DMZ Half Day Tour
The DMZ or the Korean Demilitarized Zone is one place in the world that you either would very much love or dread to go. It is a no surprise for some people to feel fear since it is only just the most heavily militarized border in the world and people (military and civilians) actually died in some incidents here. But have no fear guys! We went to the DMZ, saw North Korea and came back home safely!
Our tour agency for this trip is VIP Travel. Remember, you cannot go to the DMZ without a tour agency! Yup, you cannot DIY your trip here so get a legit and trusted tour agency! VIP Travel is one of them and they took care of everything for us. Just bring your passport with you, some snacks and you’re all set.
Having said that, let’s begin with our virtual tour of DMZ in this blog post. Read on.
For travel guides to South Korea, Check out our 2015 6D5N S. Korea Itinerary and Expenses here! and our 2016 7D6N Winter trip here!
Looking for budget friendly accommodations in Korea? Check out my review of Zaza Backpackers Hostel here and Hotel Maui here! For more recommended accommodations, click here or search for more hotels/hostels here.
We were picked up by VIP Travel in City Hall station at 7:30AM by a nice, almost luxurious bus. Guests can also be picked up in their hotels as long as it’s along the way and there’s spacious parking at the side of the road.
At around 9AM we arrived at our first stop, the Imjingak Park. This is where the tour agency will register the tourists. While the agency registers your names, you will be given time to explore the park and take pictures. You can go to the Peace Bell, see the Freedom bridge and a steam train called ‘Iron horse wants to run’.
The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel
After the registration, you’ll now travel by bus to the 3rd infiltration tunnel. Going to the tunnel, you’ll pass a bridge they call ‘Cow Bridge’. The construction was sponsored by Chung Ju-Yung, founder of Hyundai. They call it such because in 1998, Chung Ju-Yung led 50 trucks holding 500 cows to North Korea as payment from the 2 cows he stole from his father when he was still in Japanese Korea (now North Korea). Young soldiers that are stationed here would check everyone’s passport so please have your passport ready always.
You’ll notice that I don’t have pictures of the cow bridge because it’s prohibited to take pictures while inside the bus. So please, always listen to your tour guide attentively. You might get into trouble if you don’t.
The 3rd infiltration tunnel (or the 3rd Tunnel of aggression) is one of the four known tunnels built by North Korea aimed to use as passage across the border to infiltrate South Korea. South Korea believes that there are 20 more tunnels built but haven’t been discovered yet.
Before proceeding to the tunnel, our tour guide let us watch a short film about the history of the DMZ and the tunnels. After learning a lot from that film, tourists will proceed to the entrance of the tunnel and our tour guide explained the tunnel’s map and reminded us that taking pictures inside the tunnel is strictly prohibited. You have to leave your belongings (if any) in a locker provided.
At the tunnel’s entrance, you have to pick and wear a protective cap because there are areas wherein its height is less than 6 feet that you have to duck down to move forward. Going down the long steep incline up to the end where the MDL (Military Demarcation Line) is easy but going up is the real test! Please tell the tour guide beforehand if you have any ailments because going back up ain’t a joke. We had a real workout that day.
Besides the tunnel, there are also sights in the area worth looking and taking pictures at like the Unifying Earth, a big DMZ logo and a small beautiful park with a pond. You can also buy souvenirs in the gift shop like t-shirts, jacket, fridge magnets, etc.
No offense to the other parts of the tour, but this one is my favorite of them all. Why? We saw North Korea. Plain and simple. I mean, it’s a different feeling when you see a place from afar knowing that’s probably the closest you will get to be. Unless of course we take a North Korea tour coming from China but I doubt we will do that.
Anyway, we were lucky that there’s no fog and the view was clear. You can even take a closer look using the binoculars for 500 won for like 3 minutes I think.
While there, we can hear music playing from below. Our guide told us that’s North Korea’s propaganda song. The song’s rhythm is nice and catchy if you’d ask me. Just don’t know about the lyrics though.
Dorasan station is also an interesting one. It is the station that connects the South to the North but now operations has been stopped mainly due to the industrial factories of South Korea in the North being shut down. South Korea once shipped materials to the factories and employ North Korean laborers but now as our tour guide said, North Korea is claiming those factories as their own.
The station would’ve connected South Korea to Pyeongyang then to China where it connects to the Trans Eurasian Railway network. Can you imagine traveling from Busan up to Western Europe all just by train? It’s a traveler’s dream!
At the ticket counter, you can have a Dorasan station commemoration stamp as souvenir. Just don’t stamp it in your passport! We saw someone who did though.
I am one with the many Koreans hoping that one day, peace will come between the two divided Koreas. I hope that someday ideologies or whatever differences they have can be left behind all for unification. I also strongly hope that violence in the border or in any part of the Koreas would never happen again. I feel for the Koreans whose families were separated due to the conflict that up to now, haven’t seen each other.
We booked our half day DMZ tour with VIP Travel for 50,000 won each.
FB Page: www.facebook.com/viptravelkorea
- South Korea DIY Trip: 6D 5N Itinerary and Expenses
- South Korea Winter Trip 7D 6N Itinerary and Expenses
- 12 Budget Tips from first timers in Seoul, Korea
- Top 10 Things to do in Seoul
- Hotel Maui DDM – New Hip Budget Hotel in Seoul
- Budget Hostel in Korea – Zaza Backpackers
- Top Seoul accommodations as recommended by travelers
- Hangang River Ferry Cruise / Yeouido Park
- Korean Folk Village; Tradition, Nature and Fun
- N Seoul Tower; A Thoughtful View of Korea
- Ewha Womans University / Sinchon / Hongdae
- Nami Island; Walking in Nature’s Art
- Petite France
- Haneul Park; From wasteland to Heaven on Earth
- Temple Hopping in Seoul; Jogyesa – Bongeunsa
- Trick Eye Museum and other quirky places
- DMZ Half Day Tour
- Bukchon Hanok Village – Past Meets Present
- Meat-Ing Cheap BBQ Buffet Hongdae Korea
- Seoul Food Trip / Two Two Chicken
- Seoul Food Trip Part 2 – Winter Edition