If you ever visit Sichuan and you drop by to Chengdu, make sure you visit Dujiangyan, (都江堰) the ancient irrigation system that supplies water to a large part of Sichuan.

Before the Dujiangyan irrigation systerm was developed, the water from the Min River (called Minjiang in Chinese) would rush to the Chengdu Plain, making it very prone to flood.

And then the governor of Shu named Li Bing was sent there to study the river flow and how he could develop the area. And Li Bing headed the construction of Dujiangyan.

If you want to learn more about the history of this place or how the irrigation system works, visit this page from Wikipedia.

Or better yet, visit Dujiangyan yourself and witness the creativity and the brilliant idea of the people from the past.

My Trip to Dujiangyan

If you were to ask me, I would say that Dujiangyan is one of the must-visit attractions in Sichuan.

Dujiangyan city is located not too far away from Chengdu. If you take the high-speed rail, it takes about 45 minutes to reach the city.

The main entrance of Dujiangyan. There are a few entrance, this is the one nearest to my hotel and I just walk over.

The city itself has the same name as the scenic area, both are called Dujiangyan.

Of course, you need to buy the entrance tickets before you get in.

If you are really going over to this place, my personal advice is to get a guide. You need someone to explain the history and how this irrigation system works.

Trust me, it will be interesting. My only regret is that I didn’t get a guide and now I’m telling you not to repeat my mistake.  🙂

Don’t worry, almost every tourist attractions in China have tourist centers. And you can easily get an English-speaking guide to show you around.

You may have to pay extra, but it is going to be well worth it.

The scenic area is located on a mountain. So be expect for some steps and hill-climb.
This is something like a wall and the gate. Protecting the area, I guess.
As you get higher above the mountain, you can clearly see the project. If you notice, the river is divided into two. The island/land in the middle was man-made.
The scenic area is huge. And at a certain area, there will be a lot of people. So get ready.
There is a steep and long escalator inside this building.

The only thing that I don’t like is that if you want to get to the Yulei Pavilion (玉垒阁) , which is the top of the mountain, you will need to take the escalator. And you have to pay for it.

My gosh, I have paid for the entrance and now I need to pay one more time to use the escalator to get to the top.

And there is no other way to get to the Yulei Pavilion. You can’t walk because there is no passage.

So should you pay and go up to the top? Yes, you should.

When you get to the top, you can see the entire city of Dujiangyan, which is a very nice scenery.

This is the Yulei Pavilion.
There is this huge bell on the highest level of the pavilion. Look at the architecture of the pillars. Amazing, isn’t it?
This is the scenery you will get when you are at the top of the Pavilion. It should be the highest point in the entire Dujiangyan area. I don’t see any other building that is higher than the Yulei Pavilion.

Unfortunately, when I was there, the weather was cloudy. I couldn’t really see far from the pavilion. But the view is still nice.

This is the panoramic view from the pavilion.
One of the temples in scenic area.
This is the famous suspension bridge that connects to the man-made island. The island was created to split the river into two.
A lot of ginkgo trees along the walkway. Very nice scenery with the yellow leaves all over the trees.

You can only visit the scenic area during the day time. But at night, you can walk around Dujiangyan city to enjoy the food and the ancient buildings.

I recommend you to stay a night here in Dujiangyan.

The city at night. This is the walking-street just outside of the scenic area.
The locals are using the river to supply the water to their houses. It is beautiful when all the light are on at night.
This is the famous Nanqiao, which means “south bridge”.
Inside Nanqiao. Huge crowd here.

Tips When Visiting Dujiangyan

Dujiangyan is a nice place to visit. And in my opinion, you should stay here for a night.

Some people who don’t have much time will choose to visit Dujiangyan and Mount Qingcheng in a day. I think this is way too rush and you can’t fully enjoy these places.

Mount Qingcheng is located nearby to Dujiangyan. You can take the domestic bus or a taxi to travel to both places. I think the travel time is about 30 minutes.

And if you have 2 days, spend 1 day on Mount Qingcheng and another day on Dujiangyan. Spend the night in Dujiangyan city because there are more things to see. And don’t forget to visit the Nanqiao at night too.

Written by 

Shawn Lim is the founder of StarlingTrip.com. He loves to travel and likes to share his experience and talks about his trips.

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