Directly across the Taedong River from Kim Il Sung Square is the landmark Juche Tower. The tapering, four-sided, 560-foot (171 meter) tall monument is built of one stone for each day of Kim Il Sung’s life, and is topped with a giant red flame, illuminated at night. Supposedly based on the Washington Monument, which stands at 555 feet, or 169 meters – the Juche Tower is taller by merely a few feet. Take the elevator to the top for striking, 360-degree views over Pyongyang.
Arch of Triumph
Visit the Arch of Triumph in central Pyongyang. Erected in 1982 to commemorate Kim Il Sung's return to Korea in 1945, at just shy of 200 feet (61 meters) tall, it is the largest such triumphal arch in the world - purposely built to be larger than the one in Paris. Take the lift to the top for another stunning, panoramic vista over Pyongyang.
Kim Il Sung Mausoleum (Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun)
Visit the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, more commonly known as the mausoleum of Kim Il Sung, for a surreal experience of the people's reverence for the Great Leader; indeed, bowing to his image is a strict requirement. After a rigorous entry procedure, an elaborate procession leads you through enormous palatial halls until finally you approach the transparent sarcophagus in which The Great Leader's body lies embalmed.
Kim Il Sung Square
Visit the vast Kim Il Sung Square, located in the center of the city and Pyongyang's largest open plaza. It is here that you will begin to get a sense of the grandness of the city's architecture and its devotion to the "Great Leader" and founder of the DPRK.
Korean Art Gallery
Explore the fascinating Korean Art Gallery, located on the square, which chronicles Korean life across the centuries, from reproductions of ancient tomb paintings to 20th-century socialist-realism paintings created to further the goals of the socialist state.
Mansudae Grand Monument
Stand in awe of the Mansudae Grand Monument, a 65-foot (19 meter) tall bronze statue of Kim Il Sung with right arm outstretched, pointing the way, perhaps, to the perfect socialist future. On any given day you will see ordinary North Koreans bowing in front of the statue, while on holidays thousands of citizens will visit the monument to present flowers and pay their respects. You will be asked to place a bouquet of flowers as well.
Take a stroll through the lovely Moranbong Park, one of the city's most attractive green spaces. If it's a weekend or a holiday, you will see many North Koreans picnicking and enjoying their day off.
If you are visiting during August or September, attend the Mass Games, a larger-than-life extravaganza featuring 100,000 performers in synchronized gymnastics, acrobatics, dance, folk songs, and more. With choreographed stories about the country's educational system, military might, cooperative farms and other aspects of societal life, it is nothing less than a comprehensive celebration of North Korean nationalism. The spectacle is performed for two months in the May Day Stadium, the largest in the world with a capacity of 150,000.
Mansudae Art Studio
Visit the Mansudae Art Studio, the foremost art production center in Pyongyang, where most of the sculptures, paintings and monuments seen around the city are made by government-employed artists, who work full-time and are directly supervised by the state. Tour the studio and talk with an artist about his life and work.
Ongryu (Chongryu) Restaurant
Have lunch at the upscale Ongryu (Chongryu) Restaurant, famous for its naengmyoen, delicious homemade cold noodles and bindaedeok, or green-bean pancakes. The pancakes, a traditional North Korean staple, are made from kneading green bean flour with vegetables, meat and leeks, then fried, and are considered both savory and salutary to one's health. The carpark is likely to be full of Mercedes sedans and BMW's, and the other diners are probably top North Korean government officials.
Party Foundation Monument
Visit another of Pyongyang's grand monuments to the state, the imposing Party Foundation Monument, comprising three 160-foot (49-meter) tall sculptures of fists gripping a hammer, sickle and writing brush – symbolizing workers, farmers and intellectuals – and the tools that make up the emblem of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party.
Descend into the Pyongyang Metro, the deepest subway system in the world at roughly 360 feet (110 meters) below ground, and also one of the most beautiful, at least along the stops that Western tourists are shown. Take an extended ride on the Metro, which opened in 1973, and marvel at the pristine stations' high vaulted ceilings, chandeliers, elaborate mosaics and paintings, and marble platforms and concourses.
Board the USS Pueblo, a U.S. Navy intelligence ship captured by the North Koreans in 1968. Officially, it's never been decommissioned by the Americans, although North Korea has proudly displayed it as a trophy ever since its capture, turning it into a museum that has, over the past four and a half decades, become one of the most popular attractions in the country.
War Museum (Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum)
Explore the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, a vast collection of artifacts dedicated to North Korea's version of the events of the Korean War. As the museum’s name indicates, the picture painted is rather different than the Western perception of the conflict, but the exhibits can give visitors a closer look at the North Korean historical perspective.
Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery
See the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery, the crown of the peak of Mount Taesong. Climb the flight of 300 steps to the top of the cemetery, where more than 200 fighters from the resistance against the Japanese in the first half of the 20th century, as well as the Korean War, are interred and memorialized with bronze busts.
School Children's Palace (Mangyongdae Children's Palace)
Tour Pyongyang's School Children's Palace (Mangyongdae Children's Palace) – an after-school center for arts, science, computer, and athletic activities, attended by more than 10,000 students. Witness an electrifying musical and dance performance by the highly trained young students in the Palace's 2,000-seat auditorium.
Ragwon (Paradise) Department Store
Stop in the Ragwon (Paradise) Department Store for a glimpse at the state of retail in North Korea, which lacks the consumer culture and materialism of the west, so it is worth a visit. You can purchase many interesting local products such as the bizarre "Korean Snake Alcohol", a potent libation with 40-60% alcohol content and a large dead snake in the bottle.