The Grand Canal of China

The Grand Canal of China

As the Great Wall of China is the father of motherland’s frontier protection,

the Grand Canal is no less the mother of China’s cultural heritage.

Also known as Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

Grand Canal Map

Like the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canal can boast of its great engineering feat, second to none. It was started in 486 BC during the Zhou Dynasty, stretching over a distance from north to south of some 1200 miles or 1794 Km, surpassing the other two grand canals of the world: Suez & Panama, making it the world’s longest man-made waterway in ancient China.

It’s a great engineering hydraulic project by today’s standard, featuring the construction of seven “locks” to overcome different geographical heights. The Grand Canal begins in Beijing & ends south in Hangzhou, connecting the northern capitals to the productive southern region. China’s major rivers, Yangtze River & The Yellow River, run mainly from west to east. It’s a lifeline for administration & defense, economic & cultural heritage, culminating in the emergence of Tang Dynasty (618-907) as the most powerful state in the world.

There’s a famous saying in China: “Up there’s Heaven, down there’s beauty” (referring to the great beauties in Suzhou & Hangzhou). The Grand Canal provided then that great passage way for the Emperors & court officials to the southern paradise.

Aerial Shot of Grand Canal

The Grand Canal offers travellers the best means for enjoying the magnificent scenery of the country seen along the river towns. By taking a boat cruise, you can see ancient dwellings, historical relics, and stone bridges, while being served mouth-watering, authentic Chinese food.

We took the boat in December 1998 up the Canal from Hangzhou to Suzhou, delighting ourselves in what ancient emperors had done before us, affording us too the opportunity to compare it with the cruise along the famous Li River in Quilin or the Yangtze Cruise of the Three Gorges. Each is a worthwhile experience, unique on its own.

If you have climbed The Great Wall of China, you need to complete your tour of China significantly with the cruise of the Grand Canal, as like a time traveller back in time to the present, and hopefully onto the future.

Paul Chong


7 thoughts on “The Grand Canal of China

  1. James

    Thanks for the superb article. I never knew this great engineering feat of the
    ancient Chinese is so outstanding. It just shows what man can do if they have the will and unity of spirit. China will continue to surprise the world in present times!

  2. Dan

    Thank you for a thorough and interesting short
    article about China’s Grand Canal. I was looking
    for illustrations to add to my assignment for my
    7th grade history students. I stumbled upon your
    photo in Google Images. Then … your article was
    so well stated (simple, detailed, direct) that I would
    like to use it in class discussion. I will read more
    from your blog. Thanks again!

  3. Paul

    Hi Daniel,
    Thank you for your very kind words. By all means, use whatever materials you deem fit for your class
    reading & teaching. Kind of nostalgic when talking about teaching, for I used to be one. Glad to be of help.

    1. Paul

      The teacher as portrayed in my article “My Most Unforgettable Teacher” was the very one I admired most during my High School years. He taught us mathematics & mechanics.

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