Fun Things to Do in Dandong, China
Dandong is situated in Northeast China's Liaoning Province. It borders Sinuiju, so it is a great place to experience Chinese culture whilst taking a sneaky glimpse into North Korea.
There are a variety of different things to see and do in Dandong, and it's easy to see many of the city's main sights within a day. I visited during the summer months and had a great time. Check out my snap-happy photo gallery for fun ideas of things to do whilst in Dandong!
My Favorite Things to Do in Dandong:
- Walk over the famous 'Broken Bridge' to the center of the Yalu river to peer into North Korea.
- Buy some (fake) North Korean money from the street peddlers.
- Take a speedboat ride along the Yalu river, stopping right at the edge of North Korea.
- Climb the easternmost stretch of the Great Wall at 'Tiger Mountain' and see fantastic views over China and North Korea.
- Follow a steep hillside path right along the edge of the river border. Just don't upset the guards!
- Eat North Korean cuisine in restaurants along the riverfront.
Walk Dandong's Broken Bridge
The Broken Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in Dandong. The bridge originally crossed the Yalu River to Sinuiju in North Korea but was bombed by American forces during the Korean War. Twisted, pockmarked metal at the end of the bridge caused by the bombing has been left as a point of interest and the bridge has been turned into a historical landmark.
Walking to the end of the bridge brings you to a viewing platform. Here you can spend a few Chinese Yuan to use the binoculars to get a closer look into North Korea.
The North Korean side of the river seems to house a disused fairground and it's interesting to see the difference between the bustling Chinese side and the much quieter North Korean edge.
This is a great place to buy all of the usual tourist souvenirs, my favorite of which was the North Korean money. Be prepared to haggle for anything you do buy or prices will be higher than you'd expect.
Visit Tiger Mountain, the Easternmost Section of The Great Wall
Hushan Mountain literally translates from Mandarin Chinese as Tiger Mountain. It is the easternmost section of The Great Wall and gives great views of the surrounding countryside from the top.
The wall has been renovated so is a relatively easy walk to the top in comparison to other parts of the Great Wall in China. The main circular route around Tiger's Mountain involves walking up the steep but well-maintained path to the top and then descending down the other side on almost vertical-feeling steps.
The top of the wall offers spectacular views over both China and North Korea. The countryside seems to be split in two by the Yalu river and there is a visible difference in the land.
There are two options for returning to the entrance/exit. Turn around and walk back along the maintained path or follow the mountain path along the riverside.
The path along the river is a lot of fun, but is harder-going and involves a bit of clambering over rocks using the railings, so isn't suitable for everyone. The countryside is beautiful here and we even spotted a praying mantis. The walk follows the banks of a river, on the opposite side of which is North Korea, with armed soldiers situated in guard posts along the river's edge.
Note: The entrance to the wall isn't in Dandong itself, so is easiest to access via tax
Take a Speedboat Trip Along the Border
Taking a speedboat ride along the Yalu River is great fun. Tourist boats can be accessed easily from around the Broken Bridge in Dandong itself, but traveling a little further out of the town, these tours are longer and possibly a better experience.
Continuing along the same road past the entrance to Tiger Mountain brings you to a little boat dock. There are big, slow tourist boats or smaller, faster speedboats that take trips up the river, stopping at the very edge of North Korea.
Armed military guards are situated in guard towers along the border. Traveling further along the river reaches a small North Korean settlement. The boat pauses on the water to allow you to watch as people fish and wash clothes along the river's edge and people walk around with rifles.
At one point, our boat stopped alongside a jetty, where four men in military outfits were crouched. People handed them money and cigarettes before the speedboat set off, back towards the Chinese riverbank.
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© 2018 Yasmin Crawford-Hunt