Great Wall, Beijing

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Badaling, Mutianyu, Simatai...

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  • Great Wall
    by GlobeTrekr
  • Great Wall
    by GlobeTrekr
  • Great Wall
    by GlobeTrekr
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    Hiking The Great Wall of China

    by GlobeTrekr Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Entrance to Jinshanling section of the Great Wall
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    Visiting the Great Wall of China is a must when in Beijing. Most people will visit the extremely touristy and most visited section of the wall at Badaling which is only about 50 miles (80km) outside of Beijing. Many others will opt for the Mutianyu section of the wall which is older than the Badaling section and from many accounts better to visit. I'm sure either of these two sections will suffice for your visit to the wall.

    However, for an incredible, rewarding experience, take the 3 hour (120 km) journey from Beijing to Jinshanling. The initial section of the wall at Jinshanling has been restored but thats it. You will hike 10 km from Jinshanling to Simatai where the Great Wall is in its original, authentic, unrestored condition. The hike can be anywhere from 2-4 hours but it is an awesome experience. We went with a group of about ten, who all hiked at their own pace, ultimately herded by our tour guide. Throughout most of the hike there is nobody else in sight (as you can see from my pics). Remember to take water, snacks, and maybe some toilet paper! It gets very steep and strenuous at times so keep that in mind before going. I would say its not for children nor adults with knee, ankle, or hip problems. Those who are unfit, heavy set, or of age can definitely do it but be prepared to work. By no means is that meant to scare prospective visitors away, remember this is a tip and I want you to go, but rather useful information in knowing that its no cake walk! Trust me, hiking the Great Wall of China from Jinshanling to Simatai will NOT disappoint.

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    Great Wall of China at Badaling

    by Willettsworld Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Great Wall at Badaling is the most visited section of the Great Wall of China, approximately 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Beijing. It is the most well-preserved section of the Great Wall, built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). This section, with an average altitude of over 1,000 meters (3,282 feet), was the first section of the wall to open to tourists when it opened in 1957 and is now visited by millions annually. Because of this, the area has become a bit of a tourist trap with souvenir shops, hotels, restaurants, theme rides and a cable car. I actually thought they'd be a lot more commercialism here than there actually is but what is here is a bit too much - local bears in a bear pit being one example. I came here on a tour which also included the Ming Tomb at Changling for RMB130 that my hotel (a Home Inn - see my accommodation tips) had at their reception. This also included lunch, transport, a visit to a duck factory shop and a jade factory shop and a tour guide (although it was in Chinese with other Chinese tourists). The wall is a remarkable feat of engineering and a must-see-thing if you're in Beijing.

    Open: 6.30am-7pm. Admission: RMB45.

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    Go to Simatai!

    by Exceptional_World Updated Apr 4, 2011
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    We hired a driver for about $60 USD, left Beijing at 2:00 AM and arrived at Simatai at 4:30 AM. We jumped the gates with ease (of course, we do not condone this illegal activity), but they do not open until 7 or 8. We reached the summit at around 6:30 AM. The site was absolutely awesome with no tourists and complete silence. Watching the sun rise at Simatai is a religious experience. As a reward for scaling the steep steps, you should ride the cable car afterwards to relish it all.

    If you are leaving Beijing at that time, however, make sure you have a caffeinated driver that you trust.

    We were back at our hutong by 1 PM after this impressive experience.

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    • Road Trip

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    Leave the crowds !

    by kokoryko Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Non-renovated arch
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    Off the beaten path?.
    I decided to leave the crowds and go to a place where the wall was not renovated and seemed quiet and, who knows why, I wanted to go there. . . At the end of the renovated section, the wall was closed and wardens told me it was forbidden to go beyond. I came back and looked at a staircase going to the cable cart (not in service) and I decided to go down and I quickly was on a small path in the woods on the Mongolian side; I followed this path where nobody could see me from the wall and after one kilometre I was at the foot of a little fort on the wall, far from the renovated section, but I was on the foot, had to climb up somewhere; I followed the wall for another half kilometre and at another small tower I could climb up easily the ruins and I was on the wall, finally, the real wall, in ruins, yes but it was the real one, very quiet (I met nobody), had the wall for me alone, could look at the landscape, look at the stones, dream about what could have happened here or there.
    Main picture: Ah, here we are on the un-renovated part of the wall; do these bricks and stones not look more authentic than the ones on the renovated part? And the perspective through the slit (a wide slit, I do not find a correct name for this “window”) is really what I was expecting coming here.
    Picture 2: Walking in the woods on the “Mongolian side”, little towers, little forts along the wall.
    Picture 3: A little fort seen from the “Mongolian side”; I was already walking in the woods when I could see the fort; from here, it looks seriously as a military construction and from a Mongolian perspective, it looks impressive.
    Picture 4: A small pagoda the visitors of the renovated part will not see, hihihi. I like to see that kind of little building isolated in the mountain.
    Picture 5:And again, the old wall, the old rocks and the quietude. . .

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    Leave the crowds (2)

    by kokoryko Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Outpost seen froma fort on the wall
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    I walked slowly for about 3 kilometres on the old ruins, looking at the small forts, the small towers, being like attracted to go further and further. At one point I had to stop and think of returning.
    I could sit for whiles without being disturbed, listening to the noises of nature, the birds, the wind. . . I thought of this tremendous piece of architecture: its building began 2400 years ago and it is now 6400 km long; lets calculate quickly: between 5 and 7 metres wide, 6 and 17 metres high (let us take 6 and 12 as averages), 6400 km long: 461 million cubic metres construction (do not count towers, little forts and short side sections. . . ); compare to . . . the Kheops pyramid for instance: 2.6 million cubic metres. The great wall represents 180 Kheops pyramids (in stone volume used for construction, nothing else can be compared of course!!!!), I just imagine the construction site with thousands of people working and dying there.
    It is the only human feature you can see from the moon, etc. . I will not write the book of records. . . I was thinking, walking on the ruins even the biggest human artefact will disappear one day, that is history, and geology. . .And this wall proved almost totally useless against the Mongol invasions for the prevention of which it had been built!!!
    Ah how did I come back? I walked back on the wall almost until the renovated section and found a place where I could go down on the “Chinese side” this time (Mongolian side is the northern (but not north everywhere, as the wall turns a lot) side, where defensive towers are built in front of the wall, and where are the crenels, on the Chinese side there are usually no crenels.) and I followed a small track which led me to a barb wire fence; there was a big hole in the fence and going through the hole I was back in the legal area for visitors of the Great Wall!

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    5 hrs hike on The Great Wall Part 1: Jinshanling

    by xuessium Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Jinshanling
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    I took a free-&-easy 5 hours Jinshanling to Simatai hike tour via the tour desk of my Hostel. Paid 225RMB (including a packed light meal) for the to-&-fro journey circa Jun 07. (Be prepared to pay between 650-750RMB per car privately circa Jun 07)

    Jinshanling [金山岭] is a section of the Great Wall located in the mountainous area in Ruanping county, 120 km northeast of Beijing. This section of the wall is connected to the Simatai section & was built from 1570 during the Ming Dynasty.

    The entrance fee is 50RMB. A cableway (30RMB 1 way) will take visitors up to the Small Golden Hill along the Wall, which is the starting point of the hike if you take the Cableway. You can also climb up to the wall via 3 passes: Hou Chuan Pass, Sha Ling Pass & the further Zhuan Duo Pass (meaning you have to hike the most if you start from here).

    This section is 10.5 km long. The initial section of the wall has been restored to its original condition, but the condition of the wall quickly deteriorates towards its natural state (bumps & potholes) as you move past the few initial watchtowers and as you approaches Simatai.

    There are about 30 watchtowers in total to pass before exiting Simatai. Be prepared to climb upwards on narrow steps and defy gravity (103 steps climb upwards at the worst) for much of this section.

    The view is stunningly spectacular though when you managed to catch your breath!

    WARNING:
    1) Wear sensible comfortable clothes & shoes and bring enough water and sunblock (sunny days)! This isn't a walk in the park!
    2) There are persistent touts. Be firm but never rude and after 5 or 6 towers of toil, they'll give up. There're 2 types: The peddlars and the "shortcutters" who offer "shortcuts" to struggling folks.

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    • Architecture

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    5 hrs hike on The Great Wall Part 2: Simatai

    by xuessium Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Simatai

    Simatai [司马台] is located in the north of Miyun county, 120 km NE of Beijing & was originally built during the Northern Qi dynasty (550-577) and rebuilt in the Hongwu years of the Ming dynasty. This section of Great Wall has retained original features of the Ming dynasty Great Wall.

    It is 5.4 km long. Hanging precariously onto the Yanshan Mountain, Simatai is known for its steepness, ingenuity and uniqueness. It is separated by a valley into eastern and western parts. The latter is connected to the Jinshanling section with the steepest part of the wall inclined at 70 degs.

    It is advised that you begin the hike at Jinshanling since much of the Simatai section is downhill (except for the very last 2 watchtowers). It would be MUCH more tormentuous the other way round. You'll would have hiked past at least 30 watchtowers from both sections in total before exiting Simatai.

    You may see herds of goats along this section as there are farm lands below this section of the Wall.
    WARNING: One of the farmers actually approached me for a "fee" after I had taken a picture of his goats. I smiled and simply walked away.

    There is an exit fee of 40RMB (already pre-included in the tour fee), but you'll stay need to pay 5RMB to cross a suspension bridge over Yuanyang Lake (Reservoir).

    You can choose to take another 30 mins to walk down the hill to Simatai Village for your transport back or opt for a 35RMB 5 minutes Flying Fox ride down. If you have no issues with height, I'll suggest you do the latter! It was a great way to end a good 5 hrs hike!

    WARNING:
    1) Wear sensible comfortable clothes & shoes and bring enough water and sunblock (sunny days)! This isn't a walk in the park!
    2) There are persistent touts. Be firm but never rude and after 5 or 6 towers of toil, they'll give up. There're 2 types: The peddlars and the "shortcutters" who offer "shortcuts" to struggling folks.

    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Architecture
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Go to the end

    by rafscab Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Ruins of the Great Wall at Badaling

    Badaling Section of the Great Wall is a restored site for touristic purposes. But if you have the time, legs and lungs enough to walk for a while going up and downs the hills, you'll reach the end of the restored section and you'll find the "real" wall, ruins, almost untouched since the original constructors 1000 years ago.

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    Walking on the Great Wall

    by dipendra Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    It's quite popular walking from Si Ma Tai to Jin Shang Ling. As long as u get a Lonely Planet, u may know this route. make sure bring enough water with u, that's the most important thing.

    u can make it as a day trip.

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  • RinaNeo's Profile Photo

    Getting ready... for the climb...

    by RinaNeo Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The entrance....

    Probably a good idea to take a nice pic before climbing... in case the wind is too strong and you're too tired and sweaty after so many steep flight of steps.... you'll be too tired to take any pics after that.....

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    A different experience of the famous wall

    by jono84 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The untouched Simatai section of the wall

    To anyone who wants to experience the Great Wall, the Simatai - Jinshanling section of the wall has to be the best place to do so.
    Yes, it may be more difficult to get to, and if you dont have much time, the convenient package coach tours that every hotel seems to run to the Badaling part of the wall do allow a quicker alternative.

    The Simatai section offers a more authentic experience; its untouched, which also means its dangerous, but thats make it more of an adventure. Its also very quiet; you would be unlucky to see anymore than a dozen people throughout a 5hour+ visit.

    Shedloads of tourists are taken to the completely restored Badaling section every day, and overcrowding would make it difficult to really allow the immensity of the view to sink in.

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    Be a Hero and Climb The Wall!

    by sheryl_tan Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Can't Believed that I've Climbed so Far...

    There is a Chinese saying '' Bu Dao Chang Cheng Fei Hao Han'' implying that one is not a hero unless he has climbed the Great Wall.

    My 80 year-old grandfather was proud of his certificate that was 'awarded' to him for his achievement years back when he visited. But of course, he was at Badaling, where most of the tourists are. At Badaling, the walls are restored and definitely for the tourists.

    We visited Si Ma Tai portion of the Great wall instead, where the walls are largely unrestored and very steep. It was not an easy climb, but the scenic was worth it. Sometimes, I just have to walk sideways as the steps as too narrow. Hmm... I sorry, maybe it's just that I have unlady-like size feet :P

    It was definitely an experience.... And of course, I'll have more to share :)

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  • Anouk&Ric's Profile Photo

    Visit the Great Wall all alone

    by Anouk&Ric Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    not renovated !

    Visit a portion of the Great Wall totally pure, and not renovated, though perfectly accessible.
    It is about 90 kms north of Beijing at the border with Hebei.
    400 Yuan from Beijing inclusive Taxi ; Local guide : Lei (Tel. 67349509) will take you there.

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    Huang Hua Section - Great Wall

    by Lemonita Written Jun 10, 2005

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    Huang Hua is a section of the Great Wall which is situated at around 2 hours drive (from Downtown) on the north east. We had actually called for a driver at an agency which is specialized in tours to different sections of the Great Wall. The day trip cost us 400 RMB, which we think was reasonable.

    Huang Hua isn't that "wild" as the area is quite well maintained and we observed quite a lot of people (well more than I expected actually). The Great Wall itself is very impressive as it built at the top of a mountain... Please see it for yourself on the pic !
    Apart from that, climbing on the Great Wall doesn't require a lot of physical strength, the little hike around the mountain on which the Wall is quite nice and relaxing... It is a nice day trip from the bustling city of Beijing !

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    Unrestored Great Wall at Jiakou, Huairou, Beijing

    by towkay Updated Oct 6, 2004

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    Jiankou Great Wall, Jiankou, Huairou, Beijing

    This is one of the most secenic stretch of Great Wall around Beijing. This is the REAL deal, not some touristic Disney-style walls restored to please you.

    Most outdoor-type Beijing folks heard about it, and most have seen a picture of it, cos it is known as the most photographed stretch of Great Wall in China.

    However, getting there is difficult. Almost impossible without a car and an experienced guide. Most of the wall is in ruins, so the climb itself is extremely dangerous. A few lives were lost in the past few years.

    But if you want to see the real thing, this is as real as it gets!

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