Misty Wandu Tomb Ruins China

Wandu Mountain City & the Valley of Pyramids

Ancient Korean Kingdom in China

Amid the misty mountains of Jilin, near the city of Jian in northern China, stand the ruins of an ancient Korean kingdom.

Misty Wandu Tomb Ruins China
Misty mountains and small grass-covered tombs amid early morning light.

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).

Tombs Morning Panorama Wandu Mountain City Ruins China
Wandering the Tombs of the Nobles early morning in Wandu Mountain City ruins near Jian.

In 209 AD, Wandu Mountain Fortress became the capital of the Goguryeo kingdom.

Kogurgyo Kingdom Wandu Tomb Ruins China
Misty early morning amid the ruins of the pyramid tombs at Wandu (in China); once part of the ancient Korean Goguryeo 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.

Wandu Mountain City Wall Ruins China
Walking the old city walls of Wandu – the capital of the ancient Korean Kingdom of Goguryeo, overlooking the “Tombs of the Nobles”.

The Tombs of the Nobles are highlight of Wandu

The “Tombs of the Nobles” at Wandu are mix of burial mounds, large stone cairns and small pyramids.

Aerial Shot Tombs Wandu Mountain City China 1
Aerial shot of valley of tombs at Wandu. Note: part of the old city walls that follow the entire mountain ridge (in a complete – 7 km circle).
Wandu Ruins Tomb Of Nobles Panorama China
Unfortunately, entering the tombs interior wasn’t possible; however, site information boards depict some murals of maidens and warriors.

Alongside other Goguryeo tombs and sites scattered around Jian, the other stand-out is the General’s Tomb (Jiangjunfen – not pictured here).

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 City Ruins China
TOP: Amid the circular mountain walls of Wandu and ruins of a terraced palace; BOTTOM LEFT: our van parked next to tomb ruins on country road, Wei cutting firewood for our portable stove; BOTTOM RIGHT: Wei inspects the old fort walls as we hiked up the steep surrounds above the ruined city.

GETTING AROUND the Goguryeo Sites in Jian

All Goguryeo 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).

Koguryo Kingdom Pyramid Tombs Of Nobles Wandu China
Pyramid tombs seem from the walls of the Mountain City, which roam the surrounding mountains.

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 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!


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