I totally loved Pyongyang while on tour with the awesome tour group Young Pioneer Tours. One of the biggest surprises was the sheer amount of night time activities in Pyongyang – it was a nice pleasant surprise and you are NEVER short of things to do in this city. While it’s not well lit at night, and the city centre becomes a ghost town, I managed to do a load of cool activities while I was there and here are the top 10 night time activities you can do in Pyongyang.
1. The Mass Games, May Day Stadium, Rungna Island
This is without doubt the night time highlight of any trip to Pyongyang. You’ll have to head to North Korea in September to catch it. It’s quite simply a massive show which acts as a visual display of the entire history of the DPRK, the country most of the world calls North Korea. Ticket prices vary from 80 – 300 Euro. It’s worth spending the money on when offered this – you really don’t want to miss it. Trust me. Here’s the entire Don’t Stop Living Mass Games review.
2. Kaeson Fun Fair
Pyongyang is blessed with a great fun fair called Kaeson Fun Fair, also known as Kaeson Youth Park. This offers a great chance to meet the locals, go on rides with them and play dodgems. I went on the fastest roller coaster in the country, nicknamed “The Superman” roller coaster. Entry to the Kaeson Fun Fair is 1 Euro. The rides vary from 1 – 3 Euros. There are lots of stalls selling snacks like hot dogs and ice cream. You’ll probably forget the fact you’re even in North Korea as you wander round this marvellous Fun Fair.
3. Karaoke Bars
There are a lot of karaoke bars in Pyongyang. They are mostly just full of foreigners though, however in the Diplomatic Club you can see locals sing. Karaoke is available in Korean, Chinese and English. We went to the karaoke at our hotel, it’s on the ground floor of the Yanggakdo Hotel. The cost is 1 Euro to enter and beers are also priced at 1 Euro, or 10 RMB. I did a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” just so I could say I had sang it in both North and South Korea!
4. Bowling Alley
There are a lot of bowling alleys in Pyongyang. There is one in the city centre which is frequented by locals, but in all honesty unless you’ve paid for a private tour, your best place to go bowling is at the hotel. We stayed in the Yanggakdo Hotel and there’s one on the ground floor – at the basement. There’s a full bar with beer, soju and other spirits. On our busy schedule I had time to pop in for a beer (8 RMB only). The bowling itself varies between 1 – 2 Euros per person per hour. Very reasonable.
5. Drink in “The Brewery”
“The Brewery” was my favourite bar in North Korea. Mainly because they brew their own beer!! For 22 RMB you can have a nice fresh North Korean Ale. They also have live football on the screen which is a massive bonus. You can relax here. It’s on Floor 2 of the Yanggakdo Hotel. Chill out – you’re in North Korea.
6. Play Pool
In the Diplomatic Club in central Pyongyang, I played pool. I played against Hwang, one of the North Korean guides on our tour. Once you get in there though, you can play pool with anyone. The truth is, the North Koreans are only discovering games like pool and they weren’t yet aware of the rules of snooker either, which I explained to Hwang. I was able to beat Hwang without much effort, as he had only played 3 times before. But it was really great craic. You can also play pool at the billiards bar in the Yanggakdo Hotel. Note that all the locals smoke and the bar has a lot more western products than you could imagine – Heineken being the beer of choice. I favoured the local Pyongyang beer for the entirety of my stay in the country.
7. Have a beer admiring the view of Pyongyang
A few nights in Pyongyang I was pretty tired but aware I was behind on my work, especially all the travel writing I wanted to do from the last few trips. So I sat on a settee by the window overlooking the city of Pyongyang from our Hotel Room, on the 24th Floor of the Yanggakdo Hotel. I sat working on my laptop, having a beer, typing away. I never thought I’d be able to add “worked in Pyongyang, North Korea” to my CV, but there you go. The most notable thing about Pyongyang at night is, it’s just not very well lit. There aren’t many lampposts, and even the massive Ryugyong Hotel is barely lit at night. It’s a good way to save energy I guess, but it will fascinate you that your view onto this massive city is reduced to a few dots of light by night in a dark city.
8. Pyongyang Casino
There are a few Casinos in Pyongyang for sure, but they are limited to people who stay in the hotels, normally. Though I must say there may be a casino lifestyle in Pyongyang that we don’t see as tourists – perhaps the locals have a load of local casinos behind closed doors which we are unaware of. I couldn’t take any photos either inside the casino, or even at the entrance (the guard stopped me) but I did snap one of the sign outside the staircase leading down. You can’t use North Korean Won to buy your chips and you’ll be given special coins to use in the slot machines.
9. Korean Dancing
Koreans love to dance and you can join in dancing with them at the Barbecue Lamb Restaurant and Bar in central Pyongyang. I was up dancing with them as they played local music. It’s all good fun, though like a lot of things in North Korea, there will be about 80% foreigners in the places you go.
10. Have Sex
No visit to Pyongyang could be complete without getting your own bit of Pyongyang going! Get your soldier out and fire the bullets. You’ll get some peace and quiet. This really is a sleeping city by night.
You can also enjoy eating barbecued duck, barbecued pork, dog meat soup and a load of Korean specialities but I’ve left food off this list. Sightseeing in Pyongyang is also better done in the day time. The city gets a bit dark at night so hopefully these 10 things will keep you occupied during your stay in North Korea. If all else fails, retire to your bedroom and watch TV. They even had BBC in our bedroom in the Yanggakdo Hotel…hope you enjoyed my 10 nighttime activities in Pyongyang.
Here are a few videos from Pyongyang at night:
Playing Pool in Pyongyang:
Drinking in the Brewery in Pyongyang:
Singing Karaoke in Pyongyang:
Dancing in Pyongyang:
The Mass Games in Pyongyang:
Watching TV in the Hotel Room in Pyongyang: