This year has been an incredibly challenging year for tourism, and left many of us travellers at home with itchy feet. This Chinese national holiday (Golden Week) is the perfect opportunity, and may be your first for this year, to pack your bags and hit the road (and safely, too!).
Our North Korea Borderlands tour will take you to the far northeast of China and explore the major border towns along the DPRK border, to get you as close to North Korea as possible whilst their borders remain shut. Discover the shared unique culture between both nations, sample amazing local dishes, and enjoy incredibly rare views of North Korea from across the Yalu River. The absolute highlight of the trip, reaching the top of Mt. Changbai for spectacular views – or known as Mt. Paektu to the North Koreans.
During your tour you’ll visit Dandong – the largest Chinese border town to North Korea in Laioning province and witness the remnants leftover from the Korean war and walk the most eastern point of the Great Wall of China. From here we’ll drive north along the border crossing into Jilin province to Ji’an city, most famous for Koguryo Dynasty artifacts and relics (37BC to 668AD) – one of the greatest powers in East Asia ruling the entire Korean peninsula, as well as large parts of Manchuria, Mongolia and Eastern Russia.
We’ll stop off
along many checkpoints and scenic spots to give you the absolute best and safest
opportunity to take photos of the DPRK… no rules apply! During our trip, we’ll
also experience the slightly different side of China with the quirkiness of the
locals and the eeriness of the towns where the less respectable underbelly of
Chinese-North Korean relations is not far from the surface.
This trip is one
of the most interesting and adventurous ones we offer in China, with a great
amount of research and over seven years’ experience on knowing where to go and
what to do. This is not just a tour; it is travelling along the very front line
of the modern DPRK and seeing how it relates to its closest neighbour and
The tour starts in Dandong and finishes in Changchun, with the option of starting and finishing in Beijing. This tour is open to all nationalities. Contact us for more details.
Meet your YPT guide inside the Dantie Railway Hotel lobby at 8:00am, the hotel is located next to Dandong Railway Station – Chairman Mao’s statue is pointing directly at the hotel.
Drive north to the most eastern part of the Great Wall of China at Tiger Mountain – This is famous for the ‘one meter hop’ as it is the narrowest point between China and North Korea.
Head back into Dandong city and we’ll go for a gentle hike up to Mt. Jinjiang to overlook Dandong city with Sinuiju in the near distance. Here we can explore the opening of an abandoned underground bunker Mao Zedong constructed to help store ammunition for the Chinese during the Korean War. There’s also an old soviet style theme park and zoo opened in the early 1980s.
Lunch at an authentic Pyongyang restaurant – All the staff at the restaurant are North Korean, and they provide the traditional Korean hospitality with songs and dancing, giving you a taste of what’s to come inside North Korea itself!
Jump aboard a boat and travel down the Yalu River, the river that separates China and the DPRK. This will give you fantastic photo opportunities to take of North Korea and the destroyed original Friendship Bridge that was built by the Japanese and then destroyed by the Americans during the Korean War.
After disembarking from the boat, now is your chance to walk along the destroyed Friendship Bridge and see the Chinese propaganda.
Short drive to see the new Yalu River Bridge connecting China and North Korea, intended as a replacement for the Sino–Korean Friendship Bridge. Construction began in October 2011 and is mostly complete and connected but the project is stalled; North Korea has not built any roads connecting to its end of the bridge.
Stroll around the river front before heading to check out the views into North Korea, as well as some Korean souvenirs
For dinner, we’ll dig into Dandong’s famous BBQ dishes.
Drinks at a nearby bar most famous it’s imported beers.
Overnight at Dandong Dantie Hotel.
Saturday 3rd October
After an early breakfast, our road trip begins as you travel down the Yalu River to Ji’an city for a look of Manpo city – a city of 110,000 with great picture opportunities!
During our drive, we will have a chance to pull over and check out any interesting things that pop up along the way.
Arrival in Ji’an city and lunch at a local restaurant.
Ji’an city used to be the capital of the Koguryo Dynasty, one of the first dynasties to rule over Korea. We’ll take a stroll around the city, hunting ruins of the past and walking around the main city square.
Visit the Ji’an Koguryo Dynasty Artifacts Museum.
We take a night to explore, hitting some great BBQ and having a few beers in an imported beers shop before checking out the riverfront.
Overnight in hotel.
Sunday 4th October
After breakfast, we’ll visit the next major/secret border crossing into DPRK located in Ji’an.
Everyone has heard of China’s great wall, but today we visit the Korean Wall, which marked the border between historic Korea and China.
We take a morning visit to the UNESCO site that is the capital city and holds the tombs of the ancient Koguryo Kingdom – a must-see for people interested in Korean history and culture! The site contains the archaeological remains of three cities and forty identified tombs of Koguryo imperial and noble families.
Head out of Ji’an City to begin our drive to the town of Linjiang.
Arrive in Linjiang and have lunch – this city looks scarily like Las Vegas from a distance but is nothing like Vegas on arrival.
Visit the statue of Chen Yun, one of the founders of People’s China, as well as visiting his former residence. He was one of the very few Chinese politicians to avoid being purged despite finding Chairman Mao slightly too left and Deng Xiao Ping slightly too right. Chen Yun sadly passed away of old age in 1995.
Continue driving towards Changbai with a few stops along the way for some views of the incredible scenery.
Take our bus to the Changbai–Hyesan International Bridge which serves as one of the major border posts between the DPRK and China and offers excellent overlooking views of Hyesan City in the DPRK.
Arrive in Changbai Village and check into the hotel – this is Changbai Korean autonomous county, which is the only Korean autonomous zone in China outside Yanbian.
Dinner and overnight in a strangely Renaissance-themed hotel that overlooks straight out on Korea!
Monday 5th October
Wake up early and Drive to Baihe which is the entrance to Mount Changbai National Park. This is the Chinese side of Mount Paektu – the most sacred mountain in the DPRK.
We’ll have a full day of adventurous hiking up Mount Changbai to see the very famous and magnificent Heaven Lake – this is the iconic volcanic lake seen in very many paintings from the DPRK with the leaders. We recommend bringing suitable hiking boots!
Lunch at the summit of the mountain.
Make our way back down the mountain.
Jump on a shuttle bus and explore more beautiful scenery such as Changbai waterfall, lakes, hot springs (with optional hot spring-cooked boiled eggs!), and the mystical dense forest that surrounds the valleys below the mountain.
Board the bus again and head back to Baihe,
Head out for dinner for your choice of unique Chinese local dishes or Baihe’s only pizza restaurant for those craving a taste of home.
Overnight at hotel.
Tuesday 6th October
Breakfast and drive to Antu County, apart of Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, explore the town and lunch before boarding a fast train to Changchun, the capital of Jilin province
Arrive in Changchun at 4:50pm – Changchun is well connected with other parts of China with flights and trains
Tour concludes – if you need assistance with ongoing travel please contact us