North Korea Victory Day: Yanggakdo Hotel

Yanggakdo Hotel is the hub of tourist activity in Pyongyang. There are a few other hotels, one we almost had to move to because of VIP crowding at Yanggakdo, and then an overnight trip was scrubbed due to flooding, so in two trips this is the only hotel I have experienced in North Korea.

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Yanggakdo Hotel

Throughout the Victory Day weekend the comings and goings are various VIPs made for great people watching.

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Chinese veterans of the Korean War

The hotel occupies an island in the Taedong River. Guests are free to roam the grounds but not to leave the island. The hotel is perhaps most memorable for it dysfunctional elevators with minds of their own, slamming shut, sinking below floors, and more surprises. Getting to the rooftop breakfast can be quite a challenge as the stairway entrance to the top is often locked. There is also the hidden fifth floor, which I did not visit but a groupmate did and was promptly chased away, followed soon after by a spooky call to his room.

The building is little-changed since I visited in 2010 however the golf course was ripped up to make way for stalled new construction.

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Golf course in 2010

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New construction in 2013

The cavernous lobby includes Unjong Tea, and leads to the main tower and several restaurants. In a separate wing is a bookstore, gift shop, and banquet halls. The 3rd floor has a tailor that can whip up local fashions.

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Lobby

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Lobby cafe

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Rainbow Restaurant and gift shop

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#1 Restaurant and #2 Restaurant

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Korean Restaurant and Chinese Restaurant

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Ad hoc press center

Down from the lobby is the neglected casino, an Egyptian-themed nightclub closed during my visit, and the Macau restaurant. As I understand, locals are not permitted to gamble and this basement is walled off from the separate basement entertainment center.

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Casino Pyongyang

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Night club, closed for night

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Macau Restaurant

Down a side stairway from the lobby on the opposite side of the building is an underground warren of entertainment facilies and the Pyongyang Cold Noodles restaurants. There is a back entrance with parking for privileged locals to drive up, with traffic primarily to the spa.

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Pyongyang Cold Noodles

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Ping Pong Room

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Billiards Room

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Bowling Alley

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Gift Shop

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Karaoke Room, no thank you

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Spa

The rooftop revolving restaurant is aging poorly.

The rooms are basic. The foreigner floors have international channels like BBC, though no CNN, and no North Korean challenges while the guides say the floors for locals are the reverse.

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Guest room

Wake up in the morning and usually you see gray. Sometimes, however, a show is about to start.

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Morning view

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  • Great trip report. I have always wanted to go to North Korea and seeing your photos has really rekindled that desire!

  • ABC

    How much is the room?

  • Al

    Is Yanggakdo Hotel affiliated with any hotel loyalty program?

  • @ABC – I have no idea, none of the tour companies break out the various costs, and very little is obviouslyvpublic when there, I guess I never thought to ask since they must have rates for the occasional guests that are not part of some invited group.

  • @Al – I wish! Though there was something relaxing about being in a credit card and miles and pointa free zone.

  • Joey

    I heard dprk love putting tourists at the yangakkdo because it’s on an island. Was it hard to leave the island without your guide?

  • aadvantagegeek

    Doesn’t look like the hotel was booked to capacity. Great trip report!

  • @Joey – tourists are not allowed to leave the island without a guide, there are low-profile security guards around the island, I have not heard of reliable cases of people trying to sneak out, but any tourist that would try would get themselves and their guides into a ton of trouble.

    @aadvantagegeek – it certainly did not seem full, it is not clear how much is occupiable but there were quite some crowds of VIP guests like a huge Chinese military delegation that bused out early in the morning and came back late at night, you can see all the buses in the parking lot.

  • Lively

    Was it easy to take pictures or did you have to sneak?

  • @Lively- the hotel staff seembused to it and no need to sneak. I did try to avoid pics of people like in the karaoke hall since so many dignitaries were around and I did not want to cause an issue with their egos.

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