Helmut Uttenthaler has written an account of his September 2008 trip from Austria to North Korea via the Transsiberian railway. His journey took him by train all the way from Vienna (Austria) to Pyongyang (North Korea) travelling via Slovakia, Ukraine and Russia. He used a route into North Korea which had apparently been reported as not allowing access to tourists. This was the Hasan/Tumangan border crossing between Russia and North Korea.
Helmut Uttenthaler reports that the trains used in this trip which started on Sunday 7 September 2008 were the following:
- 11.28 Wien Sudbahnhof (Austria) - Bratislava (Slovakia).
- 13.47 Bratislava (Slovakia) - Kosice (Slovakia). Train No. 609 with about 10 Slovakian cars and Ukrainian sleeping car (Wien to Kyiv)
- 20.07 Kosice (Slovakia) - Cierna nad Tisou (Slovakia). A local train which conveys Kosice to Moscow sleeper cars. Helmut Uttenthaler boarded a Russian sleeping car here. On arrival at Cierna nad Tisou the sleeper cars were attached to another local train which makes the short border crossing to Chop (Ukraine).
- 03.32 Chop (Ukraine) - Moscow (Russia) . Sleeping cars from Wien, Kosice, Budapest, Beograd and Zagreb are attached at Chop to train from Uzhhorod (Ukraine) to Moscow (Russia). At Lviv and Kyiv sleeping cars were detached. Arrival in Moscow at Kievskaya station was at around 10.00 on Tuesday 9 September.
- 13.19 Kazansky station, Moscow (Russia) - Novosibirsk (Russia). The train was No. 118 bound for Novokuznezk. Arrival in Novosibirsk was at 16.39 on Thursday 11 September.
- 17.28 Novosibirsk (Russia) - Barnaul (Russia). The train was No. 601 to Biysk. The train arrived in Barnaul at 22.40 (Moscow time), 01.40 (local time).
- 10.47 (Moscow time), 13.47 (local time) Barnaul (Russia) - Novosibirsk (Russia). The train was No. 626 and arrival at Novosibirsk was 15.18.
- 20.07 (Moscow time), 23.47 (local time) Novosibirsk (Russia) - Usole-Sibirskoe (Russia). The train was No. 12 Chelyabinsk – Chita. Arrival in Usole-Sibirskoe was at 02.13 (Moscow time), 07.13 (local time).
- 12.15 (Moscow time), 17.15 (local time) Usole-Sibirskoe (Russia) - Irkutsk (Russia). Arrival in Irkutsk was 18.24 local time on Sunday 14 September.
- 01.03 (Moscow time), 06.33 (local time) Irkutsk Passashirskiy (Russia) - Ussuriysk (Russia). The train was No. 2 The Russia Moscow to Vladivostok. Helmut Uttenthaler travelled in a sleeping car of North Korean railways. The direct sleeping car runs twice monthly on the 11th and 25th of the month departing from Moscow at 21.25 and arriving in Irkutsk four days later. This sleeping car is detached from the train at Ussuriysk just before Vladivostok. Arrival in Ussuriysk is due at 21.27 (Moscow time), 04.27. (local time). The train arrived here on Thursday 18 September.
- 09.05 (Moscow time), 16.05 (local time) Ussuriysk (Russia) - Khasan (Russia). The Korean sleeping car was attached to the train No. 966. The train arrived in Kasan at about 23.00 local time. North Korea is only 1600 meters from Kasan.
- 05.00 (Moscow time), 12.00 (local time) Khasan (Russia) - Tumangan (North Korea). Arrival in Tumangan was at about 10.30 local time.
- 17.50 Tumangan (North Korea) - Pyongyang (North Korea). Departure of train No. 8 was delayed until 20.00 on Friday 19 September. Arrival in Pyongyang was at about 02.15 on Sunday 21 September. Total journey time 13 days, 8 hours and 30 minutes.
Helmut Uttenthaler has produced two videos, a combination of photos and videos, which show what he experienced on his rail trip from Vienna to Pyongyang.
Helmut Uttenthaler advises that:
Although we successfully entered North Korea via Tumangan, we were later via e-mail told by our travel agency, that our trip caused serious troubles at KITC (the governmental "Korean International Tourist Company") and that they have enforced new regulations to avoid any not agreed (with KITC) entry via Tumangan in future. I can therefore - untill KITC officially accepts this border point for tourists - not recommend to repeat what we did, as trying to do so might end up with another result...
Helmut Uttenthaler's report is available at:
This page was added on 29 October 2008. Updated on 19 December 2011.