Room rates at the Emperor Hotel and Casino in Rason SEZ, North Korea. 780 RMB = 128 USD for the cheapest room, 1680 RMB = 276 USD for their top suite.
Pipi Island and the Emperor Hotel and Casino – a custom gambling trip could easily be arranged if anyone is interested!
No visit to Rason, North Korea would be complete (at least for those interested in business or entertainment) without a stop at the Hong Kong investor owned Emperor Hotel and Casino. The second casino in North Korea (the original being a small dodgy room in the Yanggakdo International Hotel basement), the Emperor Hotel and Casino is located on a lonely stretch of coast with farmers and oxen tilling fields right up to the empty parking lots.
The lobby is spotless, the restaurant promising (but empty), and the signs politely remind Chinese gamblers not to spit. Visitors can only gamble if they exchange a minimum of 500 dollars into chips – we didn’t, so we couldn’t visit the gaming floor. Neither did we visit the dodgy Chinese massage parlor, but as per our guide’s proud recommendation, we did use the county’s only 5 star bathroom.
The casino has a fleet of Humvee vehicles reportedly confiscated from Chinese mafia gamblers who lost millions of dollars and refused to pay their debt. They left the Humvees instead, which are now used to shuttle patrons down from the Chinese border – they must have been on a run, we searched for the Humvees but the casino motor pool was empty.
And if this wasn’t all surreal enough, there is even an associated pawn shop for unlucky gamblers located on the road leading to the casino!
More pics of the Emperor Hotel and Casino:
Dodgy Chinese massage!
Welcome to basement floor #1 of the Yanggakdo International Hotel of Pyongyang, the one and only red light district open to foreigners in all of North Korea. Don’t expect to find any North Koreans in this shady area, this floor is forbidden to residents and staffed only by Chinese workers. Here the adventurous can party at the Egypt Palace Karaoke and Nightclub, try their luck at the Casino Pyongyang, and get a naughty Chinese massage in the VIP room of the Golden Spring Island Sauna. While this all sounds like a Hangover movie in the making, in reality don’t expect too much. During my visit to basement floor #1 I found the nightclub closed, the casino empty and depressing, and the naughty massage parlor simply intimidating.
On a side note – my father runs a video game company and in the past was involved with casinos, so I took a close look at the serial number tags on a handful of the slot machines that sat unpowered in the Pyongyang Casino. All of the slots were registered and had come from the United States! I wish cameras were allowed so I could have recorded some of the tags – would have been fun to track these machines down.
Check out all my North Korea pics at my Flickr Photostream
- S Korea to send medicine to North (bbc.co.uk)
- Massive Human Billboard Mosaics of the North Korean Arirang Festival (laughingsquid.com)
- North Korea in Autumn – David Guttenfelder (oxfordschoolofphotography.wordpress.com)