Dandong (丹东; Dāndōng; formerly Andong (安东)), is a city in Liaoning Province, China, right next to the North Korean border.
Travelers come to Dandong for its vicinity to the North Korean border. See the get out section for further details.
Situated at the confluence of the Yalu River and the Yellow Sea in the southeast of Liaoning Peninsula, facing the North Korean town of Sinuiju across the Yalu River, small Dandong enjoys its reputation as the largest border city in China.
The geographic setting and the rich natural resources of Dandong account for its recent development into a city characterized by light industry, the silk industry (late every May, Dandong is the venue for the Oriental Silk Festival), and also for special products such as ginseng, hawthorn and chestnut.
The quiet riverside city is most famous for the pockmarked Broken Bridge spanning the Yalu River. The Chinese side of the bridge survived American bombing during the Korean War, a time when the city still had its old name Andong. Now it is open to the public to commemorate "The Defeat of the American Aggression" and is the first choice for a glimpse of North Korea.
Dandong is a must-see for North Korea watchers unable or unwilling to go there, and for anyone interested in the Korean War.
Dandong Langtou Airport (IATA: DDG) - A small airport (shared with the military) located just outside the city, while flights from Dandong are limited, the airport is much more convenient than other options like Dalian or Shenyang which are both several hours away by train or bus. Daily flights are available from Beijing, with several flights a week from Shanghai, Shenzhen and Qingdao. The airport is 13 miles west of town and an airport shuttle and taxis are readily available (fare: around 35-45 RMB to the city, as usual in China the drivers are highly unlikely to speak anything but Mandarin). A new terminal opened in 2014, while small and very quiet there are a couple of basic shops and a restaurant / cafe which open a few hours before flights depart.
In September 2015 a new high speed train route was opened between Shenyang and Dandong reducing the journey time to just over an hour many times a day. In addition there are now direct trains to Beijing 2-3 times a day on a high speed G train taking around 6 hours and going via Shenyang.
Meanwhile the older trains, taking 4-5 hours from Shenyang and 14 hours from Beijing continue if you are on a budget:
Trains from Shenyang several times a day with night trains from Beijing, Dalian, Changchun and Qingdao. From Dalian, the train takes a slow route of almost 10 hours, while buses can complete the journey in 4. You can also take the train from Pyongyang, North Korea and Moscow, Russia. Alternatively take the Beijing- Dandong train K27 ,17:27-7:15 ,about 14 hours, a hard seat about RMB141 yuan, a couchette about RMB260 yuan . From Dandong to Beijing K28 train times, 18:31 departure.
The long-distance bus station is at 98 Shiwei Lu, near the train station.
- Beijing - takes about 10 hours
- Shenyang - takes about 3 hours
- Dalian - takes about 4 hours (99RMB Oct.2012)
- Tonghua - takes about 5 hours
Dalian Express Buses also leave from the Baoshan Shicheng on Gong'an Jie. The trip takes about 4 hours.
A ferry between Dandong and Incheon port (South Korea) leaves Incheon's Ferry Terminal No. 1 at 5 pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and leaves Dandong at 3 pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The passage takes 15 hours and there is little food or english on the ferry. There are companies that can arrange North Korea tours, get you the train to Dandong and arrange your onward ticket to South Korea.
As the city of Dandong is not large, taxi is the most convenient way to get around though the town centre and sights are within 2kms of each other. With taxis the starting fare is 5 Yuan, and a ride anywhere within the city shouldn't be more than 10 Yuan. Normal rules of taxi-taking in China apply - make sure they turn on the meter, don't expect them to have seatbelts, or speak a word of English. Business class hotels can arrange for travel agents (again with limited, if any, English) to take you to the Great Wall and speedboats for 200 Yuan, without negotiation.
View of North Korea from Dandong
- North Korean Border (北韩边界; Běihánbiānjiè). As the boundary between China and North Korea, the Yalu River flows over 300 km between the countries. Yalujiang Park is the best place to view North Korea, visit the original bridge across the river and possibly take a fast boat ride up and down the river along the border. The Yalu Jiang Duan Qiao bridge reaches only halfway across the river, the other half having been disassembled by the Koreans. The remaining half was strafed by fighter planes in the Korean War. edit
- Yalu River Broken Bridge (Chinese pronunciation : Yā Lǜ Jiāng Duàn Qiáo 鸭绿江断桥). A bridge bombed by the US "accidentally" during the Korean War. Only the Chinese side remains as a war memorial, right next to the new bridge - it once had an interesting rotating centre to allow traffic to pass, though this is where the bombs fell. The bridge has a number of photos of before/after the bombing as you walk into what is technically within North Korea. 20 Yuan (Nov-2015). edit
- (Closed for refurbishment) Cenotaph of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea. A large museum and monument built on a hill overlooking downtown Dandong and the Yalu river. The many, well-labeled bilingual exhibits venerate the courageous Chinese “Volunteers” Army, and offer a rather different perspective on the history of the Korean war. It gives the perspective of the Chinese government. Unfortunately as of Nov-2015 this museum is closed for refurbishment, due to reopen in 2017 edit
- Dagu Mountain (大孤山; Dàgūshān; lit. Lonely Mountain), (90 km southwest of Dandong, access is by bus from Dandong to town of Gushan). Several Tang dynasty Taoist temples occupy the mountain site. edit
- Hushan Great Wall (虎山长城; Hǔshānchángchéng; lit. Tiger Mountain Great Wall), (25 km northeast of Dandong). Ming dynasty section of Great Wall of China which travels parallel to river was restored to decent condition. The section is steep so watch your footing. Buy a ticket at the long distance bus station for 6.5 RMB (January 2011). The trip takes about 40 minutes. The bus driver will drop you off at a T-intersection right by the Wall. You can hike the Wall one way and then return to the beginning on a walkway along the bottom of the mountain. There is a old wired fence that separates North Korea from China. North Korean guardhouses are 300-400 meters in the distance. The actual border is a small stream-river along the base of the mountain. Don't cross the water. To return to Dandong, return to the T-intersection and wait for a bus that will take you back to the long-distance bus terminal for 3 RMB. Confirm with the bus driver that the bus is going to Dandong. 60 Yuan - Nov-2015. edit
- Speedboat into North Korea (Near Great Wall) (???; ???; lit. ???), (Approx 3km further along the road from the Hushan Great Wall). It is possible to get a speedboat that will take you on a 30 minute trip to see North Korea from up close. The boat actually goes between a North Korean Island and the mainland, so you are actually in North Korea and the pilot will take you to within 5 metres of the shore so you can see North Korean soldiers, as well as fisherpeople, a small village and empty naval base, up close. Has basic health and safety and you are provided with a life jacket. Guidebooks imply the price should be nearer 180 Yuan if you are able to negotiate in Mandarin. They also sell Ponchos for 10 Yuan if you want to keep dry 300 Yuan per boat via a travel agent, max 8 people - 180 Yuan individually. edit
- the Korean War Memorial (Chinese pronunciation : Kàng Měi Yuán Cháo Jì niàn guǎn 抗美援朝纪念馆). edit
- Tourist Dock 1/2 (Chinese pronunciation : ???). Near the Yalu River Broken Bridge take a tour boat to look at the scenery for the North Korean shore. edit
- In Dandong urban area to look at ginkgo biloba leaves in autumn.If you have time, you can go to Jin jiang Hill(In the urban area；Chinese pronunciation :Jǐn Jiāng Shān锦江山)、Five dragon Mountain(Chinese pronunciation :Wǔ Lóng Shān五龙山)、Phoenix Mountains(Chinese pronunciation :Fèng huáng Shān凤凰山),etc.
- Unverified link: I am living in Dandong city,If anyone needs help, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org***
- Sightseeing Boat. There are two boat services that offer tourist a short cruise out onto the river to have a closer look at Sinuiju. The slow ferry cost 60 Yuan per person, and makes a small loop. Vendors on board sell fake North Korean money and stamps and South Korean trinkets. The speedboat is 80, but goes very fast and very close and makes a much wider loop, although photography might be harder. edit
- Cross into North Korea. It is possible to cross into Sinuiju, North Korea by train from Dandong, and then change trains to get to Pyongyang. Numerous local tour groups can sort out the paperwork without referring to Beijing and arrange a relatively budget-friendly visit to Pyongyang for Chinese and foreign tourists. The cheapest deals involve joining a large group and can go as low as around ¥2000 for a three night/four day package for Chinese nationals. Foreign nationals should expect to pay at least 560 euros to join a Chinese tour group. The best, well certainly the most expensive, tours are provided by Koryo Tours in Beijing, who offer tours that exit via train to Dandong. For non-Chinese this is a much better option than beginning a tour from Dandong. Of course, the usual restrictions apply (see North Korea for details). edit
Shops along the Yalu river sell both North and South Korean products. Prepare to be ripped-off.
Vendors selling North Korean cigarettes (5-20RMB) and money packs (10-25RMB).
Near Great Wall, you can find vendors with old pins and other knicknacks. Buyer beware.
Seafood restaurants can be found along the river front including North Korean restaurants staffed by waitresses from Pyongyang. Prices are not cheap however (160 Yuan for a 4 dish meal in Nov-2015), and while the food is better than that found in North Korea itself, it is sure to disappoint anyone familiar with Korean food as served in South Korea or South Korean restaurants. The restaurant next to SPR Coffee (Songtaoyuan Fandian), and the Pyongyang Koryo Restaurant on the street behind it, both have live singing and dancing performed by the waitresses during the Summer.
Chuanr - BBQ skewers. Most places in Dandong seem to favour the DIY method. Can be found anywhere at all hours of the night/morning. Great for mingling with locals.
Korean Street - Just towards the river from the train station (After the Hilton Garden Inn building/shopping mall) there is a street to the West that starts and ends with Korean arches that hosts a number of traditional Korean restaurants and shops, including proper "sit crossed leg whilst you eat" low tables.
Note on "Peter's Coffee Shop": Most guidebooks and expat websites recommend "Peter's Coffee Shop" as a good Western location for western food and home comforts. Unfortunately it appears the couple that ran the cafe were arrested for allegedly spying (source: News article on arrest), and the location has been replaced with a new Western cafe "Mr King", not tested by this reviewer as it was closed on a winter Sunday afternoon in Nov-2015.
You have not been in Dandong until you have been to the True Love Club. It's 2 minutes' walk away from the station, though anyone will know where it is. With morbid shows and a spring-loaded dancefloor, it is the place to see and be seen. Westerners are not frequent, so they are likely to be called on stage to participate in beer races with the DJ and be interviewed in Chinese (no knowledge of the language required). This is usually very comical for the Chinese club patrons, but foreign revelers who speak little Chinese should take care. The on-stage interview portion can be very mean-spirited - on one recent visit, an English man was made to (poorly) repeat phrases in Chinese such as "I am very poor and have no money." Of course he had no idea what he was saying and the crowd found this to be very funny.
Be warned that the bars in Dandong often close as early as 11:30, so stock up on beer and soju at the nearest supermarket if you intend to pursue some late night revelry.
- Dandong Yalujiang Mansion, 87 Jiuwei Road, ☎ +86 415 212 5901 (fax: +86 41 5212 6180). edit
- Post & Telecommunications Hotel, 78 Qiwei Road, ☎ +86 415 216 6888 (fax: +86 41 5213 5988). edit
- Zhonglian Dajiuian, Shangmao Lüyou Qu A Qu, ☎ +86 415 317 0666 (fax: +86 41 5317 0888), . Great views and comfortable rooms with a bowling alley, cigar room, and western buffet. The cafe has views of North Korea, 143 rooms. edit
- Hilton Garden Inn Dandong, No 30 Shiwei Rd Zhenxing District, Dandong, Liaoning, China, 118000, ☎ +86 415 388 7556 (fax: +86-415-388 7333). New international hotel with reasonably priced rooms (from as little as 400CNY during winter), some with a river view. Very close to the Railway station (less than 5 minutes walk and sign visible from the exit), easy to find with a short walk to friendship bridge or the international TESCO superstore. Note Google Maps location appears to be off and the hotel is closer to the station than it appears online edit
- Crowne Plaza Dandong, 158 Binjiang Zhong Road, Zhenxing District, Dandong, ☎ +86. Great views of North Korea from the riverside rooms (600CNY) comfortable and spacious with lots of great facilities; swimming pool massage and 3 restaurants. 450CNY for a standard single or twin room. edit
- North Korea - If you are interested in paying a visit to North Korea, you´ll usually have to wait for weeks to see your visa application through. But don´t worry, you can still learn a lot about North Korea on the streets of Dandong, where vendors sell North Korean stamps and propaganda posters and frequently you´ll see Korean writing on boards over shops. In the hotels you can watch North Korean TV - the city is so close to North Korea, you can feel the strong influence of Korean culture everywhere. Recent reports speculate that travel restrictions have been somewhat eased, and visa processing faster for some nationalities.
- Fenghuangshan National Park — 52 km northwest of Dandong, 840m high mountain dotted with Tang, Ming and Qing dynasty temples, monasteries and pagodas.
- The city of Dalian and its wonderful coastlines
- The small fishing island of Daludao is less than three hours away, and makes for a good affordable overnight trip.