Top Attractions in Shanhaiguan, Top Things to Do in Shanhaiguan

Plan your Qinhuangdao Tour?  The city of Qinhuangdao mainly comprises three districts – Shanhaiguan, Beidaihe and Haigang. A  trip to Shanhaiguan is much sought after by foreign travelers who want to visit the old Ming garrison town and the eastern tip of the Great Wall.

The walled Shanhaiguan town was built in Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644)  to seal off the narrow passage leading to the northeastern Manchu. The garrison town succeeded in safeguarding the country until 1644 the Chinese rebels seized Beijing and the General Wu Shangui opened the town and let the Manchurian troops to enter the country to suppress the uprising. Later the Manchu army seized the whole country and established the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911).

Over 10 daily bullet trains go from Beijing ( Beijing Railway Station ) to Shanhaiguan, a 2 and half hours’ train ride. People may make a round trip to Shanhaiguan from Beijing or stay overnight in Shanhaiguan and return to Beijing next day.

I’ve compiled a list of top attractions in Shanhaiguan or the top things to do in Shanhaiguan. Hopefully this short list will be useful planning your own trip to Shanhaiguan.

1. Shanhaiguan Old Town 山海关古城
Shanhaiguan Garrison Town occupies an area of 1.5 million square meters originally built in 1583 in Ming Dynasty (1368 -1644).  It has a perimeter of 2040 meters with three gates – North Gate, East Gate and South Gate. A two-storey building atop the East Gate while a one-storey building atop the North Gate and the South Gate respectively. Two turrets are built atop the northeast and southeast corners.  A city moat circles the old town on its east, south and north.

Some of the traditional buildings  are recent restoration of the rundown buildings, but many faux traditional building have replaced the old or rebuilt. Though the present town is a reproduction of the old to large extent, it is still a pleasant place to walk around and feel the historical town.

Entrance fee: RMB120 (through ticket with Old Dragon Head and First Pass Under Heaven)
Opening Time: All day
Location:  North of Qinhuangdao
How to get there:
Take bullet train from Beijing or buses from downtown Qinhuangdao

Shanhaiguan Old Town
Shanhaiguan Old Town

2. First Pass Under Heaven 天下第一关
The First Pass Under Heaven is the first Pass on the Great Wall of China from its eastern tip.  Actually the Pass is atop the East Gate of the old garrison town of Shanhaiguan.

On the second floor of the Pass Tower, you can have a bird’s-eye view of the whole town and far beyond. On the north, you can see Jiaoshan Great Wall and the sea on  the south. The calligraphy of 天下第一关 (The First Pass Under Heaven ) was written by the scholar Xiao Xian.

Entrance fee: RMB50 (   or through ticket with Old Dragon Head…)
Opening Time: 08:00-17:00
Location:  in the old town of Shanhaiguan
How to get there:
Take bus 25 and 33

First Pass Under Heaven
First Pass Under Heaven

3. Great Wall Museum 长城博物馆
Shanhaiguan Great Wall Museum is one of the three  Great Wall themed museums in China with other two being Badaling Great Wall Museum in Beijing and Jiayuguan Great Wall Museum.

The museum is located about 200 meters south of the First Pass Under the Heaven in the old town.  It has an exhibition area of 1247 square meters. It is divided into 6 exhibition halls – Preface Hall, History Hall, Construction Hall, Military Hall, Culture Hall and  Shanhaiguan Hall. It provides a comprehensive history of the Wall evolution.

Entrance fee: RMB5
Opening Time: 08:00-17:00 ( closed on Mon)
Location:  in the old town of Shanhaiguan
How to get there:
Take bus 25 and 33

Great Wall Museum
Great Wall Museum

4. Wang Family Courtyard 王家大院
Wang Family Courtyard House was a former wealthy family’s house with the surname of Wang. Wang’s family developed and prospered in Qing Dynasty nicknamed “Half Shanhaiguan”, indicating Wang’s family owned a large courtyard house.  The courtyard house is built in the Ming and Qing style.

The Wang Family Courtyard House has been turned into a  museum known as Shanhaiguan Folklore Museum. The courtyard turned museum has 6 exhibition zones, 18 exhibition halls and 59 rooms. Its exhibits range from needles, threads to large piece of furniture, gold and silver jewelry and the list could be much longer.

Entrance fee: RMB25
Opening Time: 08:00-17:00 ( closed on Mon)
Location:  in the old town of Shanhaiguan
How to get there:
Take bus 25 and 33

Wang Family Courtyard
Wang Family Courtyard

5. Old Dragon Head 老龙头
Old Dragon Head is the eastern tip of the Great Wall of China. The eastern tip of  the Great Wall extends about 20 meters into the Bohai Sea like a dragon drinking water, hence the name of Old Dragon Head.

The Old Dragon Head lies 4 km south of the Old Shanhaiguan Town.  This is the most important sight in Shanhaiguan. It is built with  blocks and consists of seven parts, namely,  Chenghai Pavilion, Joining the Sea Block City, the Sea God Temple, Jinglu Platform, Chenghai Pavilion, Ninghai City and Seashore Great Wall.

In the Old Dragon area,  Chenghai Pavilion is said to be the highest point around  Old Dragon Head, an ideal place to appreciate the vastness and grandness of the sea. In Qing Dynasty, the emperor Kangxi and Qianlong had been to this pavilion for many times to worship their ancestors.

Entrance fee: RMB60 ( RMB120 through ticket with the First Pass Under Heaven)
Opening Time: all day
Location:  4km south of  the old town of Shanhaiguan
How to get there:
Take buses 25 and 21 from the south gate of the old town to the sight of  Old Dragon Head

6. Jiaoshan Great Wall 角山长城
Jiaoshan Great Wall is named after the same name Mountain – Jiaoshan Mountain, the first peak  of the Great Wall from the east. “Jiaoshan” literally means “Horn’s Mountain”  with its shape like the horn of a dragon, hence the name.

Jiaoshan is about 3km north of Shanhaiguan Town. You either can have a  half  hour’s hike up to the wall at the top or take the cable up to the wall.  On the top of  the wall,  people have a panoramic view of the Great Wall.

Entrance fee: RMB30
Opening Time: 05:00 pm — 18:30
Location:  3km south of  the old town of Shanhaiguan
How to get there:
Take buses
Hire a local taxi, or  local buses.

7. MengjiangnuTemple 孟姜女庙
Mengjiangnu Temple is dedicated to Lady Mengjiang. The story of Lady Mengjiang is one of  the  four classic  folk tales in China.  It tells  the tragic story of the separation of the loving couple due to the building of the Great Wall.

The story happened in Qin Dynasty when Qinshuhang the first emperor in China ordered the construction of the Wall. Lady Mengjiang’ s husband was caught by imperial officials and sent to the Northern China to build  the Great Wall.

After years’ absence from her husband, Lady Mengjiang set out to walk a long long distance to the north trying to find her husband. But unfortunately, when she got to the Wall, she discovered that her husband had already died in the course of forced labor. Lady Mengjiang cried hard for  the loss of her husband. Her howling caused the fall of  a stretch of the Great Wall.  This legendary story tells us that

The story is set during the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC). It tells of how Meng Jiangnü’s bitter weeping made a section of the Great Wall collapse. Meng Jiangnü’s husband Fan Qiliang (Chinese: 范杞良; pinyin: Fàn Qǐliáng) was caught by imperial officials and sent as Corvee labor to build the Great Wall. Meng Jiangnü heard nothing from him after his departure, so she set out to look for him.

Unfortunately, by the time she reached the Great Wall, she discovered that her husband had already died. Hearing the bad news, she cried her heart out. Her howling caused the collapse of a part of the Great Wall. This story indicates that the Great Wall was the result of the hard labor of tens of thousands of Chinese commoners.

Entrance fee: RMB30
Opening Time: 08:00 pm — 18:00
Location:  6.5km north of  the old town of Shanhaiguan
How to get there:
Take buses
Bus No.02 from the Old Town to Mengjiangnu Temple

Mengjiangnu Temple

8. Yansai Lake 燕塞湖
Yansai Lake,  also known as  the Shihe Reservoir, is located on the foot of Yanshan Mountains, about 3.5km northwest of the old town of  Shanhaiguan. It is a man-made lake with  clear and clean water just like a bright pearl in Mt. Yan.

Along Yansai Lake stands various-shaped cliffs, natural scenery, green pines and wild apricot trees, which is usually called “Small Guilin”, “Small Three Gorges”. On Yansai Lake there is  a Bird Sing Forest holding more than 2,000 kinds of birds, an Eden to appreciate the performance of birds. The best season to visit here is from May to October, the season for migratory birds to migrate.

You’d better go to the mountain by cable car and then take pulleys to the lakeside. After that, you can have a taste of the beauty and majesty of lake and mountain by pleasure-boat.

Entrance fee: RMB90 (Peak); RMB40(low)
Opening Time: 08:00 pm — 18:00
Location:  3.5km north of  the old town of Shanhaiguan
How to get there:
Take buses
Bus No.25 from the Old Town to Yansai Lake

Yansai Lake
Yansai Lake

9. Longevity Hill 长寿山
Longevity Hill is located 9km to the  northeast of the old town of Shanhaiguan. Just as its name suggests, this landscape is a national forest park that gives much importance o the theme of  “Longevity’ with many forms including carving, architecture, calligraphy and so on.

The highlight of Longevity Hill is the 117-meter long Xuanyang Cave which is considered the No.01 Attraction in Shanhaiguan. The cave is the rare and largest and marble cave in China.

Entrance fee: Through ticket with Old Dragon Head and The Pass (RMB120)
Opening Time: 08:00 pm — 18:00
Location:  9km north of  the old town of Shanhaiguan
How to get there:
Take buses
Bus No.25 from the Old Town to Yansai Lake

10. Ledao Ocean Park 乐岛海洋公园
Laodao Ocean Park  is located 8km from Qinhuangdao airport and 2km to the south of  Old Dragon’s Head Great Wall. The park provides rich and colorful entertainment items, which all bring happiness on your tour.

The park has numerous sea animals and the sea-lion, dolphins, and beluga will play brilliant performance.  At the bottom of the sea, you can get zero-distance contact with wild animal of ocean.

The polar region exhibition hall takes you to the romantic world of ice and snow, and hope you will have a good time with the cute polar bear and penguin.

Entrance fee: RMB100
Opening Time: 08:00 – 18:00
Location: 148 Longhai Avenue, Shanhaiguan, Qinhuangdao河北省秦皇岛山海关区龙海大道148号
How to get there:
Take buses
Bus No.25 from the Old Town to Ledao Ocean Park


06611Tip:  Hassle-free Shanhaiguan Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Shanhaiguan:

Beijing Shanhaiguan Great Wall Culture One Day Tour
Beijing Shanhaiguan Great Wall Culture 2-Day Tour 


Further Reading
Shanhaiguan Trip
Jiaoshan Great Wall
Beidaihe Trip
Sunrise at Beidaihe
Birding Beidaihe
Qinhuangdao Trip

Any questions, just drop a line.

4 thoughts on “Top Attractions in Shanhaiguan, Top Things to Do in Shanhaiguan

  1. Good Morning,
    I am Brazilian and I am planning a trip to China with my wife and a couple of adult sons. The trip is planned for October 2017; we will be coming from Harbin to Beijing with the pit stop in Shanhaiguan on October 22. Can You inform me if I can schedule an English or Spanish speak local guide, to show us in one single day the great wall in Qinhuangdao, as Laolongtou, Shanhaiguan pass and Jiaoshan, departing from and return to the Shanhaiguan train station?
    Thanks in advance for your response.
    Milton Oliveira

  2. Dear Milton Oliveira,

    Thanks for your inquiry! One of our trip advisors will email you for the details. Much appreciated!

  3. At shanhaiguan shipyard for a week, would like to visit these places in about 2 days or 3, Kindly advise a local english guide amd estimate costs for a single person

  4. Dear Prashant,

    Basically we mainly offer the tours to Shanhaiguan starting from Beijing, and we bring the tour guides from Beijing accordingly. It is not easy to find an English-speaking tour guide in Shanhaiguan.

    But fortunately Shanhaiguan is a well-developed tourist area with English signages posted on the major attractions, easy for you to navigate.

    Try to venture to visit some of the sights on your own, an interesting experience.

    Thanks for your inquiry!

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