For anyone who wants to get as close to North Korea as possible without actually going in, Dandong is the place to go. China's largest border city sees very large numbers of Chinese travelers who swing through to make the crossing into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the stark, barren land just across the Yalu River (Yalu Jiang), but Western tourists are far less common.
Trade with North Korea, both legal and otherwise, defines much the city and explains the strong Korean influence the prevails here. Though Isreali and South Korean citizens cannot obtain visas to visit the DPRK, and Americans face a mountain of red tape, they can get a pretty good idea of life in the isolated state from vendors selling North Korean stamps and propaganda posters, and North Korean shows on TV.
You could also try going on a boat cruise (guangguang chuang) along the river, or just simply going out to the half-demolished, bullet-scarred Yalu Jiang Duan Qiao (Yalu River Bridge) to take in the huge contrast between the North Korean and Chinese sides of the Yalu River.
You can also learn a lot about China's perspective of the Korean War by visiting the War to Resist American Aggression and Aid Korea Museum. With its copious bilingual displays, the museum and cenotaph make for an interesting afternoon visit.
If you find politics and history a bit of a yawner, you can hike along Hu Shan Chang Cheng (Tiger Mountain Great Wall), a well-maintained stretch of wall hailing from the Ming Dynasty. Terrain is quite steep here, so it can actually quite taxing to explore. You'll see Tang-era Taoist temples on the slopes of Dagu Shan (Lonely Mountain) about 90km off. A little closer to town Pheonix Mountain National Park (Fenghuang Shan) has temples, monasteries and caves to explore.
If you happen to be in Dandong for the long haul, the Dandong government website features a long list of other attractions you can check out.
For a chance to clamber over the Great Wall, without having to deal with throngs of tourists, this Ming-dynasty section, which runs along the North Korean border, might be your..
Pockmarked by shrapnel and half destroyed, first by a supposedly errant American bomb and then further by the North Koreans, the Yalu River Bridge (Yalujiang Duanqiao) stands as..