Dandong lies on the southeastern border of Liaoning Province, in a region historically known as Manchuria. It is located beside the Yalu River, near the Yellow Sea. The river divides China and North Korea, and Dandong is the main border crossing.
Southern Liaoning is mountainous and forested, enjoying a pleasant climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are quite mild with long hours of daylight; winters are often well-below freezing and bring occasional snow. Spring and autumn are long and pleasant.
Dandong is developing into the economic and social hub of the region. Today the population numbers well over 700,000, mostly from the Han, Korean, Manchu, and Hui ethnic groups.
In addition to most major Chinese cooking styles, Dandong boasts some delicious and affordable Korean cuisine. There are many Korean immigrant families (North and South) which have opened restaurants throughout the city.
Dandong Aston English School is located in the center of the city, about 10 minutes walk from the train station and 15 minutes from the Yalu River. The school opened in the summer of 2002 and has since gone on to become the definitive leader of English education in the city.
We are committed to improving the speaking and listening abilities of all of our students and we offer educational services to the residents of Dandong that no other schools in the city can match. Currently our staff numbers approximately 25, including 6 western teaching staff and a western foreign manager.
Aston Dandong attracts teachers from around the world and nearly all of them renew their contracts and stay in Dandong. Many stay for two or three years or return to teach summer and winter intensive courses.
Our location in “downtown” Dandong was chosen because of its proximity to local schools and businesses. It is conveniently located near markets, shops and a several restaurants.
Dandong is also developing a tourist economy based on its border status. While entering North Korea can be difficult for foreigners, tourists can take a cruise right up to the North Korean side of the river for a closer view. The restored easternmost extension of the Great Wall is just outside the city and attracts many visitors, as does the Korean War Memorial Museum in the center of town. For many the city itself is the most interesting attraction with its international population, scenic views, and BBQ stalls on every corner.
The Western presence in Dandong is minimal. This remains very much a small Chinese city on the fringes. There is the ubiquitous KFC and a small handful of other establishments that cater to the occasional passing foreign tourist, but by and large the twenty or so resident Westerners live life with the locals and enjoy an immersive experience.
Dandong has a very small expat community. Foreigners living here enjoy a highly immersive experience which is well suited to learning the Chinese language and experiencing what a “real” Chinese city is like.
The city is connected to the rest of Northeast China through an extensive rail network. Overnight trains leave for Beijing every evening, as well as Harbin and Changchun. Shenyang and Dalian are both about 3 ½ hours away by bus. In addition, the heavily forested border region along the Yalu River in Liaoning and Jilin provinces has some of the most fascinating and beautiful rural areas in China.
Dandong Aston offers free shared accommodations to all foreign teachers. (In some cases one bedroom apartments are also available.) The school is currently renting apartments in a local complex (Paradise Valley 林江名城) which is very close to the Yalu river and near several restaurants and local markets. It is also very close to Dandong’s first Walmart shopping center.
All of our apartments are in residential areas, less than 10 minutes drive from the school by taxi. They have clean comfortable interiors and good heating systems.
After residing in the city for 6 months or longer, many teachers prefer to find apartments on their own and receive housing stipends. With the relatively low rates in this city it is easy to find a large comfortable apartment for a reasonable price.