Shuǐ Dòng Gōu

Archaeological Site in Yínchuān

The archaeological site of Shuǐ Dòng Gōu, 25km east of Yínchuān, right on the border with Inner Mongolia, has been turned into something of an adventure theme park. The site is divided into two parts; the first is a museum that resembles Jabba the Hutt’s bunker and which contains the Palaeolithic-era relics first uncovered here in 1923.

From there, it’s a golf-cart ride to an unrestored section of the Great Wall dating back to the Ming dynasty. Then it’s a walk, boat trip, donkey- and camel-cart ride to a fortress with an elaborate network of underground tunnels once used by Chinese soldiers defending the Wall. The renovated tunnels include trap doors, false passages and booby traps.

The catch is that the admission price to Shuǐ Dòng Gōu only lets you into the site itself. Everything else – the museum, fort and all transport – costs extra, making this an expensive day out. Unless you fancy an 8km walk around the complex, the cheapest way to do it is to buy the through ticket (通票, tōngpiào) for ¥130. Standard admission costs ¥60.

Buses run from Yínchuān’s southern bus terminal past Shuǐ Dòng Gōu (¥12, 40 minutes, eight daily) from 7.30am to 5.30pm. To return, wait by the highway and flag down any passing Yínchuān-bound bus.