Dūjiāngyàn Irrigation System

Historic Site in Dujiangyan

This Qin dynasty waterworks project (completed in 256 BC) is the oldest and only surviving non-dam irrigation system in the world. Still used to control water levels of the Mín Jiāng, this scenic area is studded with historic temples, forested hills, hilltop pagodas as well as coursing waters.

To temper the devastating floods caused by the fast-flowing Mín Jiāng, regional magistrate Li Bing oversaw tens of thousands of workers using tubular bamboo baskets filled with stones to reshape the river bends. A 20m-wide channel was also cut through Yùlěi Shān using only alternate applications of fire and water to crack the mountain's hard rock.

The Dūjiāngyàn Ancient Town (都江堰古城), accessible from both of the scenic area's main entrances, is overflowing with historical-looking storefronts hawking everything from souvenirs and clothes to tea and food.

Every Tombsweeping Day (generally April 4th or 5th), catch elaborately costumed re-enactments of the building process, ceremonial sacrifices, and elegies sung to Li Bing at the Water Releasing Festival.