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Guangyuan, the city on the most northeast part of Sichuan, is about 300km to Chengdu (Sichuan’s capital) and about 440km to Xi'an (Shaanxi’s capital). Guangyuan City has long been served as a critical strategic point since the Three Kingdoms period (25AD to 220AD) in Chinese history. The famous Jinniu Road (part of Ancient Shu Road) in ancient Guangyuan made it possible for Shu (ancient Sichuan), the kingdom isolated from the outside world for more than 48,000 years, to trade with Guanzhong Plain, where the ancient government central stood. Wu Zetian, the only Female Emperor in Chinese history, was also born in this magical land.
Besides the world-renowned Jianmen Pass, Guangyuan also offers Zhaohua Ancient Town, Huangze Temple, Thousand-Buddha Cliff, Cuiyun Corridor and Mingyue Gorge, etc. for visitors to explore. All those sites have their mysterious ancient legends and story to tell!
Jianmen Pass (剑门关), or known as Jianmenguan, has long been praised as “No.1 Impregnable Pass in the World” since the ancient Three Kingdoms times. Zhuge Liang, famous strategist of Shu, found this area a natural perfect terrain to set up defensive positions and built a military gate there, hence the name Jianmen Pass.
Cuiyun Corridor (翠云廊) is only 8.8km/15 minutes away from the south gate of Jianmen Pass Scenic Area by car. Its name Cuiyun means “Green Clouds” in English, which implies the huge amount and large size of ancient cypress forest there. Under the shield of cypresses, you will find the best preserved section of Shu Road.
Zhaohua Ancient Town (昭化古城) was used known as Jiameng Ancient Town (葭萌古城). Significant Jinniu Ancient Road (part of Ancient Shu Road) once ran through the town. With a long history of more than 2,300 years, Zhaohua Ancient Town is a vital part of Three Kingdom Culture and Jianchuan Ancient Shu Road relic groups.
Inside Guangyuan city center area and next to Jialing River, there is a sacred cliff site full of glorious carvings and honeycomb-like niches with enigmatic Buddhist art, which is called Thousand-Buddha Cliff (千佛崖). Here, you will find up to 13 layers of colorful and intact Buddhist carvings and a short section of Jinniu Ancient Road Relics.
Huangze Temple (皇泽寺) was built to worship Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history. Inside the temple, you will find the sculpture of Wu Zetian and her husband Lizhi, which cannot be found anywhere else. Besides, there are 6 caves, 41 niches, more than 1200 Buddhist states well-preserved on the cliff behind the temple.
Mingyue Gorge (明月峡) was the starting point of Jianmen Shu Road. It is now also known as “Chinese Traffic History Museum”, because 6 ancient and modern roads co-exist there, including the Cliff-hanging Plank Road of Qin Dynasty, Jialing Waterway, Jinniu Ancient Shu Road, modern National Road 108, etc.
Visiting Jianmen Pass, the “No.1 Impregnable Pass in the World”, is usually on the top of your Guangyuan things to do list. Trekking Ancient Shu Road in Guangyuan and letting the ancient legends lingering in your ears is also a good idea. If possible, you can also leave yourself one day more to explore the temple and Buddhist cliff in downtown area, and then you will get more historic surprises!
At Jianmen Pass Scenic Area, there are two special and narrow trekking trails embed on bare cliffs up to the mountain summit from the bottom, which are called Yuannao Road (鸟道) and Bird Road (鸟道). Adventure enthusiasts are highly suggested to have a try! For normal visitors, it is also exciting to watch from the sidelines!
Want to know how the ancients traveled from Guanzhong (present Xi’an) to Shu (present Sichuan) and how hard their trudge was? Trekking the Ancient Shu Road (mainly Jinniu Road) and follow the footsteps of the ancients may be a good chance! Trekking at Jianmen Pass and Cuiyun Corridor is the best pick.
Zhaohua Ancient Town, the firstly built county in ancient Ba (present Chongqing and part of Hubei) and Shu (present Sichuan) times, is the best place to open the historical picture of Three Kingdoms. Stepping on the ancient streets and city walls of the town, you will get close to the stories of famous general officers in the history.
In old China, a woman without talent is virtuous. And the women were not allowed to show any opinion in central government. Such prejudice made the country always in man’s hand. Huangze Temple in nowadays Guangyuan downtown will tell you mystery stories of Wu Zetian, the only Female Emperor in Chinese history.
Following the stairs to Dayun Ancient Cave of Thousand-Buddha Cliff, you will learn how Wu Zetian successfully became the emperor and why she carried forward to Buddhist culture. And the more than a thousand of honeycomb-like Buddhist niches will give you a glimpse of the prosperity of ancient Guangyuan.
Jianmen Tofu is the specialty of Jiange County. Their Tofu is rich in protein and good for human health. Technology of making Jianmen Tofu can date back to the Three Kingdoms times. During the war times, Jianmen Tofu was also the major food of solders guarded at Jianmen Pass.
Guangyuan lying on the upper reaches of Jialing River, the tributary of Yangtze River, is rich in rainfall and have four distinctive seasons. And since it is located at the transition zone between north and south, the weather in Guangyuan enjoys features of both humid climate of south and bright sunshine of north. The average temperature of Guangyuan city area is about 16℃, while the number may be a little bit lower on the mountainous area of Jianmen Pass. The hottest month of Guangyuan usually comes at July and August, while the coldest seasons are December and January.
Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Guangyuan, because the weather is neither too cold nor too hot during this period of time. And if you want to try the cliff hiking at Jianmen Pass, you are suggested to avoid the rainy days.
Guangyuan is about 300km and 3.5~4 hours away from Chengdu by car. It has one airport (Guangyuan Pandalong Airport) and 3 mainly used train stations (Guangyuan Station, Guangyuan South Railway Station and Jianmenguan Station). Normally, tourists get to Guangyuan from Chengdu, Xian, Langzhong or Chongqing by high speed train. Some independent travelers also choose to ride a long-distance coach from Chengdu to Guangyuan.
By Flight: Guangyuan Panlong Airport (广元盘龙机场) operate flights between Beijing (2.5 hours around), Shenzhen (2.5 hours around), Kunming (1.5 hours around), Urumqi, etc. However, flights are seldom chosen by visitors after the operation of convenient high speed train.
By Train: Among the 3 train stations, Guangyuan Station (广元站) and Guangyuan South Railway Station (广元南站) are closer to Guangyuan downtown, Thousand-Buddha Cliff and Huangze Temple, while Jianmenguan Station (剑门关站) is closer to Jianmen Pass and Cuiyun Corridor. All those train stations have high speed trains running from Chengdu (1.5~2 hours around), Xian (2~2.5 hours around), Chongqing (3~3.5 hours around) and Langzhong (1 hour around).
Useful Real-time Train Schedules:
By Coach: Chengdu also offers long-distance coaches to Guangyuan. Every day, there are about 10 coaches running between Chengdu Zhaojuesi Coach Station (昭觉寺) and Guangyuan downtown. The coach ride needs about 4 hours around.
Inside Guangyuan downtown area, you are suggested to travel around by taxi. And to get to Jianmen Pass, you can choose to ride a coach at Guangyuan Coach Station (广元市客运站), which needs about 1hour or so. Zhaohua Ancient Town is settled on the middle way from Guangyuan downtown to Jianmen Pass. You can get there by taxi or coach.
Since the scenic areas in Guangyuan speared its downtown and suburban area. You are suggested to travel with experience local guide and driver, which may save you a lot of travelling time on road and on the way to coach stations. Besides, professional guide will tell you history and stories that you are hard to know by yourself. We China Discovery based in Chengdu have helped numerous travelers planning and travelling Guangyuan. If you are in need, please feel free to contact us!
To have an in-depth visit of Guangyuan, tourists usually stay one or two nights there. Most of them prefer hotels in Guangyuan downtown or at Jiange County (剑阁县).
Guangyuan downtown area is the hottest choice, because it offers more accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury 5-star hotels for you to choose. Driving from downtown area to Jianmen Pass needs only 1 hour around. Jiange County area is only about 15 minutes to the north gate (or known as Jianmen Pass Tourist Center) of Jianmen Pass by car. Stay at the county area is more convenient to travel Jianmen Pass Scenic Area. And there are 200+ hotels for you to stay at Jiange County, from budget hostels to 4-star hotels. There are also many inns at Zhaohua Ancient Town and at the foot of Jianmen Pass Scenic Area.
To help you have a better understanding of Guangyuan locations, attractions and transportations, here we’ll give you a list of English maps, including the Guangyuan China Map, Guangyuan Sichuan Map, Guangyuan Tourist Map and Jianmen Pass Tourist Map. Check these latest maps to better plan you Guangyuan tour here!
Sichuan is wonderful province full of amazing natural sites, cultural heritages and also adorable pandas! Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, is usually the first stop of touring Sichuan. Having a date with cute pandas in Chengdu Panda Base is the best way to make a start. Beyond the pandas, trying a taste of slow-paced lifestyle in this city is also a happy experience. Besides Chengdu, Sichuan also provides fairy-like Jiuzhai National Park, Grand Leshan Giant Buddha, magnificent Dujiangyan Irrigation System, etc. to explore! And for Three Kingdom Fans, you can transfer to Langzhong Ancient Town to learn more mystery historic stories! Discover now!
Chinese Name: 广元
Chinese Pinyin: guǎng yuán
Population: 2.9 million
Language: Mandarin & Sichuan Dialect & Tibetan
Tel Code: 0839
Zip Code: 628017
Time Zone: (UTC+8)
Most visitors head to Guangyuan to admire the “No.1 Impregnable Pass in the World” - Jianmen Pass and to learn the stunning history of Ancient Shu Road and Three Kingdoms. A classic Guangyuan tour need at least one whole day. And if you want an in-depth visit of Guangyuan, you are suggested to spend 1.5~2 days there, including another one day to explore the cultural sites in downtown area
Big Three Kingdom Fans love to travel Guangyuan and Langzhong in a trip, because the two cities played vital role in ancient Shu (present Sichuan) and Ba (present Chongqing and part of Hubei).
Since Guangyuan is located between Xi’an and Chengdu and has convenient high speed trains from/to each of the two popular tourist cities, you are high recommended to have a Xi’an tour or Chengdu tour before or after your Guangyuan tour! Both Chengdu and Xian will get more surprises! Most of visitors prefer Chengdu more, because it is hard to say no to the adorable pandas in Chengdu.
Have your own interests and concerns of a China tour? Please feel free to contact our professional travel consultants to customize your personal trip according to your budget, interest and physical fitness!
Chengdu / Jianmenguan / Langzhong / Chengdu
Chengdu / Guangyuan / Xian
[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >