Chinese: 三关口
Pinyin: Sān guān kǒu
English: Three gate pass
Coordinates: 38°20'49"N 105°49'24"E

West of Yinchuan, where the S102 road meets the border between Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, you will find the Sanguankou Great Wall, a highly recommended place to visit the Great Wall in Ningxia.


The wall was built here in the later years of the Ming Dynasty to defend against invaders from Mongolia. The wall begins just south of the Helan Shan mountain range, which is difficult to pass and needed little protection. This makes Sanguankou's location strategically critical. Due to the vulnerability of the pass, strong fortifications were built here, including the three separate gates which give Sanguankou its name. From east to west, they are referred to as the first, second, and third pass.

From the first gate, the wall leads south continuously for about 80 kilometers (50 miles); vast stretches can be seen dramatically crossing the desolate landscape. But the wall leads north into the steep mountains for only about 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles). The second and third gate's walls are shorter and only provide additional protection for the pass.

The Sanguankou Great Wall was constructed of rammed earth. It remains in good condition in most places today.

Location summary: Sanguankou is about 928 kilometers (577 miles) west of downtown Beijing. It is about 38 kilometers (24 miles) southwest of downtown Yinchuan.

Driving directions: From Yinchuan, drive southwest on S102 for 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the ring expressway.

So this is what happens when you don't take care of a Ming dynasty Great Wall! It's easy enough to get to by public transport, just go to the bus station near the train station and tell them you want to go to Sanguankou Great Wall. They'll give you a ticket for Sanguan which costs (I think) 15 yuan, and you can tell the driver to let you off near the Great Wall.

This section is interesting as it's divided into two parts (and from what I could tell by road signs, two provinces) by the highway. The first part I went to is on the Ningxia side and is located on flat land as well as being in much better condition than the other part. I read on the internet that it stretches for a kilometer but it goes on for longer than that — unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to reach the end so I'm not sure how long it is.

The second part I went to is on the mountain located on the Inner Mongolian side and was a much more difficult trek thanks in large part to the wind. Beautiful views can be had from the top but man, that wind was strong enough to push me. It can be easy to lose your footing here as well because of the small stones.

I thought this section of the Great Wall was going to be similar to the Han dynasty section outside Dunhuang, but it is in far better condition and far longer. It turned out to be a lot of fun and I wish I had set aside a few more hours than the 3-4 hours I had given it.

Here's the album: