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 Airport (IATA: DDG) - Flights from Dandong are limited, so it is probably better to fly in/out of Dalian or Shenyang and then take the train or bus to/from Dandong. Airport is 13 miles west of town and an airport shuttle is available. Flights are available from Beijing and Shanghai.
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. 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.
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. For ¥30 in January 2011 one can walk out to the end of this half-bridge.
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.
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.
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 - January 2011.
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.