Pyongyang is Korean for “Flat land” or “peaceful land”. It is the largest city of a nation that has constantly threatened world peace. And although North Korea accepts visitors, tourism is highly controlled by the government. It is in this destination where one has to take extra precautions and must get enough information about before setting forth to the communist nation. Here are some of the important facts about North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang City.
Travellers need to secure a tourist visa which takes two weeks to process. Journalists and South Koreans are instantly denied to enter the country. From Beijing, one can take the train or take a plane. Two airlines fly to Pyongyang airport namely Air China and Air Koryo. The nation’s official and sole operating airline is able to land on its home base without issues but the North Korean planes are not so high end compared to Air China. Air Koryo also has flights from other Asian cities and Moscow. When taking the train, foreigners are instructed to take designated exits. Not following instructions might lead to being heckled by the uniformed authorities who will watch your every move, or be deported back to Shanghai.
Foreigners have to be accompanied by tour guides at all times during sightseeing. These package tours have to be booked before going to Pyongyang. Tourists can take the subway that goes to the west side of the Munsu Dong River via two main railway lines. One can also travel through the underground Pyongyang Metro by taking the bus. There are only a few cars in the city which some tour guides can use with permission from the government. Taxis will take foreigners only after verifying with the hotel if the tourists can be taken as passengers.
There are two major hotels in Pyongyang namely Yanggakdo International and Koryo Hotel. Tourists can buy North Korean sim cards at the airport. This was only allowed recently which was taken as a sign of improvement in tourism. Locals don’t want their photos taken and most places are also prohibited from being photographed. It is strongly advised that tourists must be very discreet about photo-taking. As for places to visit that are strictly guided by a North Korean, there are war monuments and hundreds of statues that glorify their great leader on the nearly empty streets. North Korean cuisine is probably the best thing that tourists will experience in Pyongyang as the citizens have kept their food tradition.
Photo Credit: calflier001 @flickr