Van Camping On Island Yalu River China North Korea Border
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Van Camping On Island Yalu River China North Korea Border

Camping on a Yalu River Island Opposite North Korea – Van-Life in China

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For a few days we just stared at North Korea.

At three different riverbank sites we parked-up our mini-van, looking to the hauntingly-beautiful mountains of North Korea; shrouded in mist every morning.

Yalu River Fishing On Chinese Side Looking To Blown Up Japanese Ww2 Bridge Over To Dprk
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Yalu River Fishing On Chinese Side Looking to Blown up Japanese WW2 Bridge Over to DPKR

At our favourite camp spot (pictured below) we would wake at 4AM – because that is sunrise here in northern China in Summer.

North Korea hid for hours amid morning mist of the Yalu River.

But slowly, beguiling mountain scenes open across the Yalu River.

Van Camping On Island Yalu River China North Korea Border
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Well after mid-day before any color enters the scene: van camping on Peach Island (yeah, they grow peaches here) in the middle of the Yalu River on the China-North Korean border. NOTE: in middle of photo the buildings on the North Korean side are a military post – see picture futher down.
Yalu River Panorama North Korea
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Our room with a view … to North Korea. Often it felt like we were at a lake, rather than amid a mighty river.

After mist cleared, we sat opposite a DPRK military post. Sometimes small army speedboats zipped along the opposite bank. One day, 2 Chinese navy patrol boats growled up and down the river.

Ducks Misty Mountains Yalu River To North Korea
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Ducks on the Yalu River amid early morning mist hanging over North Korea.

Another day, it was young Chinese men in Olympian rowing practice teams.

But mostly, it was masses of ducks that brought the Yalu River to life.

North Korea Watchtower Yalu River
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North Korea floating watchtower on Yalu riverbank (this detail not visible with the naked eye; only seen with my 200mm camera lens).
Woman Looking Towards North Korea Across Yalu River China
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Wei looking towards mountains of North Korea shrouded by mist across Yalu river. At first light you can’t even see the outlines!

So what could you see of North Korea when the mist lifted?

Apart from beautiful peaks and forest, not much. Ocassionally, a truck, bus or car horn would sound from a hidden dirt road but you rarely saw the vehicle as forest covered most of the route.

rowers on yalu river misty morning
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Rowers training on a very calm day, like a long exposure photo, the river waters are smooth.

As mentioned, sometimes a DPRK army speedboat left or arrived from that base opposite us, and at night, the tower was the only dwelling with lights on.

The Korean village was in darkness (as I had seen in the countryside of North Korea a couple of years earlier when traveling by train from China).

Misty Scene Chinese Side Yalu River in China
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From the Chinese side to the DPKR: fishing rigs, hotel island and mountains of North Korea amid the mist of the Yalu River in the morning.

From our viewpoint, the DPRK was clouded by mist much of the day, and cloaked in darkness across the night.

Fishermen In Boat On Yalu River North Korea Side
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Fishermen in boat amid heavy morning mist on the Yalu River on the North Korean side.

The real North Korea it seems – beyond the managed tours, remains ever illusive.

Early Morning Misty Bridge Across Yalu River To North Korea
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On the road after 4 days of Yalu River camping and still following the river border. Early Morning Misty Railway Bridge Across Yalu River To North Korea (the entrance gateway was locked across the bridge; so sign of movement).
Yalu River camping opposite North Korea China
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