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The North Korean socialist manifesto writ large in concrete and marble, Pyongyang is said to be the world's least visited city. Though its monuments, murals and museums are impressive in scale, the streets they line — all designed with a single grand vision in mind — are eerily empty, and at night this city of three million falls as dark and quiet as a country village; a refreshing change, if not an altogether wholesome one. Given the nature of visits to the DPRK, Pyongyang's sights are not so much must-sees as have-to-sees; almost all itineraries will feature the bronze statue of Kim Il-sung at Mansudae, and the colossal mausoleum in which ...

The North Korean socialist manifesto writ large in concrete and marble, Pyongyang is said to be the world's least visited city. Though its monuments, murals and museums are impressive in scale, the streets they line — all designed with a single grand vision in mind — are eerily empty, and at night this city of three million falls as dark and quiet as a country village; a refreshing change, if not an altogether wholesome one. Given the nature of visits to the DPRK, Pyongyang's sights are not so much must-sees as have-to-sees; almost all itineraries will feature the bronze statue of Kim Il-sung at Mansudae, and the colossal mausoleum in which the "Great Leader" lies in state. Then come the Arch of Triumph — deliberately built slightly larger than its Parisian cousin — and USS Pueblo, an American ship confiscated in 1968. However, you'll see but not visit the unintentional symbol of the city: a pyramidal beast intended to be the largest hotel in the world, the 105-story Ryugyong was left an abandoned shell when its funding fell through.

Norbert Paxton
About the Expert

Norbert Paxton is the author of the Rough Guide to Korea and contributor to the Rough Guides to China and Vietnam.

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Norbert Paxton for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Capital and largest city of North Korea, located on the Taedong River.
  • Language: Korean
  • Currency: North Korean Won
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Pyongyang's weather is most clement in the spring and fall; winters tend to linger far longer than they do in Seoul, though summers are more pleasant.