White sand private beaches, bodyboarding and beach volleyball: Take your next vacation in Asia’s newest beach destination -- Wonsan, North Korea. Wonsan beaches, on the east coast of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, may not have the reputation of other places in Asia, like Thailand or the Philippines, but new pictures of the soon-to-be-opening vacation spot show how unique a North Korean vacation can be.
Recently, North Korea announced its plans for a beach front resort and a ski resort in hopes of drawing tourism. The Wonsan facilities are not slated to open until sometime later this month, but Sarah Davies, a tour guide and organizer with Koryo Group, a Beijing-based tour company that runs tours to North Korea, got a sneak peek into two of the luxury hotels at the resort.
According to a blog post by Davies, the Kalma and Saenal are luxurious accommodations complete with rentable inflatable boats, bodyboards and other recreational activities, with a North Korean twist. Each of the hotels offers a range of comfortable room options, divided into four different standards ranging from “deluxe class” to “third class.” The deluxe and first class rooms have a list of amenities including a private sauna and Jacuzzis and of course, the published works of Kim Il Sung in several different languages.
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The Kalma Hotel is a sprawling facility that is divided into two blocks. Block 1, features two first-class rooms, 34 second-class rooms as well as three restaurants, a banquet hall, meeting room, karaoke room, and a small bar. Davies also reported that the hotel is also planning on expanding recreational facilities to include a billiards room, a chess hall, ping pong hall and another bar. Block 2 features another 58 rooms that include all four different standards: Deluxe, First, Second and Third Class. And if you’re planning on skimping on your room, you can bet you won’t get the same benefits. “All except 3rd class are equipped with the complete works of Kim Il Sung in pretty much every language you could hope for and amazing china ornaments,” Davies said. The rest of Block 2 also included the same amenities as Block 1.
The Saenal Hotel also features most of the typical hotel facilities like the Kalma Hotel has. Their rooms, however, also feature portraits of late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
As beaches along the East coast of the United States fill up with people trying to cool off, some may want to consider making the trip to Wonsan instead. Located at roughly the same latitude as Jersey Shore destinations including the popular Long Beach Island, the water and weather temperatures are likely to be the similar, but without the crowds! Then again, perhaps some would rather stay a little closer to home.
Koryo Tours still does not know what the rates of the various hotel rooms are, but they hope to be bringing visitors to test the waters soon.