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.
If you've never been to The Great Wall of China, surely you've seen pictures of it. When you visit The Great Wall, or rather, a section of it, for it is physically impossible to visit the entire Great Wall at one time (but it may be visually possible to see it all at once, from space), it may look just as it does in the pictures you've seen.
There are two sections of the Wall at Si'ma'tai, divided into the East and West sections, linked by a chain bridge. The towers in the East section go up to number 12 - anything beyond that is unrestored and thus access is restricted. The towers in the West go up to 18 and beyond ...
Lazy bums can choose to ride the cable cars up to the East 12 tower, and fork out RMB30 (single way) or RMB50 (return). Those who walk will need approximately 1.5 hours to get to East 12 tower, and lots of water and a comfortable pair of footwear. There are vendors selling drinks and ice lollies along the way, so you may get by even if you didn't bring your own.
At the lower part of the East section, there is a zipline and boatride novelty ride for those who have RMB35. They hook you up to a zipline and you go zipping through the air down to the landing area by the dam, after which you get onto a little boat that takes you to another landing area across the dam.
Lo mas aconsejable es coger un viaje organizado, ya que llegar hasta alli, que aunque es posible, son cerca de 4h de viaje desde el centro de pekin y 2 transbordos (por lo menos) en autobuses. Los choferes no suelen saber mucho (por no decir nada) de ingles y es bastante problable que os perdais. Cada hotel en pekin tiene su tour, Nosotros cogimos el de un albergue de la juventud en un huton al otro lado del hotel internacional.
Llegas despues de 4 horas de viaje a un parking donde te deja el autobus y subes por un telesferico (despues de pagar la entrada) al comienzo de la caminata.
MUY MUY MUY IMPORTANTE, LLEVAR DINERO DE SOBRA Y BASTANTE
entre los 11 km que dura la caminata hay "peajes" que tienes que pagar si quieres llegar hasta donde te espera el autobus, sino tienes que darte la media vuelta y volver a donde as salido PERO EL AUTOBUS DE TO TOUR NO ESTA, asi que llevar bastante dinero para no tener que volver desde simatai andando hasta pekin.
A pesar de los "peajes" es precioso recorrer los 11 km de subidas y bajadas por la gran muralla en esta zona. Ha ciertos tramos que tienes que dejar la camara a la espalda y subir a cuatro patas y bajar con el culo porque las escaleras son muy empinadas pero la belleza del paisaje perdona todo, incluso los "pejaes"
For the ticket, it's a bit tricky.
entrance for Si Ma Tai is 30 RMB. but if u plan to walk from there to Jin Shang Ling, u need to pass a bridge, it cost 5 RMB per person. Then on the half way, u need to get another ticket to Jin Shang Ling Great Wall, it cost 30 RMB again.
I went to the great wall with arranged transport from my hostel. While it is possible to get to these locations cheeper with local transport, it is tricky.
When I went it was a great day, few tourists, and clear skies. I hiked with a few others from one part to the other. It was enjoyable to see the wall transition from remodeled to crumbling and back. There were a few people who follow you trying to sell you a few things, just remember the key phrase, 'bu yao' to tell them you don't want any, and they might go away.
I have second hand stories of people having a terrible time at Badaling. I didn't go there, but I can say that these two locations and ecspecially the hike is worth the time and money to get there.
Wanna see a part of the Great Wall that is not so crowded? A 3 hours drive away from Beijing center is Simatai (120km northeast), where you can enter the Wall and then walk 10km west to Jinshanling (you might also do it vice versa). This walk is not so easy, but it's worth it. It takes about 4 hours. If you want to go there, hire a taxi driver to bring you to one place and pick you up 4 hours later at the other place. You might get the whole day for about 600 or 700RMB if you bargain hard.
The great wall is one of those things that you HAVE to experience first hand before you die.
We went to Simatai, which is a couple of hours north east of Beijing. The advantage of Simatai is that there are not too many tourists. The disadvantage is that it's really steep.
You must wear good shoes and be in reasonable shape if you want to see it properly.
Another bit of advice - don't take any photos until you get to the highest point, then take them on the way down. The view just gets better and better and you can see for miles.
Please see my Great Wall travelogue for photos and more impressions
We bought a day tour for RMB 380 each in the hotel lobby with a company called ”Dragon bus tours”. We had hoped to walk from Jinshanling to Simatai but our tour “only” included a 2 hour walk along Simatai. Most tourists seem to go to the part of the wall called Badaling btw. We were picked up at the hotel at 9 am. The drive to the Simatai section takes about 2 hours each way. We were very lucky with the weather and when we reached the wall the skies were blue. Getting to the wall is really a great moment. All of a sudden you can see the wall on the mountain tops stretching as far as you can see, like a never-ending snake. As it was early in the season so the cable car that usually takes people up to the wall wasn’t running. It took us about 20 minutes just to reach the wall but all of a sudden we had our feet on a part of world history. At Simatai you can choose if you want to go to the left (I guess this takes you to Jinshanling) or to the right where you have 15/16 watch towers before you reach the end and it rise up about 1000 meters above sea level. We chose to walk on the right part of the wall. As it was still only early spring, we saw bits of snow left on the wall and in the landscape itself. The wall was really steep in some places and sometimes the steps were narrow. Time constraints meant that I only got as far as tower 11, but the view just got better and better the higher I got. The combination of a great view and the scarcity of other tourists made it a truly special experience. On the one hand it is amazing to have walked on something that I have read so much about and see so many pictures of. On the other hand it is hard not to think about all the blood, sweat and tears that has gone into building this wall (in fact it is not one wall but many walls that has been built in different dynasties).
After walking on the wall we went down to the parking lot again. Here you’ll find lots of little shops and restaurant and we had lunch at one place. We just sat down and they brought out lots of food.
The Great Wall - avoid the touristy, renovated parts that most hotels offer. I went to Simatai - it's really quite a workout but definitely worth the visit. Don't worry though - the T-Shirt vendors have already discovered it so you'll have your proof.
Beware though - Simatai is REALLY steep and you will get one hell of a workout climbing it. Well worth it though!
There are several sections worth visiting not too far from Beijing. Avoid Badaling and go to Simatai instead. There is also another section, that I cannot recall the name of right now, from where you can take a 5 hour hike to Simatai. I went with friends one day and we did not encounter any tourists during the entire hike. Wonderful views throughout the hike, well worth it!
This part of the wall is much more original than the touristic part in Badaling. Here it was really beautiful and impressing.
Great Wall in Simatai (see the travelogue)
Do not go to Badaling !!! Here, in Simatai, there is only few people, so it's very peaceful. And the sight from there is quite amazing