Eco-friendly travel guide to Pyongyang advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Pyongyang, North Korea.
- Air quality: 1.5 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 4.5 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 4.5 / 5
- Public transportation: 2 / 5
- Parks: 3 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 3 / 5
- Safety: 3.5 / 5
- Accommodation: US$50 - $300
- Budget per day: US$400 - $500
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea. There are various reasons why a person will travel to this city. However, we cannot say that it has a bubbly tourism sector.
It is essential to know that there is no freedom in this city as the government controls everything. Thus, being a responsible traveler entails following the rules and regulations.
Foreigners should always have a local guide when moving around in this city as part of their laws.
Being a responsible traveler entails buying things from local vendors. It shows that you appreciate their works and do not mean any harm.
Air Quality and Pollution
Asides from the lack of Independence in North Korea, another thing that discourages people from visiting the county and Pyongyang is its air pollution. This country ranks high in terms of air pollution.
Sometimes, a person cannot help but visit this place. In such a situation you should expect to meet low air quality due to the various activities in this city.
The best thing is to guard your health by being careful of the various places you visit. It will also come in handy to have a nose mask and other health essentials.
This place’s low air quality is one of the reasons why people do not stay long in North Korea.
Respect the Culture
As a foreigner in Pyongyang, you must be respectful. It would help if you are respectful both to the people and the government.
One way of ensuring that this happens is by respecting privacy. This means that you must not take pictures that depict poverty in the city. It is against the laws of the country, and your device will be confiscated.
You must also seek permission before you snap anyone in this city. Taking pictures without a permit is seen as disrespectful.
It is also vital that you do not see yourself above anyone in this city. They do not like foreigners who appear proud and pompous.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Although some people may say that Pyongyang is a rigid city, it has many beautiful places.
Some of them are:
• Munsu Water Park: It is a water park in the city where people visit to have a great time. You get to go on different rides and let go of any worries. You can enjoy yourself at this place either alone or in a group. It also comes in handy that it is perfect for both adults and children. We can assure you that you will have a swell experience.
• Tomb of King Tongmyŏng: It is a mausoleum of ancient kings in the city. The locals have respect for this place, and we are sure that you will notice it during your visit. In total, there are 63 individual tombs of the period. It is an intriguing place and also a World UNESCO Heritage Site. It usually gets a high inflow of foreigners.
• USS Pueblo: Some people are usually curious about the army and how they operate. It could be that you are amongst such persons. The best way to solve this curiosity s to visit this army museum. It showcases different army instruments and also gives details on various stories. Most of these stories are usually about the Korean war. Visitors also get to see artifacts that were used during the war. You will learn a lot by the time you leave this place.
• Kaeson Youth Park: From the name, you can tell that this is a lively place. People visit this park to relax and have a chill experience. It allows you to meet new people and possibly make friends. Asides from the rides, there is a garden to admire and have a quiet time. The experience here usually gladdens the heart.
• Taesongsan: It is a mountainous area in the city. However, it has other attractions that make visiting it a wholesome experience. When people visit this place, they either go hiking or challenge themselves to climb to the peak. You can do any of them. There is also an ice rink to have fun. We know that people usually like this option. The Korean Central Zoo is also in this area.
• Potong River: For some reason, this is one of the famous places in Pyongyang. Some people say that visiting it has a way of relaxing the mind due to the peace that water brings. The locals are in the best place to give the history of this river.
• Central Botanical Gardens: Stories say that the garden was planted by the supreme leader Kim Jong Un in a day. It gets the attention of many tourists. There are both guards and guides at this place. Visiting it lets you see different plants. The experience is usually worth it.
• Taesongsan Funfair: Some people say that it is impossible to get tired of visiting amusement parks. If that is the case, allow us to introduce another amusement park in Pyongyang. This shows that you will not have a dull time in the city.
• Chilgol Church: It is one of the two protestant churches in entire North Korea. The architectural feature of this church always gets attention from people, especially foreigners. People say that worshipping here is usually pleasant as the church is in an excellent state.
• Kwangbop Temple: It is a Buddhist temple and makes the list of one of the national treasures of North Korea.
We know that many people fear visiting North Korea because of the many rules and regulations. However, it should not stop you from experiencing the beauty and awesomeness of some of its cities like Pyongyang.
When you are in this city, fear of the laws should not make you remain in one position. We will help highlight some of the places that you can explore in this city.
It is important that you find a bridge between the laws and exploration. Allow us to tell you that you can obey the rules and also explore.
We do not want anyone to complain of having a dull time when in Pyongyang.
You can either take a walk in a city park or engage in any activity that it offers. What matters is that you are happy.
Some of the city parks you can find in Pyongyang are:
• Pyongyang Skatepark: Everyone can agree that a skatepark is a fun and exciting place. This was the first skatepark in Pyongyang, and it was established in 2012. The experience at this place is nothing short of happiness as it keeps you busy and you get to meet people. If you do not know how to skate, we are sure that you will see trainers at this place. Thus, everyone is carried along.
There is also the idea of exploring a national park when you are in a new place. These places usually have lush vegetation and other factors that make you appreciate nature.
Unfortunately, we cannot say that there are national parks in Pyongyang. The parks that are present in this city classify as city parks than national parks.
If you had thoughts about exploring a national park, you need to explore other places as this idea is not feasible.
You cannot explore a national park does not mean that you cannot have fun in this city as there are other things to do.
Some people also have the thoughts of having out at a beach when they get to a new place. For some, it could be that there are no beaches in their home city. Others desire to experience something different from what they know.
It comes as bad news to those visiting Pyongyang that there are no beaches in this city. Thus, any thoughts of hanging out at a beach should not be on your mind.
Now, we know that you may be wondering what people in this place do for fun. Allow us t tell you that exploring a beach is not the only way to have. Thus, you will find other things to do.
When you are in a foreign area, it is normal to ask for descriptions of places you wish to visit. However, you will notice that these descriptions will come in the form of a high building, monument, or something that you can see easily and from afar. These are called landmarks.
It is not wrong for us to say that it is essential for every city to have landmarks.
Some of them in Pyongyang are:
• Juche Tower: As the name implies, it is a tall building. Thus, you are sure to see it from a distance.
• Mansudae Hill Grand Monument: These monuments reflect the struggles of the Korean people.
If you have questions about your new area, the best place to get answers is at the museum. You are sure to solve your curiosity, especially if it concerns their history and heritage.
The people at the museum are knowledgeable and can share in-depth stories with you.
Some of the museums in Pyongyang are:
• Korean Revolution Museum: This museum has been in place since 1948. It explains the history of the Korean people in simple ways for easier understanding. You also get to see various pleasing and appealing artifacts. You should never hesitate to ask questions if you do not understand anything as they are willing to answer them.
Some people usually think of what they will eat when they are in a new place. This is laughable as no city will not have its traditional local meals.
As a foreigner, you should have an open mind towards trying these foods.
In Pyongyang, you have the option of Dolsot Bibimbap. It is a mixture of rice, vegetables, and proteins. It comes with special seasoning that leaves people craving for more.
It would be best if you also try cold noodles in this city. It is called Naengmyeon. We are sure that you must have eaten noodles before. Thus, eating this option will not be difficult.
There are many more that you can try.
Traditional Local Restaurants
It will be wrong for us to think or assume that you will cook these meals when you are in the city. After all, you are a foreigner and would not know the recipe for the preparation process.
Thus, it is only ideal that you buy these traditional foods from a local restaurant. You can see these restaurants in the city.
They are dedicated to their customer’s satisfaction and only provide tasty meals of high quality. We have not had anyone complain about the traditional local restaurants in Pyongyang.
Once you are in this city, you can ask for directions to such restaurants to not miss out on the local foods.
Vegetarian and Vegan
There is the fact that not everyone has the same food or eating preference. It is why we have vegans amongst us.
The fact that a person is a vegetarian does not mean that they should not enjoy an area’s local foods. It is why there are vegan restaurants.
If you are a vegetarian visiting Pyongyang, we are sure that you will find a place that serves vegan options. We are not saying that it will be easy to find such a restaurant or that they are much in the city. However, you will find as they recognize the need to have vegan varieties.
We cannot fail to miss talking about street foods as they are the favorite of some people. We like to describe them as easy meals that you can get by the roadside.
Every city or region has its unique street foods. At times, it may be that you are familiar with these options. Other times, they are strange to you.
We can assure you that you will love eating the Pyongyang street foods, especially as they are relatable.
When you are in this city, you can get their variety of sausages as street food. It is always easy to find them. There is also the option of lamb or pork BBQ. It is a favorite of many people.
We do not know what perception you have about Pyongyang and North Korea. However, allow us to tell you that you can get an array of drinks in this place.
Thus, you can enjoy yourself with the various beverages as a tourist in the city.
The people of this city have a drink made from rice. It is called makgeolli. We cannot go in-depth into this wine’s preparation process, but it is tasty and contains some alcohol percentage.
You can also get beer and spirits within this city as there are different types. One drink you should not leave without taking is daechucha. It is their traditional tea.
Some people usually encounter issues with drinking water when they travel to a new place. This is because the tap water is sometimes not portable.
One of the places where you can face such an issue is if you visit Pyongyang. We do not advise anyone to drink the tap water in this city. It is a peculiar problem everywhere in North Korea.
Instead, we advise people to purchase bottled water as it is a safer option. We do not want foreigners to encounter any health complications that could stem from drinking the tap water. It is in your best interest to follow our advice and stay safe.
Some of the organic cafes in Pyongyang are:
• Ryongwang Coffee Shop: Many people love this place, especially those who regularly drink coffee. People say that the coffee has a distinct taste, and they cannot get enough of it. The interiors of this place make it homey and comfortable. They have perfection in both style and taste. It is one of the best in the city.
• Innisfree Green Café: You will enjoy different varieties at this place, and you might find yourself visiting the café every day until you leave the city. Their items are of high quality, making it hard for others to beat.
It is not out of place that a person expects to see breweries in a place when they visit. The only limitation will be if alcohol consumption is not allowed in that area.
If you are visiting Pyongyang, you will not see breweries within the city. This is not because they do not drink alcohol. You can find many alcoholic beverages.
However, the breweries are in other North Korean cities. The way to visit them is to spread your tentacles and visit other towns except for Pyongyang.
If you remain in Pyongyang, you should cancel the expectations of seeing a brewery. You can go and explore other things.
We are sure that you will be thinking of activities you can do to keep busy when you are in Pyongyang. It is sometimes hard to think up activities due to the restrictions that North Korean cities face.
Usually, we advise foreigners to take on diverse activities such as fishing and kayaking. However, such actions are only feasible in places that have water bodies.
After surveillance and survey, we cannot say that these activities are feasible in Pyongyang. After all, the city does not even have a beach.
Although you might not see water bodies in this city, you might see them in its neighboring towns.
Yoga and Retreats
Since fishing and kayaking are not feasible activity ideas in this city, there is also yoga. After all, it is not a water sport.
One can engage in yoga while in North Korea. However, it is rare to find a yoga studio. Not many people in the city are willing to get into yoga, so there are few or no yoga studios.
Some people say that doing yoga in a group is more refreshing. We do not know if you agree with this conception.
If you want to engage in yoga while in Pyongyang, it is best to do it alone, as looking for a studio is stressful.
With the strictness that applies to North Korean cities, you will be wrong to arrive in Pyongyang without any idea of the available accommodation options.
Once you plan to visit this city, you should start checking to have a place to stay. The idea is to be well-prepared before arriving in the city. After all, you do not want anything that will add to the stress of the various laws.
We also do not want a scenario where you do not have enough money for accommodation because what you planned is lesser than what applies.
We will help you highlight some accommodation options people see in this city.
We agree that a way of being a responsible traveler in any place is by staying eco-friendly. Thus, it is not out of place if you actively check for a green hotel when going to Pyongyang.
The number of green hotels in this city is not much. It is essential for you always to remember that this is a growing area. Thus, we would advise you to make your booking ahead if you wish to stay in a green hotel. This is to ensure that it is not fully booked before you arrive in the city.
These green hotels are usually comfortable and exquisite. We are sure that you will like it.
Hostels and Guest Houses
Typically, many places have hostels and guesthouses amongst their accommodation options. We are not surprised when people have these places in their minds and assume that they can stay in anyone when they arrive in Pyongyang.
It will be disappointing when they arrive in the city to realize that it does not have hostels and guesthouses. It is why we always say that you should check for the available accommodation options before you leave your home city.
No one should put their minds on staying in a hostel or guesthouse in this city. There are other accommodation options, and it is best to stick with them.
Amongst the possible accommodation options, you can get in Pyongyang is an apartment. Again, it is essential to note that you will not see much of it since this is a developing area.
We know that some foreigners fancy staying in an apartment when they are in a new place. if you wish to stay in one, you should also make your bookings ahead
These apartments are always clean. If you stay on the top floor, you will get pleasant and incredible views.
The comfort you will get when staying in an apartment can almost not be compared to any other. It is one of the best options.
Couchsurfing is one of the top accommodation options in the world today. Some people say that it is risky, while others do not mind.
The idea here is to stay with a local while you are in the city. How do you meet the locals? That is usually the question that foreigners ask.
Interestingly, there is a Couchsurfing website. It links you with locals in the city who are willing to play host. Then you make a choice.
The downside to staying with a local is when you both cannot find a common ground. However, we are sure that you can overcome such an obstacle. After all, you do not need to pay for accommodation with this option.
Some people harbor the idea of camping in a new place. For some people, this new place is Pyongyang.
It is not a bad idea to think about camping in this city. After all, it has some perfect camping location. However, it is essential that you work with the locals to finalize your plans.
It helps to ensure that you are not going against any rules or regulations. The locals act as your guide to ensure that you are on the right track.
One of the aims of camping is to experience life in an outdoor environment out of your comfort zone. We know that you will enjoy the camping experience in this city.
How to Get There
Sometimes, people convince the idea of going to a new place, and the next day they say that they are ready to leave. We find it laughable because many of them do not know how to reach their destination. They do not know the proper means of transportation that can take them to their chosen city.
We hope that you are not like such people. It is always right not to travel in a hurry. Instead, research and check the options that journey from your present city to your destination. It is always soothing when you have a set path and right direction in your head.
One of the easiest ways of getting into Pyongyang is to use air. Typically, you can get a direct flight to this place from Beijing.
We know that some people may start asking what happens to those who do not stay in Beijing and love to travel via air.
Ideally, you should find your way to Beijing and get on a flight that takes you to Pyongyang. If you check the flight records in your current city, we doubt you will see a direct flight to Pyongyang.
Thus, going to Beijing first saves you the stress of overthinking the entire situation. From Beijing, you will be in Pyongyang in no time.
A person can use a bus to Pyongyang if there is a road connection between the city and your present location.
We cannot pinpoint any place outside North Korea where one can get a bus going to Pyongyang.
You can get a bus to this city if you are in any other North Korean city. Thus, it is safe to say that one cannot use a bus to get into this town.
It would help if you stick to other available means of transport not to be disappointed as using a bus is out of the options. We hope that you cancel it from your list.
Using a train almost works the same way as using a bus. There has to be a railway connection between Pyongyang and your present city.
So far, the only place that has such a connection is China. If you are in China, you can think of using a train to this city.
Some people may argue that traveling on a train is slow. It is why we are not forcing this option on anyone. It is open to those who prefer it.
For some, they get to see the entire scenario when they travel by train and cannot help but take pictures. We hope that you will enjoy your train ride.
The idea of hitchhiking is out of place when you are going to Pyongyang or within the city.
It is important to remember that using a bus to this city is not feasible. The strict laws also do not allow the locals to stop and give free rides to foreigners.
We earlier stated that most foreigners would have a guard as they move around. Movement is not free in North Korea.
It is best to cancel out the hitchhiking thoughts in this city as free rides do not occur. It would be best if you do not stand on the roads as the drivers will not stop.
Asides from all the methods that we have mentioned (air and train), there is no other means of getting into Pyongyang.
Some people’s minds may be going to using a ship or ferry. But there are no water bodies in this city. No city has ferries or ships that can take you to Pyongyang.
A reason for this could boil down to the strictness in North Korea. It is not easy to get into this country. It is why the tourism sector is not striving as you need a permit or invitation before you can get into the city.
Using air or a train is still your best option at any time.
Another important thing that every foreigner should know is how to move around once they get to their destination.
You can know this by researching articles and documents about your destination city or talking to people who have been there before.
We will help to highlight some of the methods. Ensure that you get more clarity from the locals when you get there.
Walking is one of the options that come to play when it concerns moving around in Pyongyang.
Although there are restrictions to many things in the city, you can move from one point to another with your legs.
Some people say that it is an effective method since you do not need to struggle with others. You go at your pace with this method.
Cycling in this city took a new face from 1992. Thus, one can use a bicycle as a means of moving around.
Before 1992, there was a ban on bicycles. After lifting the ban, more people now have bikes, and cycling is common.
If you find a place to rent a bicycle, you should get one to make moving around easy.
It is also possible to see scooters in Pyongyang, and people use them to move around. However, there are set rules and regulations.
The rules that guide driving a car also apply to using a scooter. It is compulsory to use a helmet when riding a scooter in this city.
It is essential always to remember that there are punishments for defaulters.
There are public buses for moving around in Pyongyang. However, foreigners cannot use them as it is against the law.
It is a way the government curbs and puts an eye on foreigners. A tourist can board a taxi, but the locals are usually scared to give foreigners a ride.
Thus, one can say that it is hard for foreigners in this city to use some public systems.
Tram, Train and Subway
Another means of moving around in Pyongyang is the subway system.
Luckily, the law does not restrict foreigners from using the subway system. Thus, it is one public system that comes free and easy to tourist.
The next time you think of moving around in this city, it is always helpful to remember the subway system. It is also not expensive.
The act of sustainable shopping entails that you have to buy things from local vendors. We earlier stated that it is a way of being a responsible traveler.
It is always best to approach these people with a smile as they are wary of foreigners.
You will be putting a smile on their faces when you buy things from them. It is something every foreigner should do.
When you are in this city, you should ask for directions to a food market. By buying things from this place, you are engaging in sustainable shopping.
It may be challenging to navigate the markets in this city due to the strictness and language barrier. However, you should try your best as it would gladden the locals.
After all, don’t you want the local ingredients to try making the traditional local foods?
We do not know your perception of a flea market. However, it is a great place to get bargains.
At flea markets, you can get an array of items. Thus, one of the things on your mind should be getting directions to this place.
In case it has not clicked, shopping at a flea market is a way of indulging in sustainable shopping.
Second Hand Stores
When the locals have excellent quality items but do not need them anymore, they put them up for sale. These stores are called second-hand stores.
There is nothing wrong with buying from these stores as it is also a means of sustainable shopping.
Second-hand stores are there for everyone. Do not dull yourself as it is for people of all classes.
Some people might say that Pyongyang is not a well-exposed or developed city. However, they have joined in the fashion evolution, which involves eco-fashion.
The pieces are usually beautiful, and some people use them to walk the runway. We know that you will fall in love with the clothes.
Buying them also entails indulging in sustainable shopping.
Recycling is not overly active in the city, but there are gradual efforts. The government recommends that people have multiple trash bags in their houses to separate their wastes.
When people learn how to separate waste, it will be easy to differentiate recyclable waste, and it will be converted into something useful.
We hope to see progress soon in this city.
We cannot really rate waste management in this city. There are laws that one should only dispose of trash in appropriate areas. However, you can sometimes see litter on the roads.
We advise foreigners not to fall for the temptation of littering. It is always best to avoid any issues with the government of this city.
You can show an excellent example by adequately disposing of your waste.
Work and Study Abroad
Due to the negative perceptions people have about North Korea, we cannot say that there is a high inflow of students to this city.
However, some people often ask if it is possible to work while studying in this city. Nothing hinders a student from working while studying in Pyongyang if they desire.
If you want to do this, ensure that it does not make your grades drop.
The number of students who desire to exchange programs in this city is low compared to some other societies.
People say describe exchange students as brave because of the strictness in the city. However, the schools in the place work with educational institutions in other areas.
Thus, we are sure that you can get a student exchange program if you desire.
If you are looking for a job while in Pyongyang, you should check the au pair website. It also comes in handy for students who want to work while studying.
We cannot state the salary you can get from such jobs as it will vary.
Before applying for an au pair job, you should know bits of the local language to communicate properly with your employer.
The inflow of volunteers to this country is also low due to the strictness. If you think there are areas you can help out in this place, you should apply for an invitation.
It is important to note that you must live up to your duty as a volunteer in Pyongyang. Thus, it would be best if you do not joke around.
Always ensure that they feel your impact.