Heicheng Historic Site in Ejin Banner (Tips, Photos & Map)

Plan your Inner Mongolia tour? Inner Mongolia is huge in size. Basically it is impossible to travel the major sites on a single trip. If you are interested in history and unique landscape, a trip to Western Inner Mongolia is highly recommended.

Khara-Khoto is a ruined city in the Ejin Banner of Alxa League in western Inner Mongolia near Juyan Lake Basin built in 1032. It is now known as Heicheng Historic Site (黑城遗址) with multiple names – Heishui City Ruins, Black City Ruins, Black Water City Ruins, the formerly Khar Khot (Mongolian) and Eji Nai City (Tangut language).

It has been recognized as the city of Etzina, which was recorded in The Travels of Marco Polo, and Ejina Qi ( Ejin Banner ) is actually named after this city.

Location of Heicheng Historic Site (Khara-Khoto)

Heicheng Historic Site is located about 40km southeast of Dalaihubu Town, Ejin Banner (Qi) in Alxa (Alashan) League, in the west of Inner Mongolia. It is an ancient fortress that was first built in 1032 and later became a trade center of Tangut Empire (1038 – 1227). The current Ejina is named after the Eji Nai City (Black Water City) in Tangut language.

Dalaihubuzhen – Guaishulin (28km) – Heicheng Historic Site ( 15km) Google Map

Heicheng Historic Site is now a major Historical and Cultural Site protected at the National Level, a tourist destination in Ejina Qi (Ejin Banner). Basically a visit to Heicheng Ruins is often combined with a visit to “Guaishulin” – the Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest.

Brief History of Heicheng Historic Site ( Khara-Khoto )

The city was originally built in 1032 and became an important centre of Western Xia trade in the 11th century. The Heicheng City was widely developed as an important northern fortress on the northwest of the former Tangut Empire. Now It lies on the arid desert bank of the lower reaches of Heishui River, the largest existent fortress along the ancient Silk Road.

The walled military town was first attacked and taken by Genghis Khan in 1226. The ancient town continued to develop and flourish under Mongol Empire. In Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368), the city was expanded.

In 1372, the last general of Yuan Dynasty named Khara Bator was surrounded to the armies of Ming Dynasty ( 1368 1644). After the defeat, the city was abandoned and left in ruins.

How to Visit Heicheng Historic Site (Khara-Khoto)

To visit Heicheng Ruins, you may first go to the main entrance to the combo scenic area known as Guaishulin and Heicheng Ruins Scenic Area (黑城怪树林景区), 28km southwest of Dalaihubu Town.

The entrance to the Guaishulin and Heicheng Ruins ( Khara-Khoto ) Tourist Destination is close to Guaishulin. where you line up for the shuttle bus that brings you to the Heicheng Ruins ( Khara-Khoto) , 15km to the northeast of Guaishulin (Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest and 35km southeast of Dalaihubu Town. We suggest you first go visit Heicheng Ruins, then come back for viewing Guaishulin ( Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest).

If you are going to visit the West Inner Mongolia on your Inner Mongolia Tour, Heicheng Ruins is an interesting draw you should not miss, especially if you are interested in Chinese history.

How to get to Heicheng Historic Site (Khara-Khoto)

Now follow me to have a glimpse of Heicheng Ancient Town. First go from Dalaihubu Town to the main entrance to a joint two-site area of Guaishulin and Heicheng Historic Site. Take the shuttle bus to visit Heicheng Ruins first, 15 km to the northeast of the entrance.

Line up for the shuttle bus that brings you to Heicheng Historic Site, 15km to the northeast of the entrance.

Line up for the shuttle bus

Virtual Tour of Heicheng Historic Site (Khara-Khoto)

Get off at the shuttle bus, you need to walk another 15 minutes before you get close to the ruined city. The ancient fortress is exposed on the wild, arid desert, you should be well armed to protect yourself against the scorching sun, wearing sun glasses, sun creams, umbrella and scarf. A signboard carved in stone with the name of the site stands on the way to the city.

A stone signboard carved in the name of the site

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city. You are kindly reminded to be ready for hats, sun glassed, sun cream against the hot weather.

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city

The old fortress is rectangle in shape with two gates on the west and east. The outer wall has a perimeter of 1600 meters, east to west 434 meters, north to south 384 and 10 meters in height.

Walk around the exterior of the ruined wall

The outer wall is surrounded by the desert on all sides, threatening to cover the whole city.

The outer wall

We enter the outer wall of the city through its west gate which includes an inner city. A wooden path is set up on the major area within the rammed city wall. You may walk along the board walks to visit the major areas inside.

On the northwest of the corner wall, there are several Buddhist Pagoda atop the wall. Inside the wall, you still can discern the original houses, offices, streets and so on.

On the northwest corner, several pagodas atop the wall.

Walking within rammed city of Heicheng, people are feeling the history. Some houses, offices and streets are still clearly discerned.

Some houses, offices and streets are still clearly discerned.
The remnants of the old buildings

Tip:  Hassle-free Inner Mongolia  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 Inner Mongolia:

Inner Mongolia Tour
Mid-Inner Mongolia Tour (Hohhot, Baotou, Ordos)
East Inner Mongolia Tour (Xanadu,Wulan Butong, Xilinhot, Chifeng)
Northeast Inner Mongolia Tour (Hulunbuir)
West Inner Mongolia Tour (Alashan “Alxa” League)
Hohhot Tour

Further Readings

Top 10 Attractions in Hohhot
The Best Time to Visit Hohhot
Meidaizhao Temple
How to go to Hohhot from Beijing
Top Souvenirs in Hohhot
Hohhot Taxi: Hohhot Taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
Baotou Taxi: Baotou Taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
Ordos Taxi: Ordos taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
What to see in Hohhot, what to do in Hohhot

Top 10 Attractions in Alxa League
Heicheng Historic Site (Khara-Khoto) in Ejin Banner (Tips, Photos & Map)
Guai Shu Lin in Ejin Banner, Inner Mongolia (Tips, Photos & Map)
Populus Forest in Ejin Banner (Tips, Photos & Map)
Badain Jaran Desert (Tips, Photos & Map)

The Quiet Wusu Langzi Lake
Dujuan Lake in Aershan National Forest Park
Beihu Park Skyline at Night in Manzhouli
Architecture of Manzhouli

Sunrise Glow over Hulunbuir Grasslands.
Top 10 Places for Photography in Hulunbuir
Top 10 Attractions in Hulunbuir.
Road Trip from Ergun to Linjiang Village
Hulun Lake Travel Tips
World Anti-fascist War Hailar Memorial Park
Architecture of Manzhouli
Ergun Travel Guide
Aoluguya Travel Guide
Moerdaoga Travel Guide
Shiwei Travel Tips
How to visit Hulunbuir Grassland

Top 10 Attractions in Chifeng
Xanadu Sites Museum
Jinlianchuan Grassland
Wulan Butong Grassland
Asihatu Stone Forest
Gong Geer Grassland
Duolun Travel Guide
Xanadu Travel Guide – Shangdu Travel
How to visit Asihatu Stone Forest
Xi Wuzhumuqin Grassland

Any questions, just drop a line.

2 thoughts on “Heicheng Historic Site in Ejin Banner (Tips, Photos & Map)

  1. Hi. Do foreigners still need a permit to enter this area? If so, how do I apply for one?

  2. Hi Kerrie,

    Yes, you still need to apply for a permit to enter the area. The permit takes about 15 working days. You need to send to a reavel agency your copies of your passport and your entry and exit dates to apply for a permit.

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