Young Pioneer Tours

DPRK Guide – Yanji to Tumen in 2024

As part of our research trip to see our North Korean and Chinese partners we once again headed out to the borderlands of North Korea. Initially this take us to Dancing, before heading to Yanji and then Tumen.

And while you might well have heard of Dandong, the cities of Yanji and Tumen might be a bit more of mystery. Yet despite this both are key borders, as well as routes into the north-east of the DPRK, in particular to Rason, Chongjin and Mount Paektu.

Yanbian Korean Automous Prefecture

Yanji is officially the capital of the Yanbianautonomous prefecture, which is the main Korean autonomous region of China. This means that most of the city are ethnic-Koreans and that signs and the like are in both languages.

It also means that the place has an extremely unique mixture of all things Chinese, north and south Korean. This means it is popular for Koreans of both sides of the border to visit.

Previously it was also a base for our tours into the north-east of North Korea, usually via the LiuJing Hotel. Sadly we were to discover that this hotel had ceased operations during Covid-19. Luckily though there were still Pyongyang Cold Noodles served by DPR Korean within walking distance.

From Yanji to Tumen

So, how do you get form Yanji to Tumen in 2024 and why would you want to go? Sadly as things currently stand you would not come here as a means to visit the DPRK, as this is not yet possible. It is though worth going from Yanji to Tumen to meet friends in our case, or if nothing else look over at North Korea.

Thankfully there is now more than one option for getting from Yanji to Tumen, with a cab taking an hour and costing about $15, or a fast train that costs $4 and costs a balmy $2, although starts and ends at the slightly out of the way train station. For our purposes we sued both.

And when you arrive in Tumen there are taxis that for $3 will drive you up and down the border, not only stopping at all the regular tourist sites, but also obscure train crossings, as well as weird museums and souvenir shops.

Sadly the closed border has restricted what you van buy here to poorly made south Korean stuff, as well as Russian chocolates. No more can one pick up North Korean money, or even pins!

It is though still very much worth visiting Tumen from Yanji, at least until we can agin go on a North Korean Tour.

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