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Sanmenxia Travel Guide

With the construction of the first dam on Yellow River, the city of Sanmenxia was built in 1957 on the site of Gucheng in Shanzhou county. As legend goes, when Da Yu fighting the flood, he used his axe to divide the high mountain into three gorges, which were named People Gate, God Gate and Ghost Gate, therefore the place is called Sanmenxia Gorge, in Chinese it means three gates gorge. Today, as the center of economy, communication and culture on the borders of the three provinces, Sanmenxia is reputed as a bright pearl beset along Yellow River.

Sanmenxia measures 10496 square kilometers, with the landform mainly in mountainous area, hills and loess tableland. Most of the areas stand on the height above the sea level between 300 and 1500 meters, the highest mountain is Laoyacha, also called the little Qin mountain, is 2413.8 meters high above the sea level. The city of Sanmenxia lies on the terrace of the south bank of Yellow River, it faces Sanmenxia reservoir on three sides like a peninsula, therefore it is a  landscape city surrounded with mountains and waters.

As one of the birth places of Chinese civilization, Sanmenxia was dwelled by great clans and tribes 5000~6000 years ago. It was the governing center of  both Xia Dynasty and Shang Dynasty. In Western Zhoucentury, it belonged to Guo state, in Qin Dynasty, it was called Sanchuan county, in Western Han Dynasty, it was named Henan prefecture, when Wudi became the emperor, he called the place Hongnong county, and after it was refounded as Shanzhou county in Northern Wei, the name was kept untill Ming and Qing Dynasty.

Sanmenxia has its unique resources of traveling. It is perfectly combined with the ancient Chinese civilization, modern scenery, beautiful mountains and lakes in the south and magnificent landscape in the north. It has the relics of Yangshao civilization in the Neolithic times, pits of chariots and horses of Guo state in the late Western Zhou and the beginning of Spring and Autumn period, the tomb of Huangdi at Jinshan mountain, the meeting platform of officials from Qin and Zhao states in the Warring States Period, Hangu pass where Laozi wrote his famous book Classic of the Way and Virtue and Baolunsi Tower, one of the four ancient echo buildings. It also has the old site of Shengchi military station of the Eight Route Army, cave-houses for visiting and the world famous Yellow River Dam. The Yellow River civilization, together with unique civilian art, covers the whole city like mountain flowers. The main traveling line, the Tour of Yellow River, was opened in April, 1986, now has hosted five sessions of International Yellow River Travelling Festival. Listed as one of fourteen travelling lines in China by the National Tourism Bureau, the tour of Yellow River is opened to international market. In the season of traveling, by boat, you can enjoy the magnificent sight of Yellow River and the agreeable country sight along the river, at the same time experience the fairyland scenery in which the boat going through willows and fish jumping briskly above the river. Now, the city of Sanmenxia has established friendship with 15 cities in China, Kitagami City in Japan and Murray-Bridge city in Australia.

Location: The city of Sanmenxia lies on the west frontier of Henan Province, on the borders of three provinces. It connects with Luoyang in the east, Nanyang in the south, Shaanxi Province in the west and Shanxi Province in the north. It is three hours' drive from the city to Zhengzhou.

Area code: 0398
Postal code: 472000


Local Specialties

The Chengni Mud Ink Stone in Guozhou County

The Chengni mud ink stone in Guozhou County is one of the four famous ink stones in history. The Local Chronicle of Shanzhou Prefecture reads that the Chengni mud ink stone in Guozhou County is tribute to the emperor in both Tang and Song Dynasties. Its shining color makes it look like a piece of precious jade. When knocked, it sounds like a bell. It is hard and so smooth that it feels like children’s skin. If you keep ink in the ink stone, it will not become less or go off. The special craftsmanship makes the ink stone colorful. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty also praised it and valued it as a national treasure. Tourists can buy it in the Chengni Mud Ink Stone Research and Development Company in Sanmenxia City.

Holly Pyrographic Chopsticks冬青木烙花筷子

The holly pyrographic chopsticks are made of ever green hollies that grow in the mountain and cliff. It is originally white and after being soaked in the essential oil it will turn ivory yellow with fragrance. On the square head of the chopsticks, craftsmen make pyrographic pictures. They are so exquisite and elegant that they can be used as dinner ware and be appreciated as art work.

For Gifts and Souvenirs

Sanmenxian City is not a business city, however, buying some local specialties there till can be a nice choice.

A Dong Mountain Products 阿东山货

It is a shop for fruits planted in the mountains, products including walnuts, Chinese dates, etc.
Address: 8 West New Gantang Road, Hubin District (湖滨区新甘棠路西8号)
Bus Route: 1 (and get off at the stop of Water Supply Company)
Tel: 0398-2893 289
Hours: 08:00–22:00

For Clothing and Cosmetics

Dazhang Department Store 大张百货

Clothing, shoes, bags and cosmetic with many domestic bands and some international bands can be found there, and the price is more affordable than other department stores.
Address: Middle section of Huanghe Road (黄河路中段)

For Computers

Haitian Computer Center 海天电脑科技

Address: 18 Electronics City, Hubin District (湖滨区电子城18号)
Tel: 0398–2807 010