Yangguan ruins and museum
Yangguan ruins and museum Dunhuang Reviews
The historic Yangguan (Yang Pass) and a wonderful museum about the Silk Road May 09, 2008
Yangguan 陽關 was established as one of the gateways on the Silk Road to the West territory 西域 almost 2000 years ago. There is only the bottom of a beacon tower left, so you might think there is nothing to see there or it's not worthwhile to go. I was very surprised to find that they had a reconstructed fort, which housed 2 very good museums, with English labels too, and free English speaking guide (I suppose it's included in the ticket of 50 RMB (in 2008) to come into the fort) One of the museum detailed the opening of the Silk Road during the Han Dynasty, another was on the Silk Road itself. You can easily spend more than 2 hours just in the museums. No photography is allowed inside the museum.
Then you can participate in the re-enactment of the procedure of going west and leaving Yangguan. This was sort of like a border crossing, so an official in costume would write you a pass (cost 35 RMB) on a material of your choosing, and the guard at the back gate would check it and you can have your photos taken with them. This part is a little silly, but sentimental if you have read about how people felt about leaving China (going out of Yangguan) in the old days.
Then there is the possibility of riding a horse to the ruins, or you could walk for perhaps 30 minutes to the hilltop. The horse ride cost 40 RMB, but of course you want to be on a horse or perhaps a camel when you leave Yangguan! Going to the ruins provided a great view on a clear day of snow-capped mountains to the south, and desolate desert scenery to the north, a good place to reflect on history.
There is also a military camp, reconstructed near the fort, which could be fun to walk through. No additional fee here. The store inside the fort however was expensive for necessities like bottled water, so check your prices before buying.
Overall, this was a surprisingly worthwhile place to visit, even if it only had the remains of one beacon tower which was fenced and you couldn't get too close. If you want to see everything, plan a good afternoon here, 3-4 hours so you don't have to rush, and can walk to the ruins instead of taking the horses.
Part of the Traveling the Silk Road in China on trains, buses, camels and horse travel blog
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