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Fengdu Ghost City, Yangtze

Sinners beware – one trip to Fengdu Ghost City and your wicked side will be found out. Because in this ancient city, only those who pass all three of the tests that mark its entrance will be allowed to enter the afterlife unscathed. Those who fail, well, it just doesn’t bear thinking about. Hell is quite the hair-raiser according to this city, that’s all we’re saying.

And we’re talking serious tests here. Traversing the Bridge of Helplessness, crossing through Ghost-Torturing Pass and balancing on a round stone on one leg in front of the Emperor’s Palace. Sounds pretty legit, right?

“So, what’s this ghost city all about?”, we hear you ask. Well, it’s a good question. Home to over 2000 years worth of history, the city got its name during the Eastern Han Dynasty when it’s said that two officials of the imperial court moved here and practised self-cultivation to the point of immortalisation. They were referred to by their combined surnames – Yin and Wang, becoming ‘Yinwang’ – meaning ‘King of the Underworld’. And so, the rumour spread that the King of Hell lived in Fengdu. Dun dun duhhhh. We know, it’s all very dramatic.

Now, you’ll find an abandoned city that showcases traditional Chinese visions of the afterlife. Peppered with shrines, temples and monasteries, as well as artistic depictions of ghosts, devils and generally quite disturbing afterlife imagery, this is the ultimate pitstop when it comes to taking in China’s quirky history. And, it’ll sate your appetite for all things macabre, that’s for sure.

Why add Fengdu Ghost City to your itinerary

If you’ve always had a soft spot for the spine-chilling, this one’s for you. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not actually scary, but you certainly don’t have to look far for the spooky.

Combining the cultures of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, this will actually be quite the informative stop as far as ancient Chinese culture goes – it’s not all ghouls and ghosts. And it’s not all about the tests either. From the giant face that looms above the city – known as the ‘Ghost King’ – to the various traditional pavilion structures, there are numerous sites of interest here.

It may be wrapped in myth and legend, but not all of this city is stuck in the past. In fact, new constructions are often popping up – many from the 20th century – demonstrating that the beliefs showcased here are far from dead.

Fengdu Ghost City essential information


Ming Mountain, Yangtze River.

Opening times


Dress code

Your most pure and heavenly attire – you don’t want to take any chances at getting mistaken as something ‘evil’ in this strange city.

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