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Pianguan Great Wall

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Admission Fee: free; CNY 60 for Laoniuwan Fortress
Opening Hours: all day
Best Visiting Time: May to October
Location: Pianguan Pass is located in Pianguan County, northwest of Shanxi Province. 

 Introduction: It is one of the three outer passes of the inner Great Wall in Shanxi Province, along with Ningwuguanand Yanmenguan. As a place of strategic importance, the pass borders Hengshan Mountain to the east and the Yellow River to the west, neighbors Inner Mongolia and Datong City from the north, and joins Ningwuguan in the south. The city wall at the eastern side of the pass is higher than that at the western side, which resembles a human leaning his head to the east, hence the name Pianguan (leaning pass). 

 Great Walls in Pianguan County: It is one of the counties that own the longest walls in China. A total of 500 km long (310.7 miles) wall traverses the county, taking up 1/5 of the total length of Shanxi Great Wall. Apart from the most commonly found Ming-dynasty wall, there are also wall of Zhao States during the Warring States Period (476 - 221BC), and walls of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 207 BC) and the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 - 557). The walls in the county consist of stone walls, brick walls, rammed earth walls, and walls built along cliffside, and over 1,000 towers are dotted on the walls. The 49 old castles and the wallls make a huge military defense system.

 Fortresses: The old fortresses are important components of the Great Wall defense system, so most of the fortresses are grand and firm, and some are even like a small town. There were originally 49 fortresses, but only aroud 20 remain, such as the Wuwang Town of the Warring States Period and Sui and Tang dynasties, Jiulongshan Fortress of the Western Han Dynasty (206BC - 24AD), Piantou Stockaded Village of the Five Dynasties and Ten States (902 - 979), and many well-preserved Ming-dynasty fortresses. The fortresses are also different in function, for instance, the Piantou Pass was the command center, the Mazhan Fortress was used as a post station, and the Shuiquan Fortress, Huashijian Fortress and Laoniuwan Fortress also function as bridge towers.

 Laoniuwan Fortress: Located in Laoniuwan Village where the Great Wall meets the Yellow River, Laoniuwan Fortress was a military fortress to station troops during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). There are many stone lions, stone walls, stone houses and stone tablets of the Ming Dynasty in Laoniuwan. After hundreds of years of erosion, the walls were all destroyed, but a hollow guard tower is still standing on the cliffside facing the Yellow River. Also named Wanghe Tower (the tower watching the Yellow River) or Hushui Tower (the tower safeguarding the river), it was used to observe the enemies and sending messages by burning wolf waste.

 Laoyingbao Fortress: Laoyingbao Fortress is situated on the northern bank of Guanhe River, about 40 km (25 miles) east of the county. Famous for the crucial military position, it connects the Pianguan Pass in the west and Ningwuguan Pass in the east. There are three gates in Laoyingbao, with two stone tablets hanging inside and outside of each. The wall outside Laoyingbao was constructed in 1544 and reconstructed in 1601, but was later destroyed.

 Current Situation: The walls in the county played an important role in defending against the northern invaders and protecting the local people in ancient times, but was gradually abandoned since the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). The walls were under serious destruction by natural erosion and artificial factors. Bricks of many towers or castles were torn down, and some sections of walls became bare earth walls. Though repairs and renovations have been done to the walls and nearby attractions in the past 20 years, most of the walls are still in ruins.

1. Coaches are available to the county from Hohhot, Taiyuan, Shuozhou and Datong: 

Departure Place
Departure Time
Ticket Price
Hohhot Long-distance Bus Station
07:40, 10:35
3 hours
CNY 42
Taiyuan East Long-distance Bus Station
09:00, 09:30, 11:00, 13:30, 18:00, 21:30
4.5 – 5 hours
CNY 91
Shuozhou Long-distance Bus Station
08:00, 11:00, 12:30, 13:00
2.5 hours
CNY 25
Datong New South Long-distance Bus Station
06:30, 13:00
4 – 5 hours
CNY 49
2. There are no public buses to Laoniuwan or Laoyingbao, visitors can rent a car to the two places. It takes about 1 hour from Pianguan County to Laoniuwan, and costs CNY 30.

 Dining & Accommodation:
Pianguan Hotel is the usual choice for visitors. You can also have a taste of the local food, especially the stewed mutton, in the hotel. Visitors to Laoniuwan can also live in the family inn in the village or take your own tent.

 Recommended Tour Routes:
Pianguan Pass → Laoniuwan → Wanjiazhai Village
Pianguan Pass → Laoyingbao

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