Chinese: 厉家寨
Pinyin: Lì jiā zhài
English: Li's home stronghold
Coordinates: 40°26'N 118°15'E

The Great Wall in the Panjiakou Reservoir area is the best-known, as well as the northernmost, Great Wall section in Tangshan. The Panjiakou reservoir was built on the Luan River in 1976, resulting in two passes at this part of the Great Wall being submerged under the reservoir. This places this part of the Great Wall in a unique and beautiful surrounding.

There are two main locations where the Great Wall meets the reservoir; Xifengkou on the east side, and Panjiakou on the west side. These are also the names of the two submerged passes. About 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) to the west of Panjiakou is another short span of the Great Wall, known as Lijiazhai. The Lijiazhai Great Wall is about 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) long and meets the reservoir on both ends. To the northwest of the Panjiakou, there is another interesting Great Wall stretch known as Pahutang. Pahutang is a remote and very rarely-visited section of the Great Wall. It is well-built and carefully fortified as is typical of the Panjiakou area.

Panjiakou Great Wall
Photo by Kim Siefert

The fortifications at Panjiakou were complex and highly varied. The area was improved and rebuilt on an almost continuous basis during the Ming Dynasty. Those parts of the fortifications that remain above the water today are still extensive and interesting to explore.

Because Panjiakou is popular with both foreign and domestic tourists, there are facilities here for food and lodging as well as entertainment. Some of the best entertainment consists of riding boats on the lake and admiring the fantastic scenery. The surrounding mountains rise steeply from the reservoir, and the Great Wall is built on the highest peaks.

Equally if not more impressive are the views from high on the Great Wall on either side of the reservoir.

To the south of Xifengkou, at 40°25'24"N 118°19'9"E, a village has been recreated for use as a movie set. The Great Wall in this are is not difficult to walk along its lower reaches. Once you walk past the mock village area, however, the wall becomes steep and dangerous as well as fragile.

Great Wall and reservoir
Photo by Kim Siefert

With all of the branches of the wall around the area, it's hard to decide where to go and what to do here. If you want to get the best views of the wall, it's a good idea to hire a boat ride around the reservoir so that you can see as much as possible. If you go to the dam at the south side of the reservoir, you can find tourist boats near its western end. They will give you a tour of the reservoir and can also take you to any particular place you wish to explore. If you wish to walk the Great Wall from the reservoir, the Xifengkou Great Wall on the east side is your best choice.

Map of the Great Wall in the Panjiakou area

At Xifengkou, the wall enters the reservoir on both the north and south sides of a branch of the reservoir. The southern branch is only about three-quarters of a kilometer (half a mile) long, but offers a good walking opportunity with excellent views of the reservoir as you ascend. There is yet another segment of the wall about one kilometer (0.6 miles) to the west, and this span can also be walked, although it's in worse condition. To the north of Xifengkou, the wall begins with a large tower right at the water's edge and follows a sharp ridge far up a steep mountain. This part is more difficult to walk than the southern side of Xifengkou, but it offers longer distance to those who want to walk further. It continues for 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles) before ending at a gap above a steep valley, and then continuing on the other side. About 400 meters (1300 feet) before the end, you will find trails on the left (east) side that lead down to the valley and would allow you to then proceed up to the wall on the eastern side.

Location summary: Xifengkou is about 174 kilometers (108 miles), and Panjiakou is about 169 kilometers (105 miles) east of downtown Beijing. Panjiakou is about 31 kilometers (19.5 miles) northwest of Hongyukou and about 51 kilometers (32 miles) east of Nianyushiguan.

The distance across the reservoir from Xifengkou to Panjiakou is about 4.8 kilometers (3 miles).

Driving directions: From Beijing, drive east on the G1 Jinghua Expressway for 139 kilometers (86 miles). Exit at G25 and drive north for about 20 kilometers (12 miles) to G112. Continue north for about 29 kilometers (18 miles) to Zunhua. From Zunhua, drive east on S356 for about 45 kilometers (28 miles) to the Panjiakou reservoir.