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DMZ Tour - Worth It?

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We will be visiting a friend in Seoul in a few weeks for 4 days. We want to visit the DMZ but have to go either Sunday Aug 9 or Monday Aug 10. There isn't a tour (that I can find) to Panmunjom and I'm concluding that Panmunjom is closed to tours on Sundays and Mondays. I did find another tour that goes to the Freedom bridge, 3rd tunnel, Dora Station and Dora Observatory. Is this worth doing for less than US$50 (and possibly do a tour to Panmunjom again on a future visit)? Or would it be better if we just wait and do the full USO tour on a future visit (whenever that may be -- our friend is moving back to the US within the next year so I don't think we'll make it back to Korea any time soon). I don't want to take time away from seeing and spending time in Seoul if it's not going to be worth it. Here are links to the 2 tours we have to choose from (they look exactly the same):

(1) http://koreadmztour.com/english/tour/tour3.htm
(2) http://www.tourdmz.com/english/07guid/tour2_1.php?tag=Image1_2_1

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    Have you asked your friend his/her opinion? Do they think that the tour is something that is worthwhile? I would pretty strongly suggest that you go with their opinion, as they would tend to have the best experience/knowledge.

    I have been to Korea, but not to the DMZ. For what it is worth, my understanding is that the USO tour is the best of the lot. I would also say, by way of comparison, that I live in Hong Kong and before the handover back to the PRC, you could take a “border tour” that allowed you to “see the border with China”. I did it once in 1986 and it was dull, dull, dull in the extreme. After I moved here, I would and did talk my visitors out of doing it. You just paid to look at the same hills, farmer’s fields and factories that you had on the Hong Kong side. While there is of course perhaps a bit of a frisson of excitement with the DMZ as there are visible soldiers about (and nuclear weapons potentially), you may find it all a bit of a yawn. If there is something you can do in the area, like any walks or hikes in the countryside or visits to traditional Korean villages, that might make the trip more interesting than just staring at barbed wire and soldiers. Or skip the DMZ entirely and get out into the countryside elsewhere to a local temple or festival.

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