Ling Canal (Lingqu) in Xingan County, Guilin

Why is Ling Canal So Special?

The Lingqu Canal, also known as Ling Canal or Magic Canal, is located in Xing’an County, near Guilin, with an overall length of 36.4 kilometers (22.6 miles). As the oldest canal all around the world, it is evidence of China’s innovative technologies in ancient times. The canal connects the Xiang River and Li River, and consequently links the Yangtze River and Pearl River systems, creating a critical waterborne transportation hub. Meanwhile, it plays an important role in terms of irrigation. Lingqu Canal along with Zhengguo Canal in Shaanxi Province and Dujiangyan Irrigation System in Sichuan Province are the “three great water conservancy projects of ancient China”.

Where is Ling Canal

It is a national key cultural relic protection unit, located at the edge of Xing ‘an County, with a total length of 34 kilometers. It was built in the 33rd year of Qin Shihuang (214 BC) and has a history of more than 2,000 years. It is also called the three major water conservancy projects in ancient China together with Dujiangyan and Zheng Guoqu.

Histoty of Ling Canal

In 221 BC, Qin Shihuang (221-207 BC) unified the six countries and established a new country. In order to attack the Baiyue tribe in southern China, he sent 500,000 troops to attack it. However, the army was repulsed and stationed at Yuecheng Mountain in northeastern Guangxi. This mountain hinders the transportation of important military supplies. In order to overcome this, Qin Shihuang ordered the construction of Lingqu to create an efficient water supply route. Chief designer Shilu led 100,000 soldiers to build the mountain-crossing canal, which was completed in 214 BC. Shortly thereafter, Baiyue was conquered, thus completing the unification of the Qin Empire

Main Attraction of Ling Canal

The main design feature of Lingqu is to raise the water level of Xiangjiang River by using the weir flower nozzle in the shape of a plow. The weir further directs one river (today’s South Canal) to the upper tributary of the Lijiang River and another larger river to meander into the Xiangjiang River through a canal (today’s North Canal). Huazui is surrounded by stone dykes on three sides and small scales on one side. Xiaotianping is part of the bank of the South Canal and is 124 meters (407 feet) long. In addition, there is a large balance, about 380 meters (1247 feet) long, which is part of the North Canal. The large balance weight and the small balance weight form a V-shaped diversion dam, which reduces the impact of water flow. If the water level drops, they can supply water to the canal to raise the water level and ensure the smooth progress of the ship. On the contrary, when the water level rises, the dam can direct the water to the Xiangjiang River to protect human beings and crops from floods. Large balance and small balance effectively regulate water flow, which is why they are called balance. Another highlight is 36 bucket doors, or ancient locks. Doumen is the earliest ship lock in history and is known as the “originator of ship lock”. It is used to raise and lower the water level to facilitate navigation.

Lingqu was originally used for military purposes and later became a civilian waterway, which has important cultural significance. In order to commemorate the four outstanding government officials who made great contributions to the construction and renovation of the canal, four shrines of the wise were built. These four people include: the designer of Shilu, Lingqu and the person in charge of the project; General Ma Yuan of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) dredged the canal to improve its shipping capacity. Tang Dynasty (618-907) governors Li Bo and Wei Meng strengthened the dykes and improved the infrastructure. In addition, there is also a Qin culture square where stone replicas of a series of weights and coins issued after the unification of the Qin empire can be seen. In the middle of the square stood a pot with two ring handles carved out of stone. It is said that after Shi Lu successfully built the canal, Qin Shihuang gave his hip flask to Shi Lu, and the hip flask on the square was built to commemorate this event.

Xing an has formed a water street scenic spot along the 1 kilometer long (1,000 yards) canal. This street is full of Qin and Han styles, including ancient bridges, stone carvings and pavilions. Tourists can enjoy a completely pleasant trip to Qin and Han culture in the street.

Best Time to Travel Ling Canal

The best travel time is April to October.

Guilin has a relatively low latitude. Belongs to the subtropical humid monsoon climate. Generally speaking, Guilin has a mild climate with distinct seasons and excellent climatic conditions. The annual average temperature is 19.3℃, which is said to be “less snow in three winters and flowers in four seasons”. When traveling to Guilin, the best season is from April to October each year, during which there will be two golden weeks of “may day” and “November”, which is also the peak period of tourism. Guilin with suitable climate will have many tourists, room reservation and transportation will also enter a climax, and the price will rise compared with usual. therefore, it is better to avoid this time and choose an off-season to travel and appreciate the beauty of the world.

How To Get  There

  •  Take a bus from Guilin North Bus Station to Xing’an County within 1 hour. The bus is available from 6:15 to 22:00 with a fare of CNY 18. After arrival, take Xing’an Bus 8 or 17 to Yinxing Guangchang and walk east for about 1km (1,000 yards) to Lingqu Canal.
  •  Take a train from Guilin Railway Station or Guilin North Station to Xing’an North Railway Station. After arrival, take Xing’an Bus 17 to Lingqu Canal.

    Generally, visitors take a sightseeing boat to travel around the Lingqu Canal Scenic Area.

Ticket A CNY 60 Route: Entrance – Interpretation Room – Meiling Bridge – Four Wise Men Shrine – Zhuangyuan Bridge – Nandou Pavilion – Big and Small Balances – Huazui – Nandou Pavilion – Square of Qin Culture
Ticket B CNY 140 Route: Entrance – Interpretation Room – Meiling Bridge – Four Wise Men Shrine – Zhuangyuan Bridge – Nandou Pavilion – Big and Small Balances – Huazui – Nandou Pavilion (taking an archaized boat for a journey of about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) – Bridge of Magpies – Flying Rock – Water Discharging Balance -Taozhu Bridge – Li’s Bridge – Water Street

Note: Free for children below 1.2 meters (3.9 feet).

Useful Travel Tips

  • Opening Hours:

May to October: 7:30 – 19:00; November to April: 8:00 – 18:00.

  • Water Street Scenic Area is free of charge all day.

Nearby Attractions

Recommended Guilin Tour Packages

Edited by Doreen/张洋