The Great Wall of China in Beijing

“He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man” Mao Zedong.

No trip to Beijing is complete without a trip to the Great Wall of China. It was one of 7 Wonders of the World, with its sheer length, and its even reported one of the man-made structure that can be seen from outer space. But which part do you want to go to?  There is few parts of the greatwall that we can visit from Beijing, the busy & popular Badaling, scenic Mutianyu, hike along Simatai or see wild HuanghuaCheng or Jiankou?  Come and expolore your favorite one!

from National Geographic

Badaling: 70km northwest from Beijing

The most popular and very crowded and has been completely restored. There is a cable car to help you up the wall. . The scenery  is impressive with the wall snakeing off over the hills in the distance. The two sections of the wall go in either direction, left or right, from the main entrance. Walk as far as you can in either direction and you will be rewarded by seeing the breathtaking veiw of seeing the wall winding over the hills

  • Open 6am – 10pm (summer), 7am – 6pm (winter)
  • Admission: RMB45
  • How to go there :
    • a direct train line from the Beijing North Train station takes 1 hour journey. When you arrive at the station you can either walk the 1 kilometer to the entrance or get one of the minivans or taxis that hang around the station
    • bus take about 90 minutes from Denshengmen Bus Station:taxi for a return trip, RMB400 approx.
      • Bus No. 919 ( Air Conditioner Bus ), Bus Fare: RMB 12
        The first Bus: 6:00am; The last bus: 6:30pm
      • Bus No. 919 ( common bus ), Bus Fare: RMB 8
        The first Bus: 6:00am; The last bus: 6:30pm

Mutianyu: 90km north of Beijing

A bit further out but less crowded.  This 3km section of the wall is not as busy as Badaling. The wall is built on the older Qi dynasty section (AD550-77)  and it not as heavily restored as the Badaling section. Offers a cable car and a chair lift to get up or down, and a toboggan slideway to get down. The scenery is wonderful with crumbling outposts seen on the hills in the back ground. There are also watch towers built into the wall itself.

  • Open 6.30am – 6pm. (Winter 7.30am – 6pm.)
  • Admission RMB45.
  • How to go there :
    • Buses from from the Dongzhimen Bus station. Operation Time: 6:00-20:00
      • Bus No. 916, Bus Fare: RMB 12
      • Mini Bus Fare: RMB 4
    • The easiest way is to hire a taxi for the trip there & back. Don’t go by the meter – negotiate a price for there & back & you pay the driver when you end your journey.

Simatai & Jinshanling : 110km northeast of Beijing

Located about 2.5-3 hours from Beijing, with more remote, less crowded and in a more “natural” state. Conditions are rougher than the above sections and it may be unsuitable for persons prone to vertigo because of its unguarded sheer drops. It is more steep & hazardous than other sections so bring your walking shoes and strength. Hike between Simatai and Jianshanling is quite popular and even tho it is only 10km it will take 4 to 5 hours to walk it. it is best to start at Jianshanling & walk back towards Simatai ( it makes it easier to return to Beijing). The trail through stunning mountain terrain is steep, rugged, stoney and wonderfully scenic and exhilarating. This section also has 24 watchtowers along the way.

  • Open 8am – 5pm. 
  • Admission for both parts :  RMB40. Chairlift available (but check if visiting between Dec- March).
  • How to go there :
    • bus from Dongzhimen Long distance bus station to Miyun and change to a mini bus or taxi to Simatai.  
      • Bus No. 980
        Bus Fare: RMB 15, Minibus Fare: 10
        Bus Operation Time: 6:00-18:00
    • negotiate a taxi there & back. aprox RMB 400 -600.

As of June 17 2010, SIMATAI section is CLOSED for restoration work which is expected to last two years. You can still walk from Jinshanling but will need to turn back where it meets the Simatai Section.

Huanghuacheng: 60km north of Beijing

Considered the “wild wall”, used to be the closest you could get to the “genuine” wall within a short distance from Beijing.  While spectacular, the wall clings to some steep hillsides – The scenery is breathtaking but keep in mind there are no guard rails and good shoes are needed to navigate some sections. This section is undergoing some restoration and the village now has a number of commercial facilities for visitors. .   You can also view this section of the wall from the Huangchuacheng Lakeside Reserve. Entrance is RMB25. The reservoir here is a pleasant place to walk around and particularly suitable for anyone who wants to see the wall without actually walking on it

  • How to go there :
    • a taxi from Beijing is best & get them to wait until you are finished.
    • a bus from the Dongzhimen Long-distance bus station to Huanghua, get off at Huanghuacheng. Some buses are slow so make sure you get one that goes via the Jingcheng express. Some buses also stop & you may need to transfer to a mini bus. Then taxi to the wall.

Juyongguan: 50km northwest from Beijing

Closest to Beijing so if you are in a rush and just want a quick peak at the wall this is it. Heavily renovated and not as scenic as other sections but the best place for a quickie option. Do a bit of a walk in under 2 hours.  Although most tour buses still go to Badaling, a number stop here and it is also quite busy. This section is stepped and a steep climb

  • Open 6am – 4pm
  • Admission RMB40.
  • How to go there :
    • the same bus that goes to Badaling, tell the bus driver this is where you want to get off.
    • a return taxi from Beijing

Jiankou (Arrow Nock):  Located on the mountain ridge of Xizhazi Village, it connects to Mutianyu in the east and joins Huanghua Cheng in the west. It is free to visit the Jiankou section of the wall.

This one of the most dangerous parts of the wall to visit. It is in a state of disrepair, the bricks, walls & steps are loose and unsteady. It is best to go in a group and not on your own.  Due to it’s unique style, steep mountains and beautiful scenery it has become a photographic hot spot.

  • How to go there :
    • by Bus No.916 at Dongzhimen, get off at Huairou Fangshan (diagonally opposite Huairou First Hospital), there are buses to Jiankou Great Wall (the bus runs between 10:00 and 15:00)
    • Bus 936 (支) at Dongzhimen, get off at Yanxi Huandao in Huairou District, there are buses to Jiankou Great Wall (the bus runs between 10:00 and 15:00) .
    • taxi for a return trip from Beijing.

Shanhaiguan : 300km East from Beijing

The Jiao Shan part of the wall is as far from Beijing as it goes. Best done as an overnight stay. This is where The Great Wall meets the sea. This old historic Ming dynasty garrison town  with it’s walls is a good excuse to visit.  It is popular with Beijingers, especially as it is close to the sea. This section has been restored and can get  busy during holiday season.

  • How to go there :
    • a new express D5 Train that leaves from Beijing at 9.20am and arrives at 11.27am.
    • express D trains to Qinhuangdao that take 2 hours. Then 20 minutes by taxi to Shanhaiguan.  

Xiaoheikou:

the oldest great wall section in China first built in Qi dynasty in Liaoning province. Xiaoheikou Great Wall  is considered to be the most authentic Great Wall of China which has been untouched by man for thousands of years

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