Drinks with locals at the beach
Welcome to the lesser-known paradise of North Korean beaches, where the pristine waters, sandy shores and banter with locals provide a strong contrast to any preconceived notions one might have of a trip to North Korea. The mystique of North Korea extends beyond its politics and into its shimmering coastlines.
Kids jumping off a pier in Songdowon Beach
North Korean beaches offer a unique opportunity to step behind the so-called iron curtain and spend a day—or several—relaxing under the sun, swimming in the sea, and engaging with locals. A fun-filled day at a North Korean beach is more than just a vacation; it's a captivating experience that etches deep in memory long after you've returned home.
Seal Watching in Rason, the far Northeast of North Korea, bordering Russia and China
What, wait, can foreigners go to beaches in North Korea?
Yes! And many of them! These hideaways offer a unique opportunity to savor leisure moments and indulge in fun activities in North Korea! Let’s explore some of the beaches in North Korea that you can visit and what people do there.
Head west, just about an hour away from Pyongyang and you will arrive at the port city of Nampo. Head east, cutting through the Korean Peninsula, and you will arrive at the coastal city of Wonsan where hundreds of thousands gather in the summer months. A bit further north, you have the mighty industrial city of Hamhung which is close to Majon beach. Head to the far northeast of North Korea and you arrive at the Special Economic Zone of Rason, where you will be dazzled by the amount of tasty, cheap seafood available.
Songdowon beach in Wonsan is one of the prime beaches of North Korea. This beach is famous for its clear emerald water and vast white sandy beach, providing a picturesque backdrop for an exceptional North Korea holiday experience. The locals often flock here in their hundreds of thousands, making it a vibrant hub where you can interact and mingle with North Koreans.
Kids having fun at Songdowon beach. Thousdands of locals visit this beach in the summer months. You can see the Wonsan-Kalma project in the background.
The majesty of the Songdowon beach is supplemented by two vibrant retro hotels nestled in its vicinity; the Songdowon Hotel and Tongmyong Hotel. What’s more, North Korea is in the process of building a huge new resort here, the Kalma-Wonsan area, adding even more value to Wonsan's fame and providing future travellers with modern facilities, ensuring their stay is ultra comfortable and packed with fun!
Apart from having fun at the beaches, you can walk to Jangdok islet, which offers stunning views of the city. Locals tend to have seafood barbecues by the pier leading to the islet as well as on the islet on sunny days.
Pier leading to Jangdok Islet
A walk aroud the Wonsan docks on a summer evening is always a great experience as you see locals fishing and just relaxing here.
Views of Jangdok Islet from the Wonsan Docks
Views of Wonsan city from Jangdok Islet
Located in the district of Hungnam, in the industrial city of Hamhung is a small hidden gem; Known for its relaxed atmosphere, this beach presents a fascinating spectacle of locals and tourists alike enjoying typical beach activities, including swimming, dancing and barbecuing on the wide sandy expanse.
Locals having fun at Majon beach
Majon provides several beachfront guest houses, with basic, but still fun facilities, often frequented by locals over the weekends. These guest houses come with a unique opportunity for you to mingle and even play games with the local North Koreans.
If you're a seafood lover, then the beaches in Rason, i.e. Rajin and Sonbong, must be on your bucket list. These coastal cities are famous for incredibly affordable seafood, that catches your taste buds with an explosion of freshness.
Rason is a seafood lover's paradise!
There are a handful of resorts in Rason that give you an extravagant seaside view, as well as easy access to local markets, where you can sample the region's seafood delicacies. You can also wander around the beaches, immerse yourself in the local lifestyle, all without a guide - a rarity in North Korea!
Connected to the mainland by a thin sliver of land, the beaches here have some of the most pristine ocean waters the DPRK has to offer. Apart from enjoying a bath here, or some you can also visit, or stay at, the famous Imperial Casino Hotel, when luxurious rooms, swimming pools and London telephone booths will make you wonder if you really are in North Korea.
And by the beachside the delightfully small seafood joint tends to the hungry sea-lovers with an array of shellfish hand-picked from the very sea the island overlooks.
Affordable prices make it all the more tempting; bet you can't resist the shells!
Adjacent to the restaurant are a few antique-style boats ready to undertake pleasure trips towards nearby rocks. Why, you may ask? For a glimpse of frolicking seals! However, if seals don't quite seal the deal for you, taking the trip is worth it just for the scenic ride.
From these tranquil waters, absorb views of the lush green hills encapsulating Pipha and the North Korean coastline; sights even more breathtaking than those seen from Pipha Island itself. Now, that's where the adored charm of Pipha Area spills out in full glory.
Seal-spotting in Rason
There's a small hidden treasure in Rajin, where lush, green hillsides merge into the pacific ocean; Chujin beach. While it may not be crowded with vacationers, this secluded haven offers undisturbed peace and tranquility. It's the perfect spot for reading a book or taking a solitary walk along its sandy shores while enjoying sunset.
There is a hotel located at the beach, the Chujin Tourism Hotel (why get caught up thinking of a fancy, glitzy name?). The simplicity of the hotel and its spectacular views of the beach add to its charm, offering an authentic North Korean experience away from commercial tourism.
Our next destination brings us to the shifting landscapes of Nampo beach. Located in the southwest of the country, Nampo is famed for its therapeutic mud baths - a can't-miss experience if available! You'll find plenty of locals enjoying the sun, sand and ocean here.
Fun at the beach in Nampo
If staying overnight at Nampo with us, you will do so at the Ryonggong Spa hotel, a former cadres retreat with spas in each room that allegedly have countless health benefits. This isolated hotel serves as the perfect gateway to the serenity of the area after an evening of fun and games at the beach. Enjoy a relaxing stay, try the famous Nampo oil clams while gazing at the stars, savouring the seamless blend of tranquility and nature.
BBQ fun with locals!
In addition to the picturesque views, North Korea beaches offer an assortment of activities. Be it sharing a bottle of Soju with locals, indulging in delicious seafood, or participating in informal setting games, you get a feel for the real North Korea beyond the political headlines.
One of the standout features of North Korean beaches is the opportunity they provide to experience the local culture firsthand. Dancing, singing and sharing stories with the locals is a common sight, creating a harmonious and joyful atmosphere. North Korean people are friendly and usually open to sharing a laugh or a swim with foreign visitors, creating a uniquely communal and welcoming atmosphere.
Fancy a dive?
One of the unique experiences that North Korean beaches offer is the local barbecues on the beach. With fresh seafood sizzling over the fire, these barbecues are a gastronomic joy that brings together the community. A chilled local beer and delicious barbecue under the North Korean sky is an unforgettable experience!
North Korea beaches are also ideal for those seeking a vacation off the beaten path. The beaches provide a calm respite from the hustle and bustle of regular tourist spots while offering deep insights into the lives of North Korean people.
To sum up, North Korea beaches unfold a realm of surprise, beauty, and unspoiled authenticity. It's an opportunity to unveil the fun in North Korea and create unforgettable memories. Are you ready for an unforgettable adventure under the North Korean sun?