Mt Geumgangsan, North Korea

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North Korea

Mt Geumgangsan, North Korea Reviews

Arlenelow Arlenelow
3 reviews
Mt Geumgangsan, North Korea (28-29 Apr 07) Jun 30, 2008
Always curious of what North Korea looks like, I joined the 1-night, 2-day tour to Mt Geumgangsan for foreigners with the tour company, GOnSee Korea Co Ltd, departing from Seoul 28 Apr 07 at 11.30pm.

We arrived in Hwajinpo Rest Area (not far South Korea border customs point) before 06.00am (29 Apr 07), greeted by a wonderful sunrise ! What follows are safekeeping of forbidden items into North Korea (see below list, issued by the tour agency)before proceeding to the South Korea Immigration.

Mobile phones and other communications devices are not permitted.

- You should keep your mobile at ASAN Resting Place when you issue the ID.

- When the tour will be finished, you can get that back.

- Cameras with telephoto lenses of more than 160mm and binoculars with zooming

- capabilities of 10 times or more are banned.

- Battery chargers, PDAs, notebook computers, calculators & CDP, and MP3 players.

(All Banned items will be put in the safety box until the tour ends and be back to south area)

- Except private medicine All Medicines (Drugs) with no prove of ingredient, uses, poison,

- toxic chemicals are not permitted.

- Except guidebook and personal readable. Over size printed matters, picture, keyboard

- and recording tape is not permitted.

- Counterfeit note is not permitted

- Weapon, bullet, explosive, military supplies, deadly weapon, inflammables are not permitted.

- Items from a plague spot are not permitted to carry in

- Others (not suitable to carrying around for tour)

It took us 1 hour to arrive at South Korea's immigration for entry procedure into North Korea. After receiving our dog-tag like ID showing our photo, arrival and departure dates to North Korea, we changed into another coach (only these coaches are allowed into North Korea). It was a short ride (15 mins) to North Korea's immigration, during which army personnel came onboard for checking. No photos were allowed for obvious reasons.

The presence of army personnel stationed at strategic points of the allowed road was hard to miss. Also there was minimal of human activity in the fields besides the road.

Our coach arrived in Onjeonggak Rest Area, where looks like a mini-park with necessary facilities like banking, supermart, shopping, etc for foreigners. After a short break, we began to trek to our 1st destination : Guryong Falls, one of the three most famous waterfalls in North Korea. Most of the younger foreigners had no problem reaching it under 4 hours while I took more than 4 hours, in view of my weak Left knee. Nevertheless, the beauty of the cascading waterfalls from such a high cliff was worth the trek. Once back, we had late lunch at a local restaurant, where our English-speaking guide (Chris Kang) introduced us the local malted beer as well as other local dishes.

After lunch, some of us proceeded to Oncheonjang Hot Springs, to relieve our aching joints after the trek. I love the outdoor hot spring as it offers an amazing view of the various peaks of Mt Geumgangsan.

AT 4.30pm, we watched the Moranbong Acrobatic Troupe inside a dome-shaped Geumgangsan Culture Centre. The gravity-defying movements by the North Korea star acrobats are a visual feast. We also got a taste of the unique singing and danching style of North Korea artists.

Evening time, we headed back to the hotel for checking-in, as well as dinner in the hotel.

Following day, we went to Samilpo Lake after breakfast. We walked along the lake, before climbing up to Chungseonggak pavilion, to have a full view of Samilpo Lake (see group photo taken here). Not far from the lake is Haegeumgang's Seashore area, where we can see an amazing scenery with natural rock formations stretching out to the sea.

Back at Onjeonggak Rest area, we had lunch, before departing North Korea's immigration and back to South Korea...

On the whole, the short trip to North Korea was an eye-opening, inspite of the presence of army personnel and limited areas of access for foreigners. I truly enjoyed the trek and hotsprings.
Map of Mt Geumgansan Tours
Route map to Guryong Falls
Sunrise at Hwajinpo
On the way to Guryong Falls
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