Rason is a combined city of the former cities of Rajin (라진구역) and Sonbong (선봉군) with an approximate population of 195,000. It has a special 'free trade' designation at the corner of both China and Russia which allows for easier foreign investment. It usually receives only a small percentage of the nation's total Western tourism.
Of interest to the traveller is that Rason is apparently the only place in North Korea that will provide a visa stamp in your passport (as long as the passport in question is issued by neither Japan nor the United States).
The Rason Special Economic area is in many ways a separate country from North Korea. There are check points between the rest of North Korea and the zone that act as a border, and North Koreans require special permission (which is not readily granted) to enter the zone.
Chinese citizens do not require a visa to enter, just a travel permit. Chinese cars may also be driven into the zone as well.
The city's 1 Rajin Station and 2 Sonbong Station are on the Pyongra Line and connects all the way to Pyongyang as well as the nearby Russian border city of Khasan. The rail line has a service to Moscow.
Note that the train service (as in most of the rest of North Korea) is not generally available to tourists. Only around 10,000 passengers used this line in the whole of 2005. Of future interest is the city's potential use in a proposed rail link between South Korea and the Russian Trans-Siberian Railway, although this is still an extremely distant prospect as of 2019.
- 1 Sonbong Port Revolutionary Monument. A monument to the revolutionary exploits of Comrade Kim Jong Suk
- Rajin-Sonbong House of Culture. Dance and martial arts performances in this 1,500 seat theatre.
- 2 Kulpho-ri. Stone age archaeological site.
- 3 China–North Korea–Russia tripoint (Tri-countries border), Tumanggang town. Extreme point where you can see both of China and Russia with clear eyes
- 1 Imperial Hotel and Casino (The Emperor Hotel and Casino). Generally available to Chinese businessmen and tourists.
- 2 Pipha Island (or Piba or Bipa-do Island) (Over the bridge from the Emperor Casino). This island is known for its bathing resort.
Rason has some reputation for having free markets as well as being able to exchange North Korean currency at 'real' rates rather than the highly disadvantageous 'official' rates.
- Bazaar. Built by the Chinese for mainly reselling Chinese goods. Interesting example of small scale capitalism.
- 1 Tongmyongsan Hotel (동명산호텔, or Dongmyongsan Hotel) (800 metres eastward from railway station of Rajin or Najin and 500 metres westward from Rajin Hotel. Not so far from main square and Namsan Hotel, too.), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Used mostly by Russian dockworkers, according a review from a blog in koryogroup.com. The hotel offered simple room and accessible hot water. Featured in second edition of Foreign Trade of the DPRK magazine in 2020
- 2 Rajin Hotel (라진호텔, or Najin Hotel) (2.5 km walk from railway station.). Declared as permanently closed by Google Map. Needed to be confirmed first by your own tour guide on whether this hotel is closed or still be opened for tourist. Last update on 2020 said that this hotel is famous for its BBQ and beer.
- 3 Imperial Hotel (The Emperor Hotel and Casino). Part of the Casino building
- 4 Bipa-do Hotel (비피도 호힐, or Pipha Island Hotel) (located in the south-easternmost corner of the Pipa Island. The hotel is still be accessible without ferry boat from the mainland).