Xanadu Travel Guide – Shangdu Travel

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Also known as Xanadu, Shangdu in Chinese literally means “Upper Capital”, which was the summer capital of Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368) in China.

A Stone Tablet "Site of Xanadu"

A Stone Tablet “Site of Xanadu”

Ruins of Shangdu
In the ruins of Shangdu, a spectacular civilization, a masterpiece of the multi-culture mix was discovered. It was a green city built by the nomads in Yuan Dynasty incorporating multi civilizations. The city, originally known as Kaiping, was later renamed Shangdu.

Royal Road in Palace City

The North-south axis of Royal Road in Palace City

Today, only the ruins remain, and surrounded by a grassy mound that was once the city wall.

The famous Venetian traveller Marco Polo visited Shangdu in about 1275 was received by Kublai Khan in the city. In his book, He described the city of Shangdu: “A city called Shangdu, which was constructed by the Khan who is now in power.

The ruin ite of Da'an Pavilion

The ruin ite of Da’an Pavilion

There are many palaces built out of stones in the city. All the houses are covered with gold and decorated with the pictures of birds, animals and flowers. These buildings and patterns are so pretty that they are appealing to the eye.” From what Marco Polo described, we can imagine how prosperous and luxury the city was at that time.

Muqing Pavilion - the living place for emperors

Muqing Pavilion – the living place for emperors

It was designed by Liu Bingzhong, Kublai Khan’s adviser of Han ethnic group. The city of Shangdu took four years’construction, and was finished in 1256. The design of the upper capital reflected the layout of a traditional Han Chinese city and at the same time incorporating the habit of Mongolians’nomadic life style.

The grassy mound that was once the city wall.

The grassy mound that was once the imperial  city wall

In 1369 Shangdu was taken and destroyed by the Ming army. Today, only the ruins remain, and surrounded by a grassy mound that was once the city wall

Mingde Gate ( the south gate of Imperial City)

Mingde Gate ( the south gate of Imperial City)

Shangdu was immortalized as Xanadu by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote the well-known poem titled Kubla Khan. Coleridge’s description of Shangdu has the elements of the works of both Marco Polo and Samuel Purchas.

In his description of Shangdu, Marco Polo wrote: ” The Palace circled by a wall, inside the Park there are fountains and rivers and brooks and beautiful meadows, with all kinds of wild animals”. Thanks to the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Xanadu has become a metaphor for splendor and Prosperity.

On Friday, June 29, 2012, Xanadu (China) was listed as the World Cultural Heritage.

Jinlianchuan Grassland ( Xar Tala )
Jinlianchuan Grassland or Globeflower Grassland abounds in wild plants and animals. It is a natural pasture and a also resort for horse riding, hunting and taking shelter from summer heat.

Jinlianchuan Grassland

Jinlianchuan Grassland

It used to be a summer resort for the emperors of Liao, Jin, Yuan and Qing dynasties. Now much part of Jinlianchuan Grassland is located within the ruins park of Xunadu. On the way from  the entrance to the actual site of the ruins you will see the grasslands on both sides of the road dotted with golden globeflowers.

Golden globeflowers.

Golden globeflowers.

Xandii Gool ( Shangdu River)
Xandii Gool is the upper reach of Today’s Luan River with a length of 82 km. It is regarded as the ” Holy River” the local Inner Mongolian herdsmen. Now it is also the wetland among Jinlianchuan Grassland.

Xandii Gool

Xandii Gool

Shangdu Travel Tips
Shangdu is located some 30kilometers northeast of Zhenglan Banner and about 34 kilometres northwest of Duolun County, 296km to the west of Chifeng, 374km to west of Chengde, 447km to the northwest of Beijing and 239km to the south of Xilingol.

Traveling Shangdu overland is the only option with several starting points – Zhenglan Qi, Chifeng, Xilinhot, Chengde and Beijing.

If you want to travel from Beijing to Shangdu, you take the daily bus from Beijing Liuliqiao Long-distance Bus Staion to Duolun Bus Station, where you hire a taxi for about 200 yuan to reach the site of Shangdu Ruins and Shangdu Museum. Stay overnight in Duolun or take the evening coach back to Beijing.

Entrance Ticket to Shangdu Ruins: RMB 40
Shangdu Museum is free of Charge ( But 5 yuan for the electric cart )

Add on

3 Day Beijing Shangdu (Xanadu) Tour

Inner Mongolia Tour

Xanadu Sites Museum


Any questions, just drop line.

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6 Responses to “Xanadu Travel Guide – Shangdu Travel”

  1. Joanna Spencer says:

    We would like to visit the museum and world heritage site at Yuanshangdu. We arrive in Hohhot on 1 May 2014 and intend to take the train to Sanggedalai. Can you advise of hotel in Sanggedalai and then bus or taxi to Yuanshangdu or is it possible to organise a mini tour with a yurt stay in the area? We only have 2 days available in our schedule as we have to be in Hailar by 4 May. Thank you.

  2. Daniel says:

    Hello Joanna Spencer,

    One of Tour Beijing Staffers will contact you soon.

  3. Marcus says:

    I’m looking at the possibility of visiting Shangdu for Beijing over Dragon-Boat festival and am looking for info on where to stay and how to get there.

  4. Daniel says:

    Hello Marcus,

    The site of Shangdu is about 468km north of Beijing. The drive trip takes about 8 hours. Personally I suggest you hire a vehicle to go to Shangdu. You may stay at a local hotel in Zhenglan Qi 正蓝旗(Zhenglan Banner) which is located 27km to the southeast of Shangdu or you may stay at Duolun County(多伦), 65km to the south of Shangdu. Just for your reference.

  5. Chris Sharp says:

    Do you organise short trips to the site of Xanadu (Shangdu) with an overnight stay say at Duolun?
    I am in Luanping Hebei and want to visit the site in the next week or two.
    I guess that the best way to visit is to take a bus or a coach on first day, visit the site on the second. and return on the third day.
    Could you advise on my options.

    best wishes Chris Sharp

  6. Daniel says:

    Dear Chiris Sharp,

    At present we don’t organize join-in short trips to the site of Xanadu due to the small niche market.

    Yes, you try to take a bus going to Duolun, then hire a local taxi for the site.

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