This trip is so far out of Beijing it almost qualifies as one of our special long-distance trips, and we've organised plenty of interesting activities to make the travel worthwhile: hiking, a tour around the tombs, a long boat ride, and more! The tickets for the tombs are expensive, but we think it's money well spent – like the Eastern Qing Tombs, and opposed to the Ming Tombs, the key buildings of the Western Qing Tombs are all quite close together and we've found some interesting ways to get about between them.
With 10 people signed up, this trip is all go!
The Western Qing Tombs necropolis is one of the two main burial sites for the emperors of the Qing Dynasty. Located in the foothills of Yongning Mountain, the area is rustic but beautiful.
For this overnight trip, we’ll be hiking both days, taking a tour by boat, spending the night in a local guesthouse and enjoying food cooked in the local style.
On the first day, we’ll be visiting the tombs of important historical figures like Emperor Yongzheng and Emperor Daoguang, as well as hiking up Wolong Mountain, which affords a view of the entire tomb complex.
On the second day we’ll take a long boat tour to enjoy the scenery of Yishui, visiting one of the filming locations for John Woo’s recent epic, “Red Cliff” before doing some hiking around the lake.
Western Qing Tombs
Along with the Imperial Tombs of the Ming Dynasty and the Eastern Qing Tombs, the Western Qing Tombs are listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Western Qing Tombs are located in Hebei Province, approximately 120km southwest of Beijing City – quite a long drive, but well worth it!
The area was chosen for the site of the tombs by the Yongzheng Emperor in 1730AD for its auspicious feng shui, with the mountains to the north and the broad river to the south said to symbolise Yin and Yang. Before the Western Qing Tombs were built, the Qing Dynasty emperors were interred at the Eastern Qing Tombs, around 130km northeast of Beijing.
The Yongzheng Emperor was interred in Tailing, the largest of the tombs, and the first constructed. His son, the Qianlong Emperor, was buried in the Eastern Qing Tombs. From then, most of the time, the Emperors of the Qing Dynasty alternated between the two sites when constructing their own mausoleums.
Before the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, three other imperial tombs were built in the Western Qing Tombs: Changling, Muling, and Chongling. Of these, Changling and Chongling are open to entry by the public.
As well as the tombs of emperors, the Western Qing Tombs also contain many smaller structures: the tombs of queens, imperial concubines, princes and princesses; temples and other stone buildings and steles; and a Sacred Way flanked by larger-than-life stone sculptures of officials and animals.
Yishui Lake is surrounded by mountains, and the landscape is said to be reminiscent of famous Guilin in southern China. The lake was used as a set location for the filming of the final naval battle in the blockbuster movie “Red Cliff II,” and as that part of the movie was set in southern China it appears the description of the landscape is accurate!
Hiking and walking
When we were doing scouting for this trip we made friends with some locals who know some trails that offer great views of the tombs and lake from different angles, and take in some great scenery – we'll follow some of those on both days of the trip.
07:30 – Depart from the meeting point at Lido Hotel Starbucks
10:30 – Arrive at our guesthouse, check in to rooms
11:30 – Early lunch, prepare for hiking
13:00 – Hike to the Big Red Gate of the tombs, follow the Sacred Way to Tailing
14:30 – Hike to Wolong Mountain, getting a view of the tombs from above
15:30 – Hike down a valley from Wolong Mountain to the Huaiwang tomb
16:30 – Hike through the pine forest to the tomb of Queen Xiao Jingcheng
17:00 – Arrive at Muling1, the tomb of the 6th Qing Emperor
17:40 – Back to the guesthouse for dinner, free time, bonfire, games
07:00 – Up bright and early for breakfast!
08:00 – Load luggage on the bus and drive to the lake
08:40 – Arrive at the lake, board boats for a tour of the lake (ten people per boat)
11:30 – Arrive at the southern end of the lake for lunch and a look around the area
13:00 – Hike around the lake
16:00 – Return to the bus for the drive back to Beijing
1 Muling: Because Daoguang, the 6th Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, ceded Hong Kong to the British, he only qualified for a small tomb. He was a fan of dragons though, and you’ll see a lot of those around his tomb.
We will stay in shared accommodation at a simple but clean guesthouse in Dragon Spring Village. Bedding will be provided, and there are taps and bowls to wash with. We’ll check in when we arrive, and leave our luggage in the rooms. On Sunday morning we will pack up and store our luggage on the bus before heading off on the hike. The bus will meet us at the end of the hike.
Saturday lunch – homestyle Chinese food cooked by our host.
Saturday dinner – homestyle Chinese food cooked by our host.
Sunday breakfast – toasted mantou, jam, honey, corn bread, and other typical countryside breakfast items, plus coffee and tea.
Sunday snacks – one Snickers bar, one boiled egg, one banana, cashews, almonds, and water.
Sunday lunch – Chinese food in a restaurant by the lake.
(All included in the cost of the hike)
Things to bring
- A change of clothes
- Washbag, toothbrush, toothpaste, small towel
- Flashlight optional but handy for midnight toilet trips
- Bedding and pillows provided
- Food provided, bring extra snacks if you like!
With 10 people signed up, this trip is all go!