Top 10 Attractions in Ji’an (Tips, Photos & Map)

Here  Ji’an (集安) refers to the city in the southern tip of Jilin Province, China. It is a small border city, just across Yalu River from North Korea. Don’t be confused with the same English name Ji’an ( 吉安) in the middle of Jiangxi Province in China.

The location of Ji’an in the northeast China

Ji’an has been on the limelight since 2004 when Ji’an’s extensive Koguryo ancient cities, pyramids, ruins and tombs were listed as UNESCO Cultural Heritage ( officially known as Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom).

Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

The Koguryo Kingdom (高句丽) was  a minority nationality regime on the frontier of China in ancient times. It was founded 37 B.C. In  668 A.D.,  the Koguryo Kingdom was terminated by the allied forces of the Tang Dynasty and Korean Peninsula’s Silla Kingdom. So the Koguryo Kingdom lasted 705 years.

In the Yuanshi third year of the Western Han Dynasty (3 A.D.),  the capital of the Koguryo was moved  to the Wandu City in the area of the present Ji’ an City. In 427 A.D., Koguryo moved its capital again to Pyongyang.  Ji’an served as the capital of the ancient Koguryo Kingdom for 424  years.

Ji’an as the 424-year-capital of Koguryo Kingdom has been left many ruins, relics,  tombs of the disappeared kingdom. Ji’an’s  UNESCO Heritage site covers  Wandu Mountain City, Guonei City 12 imperial tombs, and 26 nobles’ tombs.

Just a note that the Koguryo Kingdom 高句丽 (37 BC – 668 AD ) is different from Koryo Kingdom 高丽 (935 – 1392).  During Koryo period,  Korea began to form its own cultural tradition distinct from the rest of East Asia. It is from the name Koryo that the Western name Korea is derived.

In addition to a historical town,  Ji’an is a spellbinding place with well-tended parks, leafy streets and a beautiful waterfront area where you can  look across to the North Korean Border.

Ji’an is just across Yalu River from North Korea (Google)

I’ve rounded the top 10 things to do in Ji’an that will be helpful planning your short trip to the small and charming city.

1. Guonei City 国内城

The Koguryo Kingdom was founded in the present-day Huanren County of Liaoning Province. It moved its capital to Guonei City (国内城 ) in the current city of Ji’an in Jilin Province in 3 A.D.

At the same time another military defense city of Weinayan City outside Guonei City was built to enhance the defense of Guonei City. Later Wenayan City was expanded and renamed Wandu City (丸都城).

Guonei City
Guonei City

Both Guonei City and Wandu City were Koguryo’s  political, economic and cultural center till 425 AD when Koguryo moved its capital to Pyongyang.  There is little left of the original buildings. Today you still can see a remaining wall relic of 7-10 meter.

2. Wandu Mountain City 丸都山城

Wandu City is located on the top of the jagged Wandu Peak, about 2.5km from Ji’an’s city center with the highest elevation  of 676 meters. It is a typical mountain city in the early and middle period of Koguryo Kingdom. It served both as a defense city and also an imperial city for a period of time.

Also not much left of the original buildings of Wandu City.  Its original city’ circumference is 6395 meters with 6 gates. The double cities of Wandu City and Guonei City is a new model in the history of the world imperial palaces’ construction, a beautiful chapter of the history of the world’ ancient city construction.

Wandu Mountain City
Wandu Mountain City

3. Ji’an Tomb Group  集安洞沟古墓群

A great number of  tombs of noblemen of the ancient Koguryo Kingdom are scattered around a gated park of the southern slope of Yushan on the outskirts of Ji’an. The Yushan southern slope faces Yalu River on its south.

During the 700-year’s reign of Koguryo Kingdom there are estimated over 10,000 tombs which feature two kinds of  tombs – stone tombs and earthen tombs. There are now 7169 well kept tombs.

Ji'an Tomb Group
Ji’an Tomb Group

4. Jiangjunfen ( General’s Tomb ) 将军坟

The so-called General Tomb is located at the foot of Longshan Mountain 4km northeast of Jian’ city center. The tomb resembles the pyramids in Egypt, hence the name of “Oriental Pyramid”.  It is estimated it is the tomb of  the 20th ruler of Koguryo Kingdom.

General Tomb is one of the pyramid structures in the region.  The tomb is composed of seven layers of marble stones.  On the 5th layer there is a passage to the tomb. There are two or four smaller accompanying tombs behind the General Tomb.

Jiangjunfen ( General's Tomb )
Jiangjunfen ( General’s Tomb )

5. The King Haotai Stele ( 好太王碑 )

The 1775- character-stele depicts the establishments of the 19th king – Tan De ( 374 – 413 ) of Koguryo Kingdom, also known as King Haotai. The tablet was set up in 414 AD, made of a whole natural tuff stone pillar.

It was discovered 4km east of Ji’an in the late Qing Dynasty, about 200 meters southwest of Haotai King’s Tomb. The slab is irregular square in shape, 6.39 meters high with a marble base of 3,35 meters long and 2.7 meters wide.

The King Haotai Stele
The King Haotai Stele

6. Taiwang Tomb (King Haotai’s Tomb ) 太王陵

Taiwang Tomb is located on the southern slope of Yushan Mountain, 4km east of Jian City. It is the tomb of King Haotai (391 – 412), the 19th ruler of Koguryo Kingdom. King Haotai was a representative figure with great influence in the history of Koguryo Kingdom. King Haotai’s reign was an important development period in terms of Koguryo’s  politics, economics and military.

Taiwang Tomb is square in shape, 66 meters in circumference, 14.8 meters high, made of several layers of stone steps. Generally, King Haotai’s Tomb is grand and elaborate.

7. No.1 Tomb in Changchuan Village 长川一号墓

The No.01 Changchuan Tomb is an earth covered stone chamber tomb with elaborate interior frescoes. It is located on the northern slope of the Beishan Mountain in Changchuan East Village of Huangbai Township,  300 meters north of Yalu River and 20km northeast of Ji’an City.

No.1 Tomb in Changchuan Village is famous for its exquisite frescoes inside.  The delicate frescoes are found in the front chamber,  back chamber, sky well, the passages and the covers of the coffins. Most of the frescoes are colorful, fresh and bright. The tomb is an important tomb of a nobleman in Koguryo Kingdom. The frescoes use over 100 vivid figures to depict the social life and the heavy Buddhist aroma in the ancient Koguryo Kingdom.

8. Ji’an City Museum  集安博物馆

Ji’an City Museum was inaugurated in 1958, expanded and renovated for several times. This museum is definitely your first stop to explore the small city of Ji’an. It accommodates the archaeological findings and discoveries of the ancient Koguryo Kingdom.  There are about 6500 artifacts relative to the ancient Koguryo Kingdom.

The museum is located on the waterfront park by Yalu River in the downtown of Ji’an. Open daily from 8:00 – 17:00 ( summer) and 8:00 -16:00 ( winter ).

Ji'an City Museum
Ji’an City Museum

9.Yalu River Border Tourism Zone  鸭绿江国境旅游区

Yalu River Border Tourism Zone is broadly located inside the city of Ji’an opposite the North Korean Border separated by Yalu River.  The tourism zone features the picturesque valley landscapes, river and beaches,  weird and unique topography along Yalu River.

The tourism zone is not far from Ji’an Bus Station, just a 20-minute walk. Or you may rake a pedicab at RMB 3. Open 8:00 – 18:00. Free of charge.

Yalu River Border Tourism Zone
Yalu River Border Tourism Zone

10. Yunfeng Lake Tourist Scenic Resort 云峰湖风景旅游度假区

Yunfeng Lake Tourist Resort is situated on the upper reaches of Yalu River.  The centerpiece of the resort is the artificial lake formed by the Yunfeng Hydro Plant and the Dam closure.

It is a spellbinding landscape of mountains and lake with high mountains standing on the both sides of the deep valley. The opposite bank is the North Korea. Boating on the lake, you can see clearly what  the people are doing  on the North Korean side.

Entrance fee: RMB20
Open Hours: 8:00 – 18:00
How to get there:
Shuttle Buses from Ji’an Railway Station: four times a day –  6:45, 8:05, 9:05 and 10: 05
Taxi: RMB30

Yunfeng Lake Tourist Scenic Resort
Yunfeng Lake Tourist Scenic Resort

Ji’an Travel Tips

1.All the Koguryo Kingdom related sites can be visited by walking in a long day.  But most people would choose to hire a taxi. Normally you would pay RMB 100 for a few hours allowing to visit these sites.

2. A through ticket RMB 100 basically allows you to visit the major sites relative to the ancient Koguryo Kingdom. Or you may buy your entry ticket one by one.

3.  Ji’an City can be easily reached by bus from Changchun ( 6 hours), Dandong ( 6 hours ) and Shenyang ( 6 hours ). Or train from Baihe Town, a gatway to Changbaishan.

Tip:  Hassle-free Northeast China Escorted Tours

Don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route? No worries, We at Tour Beijing have some options for Northeast China guided tours with English-speaking tour guides:

Harbin Tour
Harbin 3 Day Tour Package
Changchun Tour
Shenyang Tour
Dalian Tour
Dandong Tour
North Korea Tour
Northeast China Tour

Further Readings

Top Attractions in Northeast China
Top 10 Attractions in Harbin
Top 6 Things to Do in Heilongjiang
Top 10 Attractions in Shenyang
Top 10 Attractions in Dandong
Top 10 Attractions in Ji’an
Top 10 Attractions in Panjin
Top 10 Attractions in Dalian (Tips, Photos and Maps)

Best Time to Visit Harbin
Where to Stay in Harbin
Harbin West Railway Station
Top Things to Do in Winter in Harbin
Harbin Ice and Snow Happy Valley
Harbin Ice and Snow World
Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo
Harbin Winter Swimming
Madieer Popsicles in Harbin
Harbin Jihua Ski Resort
Suan Cai Jiaozi – New Year’s Soul in Dongbei
What to see in Harbin, things to do in Harbin

Yabuli Ski Resort

China Snow Town
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Shuttle Bus from Harbin to China Snow Town
Harbin – Yabuli – China Snow Town Shuttle Bus
Sunrise Glow over China Snow Village
Night View of China Snow Village

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Changchun Taxi: Changchun Taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
Dandong Taxi: Dandong Taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
Shenyang Taxi: Shenyang Taxi Fares, Tips and Phones

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