Let’s be honest. Most probably, it was your curiosity that compelled you to read about a country that is least associated with tourism. What is it like? Is it possible to travel there? Will Kim Jong Un want to meet you personally?
Well, the magic words to the tourist portal of this Korean peninsula are rules, obedience and tour guides. The hermit kingdom of North Korea has its rules. And if you want an experience that may otherwise put you in serious trouble, you will have to obey them to the dot.
You will only be allowed to visit with a tour guide — no solo travel will be allowed.
If you put in the effort and are willing to be disciplined, here are the 7 best places to visit in North Korea on your controlled tour.
1. Pyongyang Metro
At the top of our list of the best places to visit in North Korea is the metro system at the heart of Pyongyang. Opened to the Korean public in 1971, the Pyongyang Metro is the world’s deepest subway system to date.
Opened to foreigners in 2014, the metro has managed to become a prime tourist attraction in the years that followed. Foreigners can take the train and stop at each substation to check the architecture that narrates the history — of its wars, victories and liberations.
This can well be your chance to mingle with the Korean public as the citizens crowd the trains day in and day out.
2. Mansudae Grand Monument
Also known as Mansu Hill Grand Monument, this iconic complex situated in the capital city of Pyongyang continues to be a prominent landmark among foreigners and locals alike.
The 22-metre-tall statues of President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong are the centre of this tourist attraction.
People can’t be seen gathering in the square unless to pay respect to the late leaders, with flowers and bows. It is surely on our list of the best places to visit in North Korea.
3. Triumphal Arch
Standing tall at a height of 60 metres, the Arch of Triumph was opened in Pyongyang to mark the 70th birthday of North Korea’s first leader — President Kim Il-sung.
It is just a bit taller and resembles the Triumphal Arch in Paris, making it the second tallest Triumphal Arch in the world.
If you are entering Pyongyang from the airport, your tour bus may make a stop on the way, giving you a chance to walk around this well-known structure that symbolizes the revolution of the Korean nation.
4. Koryo Museum, Kaesong
Depicting the culture and traditions of the Koryo dynasty through more than 1000 artefacts, the Koryo museum is the place to be for history buffs!
Spacious and surreal, this historical museum paints a picture of Korean history in mind as they get to walk around ancient trees and small hut houses.
Situated in the city of Kaesong, the Korean museum was once an academic centre in the 11th century AD.
5. Tower Of The Juche Idea
The tower of the Juche Idea in Pyongyang was built to honour the political ideology of self-reliance, the Juche philosophy.
Reaching the sky at 170m, the tower was flaunted to the public in 1982, commemorating President Kim Il-sung’s 70th birthday, rightly doing so by building it with 25,550 blocks of granite — the number of days the leader had surpassed at the time.
On top of the tower is a torch that lights up at night. Located along the banks of the famous Taedong River, the panoramic view of the city from the top is worth the five euros it will cost you for the trip.
At the foot of the tower is a statue of 30m in height, depicting the communist influence on the nation, and makes this destination deserve its place on our list of best places to visit in North Korea.
6. Munsu Water Park
Your travel to North Korea will revolve around Pyongyang for most of it —yes, the Munsu Water Park, the largest leisure park in the country was built in its capital city.
Opened in the latter part of the year 2013, the water park has a wax statue of President Kim Jong II, of which you are not allowed to take pictures.
Locals — both young and old, come in numbers to experience the host of activities it offers. With restaurants and cafes inside the gates, you can spend a fulfilling day on your visit.
7. Paektu Mountain
Saving the best for the last, Mount Paektu is a landscape of oozing serenity.
It is the tallest mountain on the Korean peninsula and offers ecstatic views of lakes surrounded by untouched forests and the cleanest of air. Mount Paektusan was also the ground on which the famous guerrilla war against Japanese rule took place.
You will not be able to access the mountain if you visit from May to September, and you can only reach the city by plane from Pyongyang.
An extinguished volcano with a predominantly cold climate, this landmark is one of the best places to visit in North Korea.