Archive for the ‘Great Wall Tours Review’ Category

Simatai Great Wall Travel Tips

Saturday, August 29th, 2020
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 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.

Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking

Friday, August 28th, 2020
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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.

Beijing Great Wall Culture Research Institute

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020
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Planning your Great Wall tour? Now, finally the Great Wall around Beijing will be on the right path leading towards scientific protection and academic research — Beijing Great Wall Culture Research Institute will be set up to promote the scientific protection and utilization of the Great Wall.

Badaling Great Wall

Beijing Construction University and Beijing Municipal Bureau of Cultural Heritage sign a cooperation agreement aimed at jointly building “Beijing Research Institute of Great Wall Culture” to promote the construction of the Great Wall Cultural Belt and the Great Wall National Cultural Park and inherit the fine traditional Chinese culture.

The Beijing section of the Great Wall is not only the essence of the Great Wall of China, but also an important carrier of Beijing’s historical and cultural value and an important component of Beijing’s historical and cultural resources.

The construction of three cultural zones, including the Great Wall Cultural Zone, are included in the Overall Urban Plan of Beijing (2016-2035) for comprehensive promotion.

The establishment of Beijing Great Wall Culture Research Institute aims to make use of the cultural resources and academic strength of the capital universities, integrate and give play to their respective advantages, and expand the research field of Great Wall culture.

Beijing Construction University has a multidisciplinary research team on architectural heritage protection, which has accumulated many years of experience in the Great Wall heritage protection. Since 2005, the team has been involved in the Great Wall resources survey in Beijing and its surrounding villages, collected and sorted out all kinds of relevant data of the Great Wall, and completed a number of Great Wall related research and projects and planning and design tasks.

The Institute will carry out various research activities as the second-level research institution, a center for Beijing future urban design advanced Innovation Center under Beijing Construction University.

To build the two sides will make full use of the linstitutions of higher learning, expert teams, think-tanks, focued on round the Beijing Great Wall protection of strategic cooperation and related tasks.

The two sides will carry out more in-depth research and academic exchange activities on the preservation and inheritance of the Great Wall culture, and more extensive research teams home and abroad.

Hassle-free Great Wall Guided Tours

Don’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

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.