Archive for the ‘Beijing Excursions’ Category

Gubei Water Town‍

Sunday, March 7th, 2021
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Gubei Water Town (古北水镇)in Beijing is officially known as Beijing Miyun Gubei Water Town (Simatai) International Tourism Resort. It is not a historical water town, it is a replica of  Wuzhen Water Town in the Southern China.

Panoramic night view of Gubei Water Town

The Construction of Gubei Water Town

The water town is built on the former 5 sub natural villages of Simatai Village at the foot of Simatai Great Wall.  The displaced Simatai villagers have moved to the new apartments and townhouses in Simatai New Village, 1.5km west of the old Simatai Village.

This water town is situated in Gubei Township of Miyun County northeast of Beijing, hence the name of Gubei Water Town. It has a charming location with a massive backdrop of the world famous Simatai Great Wall and the romantic Yuanyang Lake ( Mandarin Duck ) below the wall.

The world famous Simatai Great Wall and the romantic Yuanyang Lake ( Mandarin Duck ) below the wall.

The Simatai village was developed from Simatai Castle built during the reign of Emperor Wanli ( 1573 -1620 ) in Ming Dynasty ( 1368 – 1644 ). So the Gubei Water Town resort is a rare combo of Great Wall, mountains, lakes and ancient Villages.

The Gubei Water Town holiday resort  takes an area of 9 square km and the scenic area of the water town resort occupies an area of 0.43 million square meters that is composed of Ming, Qing and Republic era style courtyards, two 5 star hotels, 6 boutique hotels, some B&B, restaurants and shops, as well as over 10 cultural exhibition areas with good facilities.

Gubei Water Town Sightseeing & Leisure Area

The sightseeing and leisure travel area of Gubei Water Town basically consists of 6 areas including Old Barracks Area,  Minguo Street Area (Republic of China Street ),  Water Street Area, Wonglong  Fort Folk Cultural Area, Tanghe Ancient Castle Area and Food & Accommodation Area.

1. Minguo Street Area (Republic of China Street ) 民国街区
When you cross the stone bridge spanning over the Tanghe River, you will come cross an east – west street known as Minguo Street ( literally meaning “Republic of China Street”) which is designed to duplicate a street in the time of Republic of China ( 1912–49).

Cross the stone bridge over the Tanghe River, you will see the Minguo Street.

It seems to me walking on the Minguo Street reminds me of Qianmen Street south of Tiananmen Square. Minguo Street is an open street free of charge outside the paid area. You will see banks, posts, markets, drug stores, clinics, book stores and more on the street.

2. Water Street Area 水街风情区
The Water Street Area is the highlight of Gubei Water Town.  It  brings vividly to life the water towns in Jiangnan ( the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River) represented by Wuzhen Water Town,  Zhouzhuang Water Town  and Tongli Water Town.

The waterfront houses, arch stone bridges, cobblestone and stone slab paths

It reproduces in the northern China  winding rivers, the waterfront houses, arch stone bridges, cobblestone and stone  slab paths,  old buildings and folk life. 

Yongshun Dyehouse

On the Water Street Area, you will visit Simagang Restaurant and Yongshun Dyehouse and other attractions.

Simagang Restaurant

3. Wonglong  Fort Folk Cultural Area 卧龙堡民俗文化区
Along the Tanghe River after the Water Street Area is Wolong Fort Folk Cultural Area. This area is focused on the presentation and preservation of the Chinese folk culture, especially the folk culture in the northern China.

In this area you will appreciate the Chinese traditional houses, Yangwudi Temple, the village theater stage,  Yinghua Academy of Classical Learning and more.

Yinghua Academy of Classical Learning and more.
Yinghua Academy of Classical Learning and more.

4. Tanghe Ancient Castle Area 汤河古寨区
Built along the branch of Tanghe River, the Tanghe Ancient Castle Area depicts the ancient fortress or castle life in Ming and Qing dynasties. In this area, you have the opportunity to experience the Eight Banner Guild and Zhenyuan Escort Agency.

Built along the branch of Tanghe River the Tanghe Ancient Castle Area depicts the ancient fortress or castle life in Ming and Qing dynasties
The Tanghe Ancient Castle Area

 5. Food & B&B Accommodation Area 民宿餐饮区
This is the Food & B&B Accommodation Area where you could find 400 B&B and bars.  Most of the B&B are built in the style of traditional hutong or courtyard in Beijing.

Most of the B&B are built in the style of traditional hutong or courtyard in Beijing.
Most of the B&B are built in the style of traditional hutong or courtyard in Beijing.

The interior of the Great Wall Bar at the foot of Simatai Great Wall.

The interior of the Great Wall Bar at the foot of Simatai Great Wall 11123
The interior of the Great Wall Bar at the foot of Simatai Great Wall 11123

6. Simatai Great Wall 司马台长城
The water town has a charming location with a massive backdrop of the world famous Simatai Great Wall. Simatai Great Wall is 5 km long with all together 28 watchtowers ( East 16 and West 12 ).

The night view of Simatai Great Wall

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.

The west section of the Simatai Great Wall

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.

Simatai Great Wall with autumn hues

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.

7. The Old Garrison Town  老营区
The Old Garrison Town Area is outside the Guebei Water Town proper.  It mainly refers to the old fortress or castle area built during the reign of Emperor Wanli ( 1573 -1620 ) in Ming Dynasty ( 1368 – 1644 ).

The Old Garrison Town ( or popularly known as Simatai Castle was a small fortified city where the soldiers  and their family members stationed and lived at the foot of Simatai Great Wall in Ming Dynasty. They were responsible for guiding Simatai Great Wall and watching the movements on the top.

In Ming Dynasty, garrisons were required to be self-sufficient on food supplies through local settlements.  So less than a third of a soldier’s time was spent on actual military duties. Instead, most of his time was spent on working on the fields. The present Simatai Village was developed from the old garrison town or Simatai Castle.

The Simatai Castle is located on the west of the huge parking area south of the south entrance to Gubei Water Town.  The Old Garrison Town is under renovation.

8. Hotels within Guobei Water Town 酒店和客栈
The Gubei Water Town have two 5 star hotels, 6 boutique hotel and quite some guesthouses.  Some hotels have been opened to the public, such as Wtown Hotel,  Wuzhen Hui Boutique Hotel,  Baqi Guesthouse, Biaoju Guesthouse, Liyuan Guesthouse,  Wolong Guesthouse and more.

Wtown Hotel is a 5 star hotel sitting on a hillside and by the Tanghe River. Based on the concept of the European castle and Chinese Great Wall Watch Tower,  Wtown Hotel has been built into a modern and massive construction palace that can be  viewed anywhere in the resort. Wtown Hotel has over 400 rooms including standard rooms, superior rooms, Great Wall View rooms, suites and presidential suites.

Liyuan Guesthouse is a theme guesthouse based on the stories from Peking Opera. Each guesthouse depicts one act from the stories in Peking Opera. It has totally 15 rooms sitting in a two-storey building.

Each guesthouse depicts one act from the stories in Peking Opera. It has totally 15 rooms sitting in a two-storey building.
Each guesthouse depicts one act from the stories in Peking Opera. It has totally 15 rooms sitting in a two-storey building.

 Gubei Water Town Entrance Fee  门票价格

1.  Entrance fee: RMB 150
Senior over 60 years old: Half Price

2. Opening Hours: 8:00- 17:00 (  ticket  selling till 16:30)

2. Simatai Great Wall: RMB 40  ( You need to book your ticket by phone one day in advance)

Ticket Booking Phone Number: 010 – 81009999

Note:
1.If you buy the ticket for Gubei Water Town, then you don’t need to book your Simatai Great Wall ticket one day in advance.
2. Gubei Water Town + Simatai Great Wall Combo Ticket: RMB 170
3. Cable car at Simatai Great Wall: RMB 80 (single); RMB120 (return)

Gubei Water Town Transportation 交通

Self-driving: Driving along Jingcheng Expressway and get off at the 24th Exit of Simatai. Then drive according to the roadside direction signboard for 2-5 munites.

Fixed Departure Direct Shuttle Service:
Timetable for the bus service from Donghzimen to Gubei Water Town:
Mon – Fri: 9:00, 12:00 and 15:30
Sat – Sun: 9:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:30
Location for Departure:
In Chinese: 出发地点:东直门外(公交站) 东直门公交枢纽站北侧 942、855路公交车场内
English: Departure: in the compound of Dongzhimen Wai Bus Terminal (also for Bus 942 and 855, and shuttles going Mutianyu Great Wall), 800 meters Northeast of the main building ( Dongzhimen Transport Hub).

Note: It is a bit tricky to find Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station. So how to get to Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station Compound ( 东直门外车站)?

The open-air Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station  Compound is about 800 meters away to the northeast of Dongzhimen Transport Hub. It is also a 10-minute’s walk ( 800 meters)from Exit E of Dongzhimen Subway Station.  You exit from Exit E of  Subway Line 2 at Dongzhimen, walk along Dongzhimen Wai Dajie (东直门外大街), then turn left and walk along Dongzhimen Wai Xiejie (东直门外斜街),  soon you will find the open-air bus station compound on your left side.

Timetable for the bus service from Gubei Water Town to Donghzimen
Mon – Fri: 12:00, 17:00 and 21:00 ( so the last bus leaving at 21:00 )
Sat – Sun: 12:00, 17:00, 19:00 and 21:00 (so the last bus leaving at 21:00)

Public Transportation:
Take public bus No.980 from Dongzhimen Transportation Hub and get off the stop of Gulou (Drum Tower) at Miyun County, then connect local bus  No.51 or 37 to Simatai Village.  Then walk to Gubei Water Town.

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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:

Simatai Great Wall & Gubei Water Town Day Tour   from US$85 p/p

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.

Simatai Great Wall Travel Tips

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather How to buy entrance tickets to Simatai Great Wall

1. If you are going to buy a through ticket both for Gubei Water Town and Simatai Great Wall, you don’t need to book your tickets in advance. You just go directly to the Gubei Water Town Tourist Center to buy your tickets.

2. If you are not interested in the artificial water town and prefer to buy the ticket for Simatai Great Wall separately, then you have to book your tickets one day in advance. You may book your tickets valid for next 10 days.  You also go to the Gubei Water Town Tourist Center to collect your Simatai tickets, then start for your hike escorted by a tour guide from Gubei Water Town tourist center on foot or take a golf cart to the starting point for Simatai Great Wall hike.

For Simaitai Great Wall only tourists, they are arranged to visit Simatai Great Wall in four departures per day – 09:00, 10:00, 13:00,14:00.

Booking hotline: 010 – 81009999 ( 09:00 – 17:00 ).

Simatai Great Wall Entrance Fee: RMB 40 from Jan 01 t0 Sept; Gubei Water Town Entrance fee: RMB 80 from Jan 01 to Sept 30. Opening Hours: 8:00- 17:00 (  ticket  selling till 16:30).

How to get to Simatai Great Wall

Self-driving: Driving along Jingcheng Expressway and get off at the 24th Exit of Simatai. Then drive according to the roadside direction signboard for 2-5 minute.

Public Transportation: Take public bus No.980 from Dongzhimen Transportation Hub and get off the stop of Gulou (Drum Tower) at Miyun County, then connect local bus  No.51 or 38 to Simatai Village.  Then walk to Gubei Water Town (1.5km).

How to Hike Simatai Great Wall

1. At the time of my writing, people are only allowed to hike the East Section from Tower 1 to 10. The West Section is still unopened.

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

3. If you have strong legs, you may first walk about 30 minutes from the tourist center to the first tower of the Wall, then hike all the way up to the 10th tower. You may hike down or take the cable car down the hill ( RMB 80 single way ).

4. If you don’t have strong legs, but still want to experience the length of Simatai Great Wall, you may first take the cable car up ( RMB 80 ) to the 8th tower, then walk down the wall. You still need to take great care when you hike down since some parts are very steep!

5. If you just want to have a look at the Wall and don’t want to climb the Wall, you may take the cable car up and down ( RMB 160). The cable station above is located on the hillside leading either to the 5th Tower and 8th Tower.

Where to dine and stay in Simatai area?

After your hike at Simatai, you may dine at Gubei Water Town ( suggest you go to the public area in Minguo Street – a not paid area inside the town).  Or you may go to the Simatai Village for home lunch or dinner, 1.5km west of the Gubei Water Town.

If you want to stay overnight in the Simatai area, you may stay inside the Gubei Water Town or Simatai Village. Gubei Water Town have 2 5-star hotels, 6 boutique hotels, and more guesthouses and B$B. For budget accommodation, you may choose to stay in a household in Simatai Village.

Travel Tips on what dress for seasonal hike

April, October, and earlier November: long shorts, overcoat; May, June, July and August: Summer dress – many T-shirts shorts; December, January and early February: winter hat with ear flap, ear warmers, gloves, scarf, warm jackets and the winter accessories.

Travel Tips for the attractions near Simatai Great Wall

Simatai Great Wall is located in Miyun County, 140km northeast of Beijing’s city center.  In Miyun County, you may also visit Changyu Chateau Beijing, Yumenshan Great Wall , Gubeikou Great Wall as well as Jinshanling Great Wall.

About the Hike from Jinshanling to Simatai Great Wall

The scenic hike from Jinshanling to the west section of Simatai Great Wall  is favored by many Great Wall hikers. Unfortunately, now the stretch from Jinshanling to Simatai is still unopened mainly due to the closure of the west section of Simatai Great Wall.  You have three options to substitute the missing hike.

1. You may hike  the 18 towers of the east section Jinshanling Great Wall to the beginning tower of the west section of Simatai.  You can arrange your driver to wait for you by the roadside of the short-cut to the last tower of the east section of Jinshanling.

The east section of Jinshanling Great Wall

The east section of Jinshanling Great Wall

2. You may hike from Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall, the most challenging and photogenic hike attracting many Great Wall hiking lovers.

Gubeikou Great Wall, like a Coiled Dragon.

Gubeikou Great Wall, like a Coiled Dragon.

3. You can walk from Jiankou Great Wall to Mutianyu Great Wall, the most impressive and photogenic hike around Beijing.

The scenic and photogenic Jiankou Great Wall

The scenic and photogenic Jiankou Great Wall

Some Simatai Great Wall Photos

There are 16 towers on the east section and 12 towers on the west section.  The west sections is still unopened while for the east section, people are only allowed to climb up to the 10th tower.

The West Section of Simatai Great Wall viewed from a high point on the East Section of Simatai Great Wall

The West Section of Simatai Great Wall

The West Section of Simatai Great Wall

Trudge up to the 6th and 7th tower on the East Section of Simatai Great Wall

Trudge up to the 6th and 7th tower

Trudge up to the 6th and 7th tower

Walking up to the 8th, 9th and 10th tower on the east section.  The 8th Tower is also known as White Cloud Tower. You may find a big hole on the tower. It is said the hole was blasted by the Japanese invaders during the second world war when they bombed the Great Wall.

I was standing by the 12th Tower with the backdrop of the forbidden section of Simatai Great Wall.

I was standing by the 12th Tower with the backdrop of the forbbiden section of Simatai Great Wall

I was standing by the 12th Tower with the backdrop of the forbidden section of Simatai Great Wall

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:

Simatai Great Wall & Gubei Water Town Day Tour from US7$85 p/p
Jinshanling & Simatai Great West Day Tour from US$5 p/p

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

Beijing Dinner & Night Boat Tour. from US$ 59P/P

Beijing by Night Illuminations Tour  from US$33 p/p

Beijing Hutong Highlight One Day Tour  from US$59 p/p

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)

Further Readings


How to visit Mutianyu Great Wall by bus.
Tips for Visiting Great Wall around Beijing
How to Visit Beijing in Winter
Visiting Great Wall by Train
Go to Badaling Great Wall by Bus
Great Wall Tour
Top 10 Markets in Beijing

Any questions, just drop a line.

Top 8 Sections of the Great Wall around Beijing

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby featherIf 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.