon to view the Tower of Juche Idea, take a trip on the Pyongyang Metro and visit the Mansudae Monument and view the newly constructed giant bronze statue of Kim Jong Il now stood next to his father. We will then visit one of the best restaurants in Pyongyang, the Duck BBQ before returning to the hotel where you will have the chance to shop at the export store. Buy anything from books, CDs and DVDs to stamps, pin badges and propaganda artwork. Depending on what activities are available at the time of the tour, we also offer the option of spending the evening outside the hotel, visiting either the funfair, orchestra, circus or bar.
After breakfast we take a full day tour of Pyongyang. We begin at the Kumsunsan Memorial Palace, also known as "Palace of the Sun". This is one of the most revered sites in North Korea, being the resting place of the bodies of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. See many of the personal belongings and items of both former leaders; everything from Kim Jong Il's Mac to his yacht! Finally we get to see both leaders lying in state in their glass coffins. We then head for lunch by Kim Il Sung square before visiting the Grand People's Study House. In here we can stand in on English lessons, visit 'the great philosopher' who answers questions on any subject, and also visit the library, computer and music rooms. We later move on to the Korean War museum where as well as shot down US planes and captured weapons we can also climb aboard the USS Pueblo - the only US navy ship in captivity anywhere in the world. Afterwards we will have a farewell dinner in a Pyongyang restaurant before returning to the hotel.
After breakfast we will return to the train station for our journey back to Sinuiju and out of North Korea. Lunch is provided on the train. Arrive back in Dandong at 16.30 before departing to Beijing at 18:30.
The train arrives in Beijing at 8:30 where the tour ends.
Visas: We take care of the North Korean visa for you for you. The cost is €50. We provide visa invitations for each of the other visas.
North Korea extension: Extend your time in North Korea with an extra 3 nights, visiting Wonsan on the East Coast and the stunning Mt Kumgang National Park.