Guoliang Tunnel was dug through the side of a mountain by hand

Located in the northwest of Henan province, in China, Guoliang Tunnel is famous for its dangerous location and difficult construction. Built in the early 1970s, it has been dubbed as the road that does not tolerate any mistakes. It’s one of the most famous Chinese tunnel roads.

Guoliang Tunnel

How long is Guoliang Tunnel?

Nestled in the cliffs of Taihang Mountains, the tunnel is 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) long, 5 metres (16 ft) tall, and 4 metres (13 ft) wide. It links Guoliang with the outside world.

Why is Guoliang Tunnel famous?

There are over 30 “windows” of different shapes and sizes overlooking the gully that were used by the builders to remove rubble from the tunnel, but now allow light into it. Some windows are round, and some are square, and they range from dozens of meters long to standard-window-size. Photos of the road are often misidentified with the Bolivian Yungas Road.

When was the Guoliang Tunnel built?

The tunnel, carved along the side of and through a mountain, opened to traffic on May 1, 1977. It's quite a tourist attraction, giving the village a little too much unwanted attention, but some very welcome revenue. Entirely built by village locals, it took five years to be finished, with 4,000 hammers, 12 tons of steel, and quite a lot of chisels. This is how one of the most dangerous tunnels in the world was carved by just 13 villagers in remote China. At the most difficult stage, the tunnel progressed at a rate of one meter every three days. Before its construction in 1972, the only access to civilization of the village of Guoliang was some steep, narrow stairs embedded in the mountainside called the “Sky Ladder,” a treacherous, slippery climb even for the most nimble and sure-footed of the villagers or their rare company callers. Thirteen villagers, headed by their chief, Shen Mingxin, began the project, but several died during construction, so the others continued relentlessly. The construction of the tunnel road reflects the villagers’ wisdom, hard work, and persistence.

The Perils and Challenges of Driving Through Guoliang Tunnel

The tunnel is pretty scary with 30 windows of various sizes and shapes and has been dubbed as the road that does not tolerate any mistakes. The road requires monk-like focus to drive. Even one mistake, locals say, means big trouble in little China. Most accidents in the tunnel are primarily caused by the neglect of the traveler. The tunnel is only realistically enough for one-way traffic. Even with a smaller sedan, the road spares only a few feet on either side as you pass through the tunnel.

The Terrifying Landscape: Guoliang Tunnel's Unpredictable Journey

This is made terrifying by the fact that the road was built on the path of least resistance. The tunnel, also known as the Cliff Corridor of Wanxian Mountain, or Guoliang Cave, twists, turns, and dips in unpredictable places, enough to leave any driver white-knuckled in terror at what could be coming at them around the slippery blind spot of a bend. While the view from the tunnel’s “windows” is definitely exquisite and unforgettable, the tunnel is known for being a “road that does not tolerate any mistakes”. When driving through this tunnel road, make sure that you are prepared and can deftly handle the vehicle you are driving. Remember, even the most minor of mistakes can endanger your life, and instead of an unforgettable trip through a feat of local workers, you might end up in a hospital, or worse.

Is the Guoliang Tunnel worth it?

The tunnel is an extremely scenic route and is a key destination on the Chinese tourism map as it became a tourist attraction when China opened its borders to international tourists. It’s been used as a film location. The road is open all year round.
Image credit: Depositphotos