What to expect from DMZ North Korea Tour and Climbing up Namsan Tower

I booked the half day DMZ tour from Trazy.com a local Korea travel agent. Initially I wanted to book from Getaguide but I found Trazy price is cheaper. Trazy and Klook pricing is around the same but I picked Trazy because it is a local Korea travel agent.

DMZ tour picked us up at 7.10am. Our hotel was open for breakfast at 6am so Bu Luci and I had early breakfast as it was going to be long trip to the DMZ area.

What is a DMZ area

DMZ or demilitarized zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula. It is established by the provisions of the Korean Armistice Agreement to serve as a buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea. The demilitarized zone is a border barrier that divides the Korean Peninsula roughly in half. The DMZ was created in 1953 at the end of the Korean war as a result of the armistice agreement between the United Nations, North Korea, China and Soviet Union. It was agreed to create a buffer zone 4km wide with only a minimal military presence and patrols occurring within the DMZ area.

You can only visit the DMZ area with a Tour, as it has restricted civilian access and requires a mandatory military escort. Our passports were checked multiple times during the trip. In the peak holiday season you will need to book the tour ahead to get a spot because they do limit the number of tours.

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Imjingak Park and Freedom Bridge

Our first stop is Imjingak Park and we were given 30 minutes to look around while our guide registering our documents to the Authority. It is also a chance to go to the restroom. Too bad that that the restrooms were dirty and the queue was also long. There are many things to see in the park but too bad we didn’t have much time there.

People writing in the wall in the hope of Korea reunification

Dora Observatory Tower

Our second stop is Dora Observatory Tower where we can see North Korea from the top of the tower. It was a clear day when we went so we could see the flag which marked a clear line where North Korea lies. I could see similar housing compound and plants in North Korea thru the telescope. Jun, our guide told us that there are still active mines around the area so we had to be careful not to wander off and walked in the designated path.

Us with North Korea in the background

The Infiltration Tunnel

Our third stop is the infiltration tunnel which was built by North Korean for possible invasion to the South. But a defector revealed the location and South Korean was able to intercept before the tunnel was completed. We got the opportunity to walk inside the tunnel. But be aware that you have to be fit if you would like to enter the tunnel as we had to go down walking with a steep inclined. We also had to wear helmet and if you are taller than 150m, occasionally you would have to duck down. I have bumped my helmet few times because I forgot to duck down. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the tunnel and there was not any reception either inside the tunnel.

The Third Infiltration Tunnel

Outside the tunnel there is outdoor attraction for people to take pictures of.

The border mock up

Dorasan Station

This is our last stop and the end of our tour. Dorasan station is a railway station situated on the Gyeongui Line, which used to connect North Korea and South Korea and has since been restored. Dorasan station is located approximately 650 meters (710 yards) from the southern boundary of the  Korean Demilitarized Zone and is currently the northern terminus of Korail’s Gyeongui’s Line, which is served by Tonggeun commuter trains. North of here the former Gyeongui Line continues as the Korean State Railway’s Pyoungbu Line, but this connection is not in regular service. The current purpose of the station is largely symbolic of the hope for eventual Korean reunification.

We head back to Seoul and arrived around 2.30pm. We were dropped at City hall where we then continued to Myeongdong for lunch. There was a Halal Restaurant in Myeongdong, so we stopped there for lunch before going to Namsan Park.

There is a free hourly shuttle bus between Myeongdong and Namsan Park but we just missed one so we took a Taxi to go to the cable car station. After boarding off the cable car we still had to walk a few stairs to reach the tower. In between there is a love locket area with souvenir shop for people to buy love lockets.

The Cable Car

Love Locket Park

Us with Namsan Tower as background

View from the Top. Too bad the sky was cloudy

It started to rain when we were at the top so we hurried down. There was also a lift for senior people and people with wheelchairs to get to the cable car. It was one full day and a lot of walking. We went back to Hotel by Taxi as it got dark.