North Korea projects an eerie landscape of near-empty wide spaces. The grey, nondescript buildings do not help diminish the look. However, this landscape actually attracts tourists who want to experience mystery and a sense of nervous excitement by visiting the country’s capital, Pyongyang. Pyongyang, meaning “flat land”, is found near the Taedong River. Its population is approximated at 3.8 million people.

What makes Pyongyang a little bit different from the rest of North Korea is that it is considered the country’s receiving area. It is a showcase city built to impress approved visitors. Designated guides are eager to treat you to a series of beautiful sights. Walking around is best so that you can truly enjoy the cityscape.

When you go around Pyongyang, you will be most likely accompanied by a guide. This is especially true if you plan on riding the city’s metro trains, buses, or trams. Your guides will also prefer taking you to the two approved metro stations. Note that buses and trams can be pretty overcrowded while the metro is fast but has limited reach. If you do not want to brave the bus masses or to be restricted by the metro, you can always book a taxi; your guide will be riding with you, of course. In July, expect mild temperature averaging at 70 degree Fahrenheit. January temperature, on the other hand, can be frigid - dipping up to 9 degree Fahrenheit. Touring the streets of Pyongyang is better during the summer months.

You will not be able to get a visa to North Korea in the United States. Instead, you need to go to either Beijing or Shenyang in China to apply for a visa. You will be getting a North Korean Visa plus a Chinese Double Entry visa to be welcomed in both North Korea and China.

La Paz

If you love heights, visit La Paz in the South American country of Bolivia. Sucre may be the country’s judicial capital but La Paz, the largest city, is the business center and governmental capital. La Paz is situated 3.6 thousand meters above sea level. It is not all about its location, however. It also offers breathtaking views, thanks to buildings settled at the bottom of canyons. La Paz’s over a million inhabitants may continue to grow because of the influx of immigrants.

Quechua is spoken in La Paz, as well as Spanish. Quechua is a Native American dialect, which is an active sign of Bolivia’s having the strongest Native American population in all of South America. You can walk around La Paz to find more evidences of its rich culture through the city’s local comedors, modern cafes, and bustling markets. Museums will reveal more of La Paz’s roots. The city’s altitudes need a little getting used to, however. Streets where there are public demonstrations are evidences of the citizens’ political freedom.

You can get to La Paz via El Alto Airport. From the airport, you can ride a bus or a taxi requested via your reserved hotel. If you do not have hotel reservations, you may also ride a taxi from the airport. Within the city, you can get around by bus or taxi as well. You may save money by taking the train but it can be pretty slow. Walking is also a good idea when getting around La Paz. Make sure to bring the proper clothing, as temperatures can vary. Most of the times, you will experience cool or even freezing temperatures at night. April to October is the best season to visit La Paz.

To visit Bolivia, you will need a valid passport and over a hundred dollars for the visa. You need to accomplish a visa application form. You also need to submit proof of sufficient funds for your stay, proof of return travel, and, if coming from Brazil or Paraguay, a proof that you have had your yellow fever vaccination.


Oslo is the capital of Norway and is nestled right between the Oslo Fjord and the Oslomarka, noted for its rolling green hills and mountainous regions. It also happens to be Norway’s largest city and is home to more than 500 thousand people as of 2008, 25% of which are immigrants from various countries such as Pakistan, Sweden, and Sri Lanka.

A visit to Norway’s busiest thoroughfare, Karl Johan’s Gate, is one sure way to get a full glimpse of Oslo. Many of the city’s historical structures such as the Royal Palace, the Parliament Building, and as well as various theaters and universities are situated here. Glimpse the endless days of the midnight sun in Olso after a full day of seeing the sights. The city has no shortage of recreation activities and sights with its parks, museums, restaurants, and trendy shopping places. Swimming in the summer and skiing in the winter are popular activities of locals and visitors alike. In the winter, the city transforms into a winter wonderland basking under the glow of the northern lights.

Getting around Oslo is easy because of the efficient public transportation. Buses, trains, and trams are the most common ways of going around the city, and they can be accessed using hourly, daily, or weekly tickets. Car and bike rentals are also available. Petty crimes exist in most big cities, Oslo included, although a daytime stroll through most of the city streets poses no threats to safety. If you want to avoid crowds while visiting Oslo, avoid the peak tourist season which starts from June and ends in August.

Americans do not need a visa for a visit of three months or less. In special cases, multiple entry visas may be given within a span of 6-12 months. Extensions on visas may be granted in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Proof of enough money to cover travel and accommodation costs may be required at the border.


Beograd (Београд), the capital of Serbia sits on the Balkan Peninsula, at the junction of the Sava and the Danube Rivers. The city is home to 1.6 million people and is the major hub for trade, communications, science and technology and tourism in Serbia. The city, popularly known as Belgrade, is known to locals as Beograd, its historical name. Belgrade is the largest city in Serbia after Novi Sad.

Beograd Serbia enjoys its location in the middle of the other Serbian towns and cities, making it easily accessible from any point in Serbia. Beograd locals, no stranger to the woes of the Balkan wars, are a hardy group whose hospitality is unsurpassed anywhere in the Balkan Peninsula. The people of Belgrade are slowly transforming their city into a center for entertainment and commerce, a place where locals and visitors can soak up the Mediterranean sun while lounging in seaside cafes during the day and revel in the vibrant nightlife after sundown, with parties spilling from the city’s trendy bars to the boats moored on the river, and where music floats until the sun breaks from the Bohemian enclave.

Public transportation leaves much to be desired in Beograd, although tourists can also hire rentals for a more personalized experience of the city. Those who are new to Serbia may also feel safer traveling by taxi or bus. It is better to be careful when going to public places which are notorious for pickpockets and thieves like the Republic Square and train stations. The best time to make your visit is between late spring and early autumn. Winter visits are also good, since winters in Belgrade can be cold but not harsh.

American citizens do not require a Visa to enter Belgrade. A valid passport is all that is needed for a stay in Belgrade for no longer than 90 days. Tourists are required by law to register with the Serbian police within 24 hours after entering the Serbian border.


Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is the economic capital of Scandinavia. From its humble origins as a small fishing town on the coast of the Baltic Sea, it has now grown into a bustling metropolis, the most populous city in Finland, and is the country’s cultural, economic, and communications hub. Lovingly referred to as “the daughter of the Baltic,” Helsinki is famous for its coastlines which are dotted by ports and secluded coves.

Ferries glide into Helsinki’s ports every day, and watching one as it softly makes its way to the harbor is something that no visitor to the city should ever miss. The city is also the perfect place to marvel at neoclassical architecture, as exemplified by buildings around the Senate Square. The city’s countless waterways are perfect for romantic or leisurely strolls and are an all-time favorite of locals and visitors alike. Travel back in time and discover the city’s past by visiting various museums or marvel at the interesting mix of modern and traditional structures that sit comfortably beside each other. English is widely spoken so there should be no trouble communicating with the locals.

Getting around Helsinki can be done by bus or by walking, which can be a good idea since the city is relatively small. Going around by car is discouraged because of the difficulty in finding a good parking space. Safety is of no concern in Helsinki, which has been named the second safest city in the world. Pickpockets and thieves can be encountered in crowded areas but visitors can be kept safe if they carry wallet or purses in their front pockets and refrain from staying in dark or dimly lit areas.

Americans require a valid passport for entry to Helsinki but they are not required to present a visa for stays that last up to 90 days. No vaccinations are required for entry into Finland.


Stockholm, one of the most populous cities in Sweden, is also one of the most beautiful destinations in the region. Built on fourteen islands, Stockholm is home to the Swedish Parliament and the official residence of the Swiss royal family. It is also home to 21% of the total Swiss population, with 1.3 million in the urban area and 2 million in the metropolitan area.

Sweden is known for its beauty, made even more resplendent by the reflection of the water that surrounds the entire city. Its capital, particularly, is famous for its waters that crisscross the city, and the narrow cobble stoned streets of Gamla Stan, where love stories form and for some, end. Stockholm is rich in history, its 750-year heritage evident in the medieval structures that lie side-by-side with modern high-rises and architectural marvels. The city is also famous for its six-day food festivals, where tourists and locals alike gorge on traditional Swedish cuisine. Restaurants that range from the trendy and exclusive to the budget-friendly and more laid back also thrive in the city.

Getting around Stockholm is easy. One can walk, which is the best way to savor the city’s atmosphere and meet its people. A stroll through the Djurgården is one activity that no visitor should never miss. One can also take the bus, the subway, or the trams. Rentals are also available, as are parking spaces. Taxi fares in Stockholm are quite expensive, so if you can avoid getting into one, by all means do so. The city is relatively safe, although places where crowds congregate are favorite hunting grounds of pickpockets.

Americans need a valid passport to enter Sweden, although no visa is necessary for stays up to three months in any given six-month period. Visitors are required to show a visible means of support along with documentation and tickets for return or further travel.


Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. It replaced Entebbe as the national capital of Uganda in 1962 and is now the country’s administrative, commercial, communications, and transportation center. Built on and surrounded by seven hills, Kampala is home to more than 2 million people.

Kampala is known for its lush greenery interspersed with modern buildings, all buzzing with life. This city is known for its interesting mix of establishments ranging from traditional to trendy restaurants, fashionable shopping places, and a bustling nighttime entertainment scene. African culture is very alive in Kampala, especially in the markets of Owino and Nakasero, where locals, dressed in traditional African attire, all flock to gather for the day’s produce. Cultural events are also not hard to find in the city. The city’s residents speak English, Swahili, and Luganda, although local tribal dialects are also widely spoken in the suburbs.

The safest and most convenient way to get around the city is by commuter taxi, since the move to a city bus service which has long been in the works has not yet been implemented by the government. Another popular mode of transportation is the boda-bodas — motorcycles that offer more accessibility, especially in areas of heavy traffic. Rentals are also widely available but tourists are often advised not to drive after sundown to avoid car thefts and highway banditry. Tourists are advised against using their credit cards because credit card fraud is rampant in the city.

The visa policy in Uganda follows the principle of reciprocity, where countries that require visas for Ugandans are also required to present visas to enter Uganda. Those with US passports need an entry visa to visit Uganda. The same applies to naturalized American citizens of Ugandan descent. Single-entry visas will cost around $50 and applications can be processed at the Ugandan embassy or at various entry points.

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