Northeast China Travel Guide
Northeast China is a relatively small region that encompasses the three provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. It shares borders with North Korea, Russia, and Inner Mongolia and lies beyond the Great Wall of China.
The main cities in Northeast China are Shenyang (the Liaoning capital), Changchun (the Jilin capital), and Harbin (the Heilongjiang capital). The southern coastal city of Dalian in Liaoning is also pretty major.
Apart from the extreme northwest of China in the Xinjiang prefecture, Northeast China is the region least visited by tourists, despite its proximity to Beijing. It is trying desperately to woo tourists after the collapse of many industries here although the main cities just do not have the vibrancy of the east.
Both Russia and Japan have held Northeast China in the past and there are plentiful reminders of their tenure, with cities displaying Russian and Japanese architecture. Harbin is one of Russian-influenced architecture and is a testament to this, while Dalian has a Japanese look in parts.
While an industrial region for the most part, Northeast China also possesses China’s largest natural forested area. It features kilometer after kilometer of pristine grassland and lakes and has many well-preserved areas. Northeast China also happens to be the country’s favorite ski destination.
Of the many protected areas in Northeast China, Wudalianchi National Forest Park, up in the northwest of Heilongjiang Province, is a must-see for its ancient and recent volcanic landscapes. Others include: Zhalong Nature Reserve and Jingpohu National Forest Park (Heilongjiang); Changbaishan National Nature Reserve (Jilin); and Benxi Shuidong National Park and Qianshan National Park (Liaoning Province).
Heilongjiang is home to Yabuli Ski Resort, China’s best ski resort featuring a long ski season and slopes, good snow, and a decent amount of facilities. Harbin is the main town of Heilongjiang Province. It is known as the ‘Ice and Snow City’ and receives direct fights from Los Angeles. Nearby Qiqiha’er has a huge mosque and is the main launch point for visits to Wudalian Chi and Zhalong Nature Reserve.
Changchun is the main city in Jilin Province, yet Jilin City, farther east, is more appealing with a better tourist infrastructure. It is loaded with hotels, restaurants, and shops - Songjiang Road being the best of it. Jilin has a number of border towns with North Korea. Ji’an in the south is one such city from where tourists can embark on trips to North Korea.
Northeast China also encompasses the Korean Autonomous Prefecture in the east of Jilin province. It rubs shoulders with North Korea and has the bulging city of Yanji as its capital. It’s not as appealing as other places in Northeast China, yet is an eye-opener into Korean culture.
The province of Liaoning lies to the south of Jilin and has easier traveling than the other provinces of Northeast China. It is closer to Beijing and is connected by high speed rail and expressways. Shenyang is the main city and has plenty of facilities and attractions, such as the UNESCO Imperial Palace.
The city of Dandong is on the North Korea border and is another of Northeast China’s crossing points with North Korea. It has interesting shopping, the Sino-Korea Friendship Bridge, and the nearby Tiger Mountain Great Wall.
The most impressive and easy-on-the-eye city in Northeast China is Dalian. It occupies the southernmost point of Northeast China, on the end of a peninsular, and comes with amazing shopping, top-class hotels, and several beaches. Dalian has many different districts and parks and is also directly connected by road and rail to Shenyang and then Beijing.
Getting There & Away
Major airports in Northeast China reside in Shenyang, Harbin, Changchun, and Dalian (Dalian to Beijing - 75 minutes). Several other provincial airports have connections with Beijing, Shanghai, and other major Chinese centers. Shenyang, Dalian, Harbin, and Changchun are also on main rail lines. Shenyang is directly accessible by six-lane highway from Beijing (658kms), while Dalian is also well connected by road.