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Young Pioneer Tours

5.0 | Excellent
  • 100% Recommend
Service Level
  • Budget
  • Global Operator
  • 2008
  • Xi'an, China
  • 4

Young Pioneer Tours Reviews & Ratings 100% Recommend

5.0 out of 5
Excellent 2 Great 0 Average 0 Disappointing 0 Terrible 0
5.0 Guide:
5.0 Activities:
5.0 Lodging:
5.0 Transportation:
5.0 Meals:

Tour Reviews



Enjoyed my time in the DPRK with these guys September 2018

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Enjoyed my time in the DPRK with these guys, the guides are excellent and really know their stuff, would use again for sure



Had a very special time February 2014

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Had a very special time in the DPRK! Will cherish the memories...It was a roller coaster of emotions and activities.

Some of the things I will never forget: bowing to statues, playing with hundreds of kids, dancing with hundreds of students at a mass dance, visiting a lot of museums and monuments, eating dog..., splashing around in the water park with the locals, getting stared at :-) and having a lot of fun with the group!!!

All thanks to the North-Korean people, our YPT guide and the local guides.

YPT makes sure they have very good relations with the guides, which translates into them being more relaxed toward us than I expected and us getting to see and do a lot of cool stuff. So thanx for everything guys ;-)
Read more

Stride Review

Founded in 2008 by Gareth Johnson, Young Pioneer Tours was created after his years of living as an expat in China. He realized there weren’t enough tour companies catering to the young adventurers, nor at a budget rate. With his friends - who also have a love for being on the road - they’ve created an opportunity for young people to see just how much fun you can have in outlandish and exotic parts of the world. 

What Makes Young Pioneer Tours Stand Out?

  • Tours to unique (and often controversial) destinations
  • Budget tours
A chaotic street in India filled with people and a large truck at the market

Young Pioneer Tours strive to challenge the media’s perception of controversial destinations. Their travel theme is to bring you to places that are considered “dark tourism” - destinations associated with unsettling politics, saddening history, eccentric celebrations, and the like. Visiting a “Dictator’s Playground” or camping beside a fiery crater in the Middle East are not uncommon parts of the itinerary for Young Pioneers tours. 

Who Will Enjoy Traveling With Young Pioneer Tours?

  • All ages 
  • Budget travelers
  • Social and open-minded travelers
These tours typically attract young adults in their 20’s who are interested in exploring places and cultures that are typically labelled as dangerous, weird, or off the wall. If a day wandering through bazaars in the Middle East before partying all night with your newfound friends sounds like fun, then Young Pioneers will be right for you!
four friends wrapping their arms around each other outdoors

They also aim to keep all tours at a low budget rate, making it possible for more people to join their tours. Those on a shoestring budget who don’t mind staying in a hostel will fit in perfectly. Think of it like a backpacking trip - without having to organize the activities yourself.

Most Young Pioneer tours require you to walk approximately 1-3 hours per day on mostly flat terrain. Unless you’re booking one of their ski trips, your days will be spent walking through museums, cities, and markets, so it generally isn’t too strenuous. Just be sure not to wear flip flops!

Top Destinations

  • North Korea
  • China
  • Middle East
  • Africa
  • Soviet Europe
  • Central Asia

Young Pioneer Tours refers to their chosen destinations as “countries your mother would rather you stay away from”. As they continue to expand, they’ve also added tours to some of the least traveled countries in the world (that you’ve probably never heard of). Many of these countries are difficult to get into due to the visa process, but Young Pioneer Tours make it possible!  

A mosque from the outside in the daytime

While they do cover some of the main attractions in some of these destinations, don’t expect your day to consist of photo-taking at tourist spots. Their itineraries are generally a blend of sightseeing and dark tourism. An afternoon of exploring the grand city of Ashgabat might be followed by wandering around a completely deserted beach resort. Or a visit to Persepolis, a UNESCO heritage site, after posing with an AK47 in the sacred town Lalesh.

Young Pioneer Tours Travel Style

three african girls walking on a dirt road

These are “group tours for people who hate group tours.” With a large focus on having fun, they cater to those who find tours to generally be too dry or educational. Their definition of fun ranges widely from exploring natural landscapes, brewery visits, and historical monuments, to cultural immersion, photography, and high adventure. Whatever it is, you’re guaranteed to have an incredibly unique and wacky adventure to tell your friends back home.

two beers clinking with the sun shining through

Since many of their travelers come alone, the tours tend to create a social atmosphere, where you’ll soon find yourself amongst friends. Groups are a max of 24 people, but they mention that they like to keep it at 10 people on average.

Expect accommodations to be at hostels, 3 star hotels, and homestays with local communities. This means very basic amenities, no elevators, and a simple mattress. You’ll be driven around in jeeps and vans. If you’re a simple guy or gal that isn’t too picky, and don’t require luxury for getting from point A to B, then you’ll fit it just fine.

Why Choose a Tour With Young Pioneer Tour?

If you want to be at the forefront of all the action in lesser known destinations, you’ll love traveling with Young Pioneer Tours. As they continue to expand, they remain true to their travel style in the search for all the weird and wonderful things to exist around the world.

You get to first-hand experience what these places and people are really about. With Young Pioneer Tours, you gain a better understanding and appreciation for places before writing it off as a danger zone.

You may have heard of Young Pioneer’s incident with an American citizen while traveling in North Korea, where a young man was detained for stealing a propaganda poster. It is true that unforeseen circumstances do occur, and the fun can get out of hand when alcohol is involved.

Be sure to do your own research ahead of time, and understand that these destinations do come with risks. If you decide to travel with Young Pioneers, you are responsible for respecting the do’s and don'ts that your tour guide tells you to follow. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t abandon the group during your trip.   

Visit Young Pioneer Tours site >


Can I extend my trip with another tour?


Are meals included?

Breakfasts are always included, and dinners occasionally are too.

Are visas included in the tour price?

No, but they will gladly help you organize your visa for an extra charge.

Is there a single supplement?

Yes, it is approximately $155-165 depending on your trip.

From Young Pioneer Tours

Why Young Pioneer Tours?

We at Young Pioneer Tours started from humble beginnings as a group of expats living in China brought together by our love of being on the road. By the nature of our own travel we learnt what makes and breaks a good trip, which made starting our tours much easier. Now, years down the line and countless tours behind us, we have tweaked and experimented with our tours to best fulfil what you guys out there are looking for, making a lot of new friends and having some interesting and bizarre experiences along the way.

We try to find ways to keep our tours as cheap as possible, to encourage all walks of life to come and see our destinations, a factor that has been key in the growth of YPT. All our group tours come with an experienced YPT guide who gives you the opportunity to do things you couldn’t do without them there to make it happen – something which is of utmost importance when off the beaten track. We have a great reputation for awfully fun guides who bring out the travel bug in people while ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

There is an attitude to travel commonly associated with experienced backpackers which we fully believe in; going out of your way to help others on the road, share experiences and make friends wherever you can. It’s this attitude which has opened doors to us that can’t be opened in other ways. Our guides have developed close bonds with the local guides and our regular customers, while maintaining the professionalism required to make everything come together to give people great memories and stories to go home with. Opening doors for people and bringing together like-minded travellers has become our main driving force and always pushes us to get the most out of each destination at a budget price. We love what we do and the community we are involved in and will keep trying to push the envelope for opening tourism in places often forgotten.

The Team

What separates YPT from the crowd in our own humble opinion are our professional, friendly and super fun guides who accompany every group tour, and not only enjoy fantastic relations with our colleagues in the DPRK and around the world, but have the first-hand knowledge and know how to open doors that would otherwise remained closed if not travelling with us. All guides work full time for the company, and are supported by a great team of staff that help out in the office.

7 days
Group Tour
Value - 3 star
Physical :
From: $ 995


  • Three full days of skiing at the Dizin Ski Resort, the largest in western Asia and in the heart of the Alborz mountain range
  • Visit the Golestan Palace – the Palace of Flowers – one of the most amazing historic sights in Tehran full of various halls, museums and gardens.
  • A walk through Tehran taking in the main city sights, giving you a great view of what urban life is like in Iran and opportunities to meet and chat with local people


  • Explore Ashgabat with white marble buildings lit up by brightly coloured neon lights, Ashgabat is a truly spectacular place after dark
  • Visit Nisa, a UNESCO site which was once the capital of the Parthian Empire
  • Discover Dashoguz, Uzbek border and Khiva
  • Explore Samarqand is likely to be the famous and spectacular Registan Square which is flanked by three beautifully decorated
  • Visit Romanenko Fashion Show House, a place that is difficult to describe
10 days
Group Tour
Value - 3 star
Physical :
From: $ 2,695


  • Experience the awesome Photography Workshop Tour
  • Discover Ashgabat's main sites including Independence Park and Independence Monument, the Monument to the Constitution, the Arch of Neutrality
  • Explore Nisa, a UNESCO site which was once the capital of the Parthian Empire
  • Visit modern city of Mary and now a UNESCO world heritage listed site
  • Explore Ashgabat
7 days
Group Tour
Value - 3 star
Physical :
From: $ 795


  • Explore Afaq Khoja, Grand Bazaar and Kashgar
  • Visit Hotan Cultural Museum to learn about Hotan’s place in Uyghur and Chinese history
  • Visit Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves and Subashi Buddhist ancient town
  • Experience Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves and Subashi Buddhist ancient town

See All Young Pioneer Tours Trips >

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