Beijing Railway Station, “北京火车站” is where many people’s North Korea adventures begin. Situated at the heart of China’s capital city, this hub was opened in 1959. For those on DPRK trips, it is home to the famous “K27” sleeper train service, which stops at Dandong before moving onwards towards Pyongyang itself. The station thus acts as a meeting point for tour grips to get to know each other, meet their guides and head onwards accordingly.
The station is located at the heart of Beijing and can be accessed by line 2 of the city’s metro service. The central location of the second line makes it easy to switch onto, as well as approach from afar. If you are taking a taxi from the airport, it is not expensive to reach. A typical, albeit not guaranteed journey price costs about 80-100 RMB (£9-11). However, one should be wary of how the city’s chaotic traffic conditions may impose delays on the time of travel. You should always aim to get to the station with plenty of time to get your things in order.
Once you arrive, if your guide is not providing your ticket directly to you, the ticket office is located to the right end of the building’s front. You will need to go through a brief security check to get in. You should collect your tickets from the very first booth visible at the right side of the entrance. Many locals may attempt to push in and jump the que here, so be prepared to assert your place quickly. To collect your ticket, you must provide your reference number (as provided by us the agency) and your passport. You will receive your tickets afterwards.
Things to be aware of
Be prepared for crowds, intense crowds. This may vary throughout the year, but consistently the station is busy. It will accumulate in mass rushes during times before evening departures. You should give yourself time. Entering formally requires bracing a very large ticket que, combined with a security check again on the way in. You will be required to drink any liquids you are carrying and station guards, from your baggage scan, will be extremely picky about any spray or aerosol like contents you may have in your bag (even stricter than an airport); they won’t compromise. Whilst waiting to enter, one will note there is an enormous spree of beggars and touters around the outside of the building, they will always gravitate towards western tourists in the line. You can dismiss them by utilizing the phrase ”我不要“ (wo bu yao!) in Mandarin.
Inside and boarding
Once inside, you should obviously look towards the giant screen for your train number. Look for the K27 which will state “Pyongyang” in an english translation of the characters. It will first assign a specific waiting room for you to head to. From thereon, it will assign you a platform. In the meanwhile, there are numerous places to eat on the inside, including numerous McDonald’s, KFC and several local food outlets. You will be spoilt for choice. The station of course has Wifi, but owing to the large crowds all striving to using it, China’s slow internet connections and of course censorship, don’t expect much from it! When the eventual time to board comes, there will be an enormous rush towards the train. Make sure you are ready for this and account for all your belongings!