Contrary to what he had thought, Le Phan Trung Hieu was very impressed by the affection North Koreans have for Vietnamese tourists and he was warmly received as “serving the diplomatic corps”.
“A fresh, unbelievably beautiful destination” is a different impression from North Korea in the imagination of many people. In the eyes of tourists, there is no coldness and isolation here, but in return, the peaceful, airy and somewhat more modern than the meager news about the “mysterious country”. ” through the media, the press.
And these are also the first impressions of Le Phan Trung Hieu, 30 years old, a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City, when having the opportunity to visit North Korea.
If many young people choose South Korea as their favorite destination, Trung Hieu wants to go to North Korea, first of all out of curiosity to find out what the “mysterious country” really will be.
Having had the opportunity to set foot in more than 22 countries and territories, from Asia to Europe, to Australia and the US, adding North Korea to the “to-go list” is essential for Hieu.
The trip lasted 6 days and 5 nights, completely changed his way of thinking and looking at this country compared to what he had ever learned.
As a neighboring territory, with historical similarities, culture and geography, but North Korea and South Korea have many differences. Before the 1970s, this national economy even surpassed Korea with many monumental architectural works. In particular, the most prominent is the world’s most modern and deepest subway system, located in the capital Pyongyang.
North Korea’s big difference is operations tourism placed under state supervision. Although this country’s tourism industry has only opened in recent years, it has brought many surprises to foreign tourists.
“I’m impressed by everything in this country because this is the first time I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Impressed from the respectful reception they have, their working style to the scenery and local cuisine,” Hieu said. .
The hotel where Hieu’s tour group stayed was built separately on an island. The interior has a modern design, with a bowling alley, billiards, room swipe card, full hot and cold shower.
During the journey, the international friendship museum was one of the destinations that impressed Hieu the most. The project was built on land donated by the family of leader Kim Il-sung to the state. Up to now, this is the place to store precious gifts from famous characters world such as President Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin… for the three supreme leaders of North Korea, including Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un.
Visitors are not allowed to use equipment to record inside the museum. Hieu said, below each gift is annotated in 3 languages including English, Korean and the language of the country giving the gift.
And Vietnam also has a designated area, showing respect. Artifacts with many historical values remain, such as a picture of a female elephant presented by President Ho Chi Minh, pieces of the wreckage of an American plane, a vase made from the wreckage of an American plane, and even a portrait of a hero. Nguyen Van Troi while at the law school…
Right next to the International Friendship Museum is Pohyonsa Temple in Hyangsan, North Pyongan Province. The work was built in the early 11th century, becoming the largest Buddhist center in the country with many shrines. Currently, the temple is keeping two national treasures, including the 13-storey Sokka stupa built in the 14th century. Up to now, Korea has paid great attention to preserving traditional cultural works.
One of the must-see destinations is the DMZ, located between North Korea and South Korea. This place is the most protected unique nature reserve in the world.
Hieu said that when coming here, visitors are still free to take pictures freely. During the 6-day trip, he was only checked once for his camera because he entered a place where he was not allowed to take pictures. And if you want to take pictures with the locals, you just need to politely ask for permission first, everything is quite easy.
The most memorable memory of the trip was the time when Hieu chose to watch a circus performance, instead of going shopping with the group. The place he went to was a large design theater. More surprisingly, most of the audience inside were soldiers. With each performance, they clapped their hands to the beat, walked dignified and disciplined, impressing international tourist groups.
During his time in Korea, for Hieu, the biggest “culture shock” was when he went to a restaurant to have a meal. Here, he was served by a team of attentive and considerate flight attendants like welcoming a diplomatic delegation.
“The Koreans welcome Vietnamese guests very friendly, and the tourist services are well-organized. Personally, I find the food delicious and satisfying, especially the cold noodles and grilled duck are of good quality. Diners have a good meal. free beer,” he shared his feelings.
During the 6-day trip, Hieu also had the opportunity to visit and experience the subway (metro) located in the capital Pyongyang. Built about 100m underground, this is one of the deepest transportation networks in the world. The station consists of 16 stations, built from 1965-1987, which is considered a popular means of transport in the capital. The upper and lower positions of the escalator, the corridors are protected by thick anti-explosion steel doors.
If fully self-sufficient, visitors will face many difficulties when traveling to North Korea. Therefore, Hieu chose to go through a reputable travel agency. For Vietnamese tourists, all procedures will be simpler and only need a valid passport to “go”.
The currency here is the North Korean Won (KPW). Visitors can still bring CNY (yuan), Euro or USD without having to change in advance at home, but it is recommended to use small denominations for ease of use.
Visitors here often buy specialty items as gifts such as ginseng, medicine, cosmetics, embroidery, porcelain, t-shirts, book stamps and local products.
When staying at the hotel, if you want to call back to Vietnam, you will have to pay about 0.5 USD per minute. To use the Internet, guests need to inform the hotel in advance, it costs 5 USD for 30 minutes of use (usually just for sending emails). This is the price Hieu used during the trip before the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition, to enjoy a full trip as well as ensure safety and security, Hieu noted that visitors need to strictly comply with the regulations of the host country.
Declare accurate and correct information on the visa application form. If the visa applicant is a journalist, it is necessary to specify the purpose of the trip and the unit of work. Visitors are not allowed to take pictures or record audio in unauthorized places. Do not take pictures with the police, always follow the group with a local guide. You should choose polite clothes when going to dignified places.
In addition, visitors need to be respectful if taking pictures of North Korean leaders. Better yet, if you have any questions, you should ask the tour guide or representative of the travel agency in advance.
For Hieu, enjoying nearly a week of “no phone, no Internet”, is a great feeling. He hopes to be able to come back here again soon.
Content: Viet Ha
Design: Tuan Huy