Laolongtou Great Wall & Shanhaiguan Pass
Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head, 4km south of Shanhaiguan), once supposed to be the easternmost end of the Great Wall, stretches 23 metres into the sea like a dragon drinking water, hence its name. Standing at Laolongtou, looking northwest you can see the Great Wall as it zigzags over the rolling mountains like a giant dragon to the north; looking south you can see the vast expanse of sea stretching far to merge with the sky. You can imagine the scene in this very spot more than 2200 years ago. The story is told of Qinshihuang
(221-207 BC), the first emperor of China pushing people into the sea right here to find a drug that would give him immortality. Years later, in 1570, this portion of the Great Wall was constructed and in 1668 it was considerably enhanced.
Shanhaiguan Pass is located 15 km from Qinhuangdao (25-minute-drive away); it protects the strategic passage between the north and northeast China; it was renovated and consolidated several times because of its strategic importance. It is connected with the Great Wall which stretches onto the rolling Yanshan Mountains in the north and into the Bohai Sea in the south with fortresses and battlements that form a strong and powerful defense system. It was once considered the No.1 pass from the east end of the Great Wall during the time of the Ming Dynasty. In spite of the fact that archaeological work has proven that Tiger Mountain in Liaoning province is the real start of the Great Wall in the Ming Dynasty, Shanhaiguan Pass is still a popular national tourist attraction.
The brick wall of the Pass is 14 metres high, 7 metres wide, and 4 kilometres in circumference. The most imposing tower in the Shanhaiguan Pass is the east gate, on which is hanging a plaque, inscribed with the name of the fortress, "First Pass Under Heaven". On the north and south, there are another five gates with towers standing menacingly like five tigers guarding the Pass. From the second floor of the east gate, one can look down at the whole fortress and the entire landscape surrounding this strategic Pass.
Tourists always find the following 3 tourist attractions of interest: (1) Shanhaiguan Great Wall Museum in the fortress (which has some interesting pictures, relics and clothes depicting the life story of this snaking construction), (2) a temple in the vicinity dedicated to Meng Jiangnu, one of China's devoted heroines, and (3) the next spectacular section of the Great Wall meandering along the Jiaoshan Mountain ridges.
a Entrance fee: Shanhaiguan RMB40/person (including the Museum), Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head) RMB50/person, and Meng Jiangnu Temple RMB25/person.
b Moving about is easy in this area: transportation by either bus, mini-van, or taxi is available between sections. Shanhaiguan to Meng Jiangnu Temple is a 5-minute drive, almost the same to Jiaoshan. Laolongtou is a ten-minute drive.
c If you arrive at Shanhaiguan in the afternoon and want to hike westward on the wall, we suggest you first visit Laolongtou (where the Wall meet the sea), secondly visit the museum, and lastly visit the Shanhaiguan Pass. Leave the Jiaoshan Great Wall for the second day.
d Because this pass is a tourist site, the reader should realize that food and accommodation is comparatively more expensive here than in Qinhuangdao City.