Ji’an – In the Jilin Province
Ji’an town is a border town in the Jilin Province in the Northeastern Corner of China, right along the border with North Korea.
The nicest part of town is the waterfront. From the Yalu River on the south side, you look into the green mountains of North Korea. Part of the river has a pleasant waterfront where people go bath, fish, and relax (there’s even a short stretch of beach).
Downtown partly consists of uninspiring grids with lots of asphalt and beton, but is interspersed with green parks and streets lined by trees. In the distance, the mountains beckon.
The main reason to go to Ji’an, however, is the ancient history of the Koguryo kingdom. The remains are a UNESCO World Heritage site, and definitely worth a visit.
The site includes archaeological remains of three cities and 40 tombs: Wunu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City, 14 tombs are imperial, 26 of nobles. All belong to the Koguryo culture, named after the dynasty that ruled over parts of northern China and the northern half of the Korean Peninsula from 277 BC to AD 668.
The wall paintings constitute masterpieces of the art of wall painting. The subject matter of the wall paintings of the tombs offers unique evidence of the richness and complexity of the now-vanished Koguryo culture, portraying the costumes, food, residential life and burial customs, as well as religious practices and imagery associated with Buddhism, Taoism and the Four Deities.
Transportation to/from Ji’an
We took the bus from Changchun that runs twice a day and takes about six hours.
It was a stunning drive through the mountains—of all the traveling in between cities in northeastern China, this was by far the most beautiful region to see.
Read More: Changchun City Travel Guide (China)
Sightseeing in Ji’an
Ji’an is the place to visit the ruins of the ancient Koguryo Kingdom. The ones open to visitors are spread out over four sites, plus check out the excellent museum downtown with beautiful artifacts on display.
Here’s the most logical and cheapest way to visit them, which takes about one, pleasant day when you take it slowly:
- From the city center take a taxi to the Longevity Mausoleum, also called Jlangjunfen (about 10 RMB, 8 kilometers).
- From there, walk to the Gwanggaeto Stele along a narrow road through orchards and vegetable gardens.
- Next, walk to the ‘Cemetery of Noblemen at Yushan’, another leisurely stroll.
- Walk the 1 kilometer to the main road and take a taxi downtown for lunch.
- From downtown, take another taxi to the main site of Wandu Mountain City, about 3,5 kms (4 RMB).
- Leisurely stroll back to town.
Or: For a quick trip without walking in between, negotiate a price for the taxi to all sites where the driver will wait for you.
Tickets for the Koguryo Sites:
- RMB 30 per site and RMB 70 for the museum
- RMB 100 for 4 sites + RMB 35 for the museum
Where to Sleep in Ji’an
- It’s a small town. Trying to find accommodation as low-budget as possible, Ji’an turned out to be one of the places in China with hotels that don’t accept foreigners. It took quite some time of walking and asking around until we found one.
- We ended up staying at the Yantzi Hotel (as called in the Lonely Planet) aka Elegant Hotel (as mentioned on the sign outside) aka Lavende Hotel (as mentioned on stationary). Whatever the name, it was a good hotel with private bathroom for about $14 (140 RMB). Wifi worked most of the time. No breakfast.
- Gps waypoints: 41.126097, 126.181715
- If Ji’an has no accommodation, try the nearby city of Tonghua.
Tip on What to Eat in Ji’an
As we were right next to the border with North Korea, we looked forward to eating Korean food. That was easy enough as there are a number of Korean restaurants.
The first restaurant was so good, however, that we had no reason to find something else. Three times we gorged on bibimbap (‘ban fang’ in Chinese) and gimbap.
Google translate helped to get the food served without meat.
Gps waypoint: 41.814992, 123.437498
One Last Tip: VPN
We have used VPN Unlimited for a few years now and it has been a great way to add overall safety when you depend on local WiFi. Not only will it allow you in China to access Google or your favorite social media, but it will also help you get cheaper airline tickets as well.
This this little cool video that will explain the benefits, especially if you travel to China.
Make sure you installed your VPN before you arrive in China.
If you are looking for a VPN with great service, we recommend VPN Unlimited. You will be allowed to activate up to 5 devices.
Check it out and take it for a spin. VPN Unlimited is cross-platform and offers a 10-day trial for free.
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