Dandong, the largest Chinese border city, on the banks of the Yalu River, is on the border between China and North Korea. Its strategic location makes it the prime port city and trade route for North Korea where the average import of goods from the United States is estimated to contribute 468 million dollars to the local economy.
With a population of 2.45 million, according to the 2010 census, Dandong is home to the east end of the Great Wall of China and is believed to date back to the start of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC).
Some Reasons to Visit Dandong
Dandong was heralded as the Best Tourist City for 2001 and the Cleanest City in 2005 by the National Tourism Administration.
It is an ideal location for visitors desiring to experience and learn about the North Korean lifestyle. Many North Koreans are seen daily conducting business around the city. Vendors can be found on almost every corner selling Korean stamps and other propaganda materials.
Not only do visitors have the chance to glimpse North Korea across the river, but they can sample North Korean signature cuisine dishes such as a very pungent sweet and sour delicacy featuring wild mountain vegetables. Another popular dish is a seafood barbecue whose main ingredients are yellow clams and prawns.
Dandong is dominated by two of its attractions, Tiger Mountain Great Wall (Hushan Great Wall) and the Yalu River Scenic Area. The Tiger Mountain Great Wall is the easternmost point of the Ming Dynasty walls, and is famous for its fabulous scenery. The Yalu River is noted for its views of North Korea . Other highlights include the Commemorative Museum of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea and Fenghuang Mountain.
Located in the southeast of Liaoning Province, Dandong is west of the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea (DPRK) with the Yalu River in between, east of Anshan City, south of Benxi City and north of the Yellow Sea. Dandong City is 220 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Shenyang, and it takes about three hours by bus to be there. Dandong City covers an area of 15,222 square kilometers with the area of the city center being 834 square kilometers. It has a population of 2,430,000. The area code is 0415 and the postal code is 118000.
Dandong serves as a port for China's industrial center of Shenyang. There are opportunities to travel to and to get as close as possible to North Korea. Many Americans are familiar with Dandong's sister city of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Sights Not To Be Missed in Dandong
Among Dandong's many unique tourist attractions is the Korean War Memorial Museum that affords visitors the opportunity to gain a new insight into the Korean Conflict from the Chinese viewpoint. In 1993, to honor the 40th anniversary of the Korean Conflict which to the Chinese is regarded as the Effort to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea, three new areas were developed to display aircraft, tanks and other military paraphernalia used during the battle. One interesting feature adjacent to one of the museum buildings is a statue of military leaders Mao Zedong and Peng. Exhibits at this museum differ greatly from those on display at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
A visit to Fenghuang Mountain affords the breathtaking experience of viewing cliffs, caves and unique vegetation. One outstanding feature of this mountain, regarded as sacred in Chinese culture, is Zanyun Peak whose summit rises to an elevation of 836 meters or 2,508 feet.
Another place definitely not to be missed is Li North Korea Flavor Restaurant where guests dine on authentic Korean cuisine served by Korean table attendants. While dining, guests are regaled with native song and dance performances.
The Youyi Bridge (Youyi means friendship in English), which represents the relationship between China and the DPRK, spans the river, magnificent and steady. If you walk along the river, you can enjoy the picturesque scenery in the urban garden and along Binjiang Avenue. It impresses the soul to gaze over the landscape of the DPRK.
In the suburbs, lush mountains and crystal water embrace Shuifeng Lake. The Great Wall, which was built on the mountains by the river, starts from Tiger Mountain in the east.
Things to Do in Dandong
Since collecting souvenirs and visiting native shops is a part of most tourists things to do list, Dandong's Guomen Park area is the ideal place. Dandong, known as China's Azalea City, has many vendors offering everything from freshly cut azalea flowers and bonsai to products made from them. One of the most unique items in this genre is delicate silk fabric created using azaleas during the screening process. The most popular Korea souvenir, stamps, is reasonably priced here but not so in North Korea shops catering to tourists.
For those who enjoy attending festivals, there is less of an opportunity in Dandong to miss out because a festival of some kind occurs every month of the year. A highlight of late April and early May is the Hekou Peach Blossom Festival to welcome Spring, enjoy photography contests and dishes whose main ingredient is peaches. In the spring, a multitude of birds fly over the marsh and the peach trees are in full bloom at the estuary.
When the autumn comes, maple leaves make the Tianqiao Valley a colorful world, and the maidenhair trees along the roads decorate the city center with gold.
It is located on Fenghuang Avenue in Fengcheng City in Dandong.
As early as the Daoguang Period of the Qing Dynasty, Fenghuang Mountain along with Yiwu Lu Mountain, Qian Mountain and Yao Mountain were regarded as the four famed mountains in Liaoning Province. It was called “the most famed mountain in east Liaoning” in ancient times, and is reputed as “a famed mountain that can be regarded as the window of the nation”, “the most famed mountain of the Great Wall” as well as “the most famed mountain for adventure in China.” In January 1994, it was approved as a key state-level tourist spot by the State Council.
Fenghuang Mountain was once named “Wugu Mountain”, “Heng Mountain”, “Wu Mountain” and “Xiong Mountain”. Then in the Zhenguan Period of the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Taizong of Tang - Li Shimin conferred the name “Fenghuang Mountain” on it. Fenghuang Mountain is part of Changbai Mountain. The highest peak – Zanyun Peak – is at an elevation of 836.4 meters. It is renowned all around north Liaoning province for its majestic and steep cliffs, deep and remote caves, bizarre plants as well as its picturesque scenery in all four seasons.
Fenghuang Mountain is separated into four scenic areas, namely, West Mountain, East Mountain, Temple Valley and Ancient City. The main one is Xi Mountain Scenic Area, where Zanyun Peak rises amidst breathtaking scenery such as “Back of the Ox” and “Wonder in the world.” Remote caves, such as “Fenghuang Cave” and “Tongxuan Cave” also dot the area along with amazing landscapes like “Sea of Clouds” and “Flowing Stream and Pouring Fall.” The East Mountain Scenic Area is a fantastic place to be close to the nature. At present, there are artificial landscapes including tourist steps, sightseeing pavilions, sightseeing bridges and a lake. The Ancient City consists of Wugu City of the Southern and Northern Dynasties, Xiongshan City of the Sui and Tang Dynasties along with Sanyang City of the Liao Dynasty. The existing structures are mainly palaces and temples, among which Ziyang Temple, Doumu Palace, Kwan-yin Pavilion, Bixia Palace and Yaowang Temple are the most famous. The Ancient City is a state-level key cultural relic conservation unit.
The traditional Yaowang Temple Fair is held on the 28th day of the 4th lunar month every year. It lasts for four days and the temple area will be full of people.
How to get there:
You can take the bus at the Dandong Coach Bus Station to Fenghuang Mountain by paying 7.5 yuan.
Yalu River Scenic Resort
It is situated at the middle and lower reaches of the Yalu River in the Dandong City, extending from the mouth of the Hun River in the east to the Dadong Harbor in the west.
It was approved as a state-level key scenic spot by the State Council in 1988.
The Yalu River Scenic Resort and Historic Site is 803.2 kilometers long, while the scenic area is 210 kilometers long and covers an area of about 400 kilometers. The major views are of the water and the mountains decorating the landscape. The historical attractions enjoy quite a long history. You can have a glance at the scenery of North Korea and China by traveling along the river. Yalu River Scenic Historical Area is composed of six scenic areas with 100 attractions. It is a region of abundant natural and human landscapes: Shuifeng Lake is immense and picturesque, Tiger Mountain Great Wall stands firmly by the river, and Yalu River Broken Bridge is full of bullet holes. There are also ancient cave relics, primitive village relics and modern garden architecture.
The Yalu River Scenic Area covers a large area and contains the following major scenic spots:
Broken Bridge Tourism Area
Broken Bridge (Duanqiao 断桥 /dwan-chyaou/) once spanned across the Yalu River, connecting Dandong, China and Sinuiju, North Korea. It was bombed by the United States during the Korean War, and only the Chinese side of the bridge remains.
The bridge was turned into a tourist attraction and historic war monument in 1993. Visitors can walk along Broken Bridge to see damage from the bombing and fired shells. You can also view North Korea from both the bridge and surrounding area.
The Korean war was between North and South Korea, after World War II divided the countries and Cold War tensions developed. China, assisted by the Soviet Union, fought for North Korea. The United Nations, lead by the United States, fought for the South.
From November of 1950 to February of 1951, American aircraft bombed the Yalu River Bridge and the Broken Bridge, along with other bridges that connected the countries over the Yalu River. The bombing was an attempt to cut off Chinese aid and part of a greater strategic bombing campaign on North Korea. They used B-29 and B-17 heavy bombers, as well as F-80 fighter-bombers.
It was originally called the Qingcheng Bridge and is an iron truss bridge, built between 1909 and 1911. The original was 944.2 meters (3,098 feet) long and had 12 arches, one of which could open to allow taller ships to pass. The bombers targeted the North Korean side of the bridges, which left four arches of the bridge intact. Consequently, the bridge became known as Broken Bridge.
Things to Do
Walkways have been built along the length and end of the Broken Bridge, so visitors can touch and examine the damage. Fired shells have left holes, missing chunks and snapped iron. The areas have been circled with red paint to draw attention to them. The end of the bridge is a mess of twisted metal, and the supports for the bridge still dot the way to the North Korean shore.
Monuments are scattered at the site, including a bust of Mao Anying, son of Mao Zedong, who crossed Broken Bridge to join the Korean war in October of 1950.
The Broken Bridge and the areas nearby are also an attraction for tourists who want to see part of North Korea without the formalities of a tour. Tourist boats leave the bridge’s side, allowing visitors to see both the Broken Bridge and Yalu River Bridge from the water and get close to the shore of North Korea. The bridge itself extends into North Korean territory.
At night, the arches and underneath of the bridge light up, reflecting in long, blue-white and orange lines on the river’s surface.
Sixty meters upstream from the Broken Bridge is the Yalu River Bridge, which used to be called the Sino-Korea or China-North Korean Friendship Bridge. The Yalu River Bridge was renamed in 1990 and is one of the few entries into North Korea. It was also bombed during the Korean war, but was repaired. Both bridges are just south of the Yalu River Scenic Area.
The eastern part of the Great Wall of China, the 'Tiger Mountain' Great Wall (Hushan Changcheng 虎山长城 /hoo-shan chung-chnng/), starts about 15 kilometers (9 miles) northeast of the metropolitan area of Dandong. A contrast to the Broken Bridge and Yalu River Bridge, which were created to encourage cooperation between North Korea and China, the Hushan Great Wall was erected in the late Ming dynasty to protect China from Korean invasion. Climbing it, you’ll find a great view of Dandong, Sinujiu and the river that separates them.
The Korean War museum, officially named, "The Museum to Commemorate the War to Resist American Aggression and Aid Korea" (Kang Mei Yuan Chao Jinianguan 抗美援朝纪念馆 /kung may ywen chaoww jee-nyen-gwan/), is a 10 minute drive from Broken Bridge. The museum has exhibits with English translations.
Traveling to Broken Bridge
Broken Bridge is located in southeast Dandong, just northeast of the Wudaogou and Huayuan Rivers, in the Zhenxing District.
There are many hotels in Dandong near Broken Bridge. Some of the best-rated hotels in Dandong that are within ten minutes of the bridge are the Sunny Resort Hotel, the Yalu River Hotel and the Crowne Plaza Hotel. There are also hotels right on the riverfront.
Buses and taxis are easy to get, and travel is convenient and reasonably priced. It is also possible to walk from the close hotels to Broken Bridge.
Winter is very cold, from November through March. The city is rainiest in July and August monsoon. July and August are also the warmest months, with an average high of 25°C (77°F).
Commemorative Museum of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea
Jinjiang Mountain Avenue NO.68, Dandong City
It is the one and only theme commemorative museum in China where the War to resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea is introduced comprehensively.
The museum was built in 1958 and its name was inscribed by Guo Moruo (a famed Chinese writer and poet). On July 27, 1993, on the 40th anniversary of the signing of the North Korea Armistice Agreement, the new museum was opened officially and Hu Jintao cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony.
The museum possesses more than 20,000 cultural relics, which are separated into two series, namely, the relics of the war and the historical relics. The relics of the war are about 12, 000 in total, among which 47 pieces are national cultural relics of first grade. There is the first class independence medal of Hong Xuezhi (the original deputy commander of the voluntary army), investigation materials of the roads to the north of Pyongyang, investigation pictures of the transportation in North Korea, the camera used by Jie Fang (the chief of staff of the voluntary army) during the negotiations, the first class national flag medal and independence medal of Li Zhimin (the political commissar of the 19th regiment), the first class national flag medal of Yang Dezhi (the commander of the 19th regiment), the carbine of Song Shilun (the commander of the 9th regiment), and the script of the "Days and Nights on the South Bank of Han River" written by Wei Wei.
The museum is the complex of the Chinese traditional style and modern architectural features. It consists of the exhibition hall, the Panoramic Painting Gallery and the Memorial Tower. The Outdoor Weapons Exhibition Park also contains exhibits about the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea.
The lobby is right in the center of the hall. Carved with relief sculptures as a background, the giant sculptures of Mao Zedong and Peng Dehuai stand in the middle. Campaign songs and Mao Zedong’s commands to organize the Chinese People’s Voluntary Army are carved on both sides of the two giant sculptures. There are 10 exhibition halls, where over 500 photos and 1,000 cultural relics are displayed. Equipped with modern exhibition facilities, the museum shows the history of the war vividly.
Panoramic Painting Gallery is 28.4 meters high with the diameter of 46 meters. It is separated into two floors. The upper floor is the exhibition hall of panoramic paintings, while the lower floor is the hall for the air force. A panoramic painting named “Battle by the Qingchuan River” is displayed in the Panoramic Painting Gallery. It was painted under the background of the second battle of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea, and focused on the battles involving Sansuo Li, Longyuan Li and Songgu Mountain by the Qingchuan River. It well reflects the heroism of the voluntary armies. It is 16 meters high with the perimeter of 132.6 meters, reproducing the scene of the battles artistically.
Memorial Tower consists of groups of houses as well as the tower as its main section. With a height of 53 meters, the tower symbolizes the victory of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea and the declaration of the armistice agreement in 1953. The front side of the tower is carved with seven gilding characters "抗美援朝纪念塔" (the Memorial Tower of the war) written by Deng Xiaoping. On the back, there is an inscription recording the achievements of the voluntary armies.
Outdoor Weapon Exhibition Park covers an area of 2,000 square meters. What are displayed are the heavy weapons once used during the war to resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea. There are planes, cannons, tanks and other equipment. Moreover, the heavy weapons captured by voluntary armies are also exhibited.
You can take the bus NO.1, 3, 4, 5, 21, 22 and 23 in the downtown of Dandong City.
Tiger Mountain Scenic Area
The Great Wall that stretches across the vast land of China is the symbol of the culture of ancient China. In the Tiger Mountain Scenic Area, which is a state-level scenic area by the Yalu River, stretches the Tiger Mountain Great Wall. It is the eastern end of the Great Wall built in the Ming Dynasty. Just like a bright pearl set in the mountains, the Great Wall stands on Tiger Mountain facing the neighboring country across the river. Besides the majestic Great Wall, there is also Goguryeo Old Well, One Step across the Boundary, Sleeping Beauty (an ancient plank road with a length of several kilometers), and Cableway Bridge. With its rich culture and unique landscape, the Tiger Mountain Scenic Area is well known all over the world.
Shuifeng Scenic Area
Shuifeng Scenic Area has long been known as the largest reservoir in northeast China as well as the largest freshwater lake in Liaoning. Seen from afar it presents a fantastic world: lush mountains stand by both banks, old trees reach the sky, and steep cliffs and sandstones are piled up under the waterline. The Scenic Area focuses on the border scenery, the culture of the boundary river, the common ecology, the legendary river dam, the age-old customs as well as the simple and honest local people. The main attractions are fish culture in the net cage, Panlong Yu Grand Canyon, Temple Valley, Underwater Ancient City, Dong River Sentry Post, the 12th Heavenly Gate, lights on fishing boats over the Lu River, Small Qing Ditch, Wujie Building, Wind Cave and ceramic relics from the Liao Dynasty. Moreover, you can also visit over 30 attractions in North Korea. They include the Sanatorium of Kim Il Sung (former North Korean leader), Sangujie Mountain, Songhe (“Crane”) Island, Dongzhu Li, Lizi (“Chestnut”) Valley, Jinxia Cave and more.
Taiping Bay Scenic Area
Taiping Bay Scenic Area is the key scenic area in the Yalu River Scenic Resort and Historic Site. It is a 4A grade scenic area and the demonstration base of industrial tourism in China. It is 50 kilometers away from the city center of Dandong and faces the Shuozhou Shire of North Korea across the river. With quiet and tasteful surroundings, the Taiping Bay Scenic Area has fresh air and a pleasant climate. It also has the largest artificial lake in northeast China, namely Shuifeng Lake. Without a visa, you can cross the dam of Taiping Bay Power Station to North Korea. You can then look around the majestic water-control and hydropower project, and learn how the water produces electric power. Moreover, there are the relics of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea. You can also take a boat and go fishing, have a taste of the delicious fish of the Yalu River as well as enjoy yourself in the picturesque landscape.
How to get there:
You can take bus NO.6 and 21 in the downtown of Dandong City.
The main aquatic products in Dandong include Corbicula aurea Heude, large yellow croaker, whitebait, pond smelt, pomfret, prawn, clam, and sea crab. The Corbicula aurea Heude is one of the most well known specialties in Dandong. It is tasty and can be cooked into various dishes. It can't be missed.
There is a renowned seafood street in the downtown. The seafood there is fresh with reasonable prices. Most of the famed seafood restaurants are gathered along this street, including Xianhai Ju, Jia Bin Seafood Restaurants and more. The delicacy street in Dandong Yanjiang Development Area has quite a lot of seafood restaurants with large scale. One of these is Shuangsheng Fishing Port by the Zhonglian Grand Hotel. It is of median grade and suitable for feasts. Moreover, Xingwang Grand Hotel in Qianyang Town of Donggang City is also well known. It costs about 50 yuan to reach the Hotel by taxi from the city center.
North Korea barbecue restaurants are distributed all around the Dandong City. Most of them are decorated simply but beautifully. The prices of their dishes are quite reasonable. With good environment and reasonable price, they are popular with local people. The North Korea barbecue restaurants are located mainly in the area of Sanmao Road and Erma Road
There are also some seafood barbecue restaurants where you can enjoy genuine Dandong flavors. Taibai and Yangshu Lin Barbecue Restaurants are the most renowned ones. You can also find some seafood barbecue restaurants along the side streets. However, while the food there is tasty, the environment is not as good as the restaurants mentioned above.
Hot Pot is an important element of Dandong Delicacy, divided into Sichuan hot pot and seafood hot pot. Seafood hot pot expresses the real local tastes. Dishes involving fish balls, shrimp balls and razor clam are worth tasting.
The renowned hot pot restaurants with comparatively large scale are scattered around Liuwei Road, Dandong Gymnasium and the Development Area.
North Korea Flavor
Situated in the Yanjiang Development Area, Sanjiang Li North Korea Flavor Restaurant is well known in Dandong. Both the boss and the servants are from North Korea. However, the dishes there taste ordinary, and the prices are comparatively expensive. Its uniqueness lies in the service. During dinner, you can not only experience the services of servants from North Korea, but also appreciate authentic dancing and singing performances.
If you want to enjoy North Korean cuisine quietly, then the small restaurant The House of Willow (Liushu Zhijia) will be a good choice. Moreover, you can find quite a lot of North Korean style restaurants by walking along the Yalu River to the North Korea Middle School. The authentic bibimbap is very tasty. With reasonable prices, it will leave you stuffed.
Local Flavor Snacks
You can have a taste of all kinds of local flavor snacks on the pedestrian street in the urban area of the city. For example, you can taste a very authentic snack called Menzi. Menzi is made in three steps: firstly, they cut the bean jelly into small pieces; secondly, they fry the pieces until the surface of them becomes crisp; thirdly, they add extra ingredients such as shrimp sauce, sesame paste and garlic juice. Meiwei Wonton Restaurant is an old and famed restaurant near the Sanma Road. You can get a full bowl of tasty wonton at a reasonable price. It is quite popular with the local office workers and students.
It belongs to the continental monsoon climate. The cold air from the plateaus is blocked by Changbai Mountain in the west, while the pacific warm air comes in from the Yellow Sea in the south. Because of these influences, Dandong City has four distinct seasons with plentiful sunshine and high rainfall. It is one of the warmest areas with the highest rainfall in northeast China. The mean annual average temperature is 6.8 to 8.7 °C, and the annual average precipitation is 881.3-1087.5mm.
The best time for tourism is between April and October, although you will find it interesting to visit all year round. It is a place where you can appreciate flowers in the spring, travel by sea in the summer, enjoy the scenery in the autumn and play with snow in the winter.
Dandong Langtou Airport
Dandong Langtou Airport is located in Langtou Town, southwest of Dandong City. Located about 13.7 kilometers from the city center, it is one of the five large airports in northeast China. At present, there have been flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Sanya and Shenzhen. In the airport, you can take a bus to the downtown by paying five yuan. While downtown, you can take bus NO.4, 5 and 19 to the airport. It costs about 30 to 40 yuan to reach the airport by taxi.
Inquiry Hotline: 0415-2217999
Dandong Railway Station
Dandong Railway Station is situated on Shiwei Road at the Zhenxing Area of Dandong City. There are now trains to major domestic cities including Beijing, Quanzhou, Shenyang, Tsitsihar, Qingdao, Dalian and Changchun. In addition, express trains equipped with air-conditioner run between Dandong and Shenyang. The transnational lines from Beijing to Pyongyang stop at Dandong every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
You can take bus NO.3, 20, 21 and 24 to the Dandong Railway Station.
Inquiry Hotline: 0415-2021222
Dandong Long Distance Station is located at Shiwei Road NO.98 on the diagonal across from the railway station. As an important long distance station in northeast China, it is the traffic hub connecting China and North Korea.
Not only are there buses to the counties and cities in Liaoning Province and around Dandong City, but also some coach buses to cities outside of the province including Beijing.
The urban area of Dandong, while not very large, is crossed by over 20 bus lines. You can get to the main areas and many scenic spots in the urban area by bus, most of which charge one yuan. A Yalu River IC card will make it convenient for you to travel around Dandong by bus.
The Yalu River Sightseeing Bus is there to make it easier to have a general idea of the tourist spots in Dandong City. The double-decker Sightseeing Buses is covered by a sun-shading cloth on the second floor, and is a convertible. The route of the bus starts from the Hekou Scenic Area in the east and goes to the Dadong Harbor in the west. It runs on Yalu River Avenue, reaching main tourist spots such as Jinjiang Mountain, Yalu River Park and The Commemorative Museum of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea. At present, there are buses from Tiger Mountain Scenic Area to Wenan Tan. Tourists can buy a ticket with which they can go back and forth.
The starting fare of the taxis in Dandong City is five yuan for two kilometers. Two yuan more will be charged every kilometer or every five minutes of waiting. Taxis charge the same at night. You can also bargain with the driver and set a price instead of paying by the meter.