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“It's not like you have a choice”
Review of Yanggakdo Hotel

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Yanggakdo Hotel
Ranked #1 of 8 Hotels in Pyongyang
Hamilton, ON
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“It's not like you have a choice”
Reviewed November 9, 2012

As the headline says you don't really have a choice if you are going to stay at the Yanggakdo or not, as you'll stay wherever the tour makes you, but this place really isn't all that bad.

The beds are comfortable, the bathroom is big with a western style toilet, and the t.v. has bbc world if that's what you're after. My room was on the 25th floor so there is a great view from the room and the windows open so you'll be able to take a clear picture if you'd like.

The hotel itself has many amenities, a post office, casino, karaoke club, 3 or 4 restaurants, gift shops, and a place to buy toiletries.

The real benefit here is that because it is on an island you will be allowed outside the hotel and on the grounds without being under the watchful eye of guides. A small amount of freedom, but it is greatly appreciated.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank HamiltonTraveller18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
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ottawa
Level 5 Contributor
62 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 148 helpful votes
Reviewed October 17, 2012

I stayed here for 5 days with a travelinsider tour group from the USA . As some people have commented before you have to appreciate the fact that if you enter the country as a group you do not get to choose your hotel .I liked this hotel because it was located on an island with land available for you to walk/jog around
on unlike the other hotels here whwere you are stuck inside !
My room was located on one of the upper levels giving me a great view of the city and the river .The early morning mist that hangs over the city at this time of the year makes for great photography especially during Sept . The windows open so you can take pictures and get fresh air .I did not use the A/C at all even at nighttime
The twin bedded room was very small but comfortable .My bathroom was clean and the cleaning staff did a good job keeping it that way.There was lots of hot water . Soap and shampoo,etc were provided but they are not renewed until they are almost all gone .
Try to get on the glass elevator as it offers a good view of the city .
Elevators are slow during peak times .The elevator guys at the lobby do a good job keeping the crowds allocated to available elevators during peak times .Smile at them with a nod and they smile back .The same being said for the doormen .
They are all human beings so treat them as such and they will treat you with respect as well.
There is no room safe ..this is North Korea remember!
There are many stores in the hotel to purchase everything such as watches books , water ,food, beer , batteries, sweets etc, etc .As mentioned before they prefer Euros but take USD and Chinese Yuan even in mixtures .They ladies are very efficient money exchangers .
Breakfast is a mixed buffet bag .Most importantly.....Get there early and BRING YOUR OWN WATER unless you want to wait in line for tea and instant coffee with the terrible tasting creamer . The juices are terrible !! There is milk available at the buffet area so use it in your coffee and tea .The orange juice appears to be made from orange flavor crystals( remember TANG? ).Sliced Apple pieces were the only fruit .There are watered down soups for those who want Asian style soups for breakfast .I filled up on jam and pasteries .
There are egg servers at the back wall for those that can eat eggs .Salads are available from last night's dinner if you arrive early .Bacon will be found if you arrive really early .You will always find something to eat just keep an open mind and remember where you are . This is not North America or Europe .I did not leave the breakfast area hungry, I left satisfied . Remember, a good Lunch is only a few hours away .
You will find knives and forks are quickly used up and are not readily replaced so again another reason to eat early .
Every one that I dealt with in the hotel was very pleasant and I had no problems .
Leave your room tidy before you leave in the morning for the cleaning staff to
cope with . Do NOT put any NK newspapers into the garbage anywhere in NK that have the picture of the leader within it (and they all do ) as this is very disrespectful and you will get in trouble for doing so especially if it is done in your hotel room .Take the newspapers to the reception desk to be on the safe side or leave them in the lobby for others to read .Do not dispose of them disrespectfully !!!!!
There is a casino downstairs .There is a bar as well which I did not use as the drinks were too expensive . There is a post office to mail that once in a life time chance of unique NK stamped post cards . Forget about using the internet as it is too expensive and is" monitored". The revolving dining area at the top has great views and good food . If you are a currency collector the hotel stores do not sell the old currency notes so ask the guide to alert you when this opportunity becomes available ..a complete set in the envelope presentation notes cost 7 Euros without the fancy cover ..I suggest that you do not buy the 20 Euro set in the book presented form as you get all the notes for 7 Euros without the book .Remember it is illegal to have the new currency in your possession .

I have rated this hotel as a 4 star Korean hotel and a 3 star non Korean Rated hotel .
I was satisfied with my stay here !

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank skip n
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed October 16, 2012

Stayed in the hotel for two nights before going to three locations in the northern part of North Korea and gave it a three star rating . When we returned for three more nights it looked so good and welcoming that we kiddingly gave it a four star rating. The pictures I could add are just the same as those that others have posted. Bleak and baron are the best words to describe the decor of the rooms. Fortunately the hot water was on when we were there, but there were warnings that it might be avilable for limited times. (We weren't so lucky at the three hotels we visited in the northern area.)
However, we didn't have much choice. The government orchestrated the whole trip and we have littel chance to comment on or select other properties. This is "the" foreign visitor hotel so accept it if you go to North Korea.
There is a telephone, fax and internet cubical off the lobby. For fun I called home - it was as simple as dialing from any foreign hotel to a number in the US. However, the cost was $8-10 for a minute. Warning, don't make calls from your room - it may be easy but it still costs dearly.
We are in two of the restaurants. We were assigned to "Restaurant #1" (loved the creative name.) Surprisingly breakfast was quite good. Once you scoped out all that was available you could do very well. There is an egg station where you can eggs any way you wish - fried, poached, and a wide choice of omelets.
The bar was just fine for me. I love beer and they make a great beer in North Korea so I was happy.
In the subterranean basement was a karoke bar, bowling alley, spa with lap pool and a casino. Many in our group enjoyed them, tho there seemed to be an additional cost for each.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank CAtraveler94010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
85 reviews
47 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
Reviewed October 14, 2012

Stayed here for 5 nights recently on recent trip to north Korea and had room on the 41st floor overlooking the river and the whole of Pyongyang
Hotel was ok but in fairness very tired..in its heyday it probably was quite a hotel
Food in restaurant was actually pretty good and although I didn't actually have breakfast myself my travelling buddy said it was better than average
Evenings consisted of ten pin bowling( about £2 a game per person) but they have a habit of turning the ac off in there and the heat can be quite unbearable
There's also ping pong ( about £3 an hr) or pool for the same price
There's a bar/restaurant on the very top floor supposedly revolving( it didnt!) it was sparsely occupied up there and tourists really only used it for views of Pyongyang
On the plus side beer was pretty cheap..it was local stuff and cost less than a euro for a 650ml bottle and to be honest was pretty good
They advertise a golf course on the island but that now seems to have gone??
Overall my stay was ok and it doesn't really matter if the hotel is recommended or not because you won't have any say where you stay anyway!
There's a coffee shop in the lobby area that sells a local home brew draught at a near western price but believe me give it a miss

Room Tip: Get a room at the back overlooking the river ..you can get some great shots of Pyongyang first thing...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank smithy69uk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong, China
Level 6 Contributor
98 reviews
96 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 123 helpful votes
Reviewed October 9, 2012

The hotel has anything and everything you need. Continuous hot water/ electricity, bowling alley, casino, multiple restaurants, gift store, watch store selling swiss watches, revolving restaurant.

This is no doubt the best hotel in Pyongyang but the cash strapped government has failed to maintain its former glory.

Bathtub had stains, there were stains everywhere. You wonder if the cleaner even uses cleaning products.

TV has BBC but did not have any local channels.

Be prepared as you probably dont have a choice of hotel!!

If I had known about the hidden Level 5 of the Yanggakdo hotel, I would have paid a visit to it. I suggest anyone reading this to visit level 5 and post their photos and experience about their visit.

I really enjoyed Pyongyang.

Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
Helpful?
Thank jcjchung
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Pyongyang hotels

paris
Level 6 Contributor
85 reviews
83 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2012

As most of the western travellers to DPRK, I went there with a tour, meaning that I did not chose my hotel. After some readings of TA's reviews, my level of expectation was not very high (that's why I give it a 4... would I rate the same standard somewhere else in the world, I would probably give it a 3, or maybe a 2...).

My room was rather large, definitively in need of a global refresh.... but the aircon was working properly, my bed was more or less comfortable, I did not suffer from any power- or hot water cut during my stay.

Had only I diner in the hotel: though nothing memorable, the meal was acceptable (can't remember if it was at the Restaurant no 1 or no2...! not sure there is much difference).

There is a lot to do in the hotel: drink a fairly good beer at the micro-brewery (less than 3€ a pint), visit the typical public-bath in the basement (very similar to the Japanese onsen), play ping-pong... and enjoy the DPRK experience;-)

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank manywhere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level 6 Contributor
99 reviews
43 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 97 helpful votes
Reviewed October 6, 2012

Hotel itself is a typical large hotel catering to tourist groups. Impressive lobby, with a few shops selling sundries, party leaflets, books, prints etc. There is also a 24 hour post office and "internet" cafe, where you can send e-mails from the hotels address.. ie not from yours. If you are writing in English, you are watched.

Going to the rooms is a bit of an adventure, the lifts are painfully slow and often just returned to lobby for no reason. One of our party forgetting something on the 40th floor took over 20 mins to go up and back down.

Rooms are up to a good standard, ours was clean, although check out the number of cables coming out the back of the cheap radio / lighting controller between the bed. There were 24. Interestingly in our room, the mirror was screwed on to the wall with the room adjacent, having no markings on the door. Suspicious as every room had a free hanging mirror.

The bowels of hotel has a pool room, a pool, bowling, karaoke, hairdresser etc. etc, We spent several fun evenings down there. There is also a casino (for guests only, not for North Koreans) run by Chinese from Macau. Changing money is complex, but the chips make a nice souvenir.

Food was OK, the breakfast buffet is passable, although get there early to get the best food and avoid queues. The revolving restaurant at the top provides splendid views and food is OK too.

Considering the North Korean location, it is a very good hotel, 24 hour electricity, 24 hour hot water, which is more than you can say for the rest of the country.

I would have given it an extra rating if it were not for the lifts.

Room Tip: Higher the better as the windows can be opened and you can take some excellent photos.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank IJKMan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Yanggakdo Hotel

Property: Yanggakdo Hotel
Address: | Yanggakdo Island, Pyongyang, North Korea
Location: North Korea > Pyongyang
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Casino and Gambling Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 8 Hotels in Pyongyang
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 168
Also Known As:
Yanggakdo Hotel Pyongyang

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