Dandong, China 2014

I recently traveled to Dandong, China as a side trip from Beijing. I choose Dandong as I wanted to visit a normal Chinese city not usually on the tourist trail. Dandong is certainly a normal city and not one which sees millions of Western visitors every week. I also have an intermittent fascination with North Korea and Dandong happens to be one of the main crossing points into North Korea.

I spent most of my time exploring town and riverside areas including visiting the Korean War Museum (Museum of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea) and stopping at a remote outpost of Tesco to pick up supplies. There isn't a tonne of stuff to do in Dandong but enough to fill a weekend. If you're feeling more energetic than I (I'd hurt my ankle a few days before in Beijing) you can take a bus or taxi to see the most easterly section of the Great Wall.

Below are a few highlights of my trip:

The broken Yalu River bridge (alongside the working Friendship Bridge):

Bridges over the Yalu River, Dandong

View from the broken bridge over the Yalu river looking towards North Korea

North Korean boats on the river:

North Korean cargo ships moored on the Yalu River, Dandong

Walking the streets of Dandong:

Walking through the city to the war museum showed Dandong is very detached from the more vibrant and shiny areas of Beijing and lived up to my expectations of being slightly gritty and dirty.

Apartments seen while walking in Dandong

A typical street, Dandong

While I was taking this photo someone on an upper floor threw something large and glass out of the window and it smashed in the middle of the road, fortunatly not hitting anything.

Museum of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea:

While not very photogenic this is a very interesting museum if you're into history, it covers the Korean War from the Chinese angle and portrays America in a very different light to what most Western visitors will be used to. It's fully translated into English and has a wide selection of artifacts from the war as well as an outdoor display of military hardware.

Museum of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea

Statues inside The Museum of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea

On my way back to the hotel I picked up some local beer from Tesco, it wasn't great - I think I'll stick to TsingTao in future

Yalu River Beer

I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and can thoroughly recommend it, it's a little outside the CBD but a pleasant 30 minute walk along the river or a few minutes taxi ride. The concierges were particularly helpful and unlike their Beijing counterparts haven't grown to expect American style tipping (yet). Below are some views from my room, N. Korea is on the far bank:

View of the Yalu river and North Korea from my room in the Crown Plaza Hotel, Dandong

View of the Yalu river and North Korea from my room in the Crown Plaza Hotel, Dandong

You can even watch North Korean TV live on the TV, that was quite surreal!

Watching North Korean TV in the hotel

At the time of visiting there was a daily Air China flight to/from Beijing and less frequent services to Harbin, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Dandong Airport has just opened a shiny new terminal which was deserted until an hour or so before my flight.

Dandong Airport Terminal

Dandong Airport Terminal