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Laolongtou Great Wall & Shanhaiguan Pass

The Ten-thousand-Li Great Wall,symbol of China, 1ike a huge dragon runs across vast deserts, through boundless grasslands and over towering mountains and finally extends into the sea. The section which enters the sea is the starting point of the Great Wall in the east-Old Dragon Head.

 Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head, 4km south of Shanhaiguan), once supposed to be the easternmost end of the Great Wall, stretches 23 metres into the sea like a dragon drinking water, hence its name. Standing at Laolongtou, looking northwest you can see the Great Wall as it zigzags over the rolling mountains like a giant dragon to the north; looking south you can see the vast expanse of sea stretching far to merge with the sky. You can imagine the scene in this very spot more than 2200 years ago. The story is told of Qinshihuang(221-207 BC), the first emperor of China pushing people into the sea right here to find a drug that would give him immortality. Years later, in 1570, this portion of the Great Wall was constructed and in 1668 it was considerably enhanced.

Old Dragon Head, 5 kilometers south of Shanhaiguan Pass, is an importantcomponent of the Great Wall. Old Dragon Head, Jiaoshan Great Wall, north of the pass, and Weiyuan Fort, east of the pass form three corners echoing with each other, guarding Shanhaiguan. In the early years of the Ming Dynasty, when Xu Da, the general, had Shanhaiguan Pass built, he chose the place where Old Dragon Head is as the point where the Great Wall extended into the sea. In the seventh year during the reign of the Ming Emperor Wanli( 1579 ), Qi Jiguang, Zongbing of Jizhen Town, had a stone city built with 23 meters on the sea. Within the stone city, there are Nanhaikou Pass, the first pass of Hebei Great Wall, Jinglutai, the first watch tower and Chenghailou ( Clear Sea Building ) of 10 meters high. Ai that time, Qi Jiguang had the stone city built to prevent Mongolian cavalry sneakng into the Central Plains during the ebb and dry seasons in winter. Its foundation in the sea is so firm that it has stood well against the tide of sea for hundreds of years. It is said that many iron pots have been deposited in the sea, with their openings facing the sea bottom so as to lessen the force against the stone city from sea waves. This unique building method has been recorded in history.

        Shanhaiguan Pass is located 15 km from Qinhuangdao (25-minute-drive away); it protects the strategic passage between the north and northeast China; it was renovated and consolidated several times because of its strategic importance. It is connected with the Great Wall which stretches onto the rolling Yanshan Mountains in the north and into the Bohai Sea in the south with fortresses and battlements that form a strong and powerful defense system. It was once considered the No.1 pass from the east end of the Great Wall during the time of the Ming Dynasty. In spite of the fact that archaeological work has proven that Tiger Mountain in Liaoning province  is the real start of the Great Wall in the Ming Dynasty, Shanhaiguan Pass is still a popular national tourist attraction.
 
Shanhaiguan has 4 gates, of which the most well-known and the most important is the town's east gate, called Zhendongmen. But because poetics and drama stick to the populace more, this gate has since been known as ""(The First Pass Under Heaven Gate Tower) or simply the " "(The First Pass Gate Tower). This is due to the huge board hanging on the face of the gate tower with the four large characters    written by the Ming calligrapher  Xiao Xian. The gate walls are 14 meters high and 7 meters thick, and these surround an inner town with a perimeter of 4 kilometers. The Great Wall connects to The First Pass and runs 26 kilometers across the town and up the western hills, and links the   Old Dragon Head to the  Bohai Sea in the east.
 
     
    The brick wall of the Pass is 14 metres high, 7 metres wide, and 4 kilometres in circumference. The most imposing tower in the Shanhaiguan Pass is the east gate, on which is hanging a plaque, inscribed with the name of the fortress, "First Pass Under Heaven". On the north and south, there are another five gates with towers standing menacingly like five tigers guarding the Pass. From the second floor of the east gate, one can look down at the whole fortress and the entire landscape surrounding this strategic Pass. Old Dragon Head is not only an ingenious military system which extends into the sea, but also a superb scenic spot and the only place of the Great Wall where the beauty of the pass, the mountain, the sea and the surrounding scenery form an integral entirety. Looking down from Clear Sea Building, you will see " the stone city on the sea " encircled by white waves that " come high and low, much like piles and piles of snow.” Looking far into distance, you will have a broadmind and be filled with lofty sentiments at the sight of the blue sea connecting with the blue sky and the surging mighty waves striking against the towering mountain. What is more fascinating is that sometimes while wind blows violent waves on the thundering sea, and trees and grass on the shore respond to the spanking breeze, people on Clear Sea Building feel nothing of the storm at all. It is the wonderful scene, " Quiet Wind in the Pavilion at Sea”,famous ever since ancient time. It is also said that you may see " pearls at sea " if you climb the building at night. In deep, quiet night, when there is no wind, on the sea surface facing the building, suddenly appear count - less sparkling stars sending forth dazzling and enchanting gleams. Some people say that it is caused by the mussels which Old Dragon Head is rich in. If those mussels open their shells and the exposed pearls catch light, the rarely marvelous spectacle will appear.
    
     Tourists always find the following 3 tourist attractions of interest: (1) Shanhaiguan Great Wall Museum in the fortress (which has some interesting pictures, relics and clothes depicting the life story of this snaking construction), (2) a temple in the vicinity dedicated to Meng Jiangnu, one of China's devoted heroines, and (3) the next spectacular section of the Great Wall meandering along the Jiaoshan Mountain ridges.
 
 The Ten-Thousand-Li Great Wall starts from Old Dragon Head, standing on the high place you can see far ahead. " Old Dragon Head, the cream architecture of the Great wall, together with the surging sea, leads people to walk back into the long river of history and to experience its ups and downs."

Taveller's tip:

a Entrance fee: Shanhaiguan RMB40/person (including the Museum), Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head) RMB50/person, and Meng Jiangnu Temple RMB25/person.
b Moving about is easy in this area: transportation by either bus, mini-van, or taxi is available between sections. Shanhaiguan to Meng Jiangnu Temple is a 5-minute drive, almost the same to Jiaoshan. Laolongtou is a ten-minute drive.
c If you arrive at Shanhaiguan in the afternoon and want to hike westward on the wall, we suggest you first visit Laolongtou (where the Wall meet the sea), secondly visit the museum, and lastly visit the Shanhaiguan Pass. Leave the Jiaoshan Great Wall for the second day.
d

Because this pass is a tourist site, the reader should realize that food and accommodation is comparatively more expensive here than in Qinhuangdao City.

Admission Fee: CNY 40 (May to Oct.)
CNY 35 (Nov. to the next Apr.)
Opening Hours: 08:10 - 16:00
Bus Route: Bus No.25 (get off at Shanhaiguan Pass Station)

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Other Surrounding Scenic Spots:

Beijing Private Tour:

 Booking a Own Car To Laolongtou   From 150 USD / Day


 Tour Guide Reservation From 65 USD / Day