Archive for the ‘Beijing Attractions’ Category

7 not-to-be-missed UNESCO sites in Beijing

Monday, September 28th, 2020
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

UNESCO World Heritage Centre annually selects places of special cultural or physical significance with universal value to humanity by putting them on the World Heritage List aimed at protecting them for future generations to see, touch and appreciate.

Beijing is a city with a total of 7 heritage sites listed in the UNESCO List. This is evidence of Beijing’s splendid culture and long history, an important part of the total 55 UNESCO sites in China, making Beijing one of the most visited destinations in China.

Planning your Beijing tour? Interested in knowing which are the 7 UNESCO sites in Beijing? Here is the list of the 7 UNESCO sites in Beijing.

1.Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian 周口店北京猿人遗址
Located 42 km south-west of Beijing, Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian is home to the remains of Sinanthropus pekinensis, who lived in the Middle Pleistocene and remains of Homo sapiens sapiens dating back to 18,000–11,000 B.C along with various objects.

The site is an essential reminder of the prehistorical human societies of the Asian continent, an testament to the process of evolution. It was added to the UNESCO List in 1987.

Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian

Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian

The site was discovered and explored in 1921 by the Swedish geologist J. G. Anderson. In 1926, a cave of hominid teeth and a whole skull were explored by the Chinese archaeologist Pei Wen Zhong.

Later Some 100,000 objects, including rough chipped stone tools, heat-affected stones, burnt bones, ash deposits, etc., as well as fossilized grains, were found.

Admission: 30 Yuan
Add: Zhoukoudian, Fangshan District, Beijing
Opening hours: 8:30 a.m – 4:40 p.m.(all year round)
Beijing Day Tour with Peking Man Site
How to get there
Public bus: Take Bus 917 from Tianqiao Bus Terminal and get off at Fangshan (房山), then change for the local bus 38 and alight at the site of Peking Men.

2. Great Wall of China 长城
The original section of the Great Wall of China goes back as early as 220 B.C., under China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who ordered the construction of the sections of earlier fortifications.

Later the fortifications were joined together to form a united defence project against invasions from the nomadic north. The Construction went on till the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

The total 22,000 km long Great Wall of China was included as the site of UNESO Cultural Heritage in 1987 for its superb military architecture, technology and art of ancient China.
Check out How to Visit Great Wall of China.

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall around Beijing is an essential part of the Great Wall of China, mostly built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), and The most powerful Yuan Dynasty (1271 A.D – 1368 A.D) and the last Qing Dynasty (1644 A.D – 1911 A.D) did nothing about the building of the Great Wall since they were “barbarians” against whom the Great Wall of China had been built, supposed to keep them from invading and looting.

Now having a Great Wall Tour has become a must for visitors coming to Beijing for the first time. If you visit the Great Wall for the first time, basically you need to plan ahead to know when to visit, which section to visit and how to visit. You can either travel independently doing all the researching on your own or turn to a local travel agency.

3. Forbidden City 故宫
Located in the heart of Beijing, the north of Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty (1368 – 1911), home to 14 Ming and 10 Qing emperors over the following 505 years.

The Forbidden City, now known as the Palace Museum has about 1000 rooms and landscaped gardens, a priceless testament to Chinese civilization during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

It was declared UNESCO Heritage site in 1987 for its masterpieces in the development of imperial palace architecture in China.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Note: Monday is still open during Chinese Public Holidays
April 1st – October 31 ( 8:30 – 17:00 ) Admission: 6 Yuan
Last Entry at 16:10
Tickets sold until 16:00

November 1st – March 31 (8:30 – 16:30) Admission: 40 yuan
Last Entry at 15:40
Tickets sold until 15:30

By Subway ( to south gate ): Take Line 1 and get off at Tian’an men East or Tian’an men West
Check Forbidden City Travel Tips for more information.

4. Summer Palace 颐和园
Located 10km in the northwest of Beijing, Summer Palace was once the largest imperial garden in Beijing. It is a vast expanse of lakes, gardens and palaces dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake.

It was originally built in 1750, largely destroyed in the war of 1860 and restored on its original foundations in 1886.

It was inscribed as UNESCO Heritage site in 1998 for its masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design, a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.
Check How to Visit Summer Palace for more information.

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

High Season (From April 1 to Oct. 31) Admission: 30 Yuan
Open: 6:30
Tickets stop selling at 18:00;
Close: 20:00

Low Season (From Nov. 1 to Mar. 31 next year) Admission: 20 Yuan
Open: 7:00
Tickets stop selling at 17:00;
Close: 19:00

How to get to Summer Palace by subway

1. Subway Line 4:
Take subway line 4 to the northwest direction and get off at the last but one of Beigongmen (北宫门) and exit from Exit D and walk to the west, soon you will see the north gate ( Beigongmen Gate )to Summer Palace 颐和园 (entrance fee:RMB30) on your left side.

2. Subway Line 10
Take subway line 10 to Bagou station at the end of Line 10, and then get a taxi from outside the station to the New Palace Gate (新建宫门). Or you may just walk for about 1.5km from Bagou Station to the New Palace Gate.

Get off Bagou Station, follow your nose, you will meet a river, then turn right and walk along the river bank till the New Palace Gate of Summer Palace. If confused upon which way to go upon leaving the subway, just follow the crowd.

5. Temple of Heaven 天坛
The Temple of Heaven (Tiantan) is located in the southeast of central Beijing. It was an imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing visited by the emperors in Ming and Qing dynasties for praying for good harvest annually.

It was originally built from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who had the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Check How to Visit Temple of Heaven for more information.

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

It is an ensemble of religious buildings and landscape gardens. The Temple of Heaven was listed as UNESCO World Heritage in 1998 for its masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world’s great civilizations.

Gate:6:00-22:00
The main buildings inside the park
From March 1 to June 30: 8:00 – 17:30
From July 1 to October 31: 8:- 18:00
From November 1 to February 28: 8:00 – 17:00
Entrance Fee: 15 yuan ( high season ) and 15 yuan (low season)
Kindly reminder: Through tickets selling is stopped at 16:00

Get to Temple of Heaven by subway: Take subway line 5 and get off at East Temple of Heaven Station (Tiantan Dongmen Station ) and take exit A. The East Gate entrance is right there. For the public buses to the east gate, you may try bus 6, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43.

6. Ming Tombs 明十三陵
Located around 43km northwest of central Beijing, the Ming tombs are a group of mausoleums built in Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). The Ming Tombs in Beijing are collectively known as the Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty since there are totally thirteen Ming emperors buried here.

Dingling ( One of the Mng Tombs)

After the construction of the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) in 1420, the Yongle Emperor, the third emperor in Ming Dynasty started to chooset his burial site and built his own mausoleum.

His successive emperors had their tombs in the same place. The site of Ming Tombs is added to UNESCO World Heritage in 2003 for their cultural and architectural tradition and their integration into the natural environment.
Check out How to Visit the Ming Tombs for more information.

Entrance Fees:
Changling Tomb: RMB 30 (November.01 – March. 31); RMB 45 (April. 01 – October. 31) Dingling Tomb: RMB 40 (November.01 – March. 31); RMB 60 (April. 01 – October. 31) Zhaoling Tombe: RMB 20 (November.01 – Machr. 31); RMB 30 (April. 01 – Oct. 31)
Sacred Way: RMB 20/30)
Opening Hours:
Changling Tomb: 08:30 – 17:30 Dingling Tomb: 08:30 – 18:00 Zhaoling Tomb 8:30 – 17:30
Sacred Way: 8:30 – 18:00
Tickets stop selling about half a hours before the tombs are closed
How to get to Dingling Tomb: Take the Bus 872 from Deshengmen Bus Terminal

7. Grand Canal 大运河
The Grand Canal Hangzhou is the final section of the Grand Canal ( China ), also known as Beijing-Hangzhou (Jinghang) Grand Canal.

It is oft-lauded as the earliest and longest artificial waterway in the world starting from Beijing in the north and ending at Hangzhou in the south for a total length of 1776 km. It is the world’s largest and most extensive civil engineering project prior to the Industrial Revolution.

Grand Canal

Grand Canal

On June 22, 2014, the Grand Canal was listed as the site of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.

It is the 46th world heritage in China including 27 sections and 58 elements of the Grand Canal with a length of 1011 km. The world heritage crowned Grand Canal covers 6 provinces, 2 municipalities and 25 prefecture-level cities.

06611Tip:  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:

Beijing Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in 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

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line

Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking

Friday, August 28th, 2020
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

My co-worker Paul Song and I successfully made a six-hour trek from Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall. It is our first time hiking Gubeikou Great Wall and marching from Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall on the same day.

It was a great experience! I’m going to jot down the six-hour hiking, which may be useful for those who are also planning their trip to Gubeikou Great Wall and the most challenging tramp from Gubeikou to Jinshanling as well.

At 7:30am we three, including our driver – Mr.Liu, started for Gubeikou. We drove along Jingcheng Expressway (Beijing – Chengde Expressway) and got off the expressway at Exit 24 (Simatai Great Wall Exit). After paying the toll fee (RMB 60 for a van ), we turned left at the first traffic light, which is just about 100 meters away from the toll gate.

Not long, we came across a traffic sign board pointing to two directions – Simatai Great Wall (2.5km) and G101. So if you are going to visit Simatai Great Wall, then you turn right at the traffic sign board; For going to Gubeikou Great Wall,  follow your nose and drive along G101 (National Highway No. 101), which leads to Gubeikou.

The 10km-drive from Exit 24 of Jingcheng Expressway to G101 is very idyllic. We passed through several villages before we got to G101 linking Gubeikou County. It was another 10km’s drive along G101 before we arrived at the Gubeikou Village at the foot of Gubeikou Great Wall. The total 150km drive took us about 2.5 hours.

Googling “Gubeikou Great Wall”, there are tons of articles introducing Gubeikou Great Wall on the internet, but most of them are quite confusing and misleading! It seems that few of the writers have been here, contributing to the puzzling articles about Gubeikou Great Wall on the net.

At the gate of Gubeikou Village we met Mr. Wang Jian, the deputy of Gubeikou Scenic and Cultural Heritage Tourism. He said that in ancient times Gubeikou Great Wall was composed of the present four sections of the Great wall snaking from east to westm namely, Simatai Great Wall, Jinshanling Great Wall, Panlongshan Great Wall and Wohushan Great Wall extending over 20 kilometers with over 143 watch towers and beacon towers.

The name of “Gubeikou” has existed for over one thousand years while other four names of “Simatai Great Wall”, “Jinshanling Great Wall”, “Panlongshan Great Wall” and “Wohushan Great Wall” only appeared some 20 years ago when local governments were keen on developing Great wall tourism and making different names for the “bits” of the Wall both from economic and administrative perspectives.

In a narrow sense, today’ Gubeikou Great Wall is only 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 they refer to Panlongshan Great Wall, more popularly known as “Gubeikou Great Wall”.

The entry to Panlongshan Great Wall is inside the Gubeikou Village under the administration of Gubeikou Township, which boasts one of the most beautiful villages around Beijing.

In fact, there are two starting points to hike Panlongshan Great Wall: an official one where you have your tickets collected; the other is more challenging starting point for more time-consuming and energy demanding hike. We chose the unofficial one. We paid RMB 25 each for the entry tickets, which later turned out to totally unnecessary since nobody bothered to collect our tickets higher on the mountains.

With the help of local farmers, we finally located the unofficial starting place for the 6-hour hike. Here are some tips for you to find the starting point. Entering the Gubeikou Village, and walking for about two hundred meters, you will see a road sign board in Chinese with four arrows pointing to two directions. Don’t follow the arrow pointing to 蟠龙山长城(Panlongshan Great Wall) if you prefer more challenging hike. So follow the two arrows contradictory to the arrow pointing to the officially opened section of Panlongshan Great Wall.

Walking up the slope for about 100 meters on your right roadside, you will find “an arrow painted in blue”, that’s your starting point!! It is said that the mark was done a half-year ago by a group of foreign tourists who did the long march from Panlongshan to Jinshanling Great Wall. Later, these marks turned out to be a huge help for us to fulfill the trek.

It was a fine day with temperatures between 11 and 25 degrees Celsius, a perfect day for Great Wall hiking. The endless azure sky and brilliant sunshine combine to create a backdrop for the grandeur mountains and the Wall.

 

The painted blue arrow on the roadside is the starting point for our 6-hour long march.

Before we did the hike, I had googled some information on Gubeikou Great Wall and learned that 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).

I think on our feet is the Northern Qi Dynasty Great Wall largely made of mud instead of stones in Ming dynasty. So for this section, we were more like climbing a hill than the Wall.

. So for this section, we were more like climbing a hill than the Wall.

Atop a mound, we had a clear view of the Wohushan Great Wall on our west side and the Gubeikou Township in the valley ( not Gubeikou Village). The Gubeikou Village was on the south down below.

Atop a mound, we had a clear view of the Wohushan Great Wall on our east side and the Gubeikou Township in the valley .

The Gubeikou Village was on the south down below.

The Gubeikou Village was on the south down below.

The Ming Dynasty Wall in the north runs shoulder to shoulder to the Qi dynasty Wall under our feet.

The Ming Dynasty Wall in the north runs shoulder to shoulder to the Qi Dyansty Wall under our feet.

A sign board and a painted blue arrow pointing to the way to the Ming Dynasty Wall snaking on the hill in the north. Thus we ended our hike on the Qi Dynasty Wall and started to walk down, hike through the deep valley and climb up to the Ming dynasty Wall at a distance.

A sign board and a painted blue arrow pointing to the way to the Ming Dynasty Wall.

At first, we were a little scared of the trek in the deep valley up to the hill in the north where the paralleled Ming Dynasty Great Wall lies. But the trek turned out to be a highlight.

On the zigzag mountain trail and in the bushes, we came across lots of jujube and hawthorn trees laden with fruits. Eating fresh fruits added much delight to the dull and hard walk in the valley.

we came across lots of jujube and hawthorn trees laden with fruits.

 

It took us half an hour to clear of the bushy valley and up on to the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.

It took us half hour to clear of the bushy valley and up on to the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.

 

On the Wall

 

On the Wall

 

I took a stereotyped photo before the Coiled Dragon Mountain Great Wall ( Panlongshan Great Wall).

The wall is a piece of art

 

Trek ahead on the Wall

This is the last watch tower: 24-window tower, also the end of the accessible Panlongshan Great Wall. The further section of the Wall is forbidden for hiking for it is within the military zone.

This is the last watch tower: 24-window tower.

 

The further section of the Wall is forbidden for hiking for it is within the military zone. So up to now the hiking of the whole accessible section of Panlongshan Great Wall took us three hours!

The further section of the Wall is forbidden for hiking for it is within the military zone. So up to now the hiking of the whole accessible section of Panlongshan Great Wall took us three hours!

We had to make a detour by the forbidden wall, again went down to the deep valley and began our three-hour mountain hike along the Wall.

We had to make a detour by the forbidden wall, again went down to the deep valley and began our three-hour mountain hike along the Wall

This was our second valley trek, which turned out to be much tougher and challenging than the previous one. We were totally submerged in the bushes. The mountain trail was muddy and slippery.

The mountain trail was muddy and slippery.

Coming across a corn field. We saw some local farmer collected ripe corns.

Coming across a corn field. We saw some local farmers collecting ripe corns.

On the way, we also met a local farmer surnamed Zhou. He was herding sheep. He said he could serve as a guide to help us to get to our destination – Jinshanling Great Wall and the Jinshanling Hotel.

He gave his mobile – 13313283029. So next time if you are in trouble finding your way to Jinshanling, you can call him by paying him a small sum of money.

On the way, we also met a local farmer surnamed Zhou.

He was right! Ahead of us there was no arrows pointing to the right direction to our destination. It was a private farmland and marks are not allowed! We totally lost our way and had to turn to a local farmer for help.

We totally lost our way and had to turn to a local farmer for help.

We were making the road toward our destination – Jinshanling Hotel.

We were making the road toward our destination – Jinshanling Hotel

Climbed over the last mountain, we saw Jinshanling Hotel in the valley. We made it!

Climbed over the last mountain, we saw Jinshanling Hotel in the valley. We made it!

Finally we ended our 6-hour hellish march from Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall  at 5:00pm. But it’s not the end for us, it’s a new beginning since our next travel plan was to watch the sunset on the Great Wall, or specifically on the Jinshanling Great Wall. We were reminded by the ticket collector that the sun would drop below the horizon or the Wall in 20-30 minute! if missing the sunset, we would  have to wait for next day, which was impossible due to my heavy schedule.

Not allowing ourselves to take a short break, we had to restart our walking engine and quickened the walking speed, trying to occupy a better place on the wall to view the sunset. More haste,less speed!  I suddenly felt trembling and twitching in the legs muscles as a result of the broken balance of the continued walking speed in the past 6 hours. I had to stop, bended and sat on the roadside massaging my two legs.

The temptation of capturing the glowing sunset was so great, that I had no time to spoil myself and limped with lame legs from the entrance to the base of Jinshanling Great Wall. While again clambering up the wall, I was out of breath and pooped. Perseverance is victory! I passed through 4 watch towers on the west section of Jinshanling Great Wall non-stop and located a good site for my sunset photographing.

There had been already a great number of people dotting here and there on the “bits” of the Wall waiting to see and shoot beautiful sunset photos. Most of them were professional photographers heavily armed with high quality cameras, outperforming my EOS 500D to a great extent, of which I took pride. Compared with these “crazy” photographers, I appeared like a silly farm boy. But this never dampened my enthusiasm to view the sunset with my good eyesight as well as my clumsy shooting skill.

The sun slowly descended and disappeared behind the horizon combined with the mountains and the Wall in a distance, a perfect backdrop for a sunset. The dazzling sunset color bursts and paints the sky with bright hues. I pictured the sunsets through a window of a watch tower. The sunset was amazing. The red ball of fire slowly dropped below the mountains coating the Wall with dazzling and beautiful hues.

Mountains and the Wall as a backdrop for the sunset

 

A framed Great Wall sunset

The Wall was coated with orange hues

Armed photographers on the Wall

The Wall overlooking the sunset

Hike from Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall Day Tour from US$85 p/p

Hassle-free Great Wall Guided ToursDon’t want to go the do-it-yourself route? No worries, We at Tour Beijing have some options for guided tours to Great wall Tours:

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

Add on:
Visit Badaling Great Wall by Train
Visit Mutianyu Great Wall by Bus

Any questions, just drop a line.

Top 8 Sections of the Great Wall around Beijing

Monday, August 24th, 2020
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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 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 Wall. But today 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 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 partly 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 because 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 Leisure & business 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 cut 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 features 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 who 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 extremely 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 insurance 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 average 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 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.

06611Tip:  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:

Beijing Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in 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

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.