What is Tumen?
Tumen city is located in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China. It is situated on the Tumen river, the lesser known river between North Korea and China – the mighty Yalu river being the other. Tumen – not to be confused with Tyumen in Russia – is the site of the most interesting border in North Korea . Across the river from Tumen, lies the city of Manpo, Chagang Province, North Korea.
Unlike the Dandong – Sinuiju border, North Korean officials at Manpo actually stamp your passports, instead of merely inspecting the separate visa.
Life in Tumen
The weather in Tumen is characterized by harsh winters and mild summers. The winter often causes the Tumen river between China and North Korea to be frozen over fully. Like Yanji, also in Yanbian, a sizeable proportion of the population in Tumen speaks Korean as a first language. Both languages hold official status and children have the option to attend schools instructed in either language.
How you can visit Tumen
Tumen is not at the top of many peoples mind when they ponder travel in China. However a glimpse at this little-visited corner of the country will offer you the ability to get the closest to North Korea without actually going to North Korea. You will not find the most glamorous skylines or shopping meccas that you may in other parts of the country, what you will is a cross-section of two of the oldest cultures in Asia. The locals here will be more than happy to share a bowl of cold noodles or a round at the local KTV. This region of China does not see many foreigners so expect the locals to be very interested in the new visitors! Luckily, you can visit it on our All Koreas Tour Part 1: North Korean Borderlands Tour.