#igtravelthursday – qing dongling tombs in hebei (china)

QingDong Ling - 1

 I have shared before my visit to the Ming tombs near BeiJing, but the real gem in that category is the Qing dynasty tombs area in Hebei, some three hour drive(125km/80 miles) from BeiJing. Both areas together are under Unesco’s World Heritage Sites, but I personally I would rate Qing DongLing () tombs to a level of its own for all the things one can see there. Also, this area was completely empty of tourist on the day of my visit, which is always an added bonus.

Qing DongLing tombs in China

As you can see from the map above, the area is rather large and it is operated in an interesting way: you leave your car at the parking lot and board onto one of their minibuses, and on the site they also have smaller golf cart type vehicles.

Qing DongLing tombs in China
“The stone sculptures on Xiaoling tomb is the largest in Qing area – 870m long and features 18 pairs of animal and human sculptures”

The approach to the tomb area – The Spirit Way – is grand: a long, wide and straight drive flanked by stone statues and multiple gates. Unlike with the Ming tombs where roads and farming has overtaken part of that approach, here it is all still intact and in pretty good condition – the size of the area and the beautiful mountain backdrop is actually quite breathtaking – even on a super polluted and grey day like during my visit.

Qing DongLing imperial Tombs in China
“Ornate Bridges over man-made waters are typical to tomb entrances”

There doesn’t seem to a set schedule for the buses and no-one really speaks English, but still it’s not that hard to navigate around (note thought that signage isn’t that great either so you might want to print a map of the area before you head there!). In general there is someone checking your ticket in each tomb area, after which you can freely explore the buildings and some of the underground vaults too.

Qing DongLing imperial Tombs in China

A typical tomb area structure includes a stone archway, stone bridges over a little river or stream, halls for sacrificial ceremonies, the underground tomb with severals vaults, silk burners and statues guarding these areas.

Qing DongLing imperial Tombs in China

A couple of the tombs have been opened and the contents are still inside well preserved.

Qing DongLing tombs in China
“Some of the tombs are identical and right next to each other. The construction is amazing considering the details and size of sturctures – especially the underground vaults”
Qing DongLing tombs in China
“Jingling tombs – go here for a sacrifical ceremony, and camel rides are also on offer here”

The Jingling tomb area actually has a re-enactment of a ceremony, which lasts about 30 minutes. No-one told me about this though, but I suspect the bus guide told it in Chinese. I manage to gather from other people’s conversation that something was happening at the last tomb area at 2.15 and managed to find my way there to this most impressive event, which certainly needs a story of it own!

Qing DongLing tombs in China

This mausoleum area is the largest and best preserved in the whole China and features 5 emperors, 15 empresses, 136 imperial concubines, 3 princes and 2 princesses of the Qing Dynasty. The structure of each area is rather similar in nature with the exception of the emperor Qianglong’s Islamic consort, where you can find these beehive-style tombs.

QingDong Ling tombs
“Islamic tomb area – completely different from the rest of the Qing tombs”
Qing DongLing tombs in China
“The little village inside the tomb area”

My travel tips for Qing tombs include bringing your own snacks as there really are no places to eat there, just a few snack carts selling some local things, and there is a little village in the middle of the area with something on offer (this is the place where you transfer to a bigger bus to head back to the parking lot).

Also, the “toilets” here are all in open, a row of holes on the ground with no running water, so don’t forget your paper and disinfectant – but if you’ve been travelling in China these are among your standard travel accessories already anyway…

Qing DongLing tombs in China
“Forget about privacy in the countryside…yes this is what I was talking about!”

Want more inspiration from China? My blog has lots of stories of places I have visited in and around BeiJing – and below you can find my China Instagram photo links too featuring many of those destinations:

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