Archive for the ‘Great Wall Tours Review’ Category

Peach Blossoms at Jiankou Great Wall

Thursday, April 14th, 2016
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Jiankou Great Wall is one of the most ruined and treacherous sections of the Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty ( 1368 – 1644). It meanders along the mountain ridges at the sea-level of 1141 meters in Badaohe Township.  Xizhazi Village is located below the massive Jiankou Great Wall, about 38km northwest of Huairou District and 120km north of downtown Beijing.

The whole chunk of the winding Wall looks like the shape of “W”,  similar to a full bow, hence the name of Jiankou which literally means “Arrow Nock”. In the past few years Jiankou Great Wall has become the most photogenic of all the sections around Beijing due to its rugged and overgrown bits of the Wall perched on the steep cliffs and peaks.  Jiankou Great Wall is the most wanted place for photographers and hiking enthusiasts.

“Spring Flowers”, “Sea of Clouds”, “Golden Autumn” and “Snow Scene” are the four wonders of Jiankou Great Wall. Mid-April is the best time to see spring flowers, or specifically the peach blossoms in Jiankou Great Wall.

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

We suggest you start from Zhengbeilou Watchtower on Jiankou Great Wall ( 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.

For more information on the hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu, check out the link: Walk from Jiankou Great Wall to Mutianyu Great Wall.

Attached below some photos of the peach blooming Jiankou Great Wall.

The Upward Flying Eagle Tower and Sky Ladder viewed from Zhengbeilou Tower

The Upward Flying Eagle Tower and Sky Ladder viewed from Zhengbeilou Tower


Peach Flowers around the famous Zhengbeilou Tower

Peach Flowers around the famous Zhengbeilou Tower


Peach Blossoms along the rugged Jiankou Great Wall

Peach Blossoms along the rugged Jiankou Great Wall


Wild Blooming Peach trees overgrown on the Wall

Wild Blooming Peach trees overgrown on the Wall


Peach blossoms on the rugged Wall

Peach blossoms on the rugged Wall


Peach blossoms on the rugged Wall

Peach blossoms on the rugged Wall


Snow-like Peach blossoms blanket the Wall and the mountain

Snow-like Peach blossoms blanket the Wall and the mountain


Spring flowers at Mutianyu Great Wall

Spring flowers at Mutianyu Great Wall

All the photos from internet, any questions, just drop a line.

How to Visit Jiankou Great Wall

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
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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.

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.

1. 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.

Jiankou Great Wall

Jiankou Great 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.

2. 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 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.

Zhao’s Home in Xizhazi Village

Zhao’s Home in Xizhazi Village

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).

3. How to Visit Jiankou Great Wall in One Day
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 ( 975m sea level)

Zhengbeilou Tower ( 975m sea level)

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 relatviely 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, wists 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.

4. How to Visit Jiankou Great Wall in 2 Days
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 ( Tel:61611762;Host: Mr. Zhao Fuqing) in the Team 5 ( or Jiushuikeng Sub-Village ) of Xizhaizi Village ( 西栅子村旧水坑).

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.

Up to the Upward Flying Eagle Tower

Up to the Upward Flying Eagle Tower

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.

the Sky Ladder

the Sky Ladder

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.

Beijing Knot

Beijing Knot

Alternatively, today you may choose to hike from Jiankou Great Wall to Mutianyu Great Wall.

5. Personal Equipment
1. Good shoe wear and thick socks
2. Sticks
3. Cap, sun-glasses, sunscreen
4. Bottles of water, snacks, pocket knife
5. Lip balm and first aid kit
6. Mobile
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 extrem 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.

Add on
Jiankou Great Wall Map
Jiankou Great Wall
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Any questions,  just drop a line.

How to dress for visiting Great Wall in winter

Saturday, August 30th, 2014
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Planning your Great Wall Tour  in winter? You may have been told that winter is not the right season for visiting Great Wall, but for whatever the reasons, you happen to hike the Great Wall of China during the cold season, so you are now a bit on the fence about visiting the Great Wall.

Well, everything has its two sides. The so-called best seasons often see the Great Wall mobbed by the numerous tourist group and you may waste much of your valuable time on the way from your hotel to the Wall (traffic jam). On the Wall, you have to take group photos since there are a great number of people on the Wall.

Walking from Jiankou Great Wall to Mutianyu Great Wall  in winter.

Jiankou to Mutuanyu

Jiankou to Mutianyu Winter Hike

Great Wall winter hike has its advantages – the tourist crowds are gone so you can walk along the Great Wall hassle free. The prices are lower for Great Wall transportation and admission.

Of course, hiking the Great Wall is a bit daunting if you are unlucky to visit the Wall on a cold and blusterous day. If well dressed for the winter Wall hikes, visiting the Great Wall in winter is still not a bad idea. We’re going to share with you some ideas on how to dress for Great Wall winter hikes. Dressing for the season and having the right clothing items for colder temperature on the Wall.

1. Check historical climate data and weather forecast
Before leaving for Beijing,  you’d better check Beijing’s historical climate data ( day by day temperature ) to get a general assessment of the weather condition on your actual hiking date. Beijing’s winter normally starts from mid-November through mid-March. Check out the following Beijing’s historical climate data on the winter months in Beijing:

How to Visit Beijing in November                       How to Visit Beijing in December
How to Visit Beijing in January                            How to Visit Beijing in February
How to Visit Beijing in March

In winter Beijing has short days, dark 4-5 pm. The ticket selling for major attractions is closed after 4.30pm. The sights stay open all year round. When you arrive, don’t forget to check the current weather broadcast in Beijing and choose your better day for visiting Great Wall in the cold month. You may also check out the following realtime weather photos to get a general idea of how the current weather looks like and how local people are dressed:

Beijing November Realtime Weather Photos   Beijing December Realtime Weather Photos
Beijing January Realtime Weather Photos        Beijing February Realtime Weather Photos
Beijing March Realtime Weather Photos

2. Dressing in Layers
A heavy coat gives you little opportunity to act or adjust in weather conditions. For the better hiking  and comfort, you need to dress in layers.

Base Layer
The purpose of wearing the first body layer is to make  your skin dry by removing moisture possibly produced by perspiring. Kindly remind you not to wear cotton base layer for it keeps the moisture,  leaving you disagreeably moist, sticky if you are sweating.  You’d better choose the shirts made from light merino wool or synthetic fibers.

Middle Layer
This middle layer is the insulation layer,  important for keeping your body warm.  For the same reason trying to avoid the cotton which dries slowly and select  sweaters, vests and jackets which are made of polyester fleece, warm and quick to dry.

Jacket Outer Layer
You need to have a waterproof or water-resistant outer layover to keep you from snow, rain, and wind. Try to have a warm jacket lightweight with good breathability. A warm jacket with zippers and vents is important for you to regulate your body temperature.

3. Feet Protection
Basically it is unnecessary to wear a pair of heavy hiking boots since most of the time you will walk on the stone steps on the wall. Avoid leather shoes which can freeze.  Looking for the shoes made from a mix of plastic and rubber. Basically sport shoes are ok for Great Wall hiking in winter. If you are going to hike the unrestored wild sections of the Wall, a pair of gaiters can add a measure of protection against the shrubs and bushes on the way.

Your feet also need layering too. It is essential to put on a pair of thin and tight-fitting socks that keep your feet dry and warm. Your outer layer socks should be also made from merino wool or synthetic material. Your outer layer socks should not be too thick otherwise they will reduce the circulation in your shoes.

4. Hands Protection
To keep your hands from become cracked, rough, or sore, you definitely need to have a pair of gloves to reduce  the risk of frostbite and chapping to your hands. Basically people prefer gloves than mittens, not having to expose your hands.

5. Head and Face Protection
It is a common knowledge that we lose our body heat through our heads, so we need to have a warm hat. It is essential to wear a hat with ear flaps, an ushanka, a Russian fur cap with ear flaps that can be tied up to the crown of the cap, keeping your ears from the cold. In addition, ready for a scarf to protect your face.

5. Where to buy the winter clothes?
For those who live in a warm climate, winter clothes are a bit hard to get from their home country. No worry about that. Hats, gloves, winter jackets and the list could be much longer, can be easily bought in Beijing. Going to Silk Market is a good choice to arm yourself for the winter tour in Beijing.

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.