Originally built in 256 BC, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System is the world’s oldest non-dam irrigation facility. A marvel of engineering, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dujiangyan uses the natural topography of the region, as well as hydrological features of the river, to irrigate 1.65 million acres (668,700 hectares) of farmland.
View key portions of the irrigation system from the Anlan cable bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge reinforced with steel. It replaces a wooden bridge that crossed the span a thousand years ago. Be sure to visit Erwang (Two Kings) Temple, an ornate wooden structure built to honor the irrigation system’s two designers, Li Bing and his son. There are also other temples and scenic riverside trails for visitors to enjoy.
Many visitors combine a trip to Dujiangyan Irrigation System with a trip to nearby Mount Qingcheng. While it’s possible to visit either independently, a guided tour will help travelers gain a better understanding of the irrigation system history and engineering.
Things to Know Before You Go
The grounds are vast, so plan for several hours at the site and wear comfortable shoes.
You can rent English audio guides for a fee.
A full day tour of Dujiangyan Irrigation System and Mount Qingcheng can take upwards of 10 hours.
How to Get There
Dujiangyan Irrigation System is located 35 miles (56 kilometers) from Chengdu. From Chengdu airport, there is a direct bus to Dujiangyan City, which takes about 90 minutes. From Chengdu, take the ChengGuan Line from Chengdu North Railway Station to Dujiangyan Railway Station, or Lidui Park Station, about 30 minutes. Visitors can also take a bus from Chadianzi Bus Station in Chengdu to Dujiangyan Bus Station.
When to Get There
Dujiangyan Irrigation System is open year-round, but offers slightly reduced hours in the winter. The best times to visit are from April to October, when the weather will still be pleasant and the trees lush and green. Visit early in the morning to beat the crowds.
Key Components of Dujiangyan Irrigation System
There are three key components to the irrigation system: the Yuzui (Fish Mouth), a levee in the middle of the river shaped to control the flow of water that enters the two channels; the Baopingkou Diversion Passage, used to regulate the amount of water entering the system; and the Feishayan Spillway, which discharges silt and regulates water quality.