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Ling Canal

Category: Xing'an

Ling Canal was a great engineering feat that connected two major river systems - the Yangtze River System and the Pearl River System and once played a very important role in political unification, economic contacts, cultural exchanges, defense reinforcement, water irrigation, and people's daily life in ancient China.

Ling Canal,Xing'an, Guilin

Ling Canal, situated in north of Xing' an county, is 66 kilometers far from Guilin. It was built in 214B.C. in Qin dynasty by the order of Qin Shihuang (the first emperor of Qin dynasty), the same emperor who created two miracles – the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors. It is 34 km long. It is the oldest canal in the world.

The canal was once an important means of transports serving the region before railways and roads were constructed.  After the construction of this canal, Guilin became increasingly important because the Ling Canal was joining the Li River which is a branch of the Pearl River system with Xiang River which is a branch of Yangtze River system, providing a transport link with the Yangzi River. The imperial court could thus send food and provisions by water from the Yangzi plains to its armies in the far south. Right now this canal still serves a purpose by irrigating about 2700 hectare of agricultural fields there. 

Ling Canal is divided into the northern and the southern sections. The dividing point is a V-shaped dyke in the east of the county seat, commonly known as Tianping (The balance). The sharp point of the dyke is called HuaZui (Plough Share), which bifurcate the oceanic water from the upper reach of Xiang River into two parts, of which one part, 30 percent of the whole flow, goes to the Li River, and the remaining 70 percent to Xiang River. During the Tang Dynasty (618 - 917), because Ling Canal was the main passageway to transport goods between North and South China, it became especially busy. New problems subsequently emerged. Four months out of the year, it had low water, and boats couldn't sail it. This had a major impact on trade and the economy at that time. To solve this problem, they invented a "lock" that enables boats to sail even on the low water of the canal. It's called a Doumen (Steep Gate) which is just like the boatlift and has been used for over 1,000 years.

It is possible to sail from Guangzhou by traveling up the Xi and Li Rivers to this canal and passing through it, proceed down the Xiang River to the Yangtze, hence to the Grand Canal and even as far as Peiping without getting off the boat.

In old days, this elaborate canal was of great assistance to China's transport and unity. It is the great pioneering work of the close combination of natural state of organisms, scientific technologies, and man and the nature, and is the outcome of the wisdom of the ancient working people. 

Admission fee: RMB 50 p/p;
Opening hours: 08:30 - 17:30;
Location: Xing'an county, about 60 kilometers northeast of Guilin .
How to get there:
Take a bus from Guilin to Xing'an Bus Station at Guilin North Bus Station, and then change to public bus No.2 for Ling Canal.