CHINA – Two days at Qingcheng mountain & Dujiangyan irrigation system

Qingcheng Mountain is home to a few panda’s and part of the UNESCO Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries site. This is at the backside. Qingcheng Mountain is also the spiritual center of Taoism. This is at the front side. At the front side there is also the Dujiangyan irrigation system which is the oldest working system in the world. Qingcheng Mountain & the irrigation system are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In my quest to see all I took a trip from Chengdu with my son and stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Dujiangyan so that we could see both sides of the mountain. Also check out my video of Qingcheng Mountain & the Dujiangyan Irrigation System to get an impression of the site.

Qingcheng Mountain Panda Sanctuary

At the back of Qingcheng Mountain there are several hiking trails. The area is part of the Panda Sanctuaries which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are a few alive in the wild but spotting them is close to impossible. I took a private taxi with my son from Chengdu to the backside of the mountain. The start is at a small town and you will find lots and lots of shops and food stands there. There is also a temple worth seeing.

CHINA - Two days at Qingcheng mountain & Dujiangyan irrigation system

After we explored the small town for a while we decided to take the cable car up the mountain and walk one of the trails down. We wouldn’t have time to walk up and down and the heat made us decide to go up the easy way. It was very humid and cloudy so we didn’t have nice views at the top of the mountain. The walk down was very nice. Through dense vegetation which is also the habitat of the giant panda. You will pass pleasant streams and small water falls. At several points it’s possible to buy small snacks or refill your water supply. Make sure you drink enough in the extreme heat during the humid summers. About halfway there is a small boat that takes you to the other side of a small pond. There is another trail but as the boat was way too crowded (see gallery) and the fact that we had to return to the same point made us skip it. It took us about 3 hours to get back down through the beautiful nature. We arrived late afternoon at the Holiday Inn Express Dujiangyan for a night stay. The next day we would explore the front side of the mountain.

CHINA - Two days at Qingcheng mountain & Dujiangyan irrigation system

Dujiangyan Irrigation System

It was in the 2nd century BC that the construction of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System started. The reason for the construction was to stop the annual flooding of the Min River. It was the engineer Li Bing who studied the problem and came up with the irrigation system instead of just building a dam. The advantage of an irrigation system over a dam was that military vessels would still be able to cross the river. The main part of the construction is the fish mouth structure that divides the water in an inner stream and an outer stream. Approximately 40-60% with 60% going to the inner irrigation system in dry season and 60% going in the outer system during flooding. This way the irrigation system would get enough water all the time and flooding doesn’t occur anymore. The water goes through an opening into the inner flow where it goes through a bottle neck onwards to the farm lands. All these centuries the irrigation stayed in business and making life easier for the farmers. Even today it supplies water to thousands of people.

CHINA - Two days at Qingcheng mountain & Dujiangyan irrigation system

The area is also home to two temples and a beautiful bridge. An artificial island was created to divide the water and it’s connected by the Anlan Bridge. The tourist area starts at the place where after the death of Li Bing a temple was built. It is the Dragon-Taming Temple honoring Li Bing who tamed a dragon while building the irrigation system. A statue of Li Bing is on display which in ancient times stood in the river keeping an eye on the water level. It’s the oldest statue of a human being in China. There is another temple at the river bank which can be reached over the Anlan Bridge. From there it’s a pleasant walk over the hill side past various pavilions and beautiful views over the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. As I had planned time in the evening at our indoor luxury resort we walked the last part pretty quickly so that we could go to the Qingcheng Mountain and finish early afternoon.

CHINA - Two days at Qingcheng mountain & Dujiangyan irrigation system

Qingcheng Mountain Spiritual center of Taoism

The front of Qingcheng Mountain is part of the birthplace of Taoism. There are many temples and other structures between the year round green vegetation. Like most mountains in China there is also a cable car. We took again the cable car up the mountain which dropped us close to the top. The most important temples are actually located on the other slope down which we explored on foot. From the cable car station we walked up the mountain towards the top. We passed various pavilions until we arrived at the summit. The summit has an altitude of 1260 meters and you will find the Laojun Pavilion there. It’s built in a pagoda like style. The views, although foggy, are beautiful at the top.

CHINA - Two days at Qingcheng mountain & Dujiangyan irrigation system

Once at the top the hike down the mountain is much easier as towards the top 🙂 This especially due to the fact that it’s so hot and humid in summer. The hike down passes along most of the important temples and places on the mountain. The first places down the mountain are the Chao Yang Ancient Temple, Langhuan Celestial Villa onwards to the Tianshi Celestial Cave. It is here where Zhang Tianshi founded Taoism at Qingcheng Mountain. He did this in the first and second century and now you will find a large stone statue of him. There are several other buildings worth exploring too. Further down the mountain is the Jianfu Palace which is newer and dates back to the 6th-9th century. The actually structures are rebuilt in the Qing dynasty late 19th century. This temple consists of three temples each worshiping a different person important for the Qingcheng Mountain.

CHINA - Two days at Qingcheng mountain & Dujiangyan irrigation system

We finished our trip at Qingcheng Mountain in the late afternoon. Our private car was waiting to bring us back to Chengdu where we would stay a last night at the Intercontinental Hotel Global Center. A huge indoor resort perfect to relax the last day and night of this trip. For the moment this was my last annual trip with my son as he will move onwards from primary school to the next. This means less holiday time and makes it more difficult to get additional days off. In 2016 it’s my daughters turn to join.

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Did you visit Qingcheng too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!

Further reading

Sometimes it’s impossible to cover every single place of interest, activities, food, and others that might be relevant. In the below list you find a list of relevant links with further information about Qingcheng which I have carefully curated. These will help plan your trip even better.

  • Qingcheng Mountain is home to the panda, but did you know that China has much more unique wildlife? You can find wild cats on the Tibetan Plateau for example! Read all about these wild cats of the Tibetan Plateau in this article. It’s just 10 hours by car from Chengdu.

Gallery Qingcheng mountain

Click an image for a full screen gallery of more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.