Qikou Town Travel Guide

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If you plan your Shanxi tour or Pingyao tour in particular, you should not miss a side trip to the ancient Qikou Town ( or Qikou Zhen). Qikou Zhen is an ancient port town on the Yellow River, about 230km southwest of Taiyuan and 180km west of Pingyao.

Qikou Town is a rarity of well-preserved ancient town in the style of Ming and Qing Dynasty (1368 – 1911). Unlike the noisy and a bit commercialized ancient Pingyao City, Qikou has kept much of its original outlook, mainly owing to its remoteness and inaccessibility.

“Qi” in Chinese literally means “sand and rock in water”. “Qikou” is a place where the massive Yellow River suddenly narrows its riverbed to 80 meters wide with submerged sand and rocks from the upper 500 meters wide riverbed, a bottleneck which challenged the waterway transportation on the Yellow River.

The Yellow River used to be an efficient and important waterway transportation linking Northwest China (Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi…) and Northern and Southern China during the Ming and Qing dynasties ( 1368 – 1911 ) before the advent of highways, trains and flights.

Qikou flurished in Ming and Qing dynasties because the goods on the water transportation on the Yellow River had to be carried on to the land on Qikou. Qikou later became a busy port town with lots of wharfs bringing numerous visitors and businessmen. It served as a trading port and a trading market as well.

At its heyday, sometimes hundreds of boats berthed everyday. From the Northwest China, cereals, oils, salt, furs, medicines and many other products were carried to Qikou before they were transported overland by horse and camel to other parts of China.

Vice versa, from central China, silk, tea, cigarettes and liquor were transported to Qikou before they were carried on to the boats heading to the northwest China. Hundreds of dock hands worked at the port town and hundreds of camels horses carried goods on the route,which brought prosperity to the port town of Qikou. It remained a trading centre until the 1940s.

How to get there
1. Take the 10:00 am long-distance bus from Taiyuan West Bus Station directly to Qikou Town, about 5 hours.
2. Take buses from Taiyuan West Bus Station to Lishi, from Lishi connect the buses to Qikou
3. Take the buses from Pingyao Bus Station to Lishi, then from Lishi to Qikou.
Suggested accommodation: Qikou Guesthouse Tel: 0358 – 4466188

Qikou Town viewed from Lijianshan Hill.  The town is on the west bank of the Yellow River and on its south is Qiushui River,  a branch of the Yellow River.

Now please follow me to Qikou Town.

The terraced houses in the town carved into the hillside on the bank of the Yellow River.  The river front west street, the middle street and the east street form the main streets in the town, plus 13 narrow lanes on the slopes, connecting all the houses in the town.

The west street on the bank of the Yellow River was once teemed with piers, restaurants, inns and granaries.  Today you could see the evocative stone houses and cobbled pathway, telling us the past glory.

The cobbled pathway brings you to the riverside west street in the town.

The cobbled pathway brings you to the riverside west street in the town

The cobbled pathway brings you to the riverside west street in the town

 

There used to be numerous piers below the high west streets rife with inns, restaurants and granaries.

There used to be numerous piers below the high west streets rife with inns, restaurants and granaries

There used to be numerous piers below the high west streets rife with inns, restaurants and granaries

 

The local residents still keep their old ways of doing things.

The local residents still keep their old ways of doing things.

The local residents still keep their old ways of doing things.

 

The middle street was once the most prosperous commercial street rife with restaurants, stores and money shops.

The Middle Street in Qikou

The Middle Street in Qikou

The Middle Street in Qikou

The former Xiang Tobacco Company

The former Xiang Tobacco Company

The former Xiang Tobacco Company

It is a tourist shoulder season, not much business on the street.

It is a tourist shoulder season, not much business on the street.

It is a tourist shoulder season, not much business on the street.

The narrow lanes connect all the houses on the hillside.

The narrow lanes connect all the houses on the hillside.

The narrow lanes connect all the houses on the hillside.

The narrow alley links the west street and the middle street.

The narrow alley links the west street and the middle street.

The narrow alley links the west street and the middle street.

 

Behind the three main streets in the town, higher on the platform is the Black Dragon Temple.  From the Ming Taoist Temple, people can have a panoramic view of the Yellow River, Qiushui River, the town and Lijiashan. A few minutes hike brings you to the temple.

The narrow riverbed of the Yellow River seen from the high terrace of the temple

The narrow riverbed of the Yellow River seen from the high terrace of the temple

The narrow riverbed of the Yellow River seen from the high terrace of the temple

The sun is setting over the ancient town of Qikou.

The sun is setting over the ancient town of Qikou.

The sun is setting over the ancient town of Qikou.

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Lijiashan Village

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10 Responses to “Qikou Town Travel Guide”

  1. Jan Tu says:

    Thank you for the excellent write up! Great information!

    Do you know anything about Qikou’s Satuday market? I want to know when is starts and when it ends. Some markets are early in the morning and some are in the mid day. How long does Qikou’s last??

    I give you much trouble… Thanks in advance!

  2. Beijing Tour says:

    Hi Jan Tu,

    Glad that the article is a little bit helpful for you! But we are quite in the dark about Qikou’s Saturday Market,sorry.

    By the way, Qikou is a perfect springboard to jump off to Lijiashan Village which is worth your one or two hours’ visit . Check out the link below:

    www.tour-beijing.com/blog/tag/li-jiashan

  3. Kevin Miller says:

    Do you know the best route to Qikou from Shaanxi province, from Xi’an or Yan’an in particular?

  4. Beijing Tour says:

    Hi Kevin Miller,

    1. Ya’an – Qikou
    As far as I know, there is no long-distance bus service between the two places. You have to drive from Yan’an to Qikou ( many self-drive people do this way ), about 298 km, 7 hours.

    2. Taiyuan – Qikou
    There is a direct bus from Taiyuan to Qikou.
    You may first go to Taiyuan from Xian by high speed train, the connect the bus from Taiyuan to Qikou.

    Just for your reference.

  5. Manuel says:

    Hi!! Great article. We are going to Qikou from Pingyao, and we have that sorted out. But we need to go from Qikou to Taiyuan. Do you know if there is a direct bus, and at what time it leaves?
    Thank you!!

  6. Manuel says:

    Hi!! Great article. We need to get from Qikou to Taiyuan. Do you know if there is a direct bus? And at what time? Thanks

  7. Beijing Tour says:

    Hi Manuel,

    As far as I know, there is one daily direct bus from Qikou to Taiyuan as listed below:

    Time: Starting at 6:00am from Qikou ( as for the exact bus station location, please ask your hotel staff in Qikou for help). I think it is located by the bridge in Qikou. The bus ride takes about 4 hours.

    If you miss the bus, no worry! You can take a local bus from Qikou to Lishi where where are many buses going to Taiyuan. Your bus will stop at Taiyuan West Coach Station which is located on Yingze Avenue 10km to the east of Tianyuan Railway Station. You take Bus No.01 from the bus station to Taiyuan Railway Station.

    By the way, you may be also interested in the following travel post:

    www.tour-beijing.com/blog/tag/li-jiashan ( Lijiashan Village in Qikou )

    Have a good trip!

  8. Beijing Tour says:

    Hi Manuel,

    As far as I know, there is one daily direct bus from Qikou to Taiyuan as listed below:

    Time: Starting at 6:00am from Qikou ( as for the exact bus station location, please ask your hotel staff in Qikou for help). I think it is located by the bridge in Qikou. The bus ride takes about 4 hours.

    If you miss the bus, no worry! You can take a local bus from Qikou to Lishi where where are many buses going to Taiyuan. Your bus will stop at Taiyuan West Coach Station which is located on Yingze Avenue 10km to the east of Tianyuan Railway Station. You take Bus No.01 from the bus station to Taiyuan Railway Station.

    By the way, you may be also interested in the following travel post:

    www.tour-beijing.com/blog/tag/li-jiashan ( Lijiashan Village in Qikou )

    Have a good trip!

  9. Anna says:

    Hey there! I am planning to visit qikou and lijiashan for a few nights in between Beijing on my way to xian. There isn’t too much research on transportation, but from what I understand I can take the train Beijing to taiyuan, then either a direct bus to qikou or to lishi then qikou, correct?

    As for reaching xian after, is there a bus from qikou back to taiyuan, from which I can take a train to xian? Is this the easiest way?

  10. Daniel says:

    Dear Anna,

    Thanks for your inquiry! A few years ago, I had the same travel itinerary: Beijing – Taiyuan by train, then take the bus directly from Taiyuan to Qikou. I wrote this blog based on my experience. If any feedback, please kindly email me to update the information for the benefit of the new visitors.

    Yes, there is an early morning bus from Qikou to Taiyuan, then take high speed train back to Beijing.

    Enjoy your trip!

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