The Changbai Shan ranges run northeast to southwest for more than 1000km along the Chinese-North Korean border. With long, harsh winters and humid summers, this is the only mountain range in east Asia to possess alpine tundra, and its highest peak, Baitou Shan (2744m), is the tallest mountain on the eastern side of the continent. Changbai Shan Nature Reserve, with its jagged peaks emerging from swaths of lush pine forests, is one of the highlights of Dongbei, not least for its stunning lake, Tian Chi, which actually straddles the international border.
Despite Changbai Shan’s remote location, both domestic and South Korean tourists come here in great numbers; a village has grown up on the mountain, and the scenery and atmosphere are somewhat marred by litter, souvenir stalls and hawkers. In fact the reserve averages around 10,000 visitors a day in summer – as you’re herded from one spot to the next, it’s easy to feel the outdoors experience has been diluted a bit, and getting away from the crowds is the key to a rewarding visit. You need to come well prepared with all-weather gear, whatever the time of year.