Exploring the Must-See Destinations of Pyongyang, North Korea

12/06/2024

Often misunderstood, North Korea is one of the most unique travel destinations in the world. It’s so secretive and closed off from the outside world that many people call it the Hermit Kingdom. Filled with pristine landscapes, beautiful villages, historic buildings and monuments to leaders past and present, North Korea tours are something to behold.

North Korea’s capital and largest city is Pyongyang, located along the picturesque Taedong River. This bustling yet unique city has to be seen to be believed, and in this article, we’re giving you some of the must-see destinations in Pyongyang.

The Arch of Triumph commemorates the Korean resistance to Japan from 1925 to 1945.
The Arch of Triumph commemorates the Korean resistance to Japan from 1925 to 1945.

The Arch of Triumph

One of the first things you’ll see on your arrival when you travel North Korea is the towering Arch of Triumph. This enormous, monolithic structure was built in 1982 to commemorate Korea’s resistance to Japan between 1925 and 1945. More specifically, this triumphal arch was built to honour Dear Leader Kim Il Sung, as he was seen to have given North Korea a new future after defeating the Japanese.

Standing 60m tall and comprising several rooms, observation platforms and gateways, it stands as a glorious monument to a beloved leader. Built from blocks of white granite, the Arch of Triumph is definitely an experience.

The Grand People’s Study House

The Grand People’s Study House is a building like no other in the world. When you visit North Korea and check out Pyongyang, you can’t miss this experience. The Grand People’s Study House is the largest library in the country and takes up a whopping 100,00sqm. It is 10 storeys high and is said to be home to over 30 million books. Up to 10,000 people can use the library at any time, such is its immensity.

It is another enormous structure built to honour Kim Il Sung’s 70th birthday, again typifying North Korea’s unending love for its leaders. You can take tours of the Grand People’s Study House, and even stand on the 6th Floor balcony for an impressive view over the city and river.

The Grand People’s Study House is the largest library in North Korea.
The Grand People’s Study House is the largest library in North Korea.

Kim Il Sung Square

Another site worth visiting is Kim Il Sung Square. This enormous city square holds military parades, and as you wander through the square you’ll even notice white marks on the ground. These are guides for military personnel to stand during parades, creating incredible formations.

Highlights in the Kim Il Sung Square include the People’s Study House at one end. If you travel across the river and to the opposite end of the square, you’ll find the Juche Tower, named after Kim Il Sung’s Juche ideology.

Mangyongdae Native House

Kim Il Sung’s birthplace of Mangyongdae features a native house, said to be his original home. The reconstructed historic village offers a lot of information for tourists visiting Pyongyang, and the area around the village is also stunning. Lush parklands offer the perfect backdrop for an educational experience before taking a relaxing stroll to view the locals going about their daily lives.

Mansudae Art Studio

For lovers of art and architecture, Mansudae Art Studio is a must-visit. It’s North Korea’s top artistic studio, and most importantly, is where all of the country’s giant monuments are designed. Mansudae Art Studio also produces all portraits, paintings, statues and murals of North Korea’s leaders, being the only studio with permission to do so.

The artists here also produce various other types of work for local and international audiences. It’s a great chance to see first-hand the love and dedication these artists show to honour their leaders. While there, check out the Mansu Hill Monument as one of their works. This sprawling series features 229 figures in total, as well as giant statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

Bronze statues in Pyongyang, North Korea, honour Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
Bronze statues honour Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

Pyongyang’s underground metro system

Even if you’ve ridden subways before, you’ve never seen anything like this. Pyonygyang’s famous underground metro system is one of the deepest in the world, built 100 metres underground, partly because it was designed to also serve as a bunker. The stations are decorated with stunning mosaics and statues, and they all feature a theme of goals and achievements. Like so much else in North Korea, the country’s leaders and their achievements are widely celebrated throughout the metro system.

When you visit North Korea, riding around on the Pyongyang metro is an experience in itself. Best of all, it’s known as one of the cheapest mero systems to ride in the world.

Want to discover Pyongyang, North Korea?

Crooked Compass offers life-changing tours through some of the world’s least-explored landscapes. North Korea is certainly one of the world’s most misunderstood nations, and we aim to show you the lesser-known parts of this mysterious country. When you travel North Korea with Crooked Compass, we offer an immersive and perspective-shifting experience like no other. Get in touch with our team to discuss our North Korea tours today.