When you are planning Beijing Tour, an excursion to one of the sections of the Great Wall will be definitely on your agenda.
Mutianyu Great Wall is listed as the No.01 attraction in Beijing according to the recommendations by Beijing Tripadvisor Community. But nowadays the temptation is increasing to visit its west neighboring section of the Great Wall known as Jiankou Great Wall due to its wildness, originality and its state of unrestoredness.
ABC of Jiankou Great Wall
Jiankou Great Wall is about 20km long starting from the 23rd Tower of Mutianyu Great Wall to Beijing Knot, the most northwestern tower of Jiankou Great Wall. There are some interesting names given to some dangerous or unique sites along Jiankou Great Wall.
From its east to west, we just name some of these interesting places on the Wall – Ox Horn Edge, Jiankou (Arrow Nock ), Sky Ladder, Upward Flying Eagle Tower, Beijing Knot and 9-Eye Tower. We’ll explain all these intriguing names later.
The 20km long Jiankou Great Wall runs generally in a form of “W”, like a bow fully stretched, and the lowest point is know as Arrow Nock ( “Jiankou” in Chinese), hence the name of Jiankou Great Wall. So when we are talking about Jiankou Great Wall, we either refer to the wall itself or the particularly low point of the Wall where it is often used as the starting point for the wall hiking.
Then, how to get to Jiankou Great Wall? How to visit Jiankou Great Wall? What’s the hiking level and am I fit for the hike? Questions like these are often tantalizing people. Lets’ go step by step to answer all these questions.
How to Get to Jiankou Great Wall
Generally there are three most used ways of getting up to the Wall:
1) Hiking up from Xizhazi Village (西栅子村) on the north hillside of the Wall
2) Scrambling up from Wofo Mountain Villa (卧佛山庄) on the south hillside of the Wall
3) Walking from the 23rd Tower on the west of the Mutianyu Great Wall.
So you have three starting points – Xizhazi Village, Wofo Mountain Villa and Mutianyu Great Wall. Which starting point to choose?
If you are in a process of Mutianyu Great Wall hike, and at the same time you’d like to have a glimpse of Jiankou Great Wall, you may choose to walk from the western tip ( the 23rd tower) of Mutianyu Great Wall and then walk on the wild apart of Jiankou Great Wall;
If you want to save your energy on the hillside climbing and put your energy on the wall hike itself, you’d better choose to start from Xizhazi Village since the walk from Xizhazi Village to the Arrow Nock (Jiankou) only takes about half hour while scrambling up from Wofo Mountain Villa takes 1.5 – 2 hours.
Look at the Jiankou Tourist Map below for a clear picture of the Wall.
Though the mountain climbing from Wofo Mountain Villa up to the Arrow Nock (Jiankou) – the lower part of Jiankou Great Wall, there are still many travelers use this passage to reach Jiankou Great Wall either because Wofo Mountain Villa has better food service and accommodation facilities since it is a holiday resort and also because hiring a van from Huairou District to Wofo Mountain Village is cheaper than to Xizhazi Village.
Wofo Mountain Villa is not far from the entrance to Mutianyu Great Wall，and can be reached by hiring a van from the downtown Huairou District ( about 30 yuan per person).
We recommend you go to Xizhazi Village to start your one day or 2 day Jiankou Great Walk hike.
How to Get to Xizhazi Village (西栅子村)
Xizhazi Village is located on the foot of the north hillside of Jiankou Great Wall. The village is administrated by Badaohe Township, 30km northwest of Huairou District and Huairou District is about 70 km north of Beijing city center.
To enter the village, you need to purchase an entry ticket of 20 yuan, and the ticket is not for visiting the village nor Jiankou Great Wall since Jiankou Great Wall is free of charge as it is a wild section. The 20 yuan entrance fee is paid for Heituoshan Scenic Area (黑坨山风景区) which is situated in the village. Heituoshan is the second highest peak in Huairou District, just 4 km north of Xizhazi Village facing Jiankou Great Wall to its south.
Xizhazi Village has become a base for Jiankou Great Wall enthusiasts. They eat and stay here. One family in the village with the surname of “Zhao” (赵) is most popular with hikers and photographers who amiably nickname their farm courtyard as “A Photographers’ Home”. They kindly call the host of the family as “Lao Zhao” ( old Zhao ).
If you are going to have a 2-day Jiankou hike tour, you may stay here in Zhao’s home by calling him in advance – 61611762. Add： No.47 Jiushuikeng Xizhazi Village, Yanqi Town Huairou District, Huairou, Beijing （北京市怀柔区雁栖镇西栅子村旧水坑47号）
That said, how to get to the village? Early in the morning at 7:00 am, you take the bus 919 or 936 from Dongzhimen Transportation Hub to downtown Huairou District where you share a van ( 40 – 60 yuan per person ) for Xizhazi Village ( or Heituoshan Scenic Area ) – 西栅子村(黑坨山风景区).
Hike Jiankou Great Wall to Mutianyu in One Day (Moderate)
Jiankou Great Wall, especially the west 10 km part of the Wall is dangerous and treacherous. For many international tourists, not well prepared with hiking gear, we only suggest to hike the east part of the wall, comparatively mild and secure. The current Jiankou – Mutianyu Great Wall hike day tour is most sought after and very popular among international travelers.
Xizhazi Village has 6 natural sub-villages (or Teams). If you are going to walk from Jiankou Great Wall to Mutianyu Great Wall, you will start from the No.02 Team also known as Nanjili Village. Let your driver drop you off at the Nanjili Village of Xizhazi Village (西栅子村南吉利).
The most difficult part of the hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu is the scramble from the No.02 Team of Xizhazi Village (615m sea level) up to Zhengbeilou Tower ( 975m sea level). This one hour uphill climb is done along steep bushy mountain path in a beautiful pine forest. Very often you have to have your hands on rocks, roots, and bushes for balance.
Zhengbeilou Tower is most visited by Jiankou hikers, a starting point for the walk eastwards Mutianyu. Standing on Zhengbei Tower, have a look at the Upward Flying Eagle Tower, Sky Ladder on the west. On the northeast, you will clearly see the Upturn “U” Wall – the Ox Horn Edge Wall. If you don’t have strong legs, you may take a short cut to circumvent it.
It is a scenic walk from Zhengbeilou to the 23th tower of Mutianyu Great Wall. Steep slopes with loose bricks and stones also add the difficulty of your climbing the Ox Horn Edge Wall up and down. So just skip the the Ox Horn Edge Wall by walking a short cut along a dirt path below the wall instead of hiking uphill along the crumbling steep brickwork.
The rest of the hike is relatively manageable though you still have to walk through the crumbling brickwork with many soil-grown obstacles, the totally unrestored section of the Wall. Walking up and down, twists and turns. In 2 hours, you will reach the 23th watch tower, the final restored tower on Mutianyu Great Wall.
Mutianyu Great Wall is a restored wall with 23 watch towers snaking along the ridge from the first watch tower in the east up to the final tower (23th tower) in the west,which is linked to Jiankou Great Wall on its west.
If you feel tired after walking directly from Zhengbeilou Tower, you may take a cable car down to the hill from the cable car station below the 14th Watch Tower at Mutianyu Great Wall.
If you have strong legs, you may walk downhill from the 10 or 8th watch tower, or you may walk to the 6th tower where you are able either to take a cable car or toboggan downhill. Cable car: RMB60. At the time of my writing, no need to buy the entrance ticket for Mutianyu Great Wall if you walk from Jiankou Great Wall.
Hike Jiankou Great Wall in 2 Days (Challenging)
Two-day Jiankou Great Wall hikers are either seasoned travelers or adventure-takers. They both come here, well prepared or fully armed, for the most dangerous part of the wall – the 10 km Beijing Knot to Arrow Nock (Jiankou) part of Jiankou Great Wall.
Many of them would choose to stay overnight at Zhao’s home ( Host: Mr. Zhao Fuqing) in the Team 5 ( or Jiushuikeng Sub-Village ) of Xizhaizi Village ( 西栅子村旧水坑).
Add: No.47, Jiushuikeng, Xizhazi Village, Yanqi Town, Huairou District, Beijing (北京市怀柔区雁栖镇西栅子村旧水坑47号)
Day One: Xizhazi Village – Jiankou (Arrow Nock) – Sky Ladder – Upward Flying Eagle Tower – Xizhazi Village
Get up early and take the bus 919 to Hairou where share a van for Xizhazi Village. Ask your driver to drop you off at Team 5 ( or Jiushuikeng ) of Zizhazi Village. Take a short break at Zhao’s Family Home, and start your first day hike to Jiankou.
First have a less than one hour’s walk from Zhao’s home to the low part of the wall – Jiankou ( Arrow Nock), then start the hike from Jiankou (Arrow Nock ) west to the Sky Ladder ( See the map above). The Sky Ladder is difficult to climb, narrow just for one person to pass with a slope of 70-80 degrees.
Climb over the Sky Ladder, you continue west and you will conquer the most difficult part – the Upward Flying Eagle Tower. As the name suggests, the tower is the highest point along Jiankou Great Wall, even hard for an eagle to fly over. Take great care since the tower is built on the tip of the mountaintop, crumbling and treacherous, you need to take great care! . After climbing over the tower, choose a short cut back to Xizhazi Village.
Day Two: Xizhazi Village – Beijing Knot – Xizhazi Village
Today you will start up for Beijing Know from Xizhazi Village. Beijing Knot is the most northwest tower along Jiankou Great Wall, high above the mountain.
Actually three sections of the wall intersect here at the tower, hence the name of Beijing Knot – one goes to the 9-Eye Tower of the Great Wall running further to the north; the second going west to Huanghuacheng Great Wall and Jiankou itself on the east.
Alternatively, today you may choose to hike from Jiankou Great Wall to Mutianyu Great Wall for a moderate hike.
5. Personal Equipment
1. Good shoe wear and thick socks
3. Cap, sun-glasses, sunscreen
4. Bottles of water, snacks, pocket knife
5. Lip balm and first aid kit
7. Carry bottles of water in your travel bags.
8. Wear pants and long-sleeves even in summer to hike through jungles and bushes.
9. Toilet paper.
6. Important Tips and Notice
1. Leave nothing but prints, take nothing but photos
2. Avoid bad or extreme weathers: rain, storm, lightening and foggy days.
3. Use a local tour guide or a local villager as your guide. Don’t recommend solo travel.
4. Take great care since some walls are crumbling and treacherous.
How to Visit Great Wall of China
How to Get to Badaling Great Wall by Train
How to Get to Badaling Great Wall by Bus
How to Get to Simatai Great Wall & Gubei Water Town
How to Visit Mutianyu Great Wall
How to Visit Great Wall of China in Winter
How to Visit Great Wall of China Wheelchair Accessible
Tip: Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:
Mutianyu Great Wall Group Day Tour
Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Private Tour
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Tour
Hike from Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall Tour
Hike from Jinshanling to Simatai Great Wall West Tour
Badaling Great Wall + Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour
Badaling Great Wall and Underground Palace Day Tour
Badaling Great Wall + Forbidden City + Tiananmen Square Day Tour
Hiking Cross the Wild Great Wall at Shixiaguan
Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites
Any questions, just drop a line.