Archive for the ‘Beijing Excursions’ Category

Top 4 Most Amazing Caves and Caverns in Beijing

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
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Plan your Beijing tour?  You’ll definitely cram several Beijing’ UNESCO World Heritage sites on your travel plan including the spectacular Great Wall of China. In addition to its world famous historical sites, Beijing is blessed with a abundance of natural resources including several easy-to-access karst caves.

If you are an cave enthusiast, or you are an outdoor adventurist, your Beijing trip can be added with an interesting day trip to the underground kingdoms of caves and caverns in Beijing’s suburbs. These caves are easy to access and you don’t have to be an avid spelunker or speleologist  to enjoy the cave tour. We compose the top 4 caves based our own criteria and experience in terms of size, formation and location.

1.  Shihua Cave (The Stone Flower Cave) 石花洞
The Stone Flower Cave is located in Fangshan District,  about 50 km southwest of Beijing city center. It was first discovered in 1446, Ming Dynasty by a Buddhist monk, Yuanguang. The structure of the cave is 7-level and multi-branch. Now the 7 levels have been explored while the only the floors from the 1st to the 3rd are opened to the public with a total length of 2.5 km.

Shihua Cave (The Stone Flower Cave)

Shihua Cave (The Stone Flower Cave)

Beijing Stone Flower Cave is one of the 4 most famous caves in China with a superb collection of beautiful sights. At present, only three levels are open to the public. The first level is more than 300 metres long, and contains a corridor, a pool like a lotus flower, three big halls, and a cave with an inner cave. Visitors can enjoy stalactites, stalagmites, cobbles, stone curtains, stone pillars, and stone flowers everywhere inside the cave-an eye-opening experience.

How to get there: First take the subway Fangshan Line and get off at Liangxian Naguan Station (良乡南关站), then connect the local public bus known as Fang 43 (房43) and get off at the final bus stop.
Ticket Price: 70RMB
Tel: 010-60312170

2.  Yinhu Cave ( Silver Fox Cave) 银狐洞
About 14 km to the west of Shihua Cave ( The Stone Flower Cave ) lies the Yinhu Cave ( Silver Fox Cave ), about 60 km to the southwest of Beijing city center.

Silver Fox Cave is such named because there is a fox-shaped snow-white calcite crystal which is very rare and precious, therefore, the cave got the name Yinhu (Silver Fox).

Yinhu Cave ( Silver Fox Cave)

Yinhu Cave ( Silver Fox Cave)

This multi-layer karst cave is luxuriantly a wonderful spectacle. The winding cave is about 4500 meters  long with a water river of 1500 meters long.  In the cave, there are uncommon various stalactites, white stalagmites, grand stone pillars, asbestos, shining stone waterfalls.

The Silver Fox Cave is the largest dry and water karst cave in the northern China. The underground water is clear and never frozen.  The meandering underground rivers penetrate as deep as more than 100 meters (328 feet). Tourists can boat on the clear and winding waters.

How to get there: Take the Bus No.917 (支线3) from Tianqiao Bus Terminal (天桥) and get off at the stop of Hebeizhuang (河北庄), then change for the local bus known as Fang 20 (房20) and get off the intersection leading to the Yinhu Cave.
Ticket Price: 40RMB
Tel:010-60363236

3.  Yunshui Cave in the Shangfangshan Mountain 上方山云水洞
Shangfangshan, as the branch of the Mt. Yan, is located in Fangshan Districe, in the southwest of Beijing’s suburban area.  With its main peak 860 meters, the Shangfangshan Park is characterized by vast area of woods, nine marvelous karst caves, twelve stupendous peaks, seventy-two ancient temples, and the largest stupa group in North China.

Yunshui Cave in the Shangfangshan Mountain

Yunshui Cave in the Shangfangshan Mountain

Yunshui Cave is the most famous spot in the Shangfangshan Park. It is locates about, 42km to the southwest of Shihua Cave and  73 km to the southwest of Beijing city center. It is the largest karst cave in the Northern China. The cave is about 600 meters deep with 6 natural halls. In the cave, there are 12 peaks and 108 natural scenic spots. “Zhongtian Zhizhu” is the tallest peak with a sea-level of 860 meters. It has the tallest stalagmite in China with the height of 37 meters.

Add: Shengshuiyu Village, Hancunhe Town, Fangshan District
Ticket Price:50 RMB
Opening Time: 08:00-18:00
How to get there: Bus No.917 to Fangshan Bus Station, then transfer to No.15 minibus to Shangfangshan National Forest Park

4.  Jingdong Karst Cave 京东大溶洞
Jingdong Karst Cave has existed ever since 1.5 billion years before, hence the name of  “The Oldest Karst Cave in the world”. This karst cave stretches over 25,00m including a 100m boat trip inside the karst cave. The temperature inside the karst cave is stable, warm in winter and cool in summer.

Jingdong Karst Cave

Jingdong Karst Cave

The karst cave is divided into 8 viewing areas named after the unique rock formations, the stalactites, stalagmites, and columns that can be found inside the cave. The formations were created over thousands of years by dripping water. Some of the eight viewing areas are given interesting names like “Fairyland in Penglai”, “Spring Rain in Southern China”, “Water Curtain Cave”, “Heavenly Torch” and so on.

The normal visiting time inside the cave takes about one and half hours. Visitors will be escorted by a karst cave tour guide from beginning to the end. The entrance ticket is RMB65 p/p. After having your ticket checked, you walk through a 140m man-made tunnel which is linked to the cave inside. The stalactites, stalagmites, and columns are lit by lamps of different colors. You have to walk slowly to keep from falling down due to the wet and slippery stone steps.

How to get there?
For public transportation, you take the bus 852 or 918 from Dongzhimen Transport Hub. The bus 852 is faster than the Bus 918. Arriving at Pinggu Bus Terminal, you are required to connect bus 25 passing by Jingdong Big Karst Cave and get off the Jingdong Karst Cave. For self-guide drive, you drive along Jinggu Expressway, then branch off and follow the road sign pointing to Jingdong Big Karst Cave.

Enquiry: 60971708
Tourist complaint: 89991622
Entrance Fee: 65 Yuan
The the stalactites look like icicles.

 

Any questions, just drop a  line.

Top 8 Sections of the Great Wall Beijing

Monday, July 13th, 2015
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If you visit Beijing for the first time, definitely you want to leave some footprints on the Great Wall of China. When you do some preparation research online regarding the Great Wall around Beijing, you will surprisingly know that there are so many “Great Walls” – Mutianyu, Badaling, Juyongguan, Simatai and Jinshanling – just name some of them.

You may wonder totally how many sections of the Great Wall around Beijing and which part of the Great Wall to visit. Having hiked the major bits of the Great Wall around Beijing, I try to present you my version of Top 10 List of the sections of the Great Wall in Beijing in terms of their landscapes and hiking level. Hopefully my post will help you a little bit in choosing your favorites on your Great Wall Tour.

1. Jinshanling Great Wall ( For Experienced Travelers)
Of all the parts of the Great Wall around Beijing, Jinshanling Great Wall has always been my biggest favorite option. Strictly speaking, Jinshanling Great Wall doesn’t belong to the administrative control of Beijing (Chengde City instead), but the proud Beijing people show no hesitation to place Jinshanling Great Wall into their own bag.

Jinshanling Great Wall is located on the border area between Miyun County in Beijing and Luanping County in Chengde, around 130km to the northeast of Beijing city center. Jinshanling Great Wall is extended to Simatai Great Wall on its east. In the past people could hike from Jinshanling Great Wall to Simatai Great. But nowadays people have to stop in the mid-way, then either get off the wall or retrace to the starting point due to the closure of the Wall on Simatai side.

Jinshanling Great Wall

Jinshanling Great Wall

Unlike the restored and revamped Mutianyu Great Wall and the totally wide and deserted Jiankou Great Wall, Jinshanling Great Wall is half half – half original and half restored with stunning views!

You’d better off arranging your own transport, or hook up with other travelers to split the cost of the drive since the public bus system is not easy to handle.

How to get to Jinshanling from Beijing city center by bus:
Bus No. 980 Express (980快) To:
Destination: Jinshanling Great Wall 金山岭长城.
Very Important Notice: Actually the Bus 980 Express stops at Miyun County ( 密云汽车站 ), and then you take a mini bus from the downtown Miyun to Jinshanling.
Bus Fare: RMB 15
Minibus Fare: about RMB 50 ( you have to share a mini-bus for Jinshanling Great Wall)

2. Gubeikou Great Wall ( For Experienced Travelers )
Gubeikou Great Wall is located in Miyun County, 140 kilometers away from downtown Beijing. Gubeikou Great Wall is extended east to be connected to Jinshanling Great Wall. Gubeikou Great Wall itself is composed of two parts – Panlongshan Great Wall and Wohushan Great Wall. “Panlongshan” literally means “Coiled Dragon Mountain” while “Wohushan” literally means “Crouching Tiger Mountain”.

The two mountains faces each other with a valley in between from south to north, a strategic passage in the ancient times linking Inner Mongolia and Beijing. Now the valley has been turned into a fast developing Gubeikou Township under Miyun County of Beijing City.

Wohushan Great Wall is now still completely wild and unrestored, not officially opened to the public while Panlongshan Great Wall is partially opened by the local government. So when people talk about Gubeikou Great Wall, very often it refers to Panlongshan Great Wall. This section of the Great Wall is not reconstructed and unrestored with fantastic landscape.

There are two parallel sections of the Great Wall on the Panlong Mountain running shoulder to shoulder. One section was built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 – 557) and other section was constructed in the early Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). The last watch tower of Gubeikou Great Wall is a 24-window tower, also the end of the accessible Panlongshan Great Wall.

The further section to the east is the Wall is forbidden for hiking becuse it is within the military zone. People can make a detour bypassing the forbidden wall, and go down to a deep valley and walk towards Jinshanling Great Wall.

Gubeikou Great Wall

Gubeikou Great Wall

You may have a 2-3 hour hike along the wide original Gubeikou Great Wall, or you may hike further across the Gubeikou Great Wall and get to Jinshanling Great Wall, an estimated 5-hour 10 km hike.

3. Simatai Great Wall ( For Experienced Travelers )
The Simatai section of the Great Wall is located in the northeast of Miyun County, about 140 kilometers from downtown Beijing. It was first built in the early Hongwu years (1368-1398) of the Ming Dynasty. The Simatai Great Wall is cutted into two parts by the Simatai Reservoir, over which there is a chain bridge running through east to west.

The Simatai Great Wall is 5 km long with all together 28 watchtowers ( East 16 and West 12 ). Constructed by the Ming Dynasty general Qi Ji Guang, it is one of the few stretches of the Wall that still preserve the original look of that period. It not only feaures unique points from other Great Wall sections, but also shows some features found nowhere. To the west there 12 watchtowers snaking on the sloping hills. To the east there are 16 watchtowers atop peaks up to 1,000 meters high.

The views are amazing. The wall at Simatai has received very little renovation. So Simatai Great Wall still retains all its original look. It is well beyond the reach of the great crowds of visitors twho come to the more popular and easily accessible parts of the Wall.

The Simatai Great Wall, with densely-positioned watchtowers running along the mountain ridges, looks amazing and grandeur!

Simatai Great Wall

Simatai Great Wall

Simatai Great Wall is linked to Jinshanling Great Wall on its west. Most tourists would choose to hike up the east section of Simatai Great Wall since it is more photogenic and treacherous. After you climb up to the 12th tower ( you are not allowed to go further to other 4 towers due to safety reason), you may either hike down or take a cable car down ( from 5th tower or 8th tower ).

The cross hike from Jinshanling to Simatai Great Wall is still not allowed mainly due to the closure of Simatai West Section.

4. Mutianyu Great Wall ( For Leisure Travelers )
Mutianyu Great Wall ranks as the number one attraction in Beijing. The Mutianyu Great Wall is also one of my favorite sections of the Great Wall in Beijing. It has an extemely beautiful natural landscape once you are up on the wall, green, densely wooded. This section of the Great Wall is comparatively smoother than most of other sections.

Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu Great Wall is located in Huairou District, about 80 km to the north of Beijing. There are 23 towers on the Mutianyu Great Wall snaking the ridge for about 3000 meters. The watch towers at the Mutianyu Great Wall are distributed at short intervals. If you have strong legs and continue to hike westwards, you will walk across Jiankou Great Wall.

5. Jiankou Great Wall ( For Experienced Travelers )
Jiankou Great Wall is located in Huairou District, 10 km to the east of Mutianyu Great Wall, about 80 KM from downtown Beijing. Huanghuacheng Great Wall is situated to the west of Jiankou. This section was first constructed in 1368 during the period of the Ming Dynasty.

Jiankou Great Wall is the most dangerous and ruined section of the great wall around Beijing. There are most risky areas along the section of Jiankou Great Wall.

Jiankou Great Wall

Jiankou Great Wall

“The Eagle Flies Facing Upward”: it is actually an enemy observation tower. It is such named due to the fact that the observation tower is built on the highest place of the mountain. So, if an eagle wants to fly to the tower, it has to fly facing upwards before it gets to the top of the tower.

“Ladders in the sky”: At this part of the Wall the ladders go actually straight up, and they are so narrow that it is almost impossible to hold a foothold.

“Beijing Knot”: the meeting place for three different linking sections of the Great Wall at Jiankou.
“The Nine-Eye Tower”: A watchtower with 9 holes resembling 9 eyes.

Yes, there are tons of online trip reports on the incredible steepness of the Upward Flying Eagle Tower to Tianti (Sky Ladder) and Beijing Knot. We are not advising anyone to scramble that section if you don’t have any rock climbing experience armed with special equipment though maybe you are an experienced travelers.

Starting from Zhengbeilou Watchtower ( east of the Upward Flying Eagle Tower and Sky Ladder), walk eastwards along the rugged Wall and get to the restored Mutianyu Great Wall, a relatively easy walk with stunning views.

At the time of my writing, Jiankou Great Wall is still officially not open to the public due to its risky hike as well as the government’s policy to protect the “wild wall”. If you choose to walk from Zhengbeilou at Jiankou Great Wall to Mutianyu Great Wall, the risk involved would be less. But still you should apply for travel insurrance for your coverage of injury or accident.

6. Huanghuancheng Great Wall ( For Experienced Travelers )
Huanghuacheng literally meaning “Yellow Flower City”. Huanghuacheng Great Wall, about 60 km north of downtown Beijing, is one of the most ruined sections of the wall in Beijing. It has become popular with hikers in recent years.

Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Huanghuacheng Great Wall

It is about 1000 meters long and connecting Juyongguan Pass Great Wall and Badaling Great Wall in the west and Jiankou Great Wall and Mutianuyu Great Wall in the east. Now it is a quite challenge to climb the wall since it has no stone steps or no smooth path found at other sections of Great Wall in Beijing.

7. Badaling Great Wall ( For Leisure Travelers )
Badaling section of the Great Wall is within Yanqing County, one of the two counties in Beijing. The wall is about 80 kilometers northwest from downtown Beijing. Badaling Great Wall is actually a mountain pass of the Jundu Mountain.

It is recorded that the Badaling Great Wall was built to protect the Juyongguan Pass ( Juyongguan section of the Great Wall ) on its south, further protecting the city of Beijing. Badaling is an ancient military defense project. It is about 1,000 meters above sea level.

The Badaling section of Great Wall is about 3, 740 meters long and averagely 8 meters high. The highest section is 15 meters high. The wall is wide enough for five horses to ride abreast. Badaling was the earliest part open to the visitors among all the sections of the Great Wall in Beijing.

Badaling Great Wall

Badaling Great Wall

The wall is narrow on the top and broad on the base making the wall stands firmly rising and falling ridges. The wall was made with huge stones. Inside the Wall are made of mud and stone block. This makes the wall clean, pretty and firm.

Every other 300 to 500 meters, there are fortresses. There are two kinds of fortresses. One is a two-storied fortress used as a fighting tower. Its ground floor was used for living, storing weapons and the top floor was used for watching and shooting. Another kind is fighting terrace or enemy terrace, which was used for patrolling and fighting.

8. Juyongguan Great Wall ( For Leisure Travelers )
The Juyongguan Pass is located in the valley sandwiched by the Jundu Mountains and the ending of the Taihang Mountains. It used to be a stronghold, difficult of access dating back to the Spring and Autumn, the Warring States period ( 5000-6000 years ago). Later the Pass was extended to be linked up with the Great Wall.

The Pass we see today was planned by General Xuda and completed in the first year of the reign of the Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty ( 1368 ) and the years that followed, it was renovated again and again. The Great Wall around the Pass extends over 4 km snaking the ridge of the mountains forming the valley. The natural landscape surrounding the Pass is extremely beautiful.

Juyongguan Great Wall.

Juyongguan Great Wall.

The Juyongguan Pass Great Wall is sectioned into two semicircles – east and west. Most people prefer hiking on its west semicircle for its steepness and beautiful view. Each semicircle takes about 2-hour hike. So if you have time and energy, hiking both sections is a good choice.

Any questions, just drop a line.

Beijing Dingdu Pavilion

Sunday, July 12th, 2015
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Beijing Dingduge Pavilion, or Dingdu Pavilion (定都阁) is built on the top of the same name hill known as Dingdu Peak with a sea level of 680 meters. The Dingdu Peak is located on the western end of the extended Chang’an Avenue, and about 40km west of Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

 Dingduge Pavilion

Dingduge Pavilion

“Dingdu” literally means “Decide the location of the Imperial Palace ( Today’s Forbidden City ) in Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 )”. “ge” literally means “Pavilion”. The legend goes like this: Emperor Yongle, the third emperor of Ming Dynasty wanted to move the capital of Ming Dynasty from Nanjing to Beiping (Today’s Beijing ), he issued an imperial edict that Yao Guangxiao (1335 -1418) was ordered to be the chief architect of his imperial place and he demanded the Hall of Golden Chimes (today’s Imperial Harmony Hall in Forbidden City) built on the place where the Sun rose.

The chief architect – Mr. Yao Guangxiao later ascended the summit of Niuxin Mountain on today’s extended west of Beijing Chang’an Avenue and looked at the east direction, confirming the place where the Sun rose, which was decided as the central place for building the Hall of Golden Chimes, the most important hall in the Imperial Palace, thus beginning the overall construction of today’s Forbidden City and Beijing city as a whole. Later Niuxin Mountain was renamed “Dingdu Peak” in commemoration of the peak which allowed people to decide the location for the building of Beijing city in Ming Dynasty.

Beijing Dingdu Pavilion was newly established on the top of Dingdu Peak and open to the public in May,2013. The tower has the construction of 2400 square meters and 33.9 above the the ground with 6-story inside and 3-story outside, a typical Chinese traditional architecture.

Dingduge Tower is actually part of Dingdu Peak Scenic Area which is still on the process of construction. The local Mengtougou District Government plans to build Dingdu Peak Scenic Area into a core sightseeing spot in Mengtougou and upgrade the value of Beijing Tanzhe Temple Town since Dingdu Peak is located within Tanzhe Temple Town. If you visit Dingdu Pavilion on your Beijing tour, you may also consider to cover the famous site of Tanzhe Temple nearby, the oldest temple in Beijing.

Dingdu Pavilion on the west end of Chang’an Avenue and Grand Canal ( Tongzhou section ) on the east of Chang’an Avenue, hence the saying “Beijing city has the Grand Canal on the east and Dingdu Pavilion on the west”. If you visit Beijing, a short excursion to Dingdu Pavilion is worth your time in terms of a panoramic view of Beijing city ( if no smog ) and its legendary history.

How to get there
The pavilion and peak is close to Yongding Town (永定镇) in Tanzhe Temple Town, Mengtougou District, about 40km west of Beijing city center.
Public Transport: First take subway line 1 to the west direction and get off at the final station of Pingguoyuan (苹果园站), then connect Bus 931,981 and get off at the stop of Fengcun (冯村站), then walk up to the pavilion.
Self-drive: Drive along Lianhushi Road (莲湖石路) and change for Highway 108 and branches off at North Village of Tanzhe Temple Town (潭柘寺镇北村), then drive along the roadside sigh pointing to Dingdu Pavilion.

Entrance fee: 50 yuan
Opening hours: 9:00 – 17:00
Sale of admission tickets: till 16:00

 

Add On

Tanzhe Temple
Jietai Temple
Mentougou District

Any questions, just drop a line.