Amid the misty mountains of Jilin, near the city of Jian in northern China, stand the ruins of an ancient Korean kingdom.
Located on the Chinese side of the Yalu River opposite North Korea today, Wandu Mountain City, started as a fortress to guard the nearby capital of Guonei (now modern Jian).
In 209 AD, Wandu Mountain City became the capital of the Koguryo kingdom.
While there’s not that much to see at Wandu – a stone guard tower, palace foundations and a (renovated) city wall, it’s the valley of tombs that seize attention.
The Tombs of the Nobles are highlight of Wandu
The “Tombs of the Nobles” at Wandu Mountain City are mix of burial mounds, large stone cairns and small pyramids.
Alongside other Koguryo tombs and sites scattered around Jian, the other stand-out is the General’s Tomb (Jiangjunfen)
This is the biggest pyramid structure in the region, reaching up 12 meters, built in the 4th century AD and looking slightly Mayan in design.
Wandu Mountain City – Travel Tips
All Koguryo main sites are easily accessible by taxi. Bargain for at least 100 RMB for a few hours.
The General’s Tomb is 4km north-east of Jian.
The Wandu site is also a few km from the Jian, in another direction. If you only plan to visit the Valley of Tombs and hike some – or all – of Wandu City walls (allow at least half a day for the whole 7km, steep, undulating wall climb). And in summer it’s very humid – take liters of water if hiking the wall.
An all sites ticket is 100 RMB. But a single Wandu-only site pass is 30 RMB. Likewise, the General’s Tomb is also 30 RMB.
Traveling to these places – especially Wandu, is off the western tourist trail. But a lot of tour groups from South Korea can converge – mostly at the General’s Tomb which is more of a park + garden. However at Wandu Mountain City, it’s calm and up on the distant ruined walls – it’s wild and lonely!