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The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to North Korea. Please check with your relevant national government.

An ideological statement forged in concrete, bronze and marble, Pyongyang (평양; 'flat land') is the ultimate totalitarian metropolis, built almost entirely from scratch following its destruction in the Korean War. Every visit to North Korea focuses heavily and enthusiastically on the capital's monuments, towers, statues and buildings that glorify Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and the Juche philosophy.

While these bombastic statement pieces are all impressive, the real delights of Pyongyang are to be had in the quieter moments when you can glimpse everyday life. A gentle stroll on the city's relaxed Moran Hill, for example, is a great chance to see locals having picnics, playing music and idling away sunny afternoons. As you are bussed between sights, you’ll often be able to detect a semblance of normality surviving in the capital, though you'll definitely have to look pretty hard for it.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Pyongyang.