Lushun, a port-side suburb of Dalian, is located about a two hour public transport ride south of the city centre. Formerly known as Port Arthur, it was an important site during the Russo-Japanese War fought from 1904-05 and is littered with historic sites, including the Lushun Prison. During a rare day off together, we made the trek to check it out and now consider it a must-see spot for anyone visiting Dalian.
How to Get There:
The easiest way to get there is to take the Line 1 subway line south to the last stop (Hekou), transfer to Line 12, and take it to the Lushun station. Once there, you will be bombarded by taxi drivers and people trying to sell you touristy things. We personally had a man ask us three different times where we were going and that the bus we were attempting to take wouldn’t come for 40 minutes. Be a good little tourist and send them on their way. He was wrong and the bus we wanted came in 5 minutes. Take the 203 or the 204 bus four stops and you will find yourself across the street from the prison.
Tip For This Spot: On this particular bus, you pay when you get off instead of the other way around, so enter through the back door and when you reach your stop, exit past the driver.
On the day we chose to go, the prison was free to enter. We had read before going that the cost might be 50 kwai ($10 CAD) but that was not the case for us. We’re not sure if it was because it happened to be Tuesday, or whether the cost had changed, or whether there was just a special circumstance. Either way, we hope it is free for you when you visit but also be prepared to pay 50 Kwai just in case.
Tip For This Spot: You will need a form of ID, so bring along your passport with you. We boneheadedly chose not to bring ours because we don’t tend to need them in our everyday lives. Luckily, the guard accepted our work permits as ID and seemed rather pleased to have a couple foreigners visit the place. It would have put a real damper on the day had we been refused entry after travelling the two hours to get there. So be prepared!
From what we could tell, there were no English tours available so if a group tour is your thing, don’t get your hopes up too high for this place. However, there are many signs and information boards that have English translations located throughout the complex. We felt like they gave us enough context to get a sense of the atmosphere and living conditions of the prisoners.
There were some temporary exhibits in some of the buildings and these, unfortunately, were not accompanied by any English translations so their meaning may be lost on you depending on your level of Chinese.
Pictures are allowed so feel free to take as many as you’d like.
Tip For This Spot: The stories being told here are coming from a (potentially biased) Chinese perspective, and some of the pictures and descriptions of what the Japanese had inflicted on prisoners may be gruesome for some and of an explicit nature, so be prepared for that. We chose not to photograph these areas out of respect for the people who would have suffered here.
Inside the prison proper were corridors of prison cells that we learned housed 6-8 prisoners per cell. The cells can’t be any larger than 8×10 feet so you can imagine the claustrophobic conditions the prisoners had to endure on a daily basis.
There were 4 solitary confinement cells that were a 6×6 cube and monitored through a small hole in the wall. Each box had a square hole in the middle of the floor for disposal of various indelicate items.
After you’ve finished touring the insides of most of the buildings, you will have the opportunity to walk around outdoors within the complex. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a sunny day, the walk will certainly be enjoyable for you as you peruse the buildings from a different perspective.
Overall, the complex is very well maintained and the the relics on display make for a compelling visit. After two hours there and with only a basic understanding of the Russo-Japanese War, we were intrigued and curious to learn more about the history of the place.
Have you visited the Lushun Prison? What was your experience like? Leave it in the comments below!