99 Things To Do in Pyongyang, North Korea

“Here is a sunrise; ain’t that enough?” – Teenage Fanclub.

backpacking in pyongyang top sights

99 things to do in Pyongyang North Korea

With the DPRK having it’s annual day on the 9th September (thats 9.9), 99 seems to be the most appropriate number so here I present 99 things to do in Pyongyang, North Korea.

what to do in pyongyang in dprk

99 Things to Do in this awesome city: Pyongyang, North Korea

While backpacking in Pyongyang, I was just in awe of the sheer quantity of things to do and places to go hence I thought I’d whittle it down to a top 99. You don’t get a moment’s rest when you travel in North Korea – be ready for an intensive week of endless activities. For a start get your tour booked with Young Pioneer Tours, quoting Don’t Stop Living to get a cool 5% off your trip, not only do they provide the cheapest tours to North Korea, but they have the coolest staff – the best bunch of people. Here’s the hit list of 99, in no particular order…you’ll do well to tick 75 of these off, as I did.

1. Kim Il Sung Square

99 things to do pyongyang

99 things to do in Pyongyang: Kim Il Song Square

The main square in the city is not to be missed. Kim Il Song Square. Good views and typical communist buildings. When parades are on this is “where it’s at”. The rest of the time, it’s one of the least busy or commercial squares in a capital city in the whole world.

2. Watch the Sunset

Pyongyang isn’t quite the land of the rising or sinking sun, but sunsets here are still immense. Down by the river is the best spot. Sip a cold beer – nobody bats an eyelid.

things to do in pyongyang

99 Things to do in Pyongyang: watch the sunset

3. Drink in “The Brewery” Bar

While this is an easy one to tick off (it’s on the second floor near the reception of the Yanggakdo Hotel), they brew their own beer so you can authentically say you had a pint of the local stuff in “The Yang”. Reasonable price too at 22 RMB a pint. I included the Brewery Bar in my best bars of Pyongyang post.

beer in the brewery bar

99 Things to do in Pyongyang – drink in The Brewery

4. Talk to the local kids

Even on a guided tour, you’ll still get the chance to chat to the locals. I found the best spots for this were in the Kaeson Park and in the shops and bars.

things to do pyongyang

99 Things to do in Pyongyang – Chat to the local kids.

5. Watch the Mass Games

I covered it fully on my Mass Games in Pyongyang National Day review but don’t miss it! This is quite simply the second biggest show on earth (after the World Cup Final).

fifa world cup

Got to catch the Mass Games – the world’s biggest spectacle, after the FIFA World Cup!

6. Arc de Triumph

Whether this is a gimmick or a mimmick of the French or Laos one, I’m not sure, but it’s worth getting off the bus to check out. Pyongy’s AdT also has its own underground station.

7. Pyongyang Metro System

I loved it. We did the Revival to Glory route and my full report on riding the Pyongyang metro is worth checking out.

pyongyang metro system

One of 99 things to do in Pyongyang is get on the Metro System!

8. Get Your Own National Flag Out

Not on everyone’s agenda but I’m a travel blogging Northern Irishman with a flag, so I proudly flew it in North Korea’s capital. Hope Kim Il Song is a Northern Ireland fan. We are both northern at least!

northern ireland flag north korea

Flying a Northern Ireland flag in Pyongyang, by the river.

9. Eat Cold Noodles

The saying goes that if you get close to a girl in North Korea some will ask you “have they had your cold noodles yet?”. Must be some kind of euphemism in these parts…saucy indeed but the noodles themselves are average when you finally try them. In fact, I won;t eat them again – wasn’t a fan.

cold noodles pyongyang

Trying some cold noodles in Pyongyang, North Korea.

10. Sing Karaoke

Koreans love their karaoke and whether it’s North or South that doesn’t matter. Sing and drink your heart away at night in one of the many karaoke bars.

karaoke pyongyang

Singing Karaoke in Pyongyang, North Korea.

11. Visit Pyongyang International Airport

For citizens of the USA this is a given as there is no land border open for you guys. We flew into Pyongyang and left by train. This was because I wanted to experience the actual airport in Pyongyang as well as the excellent North Korea to China border train.

jonny blair in pyongyang

Arrival in Pyongyang Airport.

12. Get the Train from North Korea to China

The train out had to be done. Great views, relaxing travel and a few beers to say farewell to a great time in North Korea. The first city in China you see is Dandong, a bridge separates it from Sinuiju. We turned it into a party train.

pyongyang to china

The party train from Pyongyang back to Dandong in China!

13. Visit a Bookstore

There’s a decent one in downtown Pyongyang not far from Kim Il Song Square. Worth checking out for propaganda posters, postcards and all sorts of books. Especially the English translations of the DPRK history. Most of these books aren’t available outside the country.

pyongyang north korea

A book store in Pyongyang, North Korea.

14. Visit a Department Store

Ragwon Department Store in Pyongyang is worth a look. It features food and household goods downstairs. The upstairs is more bizarre as you can buy Arsenal football shirts, washing machines and top of the range TVs.

shopping in pyongyang

TVs in Ragwon Department Store in Pyongyang.

15. Talk to an Army Dude

They’re humans don’t forget and talking to an army dude may well be your highlight. It’s unlikely they’ll speak much English, so if you’re good at Korean, give it a go.

Posing with a North Korean soldier.

Posing with a North Korean soldier.

16. Get on a Local Bus

You have to get on a local bus and experience daily life with the locals at rush hour. Most of the time however you will be on a tour bus, but you can request a private tour to include this.

north korea pyongyang bus

A packed local bus in downtown Pyongyang, North Korea.

17. Buy Some Souvenirs

You’ll get a few opportunities to buy some souvenirs on your travels in North Korea, including postcards, ornaments, stamps etc. I admit that the stamp shop in Kaesong is better than Pyongyang, but you’ll still pick up some cool souvenirs here.

souvenirs pyongyang

Pick up some North Korean souvenirs.

18. Head to the top of Juche Tower

For views of  the river and beyond pay 5 Euros and head up the Juche Tower.

pyongyang juche tower

Juche Tower, Pyongyang, North Korea.

19. Relax by the Taedong River

My girlfriend and I found time to chill out by the river. Locals were intrigued and came over to chat while we watched some badminton.

pyongyang river

Riverside in Pyongyang.

20. Fruities/Pokies

Try your luck on the fruities or pokies. Lots of machines about! They’re’s not really a scene for them here – play it in the hotel!

pokies pyongyang

Playing with the fruities and pokies in Pyongyang.

21. Wave to the locals

You’ve got to embrace the locals. The younger generation take more kindly to waves than the older. Give them a wave and you’ll get a few back.

locals in pyongyang

Wave to the locals.

22. Drink Guinness (an Irishman’s given)

I brought some of the Irish Stout with me just to say I’d had a Guinness in Pyongyang. Devoured it and gave some to my tour guides. One day I’ll return and open their first Irish Pub. As well as a tin in my hotel room in Pyongyang, I also necked a Guinness with Robert at the DMZ.

guinness pyongyang hotel room

Drinking a Guinness in my hotel room in Pyongyang – there are no Irish Pubs just yet!

23. Ride a Rollercoaster

Take Ronan Keating’s advice and get on a rollercoaster. The big “superman rollercoaster” in Kaeson Fun Fair costs 3 Euros and is worth it.

superman rollercoaster pyongyang

Riding the “Superman” Rollercoaster in Pyongyang, North Korea.

24. Visit Kaeson Fun Fair/Theme Park

The theme park which includes the “superman rollercoaster” demands a visit at night. Buy candy floss, meet the locals and get on the rides! It’s one of my top 10 night time activities in Pyongy.

amusements arcade pyongyang

At the entrance to Kaeson Fun Park in Pyongyang.

25. Dance with the locals

You might embarrass yourself, as we did, but it’s worth it. Koreans love to dance. Join them!

dancing locals north korea

Panny and I walking off after our spot of dancing with the locals!

26. Eye Up the Pyongyang Traffic Ladies

While it’s an idea to eye up the very pretty Pyongyang Traffic Ladies, please remember not to be a total pervert. Check them out, take your photo and on you go…they don’t want to add you on Facebook, nor do they want tagged in your holiday pics. This isn’t a beach holiday for one night stands, let me remind you. Lads – don’t get your “yang” out here – or you’ll get “pyong-ed”.

Eye candy with the Pyongyang traffic ladies. Don't get your Yang out or you'll get Pyonged!

Eye candy with the Pyongyang traffic ladies. Don’t get your Yang out or you’ll get Pyonged!

Guys will drool over these sexy traffic ladies but be careful – these girls are hard as nails, they control the traffic system for their capital city!

pyongyang traffic ladies

A Pyongyang Traffic Lady.

27. Eat in a Revolving Restaurant

Head to the revolving restaurant on the top floor of the Yanggakdo for a splendid view of a city without adverts.

revolving restaurant north korea

Eating in the Revolving Restaurant in Pyongyang, North Korea.

28. Get told off

It’s supposed to be a “strict country” so get a warning. Make it mild or you’ll get banned. My solitary warning on the entire trip was for spilling some suncream at Kim Il Sung’s House. A genuine mistake. Oops…

kim il sung house

I got told off for accidentally spilling sun cream at Kim Il Sung’s old house!

29. Stay in a 5 Star Hotel

Pyongyang is so cool that it doesn’t do hostels, couchsurfing or even speed dating for that matter. You won’t be finding any Pyongyang hostels on Agoda, Hostelbookers or Hostelworld. Just flashpack it instead and stay in a 5 Star Hotel! Even I did!

bedroom hostel north korea

Our luxury flashpacker style room in the 5 Star Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang, North Korea.

30. Pyongyang Casino

There are a few casinos in Pyongyang. Photos were banned inside but I got one of the front of Pyongyang Casino.

casino in pyongyang

Pyongyang Casino.

31. Go Ten Pin Bowling

Pyongyang has a load of ten pin bowling alleys – it’s a pretty hectic busy life when you’re backpacking in North Korea so just get down to the alley in your hotel and play away.

99 things to do pyongyang bowling

Ten pin bowling makes the top 99 things to do in Pyongyang, North Korea.

32. Kumsusan Palace of the Sun

The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is a must. It’s the Mausoleum that houses the bodies of Kim Il Song and Kim Jong Il. No cameras are allowed inside and the entire visit can take up to 4 hours. Be ready for lots of queuing and paying respect to these two leaders.


Outside the main Mausoleum in Pyongyang, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

33. Stick Your Head Out the Bus Window

You’re here as a tourist so act like one. Stick your head out of the side of the bus window as you drive through the streets.

bus tourist pyongyang

Being the tourist by sticking my head out of the bus window through the streets of Pyongyang.

34. Eat Barbecued Duck

Duck is famous in all of Korea, not just the north, but the barbecued duck restaurants are excellent.

Loving the barbecued duck in Pyongyang.

Loving the barbecued duck in Pyongyang.

35. Drink from an Ancient Well

The well at Kim Il Sung’s childhood home is perfectly clean to drink from. The water is pure enough. We tried it.

pyongyang water well

Drink from the fountain of youth and never age again – a well in Pyongyang.

36. Moran Hill

At the top of Moran Hill you’ll get another great view of the city of Pyongyang and can chill out with locals in the park.

moran hill pyongyang

View over Pyongyang from Moran Hill.

37. Moranbong Theatre

Those with an interest in the theatre may want to ask about shows that are on (they will all be in Korean of course). We passed by the theatre only.

pyongyang theatre

Theatre in Pyongyang.

38. Play Pool

I played pool down the Diplomatic Club with the foreigners and a few locals. A top spot on a Saturday night, same the world over really, though I did win at pool 😉

playing pool in north korea

Saturday evening pool down the Diplo in Pyongyang with the lads.

39. Play Hula Hoops in a Car Park

This might be unique to our trip only as we were joined by hula hoop expert Marawa!! She taught us all how to play with hoops in the park!

hoopla north korea

My girlfriend impresses the locals in the park by doing a hula hoops performance, inspired by Marawa.

40. Go Clubbing

Get your dance shoes on and head to the nightclub district for a mega night out. OK, so we only made it to the Diplomatic Club and boogied to Abba for half an hour, but still. No bouncers on the door, no happy hour but a good vibe!

diplo pyongyang

Partying in a nightclub in Pyongyang – the Diplo!

41. The Chollima Statue

There are a load of statues to see in Pyongyang and as a tourist it does get confusing as to which one is which. This one is high and has a horse on it.

chollima statue

The Chollima Statue in Pyongyang.

42. Mansudae Art Theatre

This Art Theatre is one of about 4 or 5 elaborate buildings in a park off Mansudae Street.

At the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang.

At the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang.

43. Visit the Famous Ryugyong Hotel

This is often known as a “white elephant” – the hotel that looks amazing from the outside but is apparently lacking in actual decoration inside. At night, it’s rarely lit up, but it’s a stylish building so make sure you at least view its exterior. It’s the defining building of Pyongy’s impressive skyline.

jonny blair north korea

Outside the famous Ryugyong Hotel that pierces the Pyongyang skyline.

44. Victorious Fatherland Monument

This monument is at the Victorious Fatherland Museum which commemorates and celebrates the Korean War.

victory statue pyongyang

The Victorious Fatherland Statue.

45. Check out the American Air Force Captured Planes from the Korean War

There’s a display of planes and weapons that were captured from the US during the Korean War. Worth checking out for historians and plane fanatics.

planes and helicopters us war korea

Captured planes and helicopters from the US Army, taken during the Korean War.

46. Go Backpacking

You’re not here to get stressed or to be a posh flashpacker. Get your backpack on and get out to see the city first hand! It’s really not as strict as what the “western media” has taught you.

One of 99 things to do in Pyongyang - go backpacking.

One of 99 things to do in Pyongyang – go backpacking.

47. Kim Il Sung’s House

This is the place where it all began for the Great Leader Kim Il Sung. Check out his house which is now in an area of vast trees and a few murals, on the edge of the city.

house kim il song

Kim Il Song’s House.

48. Look for Google

I went surfing on the internet checking for the likes of Google, Yahoo and the Northern Ireland Football website.

pyongyang north korea google

Googling in Pyongyang.

49. Read a Book in the Grand People’s Study House

The most elaborate library complex you might ever see, the Grand People’s Study House is fantastic. Rumour has it that the people in there are not really studying. Not sure I “buy all this crap” but certainly when we pumped an old 12 inch vinyl of Don McClean’s “American Pie” on, things became a bit weird!

library centre pyongyang

Catching up on some reading at the Grand People’s Study Centre in Pyongyang.

50. Update Your Facebook Status

People will never admit it but they get jealous of these things on Facebook and they refuse to “like” it or comment on it. In fact, one of my Facebook updates from North Korea got zero likes. Revel in it, my friends!! This is better than your “Amazing. I’m in Ibiza with $3 cocktails” (who cares). “Just having a beer walking round Pyongyang”.

facebook in north korea

Update your Facebook status from Pyongyang North Korea.

51. Post a Postcard

I send my kid brother a postcard from everywhere I go and yes the North Korean one made it back safely! You can post them from the hotel reception, you can also buy stamps from some of the shops.

jonny blair postcard dprk

Posting a postcard in North Korea.

52. Drink Soju

Oh come on – having a shot or two of Soju is a must in Korea, North or South! Personally I hate the stuff, but out of good manners I always take the free shot.

dprk soju drinking

Soju time in the DPRK!

53. Explore Yanggak Islet

We stayed on an island called Yanggak Islet and you can wander around and explore it. Admittedly it’s just a mini island, but remember you are in one of the safest countries in the world for backpacking in.

yanggak island

Exploring Yanggak Island – the island we stayed on.

54. National Football Stadium

North Korea beat Italy 1-0 in the 1966 World Cup, and they also led Portugal 3-0 in the Quarter Final before losing 5-3. In 2010 they also made the World Cup but conceded over 10 goals, and scored just 1. Still worth a look!

pyongyang north korea football stadium

Outside the National Football Stadium in Pyongyang.

55. Taedongmun Cinema

Check out the cinema in Pyongyang, but don’t expect James Bond to come on. It’s all in Korean as well. Of course.

pyongyang cinema

Taedongmun Cinema in Pyongyang

56. Mansudae Fountain Park

A very quiet park near the People’s Grand Study House and Theatre. Decent for a stroll but not busy and not really much to do there.

The Mansudae Fountain Park.

The Mansudae Fountain Park.

57. Dine in a Floating Restaurant

Down by the river there are a few floating restaurants where you can dine out.

A floating restaurant in Pyongyang.

A floating restaurant in Pyongyang.

58. Fire a round at Pyongyang Golf Course

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy might not be sauntering in to play in the Pyongyang open, but who cares. Get your clubs out and fire a round. Par is important in this country.

Fancy a round of Golf in the Yang? Par is important in this country.

Fancy a round of Golf in the Yang? Par is important in this country.

59. Korean Revolution Museum

More museums than you’d imagine in Pyongyang and I didn’t do them all. The Korean Revolution Museum is very anti Japanese.

60. Korean Central History Museum

This museum was another one that we didn’t go into. Things get left off your itinerary and I didn’t really miss it to be honest. Even the Lonely Planet Korea (Travel Guide) doesn’t rate this museum.

61. Pyongyang Art Gallery

North Koreans are VERY talented artists. The main art gallery has a load of top notch paintings. You can also buy the originals to take away with you. Not on my backpacker budget, but the option is there.

pyongyang art gallery north korea

Admiring the elephant art in an art gallery in Pyongyang, North Korea.

62. Spyship USS Pueblo

This Spyship the USS Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans and is now based on a river beside the Victorious Fatherland Museum. You can get a guided tour.

uss pueblo spyship

The spyship the USS Pueblo in Pyongyang.

63. Taedong Gate

Ancient history and architecture hasn’t been destroyed in the modern day North Korea. Taedong Gate is proof of this – and it’s also one of North Korea’s monuments that is known around the world. I even saw a miniature of it at Shenzhen’s Window of the World.

Taedong Gate in Pyongyang - probably the only monument from North Korea featured in world theme parks like the Window of the World in Shenzhen.

Taedong Gate in Pyongyang – probably the only monument from North Korea featured in world theme parks like the Window of the World in Shenzhen.

64. Victorious Fatherland Museum

This museum doesn’t allow photos inside. I’m not sure why as it’s a very insightful and detailed look at the Korean War. It is very anti American – but then of course it should be – it wasn’t the Koreans who invaded the USA was it?! I actually enjoyed the way the North Koreans look down on the Americans and how their role saved the “Korean nation” – it’s just sad that the South has been so influenced by the USA.

fatherlands museum

With a female DPRK soldier outside the Victorious Fatherland Museum.

This is a really insightful museum about the Korean war, the defeat of the USA and a whole load of conspiracy theories are thrown in. You hear every thing from the North Korean perspective so get ready for some strong opinions.

65. Watch the locals play football down the park

We got a unique chance to watch some local North Koreans playing football. This was less than a year after I watched North Korea retain the Unofficial Football World Championship by beating Hong Kong 4-0 away.

local football north korea

Watching the locals play some football down the park.

66. Drink North Korean Blueberry Wine

If you read my previous Thirsty Thursdays on North Korean Blueberry Wine, you’ll know I loved the stuff. Completely the best alcohol you will try in the DPRK!!

blueberry wine north korea

Drinking North Korean Blueberry Wine!

67. Fly the North Korean Flag

It has to be done – I bought one for the trip and flew it often.

north korea flag

99 Things to do in Pyongyang – fly the North Korean flag.

68. Tower of Immortality

This tower is so obvious in the city of Pyongyang. Distinctive and looks quite original. You can’t miss it and you will see it a load of times.

The Tower of Immortality in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The Tower of Immortality in Pyongyang, North Korea.

69. Eat food from your Own Country!

What? You went all the way to the DPRK only to eat your own food?? Yes, I munched a packet of the Northern Irish snack Tayto Cheese and Onion crisps while touring central Pyongyang. Wouldn’t it be nice if Tayto gave me some free crisps or advertising the amount of publicity I do for them!

eating tayto in north korea

How many people have had Tayto crisps in Pyongyang?

70. Visit a Market

The trend of markets in Asia has made its way to Pyongyang, but on a much less obvious scale. You’ll do well to find a market, we found a mini market with some stalls late afternoon one day and went for a walk.

pyongyang backpackers hostel

Spot the foreigner backpacking through a market in Pyongyang!

71. Go Backpacking at Night

Pyongyang houses over 2 million people yet is dead at night! This is really crazy. After dark there is literally nobody about. It’s all a bit strange!

backpacking in pyongyang

Backpacking at night in Pyongyang – an odd city at nightfall.

72. Party Founding Museum

For those really really into politics and the history of the DPRK this is the museum for you.

The Party Founding Museum in Pyongyang gives an insight in the beginnings of the DPRK.

The Party Founding Museum in Pyongyang gives an insight in the beginnings of the DPRK.

73. Ancient Tombs

Not strictly in central Pyongyang, but the tomb of Tang’ Un is worth a jaunt out too in the countryside. That said, we didn’t go there on our trip as we had already seen the King Kong Min Tombs near Kaesong. But at least we got to see some ancient tombs. Korean ancient history is fascinating.

Exploring ancient Korean tombs.

Exploring ancient Korean tombs.

74. Eat Dog’s Willy (Dangogo Gukjib)

Dogs may have small dicks but the North Koreans find meat on them, cook them and eat them. After my first experience trying dog in South Korea, I actually declined to put the dog’s dick in my mouth.

Something to do in Pyongyang - eat dog - and even worse - eat their penis.

Something to do in Pyongyang – eat dog – and even worse – eat their penis.

75. Watch a Rock Gig!

OK so it’s not going to be Bon Jovi, R.E.M. or the Smashing Pumpkins. But you can get some live local music in. We headed to the Lamb Restaurant one night and they had live music on for us. I asked one of our guides if he had ever heard of the Beatles. I don’t if he was lying or not, but he claimed no. He also hadn’t heard of John Lennon. I was slightly baffled.

Live Music in Pyongyang was a lot more low key than an R.E.M. concert...

Live Music in Pyongyang was a lot more low key than an R.E.M. concert…

76. Shooting Range (Chongchun Street)

Get some guns out and go shooting in North Korea? Great idea! Many tours organise this and ours didn’t. I’ve done some shooting before on my travels, and indeed in my home town years ago with the Boys Brigade. But this would be something else. Photo Credit: American in North Korea.

Shooting range in Pyongyang (Photo Credit: American in North Korea).

Shooting range in Pyongyang (Photo Credit: American in North Korea).

77. Barbecue Your Own Lamb

We enjoyed the experience of the barbecued lamb restaurant in Pyongyang. The food was really good! Friday’s Featured Food: Barbecued Lamb in Pyongyang, North Korea

Barbecued Lamb in Pyongyang.

Barbecued Lamb in Pyongyang.

78. Read the local newspaper

You can pick up a copy on the flight, you can ask the guides for one, or you can simply read it in the metro stations. They have English versions of some newspapers and magazines.

Read up on the local news in Pyongyang.

Read up on the local news in Pyongyang.

79. Sauna/Jimjilbang Visit (get naked)

I remember back to my time in the “Jimjilbang” in Seoul, South Korea. You just walk around naked. But men and women are separate. It’s quite an odd experience to be in a sauna in Korea. Pyongyang would be even crazier, I’d say – how often have the North Koreans seen a foreigner naked? This wasn’t included on our tour – slightly higher budget needed…here’s a photo of the one south of the border instead I did…

A Jimjilbang in Seoul, South Korea. Didn't make it to the gym on my trip to Pyongyang.

A Jimjilbang in Seoul, South Korea. Didn’t make it to the gym on my trip to Pyongyang.

80. Get Change in North Korean Won

You have got to get some local currency as a souvenir!! Foreigners are only really meant to use Euros, RMB or US Dollars. We stuck to Chinese RMB as we didn’t spend much there and always in small quantities. It was nice to be able to get some local won to take home though!

spending north korean won

My North Korean Won.

81. Party Founding Memorial Tower

Yet another monument and another tower in Pyongyang! We actually did some dancing in front of it!

At the dancing outside the Party Founding Memorial Tower (on the right in the background).

At the dancing outside the Party Founding Memorial Tower (on the right in the background).

82. Three Charters Reunification Monument

This monument represents the three charters that North and South Korea agreed on in the year 2000. These are:

1. Independently Achieved Reunification

2. Peaceful Reunification

3. Promotion of the Reunification

korea north charters monument

The three charters Reunification Monument in Pyongyang, North Korea.

83. Italian Pyongyang Pizza Restaurant

Just because you’re in the DPRK doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bit of bread with cheese and tomato. OK, so there’s only one Italian Pizza Place at the moment, but it’s a start. You can get a Guinness with it too!! (BUT you have to bring it in yourself like I did)

pyongyang pizza

Pyongyang pizza delivery with a pint of Guinness…not quite available yet though there is an Italian Restaurant!

84. Watch a Military Parade

We had the opportunity to watch the fantastic National Day Parade. A proud nation with a massive army. The parade seemed to last forever!

national day parade 2013 pyongyang

At the National Day Parade in Pyongyang.

85. Find Coca Cola

Rumours that North Korea doesn’t have Coca Cola will be destroyed on your first lunch. They have all this. They have Hennessey, they have Johnnie Walker, they have Nescafe. Don’t believe the media bulldog you hear. But yeah, there ain’t no McDonalds or Starbucks…

A fridge in a restaurant in Pyongyang - all the "normal" stuff including 7Up, Coca Cola etc.

A fridge in a restaurant in Pyongyang – all the “normal” stuff including 7Up, Coca Cola etc.

86. Mansudae Monument

You have to visit the Mansudae Monument. It’s a given, it’s mandatory and an essential part of every tourist trip to North Korea. It’s imprinted into the itinerary. SO get ready to walk up some steps and salute to the heroic leaders of North Korea – Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

At the Mansudae Monuments in Pyongyang.

At the Mansudae Monuments in Pyongyang.

87. Learn Korean

I suck at languages. I tried studying Spanish in Uruguay, I picked up a bit of Cantonese, I checked out the language hacking guide and yet all I could remember was:

“Gamsa Hamnida” (Thank you).

Take the hint and learn the language. The locals will love you more.

Hanging out with my tour guide trying to learn a bit of Korean.

Hanging out with my tour guide trying to learn a bit of Korean.

88. Make a Phone Call

You will be allowed to take your mobile phones into the country but they probably won’t work. If you really want to make a phone call, head to the reception in your hotel and ask.

There are phone booths for international calls in the hotel lobby.

There are phone booths for international calls in the hotel lobby.

89. Film Studio, Tongdaewon

While North Korea might be “propaganda central” there is a film scene on the go and some tours can be incorporated into including a visit to the film studio at Tongdaewon. Same location as the Cinema.

90. Pyongyang Main Train Station

If you choose to get the train in or out, you will get to visit the main train station in Pyongyang. It’s actually a lot nicer than some stations in China. This was the place we said goodbye to our North Korean tour guides before heading north to the border and back into China.

Saying farewell to Pyongyang from the main train station.

Saying farewell to Pyongyang from the main train station.

91. Ryugong Health Complex

This health complex is state of the art – featuring all the usual stuff – gyms, weights, saunas, swimming pools and an ice rink. You’ll need to pay a bit more to get this one in on your tour.

92. Pyongyang Maternity Hospital

People get born here too. Of course. Somehow Pyongyang Maternity Hospital has made it onto some of the scheduled tours. Baffling but one of the 99 all the same.

Pyongyang Maternity Hospital!

Pyongyang Maternity Hospital!

93. Eat Kimchi

Got to be on the list – you’re in Korea!! Kimchi, thankfully comes with most meals in the country. Love the stuff!

kimchi north korea

Another meal, another bit of kimchi!

94. Watch the Football on the Telly

I admit that on the Saturday night and the Tuesday night that we were in North Korea, I didn’t catch the football results as easily as normal. It’s a bit harder to do that in North Korea than in South Korea or China. But I did check all the channels on our TV in the hotel room just in case. Low and behold BBC world news had the results on! Amazing.

do they have bbc in north korea

This is a real photo – I got BBC in my room in Pyongyang.

95. Martyrs Cemetery

A glorious and elaborate martryrs memorial on the edge of the city. As well as paying homage and sparing a thought to these martryrs, check out the views of the city.

backpacking in pyongyang

99 Things to do in Pyongyang – Martryrs Memorial.

96. Look for the lights at night

Pyongyang isn’t quite like New York – this city does sleep. Even the lamposts turn off at night in some of the neighbourhoods. Have a wander round and soak in a city that doesn’t do things by the book. Maybe they’ve got it right. We should all be asleep at night, right? Count the streetlights – they’re good at saving unneeded energy here for sure.

pyongyang by night

Pyongyang by night – a few scattered lights. Electricity saving or what!

97. Toiletry Shopping

The toiletry aisles were completely dead – like no customers! I didn’t buy anything but worth a browse. Either these places are only open to show tourists they know the meaning of a “shop” or the posh locals really buy their toiletries here. One thing I noted – North Koreans are squeaky clean and proud of their appearance.

Toiletry shopping in Pyongyang.

Toiletry shopping in Pyongyang.

98. Take a taxi

Pyongyang taxis are on a meter and easy to spot. Hail one down and tell him where you’re heading. Yes, you’ll need to be with your guide to do this.

pyongyang taxis

Hail down a Pyongyang taxi – they’re yellow and green!

99. Eat a 99!

Ice cream stalls lurk in Kaeson Park, and also down the street from the Arc De Triomph. Have a 99 as one of your 99!

chilsong restaurant ice cream

Fancy a 99?? Get an ice cream from this wee stall near the Chilsong Restaurant.

Right so that should keep you all occupied when you decide to go backpacking in Pyongyang – one of the world’s coolest cities but also quite an odd place if truth be told. I loved it though and recommend a trip. You can take advantage of my travel blog and get 5% off any tour to North Korea with YPT just by saying you follow my blog.

Safe travels!

Book a tour to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours:

Their head and central office situated in Shenzhen, China for all DPRK and general enquiries, and is available to visit by appointment. Our office hours are 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (UTC+08:00 Beijing Time).

North Korea tours.

Email: [email protected]



No. 2804 South Block Lijing Building, Caiwuwei, Jintang Road 48#, Guiyuan Street, Luohu District, Shenzhen City, 518000

backpacking in pyongyang top sights

99 things to do in Pyongyang North Korea

28 thoughts on “99 Things To Do in Pyongyang, North Korea

  • Pyongyang Maternity Hospital sounds like quite the gem! Shame you didn’t get a chance to visit it, though. 😉
    Gotta love how North Korea has some real cool sites and museums to show, and then they throw in the odd curve ball with that hospital.

    As for the lack of nightlife, I don’t think I find that to be surprising to be quite honest. From what I have read about North Korea through your blogs, as well as what I have seen on travel documentaries, DPRK is very regimented in a “Big Brother” type of way. As if the Kim family are like the parents and the citizens their children. So, when night time comes, the “children” (aka the citizens) go home to their families and get a good night’s sleep just to get up early next morning to put in a full day’s work again.

    Plus, being a Communist country, I imagine the locals don’t have a lot of disposable income to shell out on the weekends for beer and entertainment like we do.

    How did your tour guides explain the lack of locals out and about at night when you went out for bowling/the pool hall/kareoke/pub crawl?
    Ray recently posted…King of the NeighbourhoodMy Profile

  • Ray – I didn’t really ask them that question. It got dark really quickly, the streets emptied and we normally got a bus back to the hotel. However we were actually out for THREE nights in Pyongyang. One night was for the Mass Games which was packed, so we saw a load of people at that. Another night was down the Diplo Club which was a very quiet bar and members club – really hard to describe it unless you’ve been there. The other night out was to the Kaeson Fun Fair Amusements park. The other activities like drinking in the Brewery, the bowling and the karaoke we did them at the Hotel. Let me tell you – we got about 4-5 hours sleep maximum a day!

    There is so much to see and do and the itinerary is mega. Almost to the point where I nearly missed out having a beer in the Brewery as we were maxed out. I really recommend a trip. Hence why I made it a top 99. A top 5 or a top 10 wasn’t enough! Safe travels, Jonny

  • You didn’t mention the prison camps! Oh, they didn’t take you there? Oh man, that would have been awesome !! Seriously speaking, I find this seriously unethical and disturbing.

  • Hi Zaina – Thanks for the comment, as a long term global backpacker I visit a few prisons and camps on my journeys – you can check out my recent stuff from Iraq where I visited the Amna Suraka: In North Korea I wasn’t interested in that type of thing – the main appeal is the people, the culture and the activities especially since Pyongyang is still such an unknown city to many. It’s a great place to explore though and I recommend it. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hey Jonny. Just discovered your blog today.
    I have to say that I love it.
    I am impressed by all that can be done over there in DPRK. Thank you for sharing these moments.
    Could you get closer to the local and talk to them? I mean, not just for the time of a picture, I mean having a bear in a bar and so.
    They must have a completely different point of view than ours on so many things..

  • Hi Sam,

    Thanks for the comment and glad to see you found my site. North Korea is a cool place but it’s not cheap for a backpacker! You can get close to the locals and talk to them but only really if you speak Korean – they just don’t know much English or French, or even Chinese. A bit of Korean and you’l be able to chat away! They definitely have a different view on things. Worth checking out!



  • Hi Raul, thanks for the comment. Yes a cool country to visit and Pyongyang is a truly different city to most. I loved my time there, Safe travels. Jonny

  • Nice list. I hope to visit N.Korea some day. But what I have heard you are always part of a guided tour with your guide around you. But you seem to have gone to places on your own. How was it possible?\

  • Nice list. I hope to visit N.Korea some day. But what I have heard you are always part of a guided tour with your guide around you. But you seem to have gone to places on your own. How was it possible?

  • Hi Ramanan, thanks for the comment. Yes it’s a cool country to backpack, I recommend it and go with my friends please – YPT – Young Pioneer Tours. Yes I was also on a guided tour but that just means you have a guide! It doesn’t mean you can’t go places on your own. We don’t guides to hold our willies when we piss, our cameras when we take photos or our sleep in our beds when we sleep. It’s possible if you book a tour or have a local contact. Good luck and safe travels. Jonny

  • Dear Jonny,

    I am at Dandong and will visit North Korea from April 14th to 17th. How did you get to walk around the streets on your own?! I found out we must always be accompanied by tour guide, following strict itinerary.

    Other than that, are the 99 things you wrote in order of importance, so to speak? If not, as I will have only 3 nights, what would you recommend?

    Best winds!


  • Hey Jonny. Your blog really helped with my homework travel in DPRK :D. From watching other videos I tought it was regulated really hard on what you could photograph etc. And I tought it was forbiden to interact with locals and photograph their daily life, but looking at your blog it seems that you get a bit more freedom than I expected.

  • Hi Joe, Thanks for the comment and sorry for late reply. I was in deep depression caused by lies. Yes of course you can walk around on your own, the media is full of shit sometimes. The top 99 are of course not in order, these are just as I wrote them or they came to mind. I hope you have (or had) fun in North Korea, a cool country to backpack in. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Gunars, Thanks for the comment and sorry for the delay – I have been in depression a lot of the last 4 years and not been checking messages or emails. North Korea / DPRK is a great country to check out – I much preferred it to South Korea which is much less Korean and seems to be influenced too much by USA and other commercial states. The real Korea is in the north. Stay safe. Jonny

  • Hi Ash, thanks for the comment and apologies for the delayed response. I have been suffering from long term depression caused by liars. I am glad you enjoyed my post on Pyongyang. Stay safe. Jonny

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