Great Wall - Simatai, Beijing
Simatai Great Wall is located in Gubeikou Town to the northeast of Miyun County and is 120 km away from downtown Beijing. This part of the Great Wall is famous for steepness, wonderfulness and weirdness.
Simatai Great wall is exquisite in its details and is grand as a whole, which is the only part of ancient Great Walls with the original features of Ming Dynasty well reserved. Simatai Great Wall connects with JinshanLing Great Wall to the west, main attractions include Watching Beijing Tower, Fairy Tower, Heavenly Ladder and Sky Bridge.
Simatai Great Wall came into being during the Wanli period. It incorporates various characteristics of Ten-Thousand-Mile Great Wall and at the same time bears its unique features. Up to now, Simatai Great Wall has been listed by UNESCO into the World Cultural Heritages...
Opening Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Daily
Ticket Price: 80 RMB/adult; 40 RMB/child
Address: Miyun County, Beijing
Simatai has less people making for a more enjoyable outing. This section has access to about 15 turrets (to the east) on a steep ridge. The right side of the wall is an out and back hike but also has a cable car to take you to the top. This option always you to just hike back down. Access to this section is 40RMB. There is also a zip line to take the express way down which is a lot of fun. This cost is also 40RMB. The line takes you across a lake formed by a damn.
This is an incredible area with steep hikes on a reconstructed portion of the wall. I highly recommend a visit. Definitely possible to do on a long day trip from Beijing.
I joined a tour arranged by my hostel. (Most places you stay have one.) It took people from hostel to the entrance, with a local people walking along with you til the next exit. There was no rush. The local people just walked with you. He's not a guide. I found that quite relax even for person like me never exercise but only walk/trek once a year during a trip.)
We hired the driver Wang Ping (Private Beijing Taxi website), cost 900RMB.
Wang picked us up from the hotel in Beijing at 2pm and we were dropped off at the Jinshanling entry point at around 4pm.
We began the walk in sunny, hot and very humid conditions. After being followed by 2 locals trying to sell us books for about 20 mins, we walked for around 2km. To say we were sweating is an understatment.
The wall here is mostly rebuilt, but some parts look in very shabby condition and give the ancient feel that we were looking for.
Around the 3km mark (almost half way), the sky started to get very dark. Within minutes, we were sheltering from a massive thunderstorm. The Flower Tower was our home for the next 60 mins as lightening crashed around us and torrential rain turned the steps into a river.
The rain ceased, but still the electrical storm raged, but we knew we were now running late so set off towards Samatai. The wall was in much less repaired condition now, and 2 towers needed a little climb up as there were no steps. We had to by pass one tower with a short path as the drop was too dangerous in now dark conditions.
Finally, at 8pm, we made it to the river crossing in pitch darkness. Sadly, too dark to photograph the valley and steep climb of the wall. We exited after the river next to Dongpo Inn and were greeted by Wang Ping. (Note, the road to Dongpo has been destroyed by a flood and it will not be repaired).
You must only go to the Samatai section after 6pm or before 8pm as the section is now out of bounds and is guarded in the daytime.
Dongpo Inn may tell you that unless you book the trip through them, you can't do it, but we did no problem.
Simatai is a section of the Great Wall that has not been substantailly restored like Badalang. The path is quite steep in places and has some dramatic drops off to the side. Our small group of 7 met no other hikers until we reached the end ( this was Sep 03) We were accompanied for most of the distance by some local hawkers, trying to sell books, postcards and frozen water.I took my chances with the water. it was OK
walking for about 4 hours, not difficult and less tourist. The annoying thing there is they won't leave u alone, they may follow u for a hour or two, try to sell u whatever they have. REALLY ANNOYING.
Simatai is the place to be for the true ancient Great Wall without masstourism and tourist traps. The wall goes up on the thin mountain ridge looking like a dragons back. It`s in the original state without the newest renovations like in Badaling, which is more like a Disney Land. In Simatai the wall is broken, steps are missing and trees grow on the Towers. Some parts are so steep you need to go on your feet and hands! Be aware, there are no banisters stopping you from falling down the cliffs. Here you can enjoy the silence of this magnificent world heritage on your own. Ive been there with a friend on our own for a whole day - not one single soul came passing by. It was great!
A great trip to Simatai for two persons (60 kuai each) for a driver (Mr. John himself) in a jeep. to Simatai it is a 3h drive each way.
TieShuXieJie No. 66, XuanWu District. Phone: 83151553, 13901123938, 138012211089 or 13611326769.
His place is called ManGuoXiangHuoGuoDian.
The Great Wall would have to be my favourite 'must see' in China. I cannot simply express how awe-inspiring a walk along this wall is. My best friend Liz, said so many times "This is so cool", that we banned her from talking unless she came up with different adjectives. Luckily the Wall is so amazing that she happily came up with new ways to express her awe for the full 4 hours we were on the wall.
I'd like to recommend that you give the most populated parts of the wall a miss...you know the ones close to Beijing. We drove for 3 hours each way to get to a remote part of the wall from Jin Shan Ling to Simatai and we had it virtually to ourselves (apart from some Ancient Mongolians who were apparently filming a Carona Beer commercial...Oh and a few Chinese Mexicans).
From Simatai you'll quickly reach unrestored and crumbling sections of considerable charisma giving views across the rich reds and golds in autumn. The section we walked was a little difficult physically as much of it had not been restored, but the experience was all the better for it.
Please see my Off the Beaten Track for more Great Wall information.
The 2000 edition (and probably still in the latest edition) of the Lonely Planet Guide to China included a section on walking the Wild Wall with one part of this being between Jinshanling to Simitai Village. An absolutely top experience which included some refurbished wall, and large sections of wall in its original state (including the odd part that has been washed away). Some parts are incredibly steep. I did this in the winter, and we barely saw another soul all day. The instructions were great until the end, where we got a bit lost trying to get find our way down to Simitai. You need to be relatively fit for this trip. It can be done as a very long day trip, but you'll need a reputable taxi (pay for the trip rather than by meter as it is a fair trek!)to do this, and have it drop you at Jinshanling and collect you from Simitai. Alternatively the people at Simitai were very friendly and you could probably find yourself a bed for the night.
Also worth noting that if you do it in winter, make sure you dress very warmly as it is very very cold.
After enjoying the Great Wall at Simatai you need to get back down. Most people leave the wall at Tower 2 and use the path which takes about 20 minutes to get back to the car park.
Try the 'Flying Fox' or zipline! There is a booth shortly after leaving the wall and for the cost of 40 CNY you can fly over the lake and reach the ground in about 20seconds! You are strapped into a harness and connected to the runner on the line and off you go - it is fantastic! You cross back over the lake by boat and walk a short distance to the car park.
Take care to have all loose items secured.
There was of course no chance to take a photo on the way down and I never thought about it as I was getting ready. The main photo is of the lake that you cross taken from Tower 2 - the end of the line is obscured by trees.
It is worth the 3 hours drive from Beijing to visit this part of the Great Wall. In this area the terrain is quite rugged and parts of the wall are very steep. The wall in this region is mostly in its original state and features of the Ming Dynasty can still be seen.
The section of the wall open to walking is from tower 2 - 12. There are tracks to climb up to tower 2 or 8 but the usual plan of attack is to use the cable car, then the funicular and then walk to tower 8. From here you can climb to tower 12 for a view of the Heavenly Ladder before heading downhill to tower 2 where the path will take you back to the visitors centre in about 20 minutes.
Alternatively you can make the descent in about 15 seconds by way of the Flying Fox - an extra cost of 40 CNY but worth every cent.
The other great thing about the Simatai section - hardly any people!!!
the Great Wall at Simati The Forbidden City
Everyone who goes to China sees the Great Wall, but the wall is very different depending on where you go. If you go to the popular areas, the wall will look just as it does in the pictures...fully restored, crowded with thousands of tourists and hundreds of tour buses. If you choose to go to a spot like Simati, you will have to spend more time to get there, but in my opinion, its worth it. The wall in this area is not restored at all (at least when I was there in '95). Not only that, but I maybe saw 10 other tourists the entire 4 hours I was there. To make things more interesting, in this area, the wall climbs high atop the ridge of a mountain, where at some points, because of the sheer cliffs on either side, the wall is only a few feet wide. Spending a day hiking up the wall, here, will leave you inspired and amazed at how, hundred of years ago, people made it to such remote regions and built such an unbeleivable structure. In my opinion, this is truly a must see.............the Forbidden City is something that is on most people's to do list, and for good reason. I don't believe a description is needed, simply rent a headset and let Roger Moore (aka James Bond) lead you through the unbelievable city.
We decided to go to a section that's not been Disney-fied (e.g. Badaling). Be aware that Simatai is much more difficult to get to. If you have at least two persons in your party, hire a car from Beijing for the day. If you are adventurous, take the 980 bus from Beijing long distance bus terminal. It's 15 RMB one way. And then you still need to hire a car to go another 70KM. The payoff is that this section of the wall has not been restored, and dates from 600 years ago Ming Dynasty. A long chair lift and short tram makes it a little easier to get up to the wall. The view is spectacular. Very few other tourists, no vendors, just a few tauts trying to sell you photo books. Get there early if you want to do the 10 Km hike.
When I climbed the Great Wall, it was such an exhilarating experience. It looked awesome, more like a bridge than a wall too with steep narrow steps up to the highest part of every station.
As we know by now it is the only structure visible from the moon and I am not surprised. It is really humongous and chunky!
I touched and felt each brick in one part of the wall after every few metres!
There are amenities right under the wall, incuding rows and rows of stalls selling all sorts of products- souvenirs, Mao caps, trinket boxes, etc. As you know the Chinese, they are very astute busnesspeople too!
According to WIKIPEDIA, Badaling Great Wall is situated in Yanqing County, over 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of Beijing. It is the most well-preserved section of the Great Wall, built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Itis indeed fascinating part of Chinese history and still remains a formidable proof of this great country's wealth and heritage.
By the way, my trip was sponsored by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
I have found another photo from my China trip but it needed scanning so please bear with me!
1. The Simatai
A. The Wall itself
Standing at the parking lot, you see the wall crawing on the rooster-crest-like mountain range. It is breathe taking view. After you go through the entrance, you soon come to a bridge on a stream, where you need to decide to take cable car or walk. Then there is zigzag walking way leading to the wall. On the road you see stream, the mandarin duck lake (a reservoir), a slide on the lake, and the suspension bridge that connect Jinshanling and Simatai at the foot of the mountain. When you come to the starting point (pretty high already), you already see the landscape of Jinshanling. When you start climbing, a local villager will begin to offer her/his help in exchange of selling some postcard or books. They are locals and normally will ask permission before they offer their service, though you have your guide. The beginning part seems very difficult. When you come to the 8th tower, you can see most of the landscape there, esp. Jinshuanling Great Wall. If you take cable car down, 8th tower is the place. After 10th, you begin see the cliff on both sides of the wall. There are 2 guards standing at the 13th tower to stop tourists to go further. 99% of the bricks, granite base is original.
The wall was built on a rock mountain. There are no so many vegetations here. But air at Simatai is clean and fresh. There are no foggy days. The sky there is always crystal clear. The height of the mountain enables you to have the most exciting view of landscape. You can really see far away.
C. Surrounding area
The road leading to Simatai is also the road to Cheng De Summer resort, a summer resort for Qing (1644-1911) emperor. Before your arrival at Simatai, you drive by Mi Yun reservoir, the biggest one in Beijing. You see huge fish at the fishing season. It is also the most important drinking water resource. There are many orchards in this area.
D. People at Simatai
They are less modernized, more friend, farmer like people. They will not play the one dollar one T-shirt trick on you. They sell home made dry fruit and pumpkin in autumn. If you live in the local family, they generally will treat as friend rather than customers. Their life is very much different from that of Beijing.
A. The Wall itself
The wall was built in less steep mountain with well preserved original appearance.
There are one Nippon made cable car (orange) on your left hand and an open cable car and a toboggan on your right hand. If you choose to walk up the steps are 950. Unlike Badaling, it is much less crowded and it has amore beautiful surroundings, quiet and serene.
The mountain here is not real high. Sometimes it is little bit foggy here. But this section is call garden of Beijing. You see lots of chestnut tree one the mountain with many squirrels jump along the brink of the wall. You can not see so far away partly because it is not the highest point, partly because the occasional fog.
There are a Hong Luo temple and a Yan Xi Lake nearby. This area is famous for its fish and fruit. Beijingners come from downtown to have their fish banquet here.
They more modernized and get used to deal with oversea tourist. They are very nice towards Chinese while they treat you as business partners.
Introduction to Chengde, Mountain Resort for Emperor
By the end of the 17th century the Qing emperors had established their capital at Beijing, and they began to look around for somewhere cool and green to retreat to when the dusty heat of summer set in. They found what they were looking for at Chengde, beyond the Great Wall.
Here they created a summer residence, exploiting mountains, woods and other existing natural features to which they added contrived landscapes to make settings for innumerable pavillions, palaces and temples. Construction took a total of 87 years. The buildings and gardens cover an area of 560 hectares, and are surrounded by a wall 10 km. long.
Outside the palace walls, to the north and west, a total of 11 temples were built. Many of them were built in Tibetan style. Divided into eight groups, they became known as the Eight Outer Temples. The main gates of these buildings pointed towards the palace, symbolising the unity of China's various ethnic groups under the central rule of the Qing emperors.