Discovering Pyongyang by bike.
Truly a good [bicycle], good ground to [cycle] on, and sunshine, make up the sum of enjoyable travelling. - An edited Isabella L. Bird quote from Unbeaten Tracks in Japan
Pyongyang, literally “flat land”, offers the perfect geographical conditions for city cycling. Thrilled to be the first ever tourists to cycle through parts of the city in 2011, we soon realised; it’s easier to cycle uphill than slalom your way past pedestrians. Finally, in summer 2015, several cycling lanes were installed across Pyongyang. We and our tires were pumped (!) for longer stretches of city cycling, with no more awkward crashes.
Tourists have since been able to cycle a total of around 18k in Pyongyang. No matter where in the world you cycle – it’s an incredible opportunity to discover a place. Especially in Pyongyang, getting around by bicycle gives you a completely new feel for the city, its dimensions, the locations of all the places you keep seeing from the bus but can’t quite locate and of course; its impressive architecture.
A few years ago, most local Pyongyang citizens would have probably not really favoured cycling as means of getting around the city. Now however, more and more citizens seem to have picked up the habit - possibly an explanation for or a consequence of the cycling lanes as well as a new bike-sharing scheme introduced in 2017. You’re therefore definitely going to be joined by locals when cycling the streets of the capital city.
Routes available for tourists in Pyongyang include cycling…
…from Kwangbok Department store along Pyongyang’s impressively wide Kwangbok (Liberation) Street and down Chongchun (Sports) Street, passing a series of different gymnasiums.
…along Mirae (Future) Street and its science-themed architecture.
…along the Taedong River, where on weekends you often find groups gathered for pic-nics, playing and drawing.
…across the Taedong River and up to the capital’s iconic Juche Tower.
All of these routes are flat and perfectly comfortable and easy to cycle. Some feature cycle lanes, others don’t – but that’s part of the fun, right? Important to know when cycling in Pyongyang is that the cyclist is to step off her/his bicycle when crossing (any) street. It’s a good idea though as you otherwise often get punished by incredibly high curbs!
We can also arrange cycling in Pyongyang as well as the other routes in this blog series as part of a private independent tour to North Korea. See you next time!