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.
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 and Russia.
The long-distance bus station is at 98 Shiwei Lu, near the train station.
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. The starting fare is 5 Yuan, and a ride anywhere within the city shouldn't be more than 10. 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.
Shops along the Yalu river sell both North and South Korean products. Prepare to be ripped-off.
Vendors selling North Korean cigarettes (5-10RMB) and money packs10-25RMB).
Near Great Wall, you can find vendors with old pins and other knicknacks. Buyer beware.
Seafood restaurants can be found along the river front.
North Korean restaurants staffed by waitresses from Pyongyang. Prices are not cheap however, 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, and the Pyongyang Koryo Restaurant on the street behind it, both have live singing and dancing performed by the waitresses.
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.
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.