If you’re looking for a cheap and convenient way to visit the DMZ while you’re in Korea, I highly recommend taking one of the two recently introduced DMZ-Train Tours. 

Initiated by KORAIL in 2014, the tours were designed to take passengers as far into the North as possible without crossing the infamous 38th parallel. There are two possible routes that offer unique views of this controversial place:

DMZ-Train Tour to Dorasan Station: Dorasan Station is the last train station in the South and the first in the North depending on your location! Starting from Seoul Station, this hour and 20 minute ride drives right into the heart of the DMZ. Located within a confined civilian area, it’s required for passengers to disembark at the station just prior, Imjingang, to check in with passports and receive visitor badges.

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My sister and I posing in from of Imjingang Station, only 209km from Pyeongyang

While on the train, an attendant will come by and have you fill our paper work for the check in process. Here you can choose if you would like to take a tour of the Dorasan Peace Park and Dora Observatory or purchase tickets to explore the underground Third Tunnel. Excavated by North Korea soldiers, walking into this tunnels depths will take you a mere 435 meters from the North. It was recommended to take the tunnel tour and buses were provided from Dorasan station after purchasing a ticket from the ticketing counter, 8,000won. It was easy to follow the queues and directions were given in English. After the tour, our buses took us to a viewpoint to look over the DMZ and peer into North Korea. Be aware that if you choose to see the tunnel, there will not be time for you to explore the Peace Park.

Dorasan Tour times and schedule:

Seoul Station – Dorasan 8am departure, 9:20am arrival. 8,900 won

Dorasan – Seoul Station 12pm departure, 1:10pm arrival. 8,900 won

The second tour

Seoul Station – Dorasan 1:28pm departure, 2:50pm arrival. 8,900 won

Dorasan – Seoul Station 5:28pm departure, 6:37pm arrival. 8,900 won

TIP– If you have time, you might like to visit the Peace Park at Imjingang station. Prior to the initiation of the DMZ-Train tour to Dorasan, Imjingak was the closest pedestrians could get to the DMZ. The area is quite nice with memorials and a pinwheel park. It’s possible to visit both areas in one day if you purchase tickets accordingly- for example Seoul station – Dorasan, Dorasan to Imjingang, Imjingang to Seoul Station. Obviously, it’s only possible to do this if you start on the early train. You’ll arrive back in Seoul at 6:37pm. 

DMZ-Train Tour to Baekmagoji: This tour is the most recent of the two – August 1st, 2014 was the initial route, and takes more time to access the area. The duration of the ride is two hours and twenty minutes. Baekmagoji is set in rural Cheorwon, an area well known for its brutal military past. Wrecked during the Korean War, the area was never fully reestablish and instead, pristine nature took over. After arriving at Baekmagoji, passengers will have the option of a DMZ tour to The House of Labor Party ruins and the Geumgangsan Mountain Electric Railroad Bridge or a city tour to Goseokjeong National Tourist Area and Baengma Highground. The tickets for either tour are 11,000won. 

The House of Labor Party ruins -- took this photo a few years ago while I was participating in the DMZ Half Marathon

The House of Labor Party ruins — took this photo a few years ago while I was participating in the DMZ Half Marathon

Baekmagoji Tour Time and Schedule:

Seoul Station to Baekmagoji 9:27am departure, 11:44am arrival. 12,400 won.

Baekmagoji to Seoul Station 4:06pm departure, 6:35pm arrival. 12,400 won. 

Tickets for either DMZ-Train Tour can be purchased on KORAIL, Korea’s railway service. http://www.letskorail.com/ebizbf/EbizBfTicketSearch.do Tours are available everyday except for Monday. 

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