Kaesong Hotels

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Kaesong Folk Custom Hotel: Traditional Korean Hotel

There are very few places where visitors are permitted to stay in Kaesong and you, like me, will most likely stay at the traditional Korean style Folk Custom Hotel, opened in 1989 and situated on the periphery of Kaesong old town. This is a good thing as long as you are aware that it is a traditional Korean hotel so you will sleep on a padded floor mat and eat sitting on the floor.

The hotel is essentially a block of the old town which has been hived off and developed into traditional Hanok style accommodation for tourists. Judging by the central steam and the wide paths separating the small compounds of accommodation units and by comparing this to the crampness of the old town as seen from Mount Janam, the hived of block may not be entirely representative of the remainder of the old town. As you are not allowed out of the hotel and into the old town you will not be able to do a direct comparison.

A large wooden gate keeps you inside the hotel compound (picture 5) – naturally for your own protection or as Tan Wee Cheng rather sarcastically puts it in his book – ‘Hot Spots and Dodgy Places’:

‘To protect honoured tourists from the harassment and dangers of excessive interaction with residents of the old town, our beloved, Dear Leader has turned an entire area of the old town into the Folk Hotel, where tourists stay in traditional houses and wander along a few short alleys within the walled confines of the hotel beside a picturesque stream, without ever stepping on to the open streets of Kaesong’.

How incredibly thoughtful of the Dear Leader.

The majority of accommodation units are aligned in accordance with the 'Baesanimsu' principle which requires that homes should feature mountains behind and running water at the front.

The grounds themselves, while small, are nice for a stroll and after dark you can admire the lit statue of Kim Il-sung on the hill behind the hotel. Two pictures on my Kim Il-sung watching from on high review were taken from the hotel grounds.In addition to a restaurant, the subject of a separate review, the hotel has a small bar (where we got an early coffee while waiting for breakfast the following morning) and a gift-shop – nothing special there.

The units are basic but cosy. Our unit had two small rooms located either side of an entry hall and a bathroom. The floors (excluding the bathroom) are covered in mats and heated by the traditional ondol system. Traditionally in the ondol system hot air/ smoke from open fireplaces was forced through flues under the floor. Imagine a chimney below the floor until it turns upwards and exits the house. Nowadays, typically, pipes carrying hot water under the floor are used.

My bed consisted of a fairly thin padded floor mat and a rather hard rice pillow. I found the under floor heating a bit warm and was hoping for a power cut during the night though I later found out that that would not have had any impact given the ondol heating system in use at the hotel.

There was no hot water in our room – we had been warmed that this was typically the case here.

Overall a delightful experience and a nice variation to the 1950s soviet style rooms we had in other locations on our North Korean trip. Another more regular style hotel was offered as an option to this one. Unless you have a particular impediment to sleeping on the floor I strongly recommend you stay here, as everyone in our group did.


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Having checked in it was time for dinner – do join me in the restaurant.


Traditional Korean Style

  • Opinion of Price: N/A
  • Related to: Historical Travel
  • Written August 1, 2014
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Kaesong Folk Custom Hotel

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  • Orchid profile photo Orchid
  • Reviews: 312

3 out of 5 starsUser Rating

Folk Hotel: Grounds Better than rooms...

The historic town of Kaesong is composed of traditional Hanok style houses, with their distinctive rood profile. And so, the Folklore Hotel in its compound near the centre of town is built from these buildings, laid out in a very pretty garden setting, with a stream running through it lengthways.

The rooms are traditional, ones bedroll is laid on the floor. The 'ondul' hearing system is electric. The less said about the wiring the better.

Attached bathrooms are functional, if rather large!

The restaurant where we at our meals is one where one eats sitting on the floor. The evening meal was OK. The breakfast was not so good.

Rather pleasant to stay in these traditional buildings, after the standard identikit nature of other hotels in the DPRK. Because the compound is closed (and locked at night), one is free to walk in what seems like a small park.

The brutal fact is, you have no choice of hotel. This one is interesting.

  • Opinion of Price: about average
  • Related to: Road Trip, Architecture, Historical Travel
  • Written April 6, 2013
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Inside the compound - Folk Hotel

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  • Willettsworld profile photo Willettsworld
  • Reviews: 8151

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Kaesong Folk Hotel: Traditional Korean accommodation

We stayed the night here, at the Kaesong Folk Hotel, in the middle of the old part of Kaesong which was spared bombing during the Korean War. It's a beautiful place with small traditional houses surrounding small courtyards and the whole complex has a little stream running through the middle of it. You don't have conventional beds here but instead, you sleep on the floor which has underground heating. Rooms come complete with a small fridge and a TV. My bathroom was the best looking one in the world and I couldn't get any water to come out of the shower, yet alone get any hot water. I also found three large bugs in the bath!

  • Opinion of Price: N/A
  • Written September 7, 2008
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  • schwein profile photo schwein
  • Reviews: 229

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Kaesong Folk Custom Hotel: Downtown Kaesong



This is a 2nd class hotel in Chanam-dong, the old center of Kaesong.

Built of traditional one-storey houses on either side of central stream dating from around 1900, this hotel opened in 1989. The 19 houses have 50 rooms altogether.
The decorations are traditional, and so is the furniture (beds are typical Korean: soft sleeping mats positioned on the floor).
Apparently it's possible to change money in the hotel, but I recommend doing it before you enter the country for favourable rates.

The restaurant's food is pretty damn tasty, and the souvenir shop has a decent selection of unique items to purchase.

  • Opinion of Price: N/A
  • Related to: Backpacking, Road Trip, Beer Tasting
  • Written July 14, 2008
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Kaesong Folk Custom Hotel

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