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Visiting Tumen in 2024

Visiting Tumen

Visiting Tumen was once a thing I quite literally did all of the time, but alas this was to change with Covid-19 and the closing of North Korea and China to tourism.

And while the former might not be open just yet, the later is, meaning that planning for North Korean travel has begun, thus I found myself in Tumen, Jilin.

This is not to be confused with Tumen, in North Korea, Tumangang, or even the River Tumen.

Starting in Yanji

We’d actually started our China jaunt in Beijing, although my initial trip had me on the go from Seoul. Inn Beijing we met at the Mansudae Arts Gallery to discuss North Korea, before going for the street food of Dandong and again talking North Korea.

Eventually we came to Yanji and the former LiuJing Hotel to talk about North Korea, before deciding we should go look at North Korea – which you can do from Tumen.

What to do in Yanji

I have already written about what to do on Xining Lu, but you come to Yanji to do Korean stuff, or better still visit Rason Special Economic Zone. That was of course until they shut down North Korea and our ability to do Rason street food.

One of the best things about Yanji is still the same and that is heading to Tumen to look at North Korea.

How to get from visit Tumen from Yanji (and get back)

Getting from Yanji to Tumen is either a 15 minute super fast train, that is only $3 a person, or getting a taxi for about $16. This might seem like a no brainer, but our circumstances meant that we actually did both.

There are also local buses that you can get, but if my China experience tells me anything these are best avoided.

What to do in Tumen?

The reason you come to Tumen as a foreigner, or tourist is either to go to North Korea, or look at it. In fact look at it used to be the only option until YPT opened this border.

On arrival we went to the taxi rank to be told it would cost $3 and that there was no meter. I obviously nearly had a heart attack, but in fact it essentially included the taxi driver also giving us basically a tour of Tumen.

Now there train tracks connecting the two countries, border posts that anyone can visit, as well as sooooo many view points. At said points Chinese businessmen show their solidarity with their socialist brethren by selling anything they can North Korean, as well as present it in almost safari like fashion. This is Socialism With Chinese characteristics.

And how is it in 2024? Sadly not what it was in 2019, with many places now closed and the less porous border meaning you could not buy that DPRK stuff.

We did though at least find a pseudo North Korean museum type thing which had old DPRK TV’s and very bad mostly south Korean and Russian stuff for sale.

Glad I visited Tumen? Yes, but I will prefer when I can exit to the DPRK…..