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Shanhaiguan (山海关; Shānhǎiguān) also called Shanhai Pass, is a part of the city of Qinhuangdao in Hebei province. It literally means "The Pass of Mountain and Sea".

Old Dragon's Head beginning of the Great Wall

Get in

By train

Shanhaiguan has its own train-station. It's only a few minutes by train from Qinhuangdao train-station. A regular train from Beijing takes 4 hours. The express D train does it in just 2 hours, but book ahead. Shanhaiguan is on the line connecting Beijing and Tianjin to the south-west with the north-east via Jinzhou (2 hours) and Shenyang (5 hours).

Get around

  • There's a bike rental shop in Shanhaiguan.
  • Taxis are readily available. Drivers will have a photo sheet showing sites to be seen making it easier to communicate.


Decaying section of the Great Wall with the beginning of the climb up the mountains in the background

At Shanhaiguan, the Great Wall juts out into the sea. This part of the wall is known as the "Old Dragon's Head". Bus 25 will take you to the entrance for ¥1. If you turn left before the entrance, that road will take you under the wall and to the beach. From there you can see where the wall reaches the ocean without paying entrance fees. At low tide it is possible, albeit illegal and dishonest of course, to walk around the end of the wall and enter the paid-area without a ticket.

Further inland, The pass of Shanhaiguan is to be found. The pass of Shanhaiguan is a square, with a perimeter of around 4 kilometers long. The walls reach the heigh of 14 meters, and are 7 meters thick. The pass's east, south and north side is surrounded by a moat of 8 feet deep and 17 feet wide. There are drawbridges to get over the moat, and in the middle of the pass stands a tall bell tower.

All four sides of Shanhaiguan had a gate: Zhendong (East), Yinun (West), Mangyang (South), and Weiyuan (North). Due to disrepair over the centuries, only Zhendong gate still remains today. Zhendong Gate is the most important gate in Shanhaiguan due to its position, which faces outside the pass. On the gate hangs the board, written on it "First Pass Under the Heaven."

Even further inland, there's a small park near another section of the wall. Here, the wall can be seen snaking it's way over the hills. It is possible to take a chairlift/cablecar to get a better view, or if you're feeling fit, you can walk up a steep section of the wall.

There's also a museum dedicated to the Great wall in the centre of Shanhaiguan.

Much of Shanhaiguan has been extensively restored in the 80s.

Currently much of the "old" town is being completely reconstructed. Quite a few entire city blocks are being remade into a faux-old Chinese city that, in fact, promises to be quite nice when construction is complete.




There is a nice restaurant in the centre where the wall is plastered with pictures of foreign customers who have visited the restaurant. The owner will even offer to take a picture of himself with you if you're lucky. At least one restaurant near the Dragon's Head has been known to overcharge.



  • Jun Yi Hotel (君宜宾馆), 山海关火车站东侧站东小区商贸楼8--6 (The hotel is in the middle of a row of hotels, on the right (North-east) as you exit the station. Look for a yellow and red sign.), 0335-7656665, 13623345655(mobile). checkout: Noon.. This hotel has very modern, clean rooms at good prices. The owners do not speak much English but are very friendly. Convenient location. Be warned that it may take several minutes for the shower to get hot - be patient! 60RMB and up, price negotiable in low season..


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