Beijing to Pyongyang - A journey on the train to North Korea
Before any tour to North Korea, each visitor must decide whether to hop on a simple 90 minute flight from Beijing or take the braver option; the 24 hour train to North Korea.
This may sound like an eternity but allow us to explain the advantages. Firstly it’s not one but two separate trains with a nice two hour break at the China, North Korea border. Just enough time to stretch your legs and grab your last KFC breakfast!
There is no better way to journey to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. For many it’s the first and last sight of a country they have read and heard about for years. This is the first glimpse into North Korea and it’s an experience that will stick with you for many years after you leave.
Given the nature of traveling in North Korea and the restrictions placed on movement, the freedom given to one on the train ride is quite unique. Whilst not allowed to disembark before Pyongyang, you are allowed free reign to roam the train and strike up conversations. The train is full of returning North Koreans, some of which live and work overseas so it’s never too difficult to find one that speaks good conversational English.
The Scenic Route
The route from the border city of Sinuiju to the capital Pyongyang is made up of tiny villages consisting of traditional bungalows, dirt tracks and endless rice paddies with labouring oxen. It truly is a step back in time. The lack of phone service or internet also serves as a welcome escape.
Make your way to the restaurant car for a full service North Korean dining experience. Lunch consists of 8-10 different small dishes washed down with the local rice wine, Soju. In the background, the “Moranbong band” fill the air with their latest hit and Army officers and sit together to enjoy a good helping of dried fish and beer. Look outside to see propaganda slogans, hanging portraits of the leaders and cyclist after cyclist pass by as the train chugs slowly along old tracks.
Sit back, relax and take it all in. You’ve just entered a place like nowhere on earth.