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Great Wall of China • 2 • To See & Do

by mythic44

Mutianyu is slightly further than Badaling, equally well restored, significantly less crowded, and has greener and more scenic surroundings. The tour groups don’t go here, so this is a generally a better option than Badaling. It has a ski lift to get onto and off the wall (though walking via stairs is also possible) and a toboggan ride down! Misplaced, but fun. However, it’s easiest to reach via taxi. The only direct bus to the Mutinyau Great Wall section is a special service of the 867, which only runs during the tourist season (March 15 through November 15). As of 3 May 2012, it departs at 07:00 and 08:30 from the Dongzhimen outer bus station which you can get to by turning left out of the main bus station (arrive at Donzhimen subway, take “H” exit) and going for a 10 minute walk round the other side until you see a parking lot full of buses on your left (don’t cross the street). To make it clear the 867 is not numbered when you come up the stairs from the subway. It is a totally separate bus terminal outside the main building. This is where the 867 leaves from, it is not easy to find and you will be hawked heavily by private taxis and mini buses. As of July 5th 2014, route 867 had a very aggressive driver verbally forcing all tourists off at stop around 12km from Mutianyu to waiting hoards of hire minivans. Bus 867 stop sign at Mutianyu has been removed by scammers, and bus comes at 14:00 with same driver but number blanked off front, again angrily refusing to return to Dongzhimen, and drove back to stop 12km from Mutianyu avoiding all in between stops to again force tourists off. Be very wary of this route.


The special service of bus 867 to Mutianyu had been cancelled since June 23 2014. If you still want to get to Mutianyu by bus, it is still possible-you will need to take the bus 867, get off at the Honglousi, the final stop of it, and wait for a special bus service at the return stop of Honglousi (which is opposite the road from the place you get off). The special bus service costs ¥4 each way (¥1.6 with metrocard) and will only depart at 10:00 and 12:00 from Honglousi, and 14:00 and 15:00 from Mutianyu.
It costs ¥16 each way (¥6.4 with metrocard) and takes at least 2.5 hr.

Also it’s possible to use 936 and 916 that runs after that time (every 10-15 minutes) that will take you only to the city of Huairou which is 17km away from the wall and around 60km from Beijing. This is the faster (1 hour) but slightly more complicated option. From there you have to take a taxi (¥80 for a taxi but you may try to bargain) for the final 25-30 minutes to the wall. Note that the stop where you should get off occurs soon after the Huairou tourist center. It is just a regular bus stop but there are rows of minivans and taxis waiting to take people to the wall. Be aware that it is possible that taxi drivers in league with the bus driver (who may be on the bus from Dongzhimen) will try and get you to come off the bus at the wrong stop in order to ensure that you take their taxi (fees until ¥400!). Also beware of people that offer to help you at Dongzhimen, that are in league with the taxi drivers and will point you to the wrong bus (980, for example), and you will end up having to backtrack to Huairou and pay double for the taxi (Great wall trek China expeditions is known to do this).

For the return journey, the 867 leaves at 2.00pm and 4.00pm from parking lot 3 – the same place it dropped you off at Mutianyu if you caught it in the morning. Note that on Sunday 4:00 PM bus might be really crowded. It is an official looking bus with a number on it so don’t be fooled by any other drivers (e.g. minibuses) who try and steal your business. Also, do not be fooled by any taxi drivers who say “no bus!”. Post with bus schedule is usually hidden behind minivan or any big car parked in front of it in western part of parking lot to confuse visitors. For those making it back to Huairou, there are usually drivers walking around saying “Huairou.”

Entrance fee is ¥45, ¥25 for students only with ID containing a photo. In addition, the cable car to the wall costs more than the wall entrance: ¥65 for adults (one way), or ¥80 for a round trip (¥45 for children). Alternatively the 20-30 min. climb uphill through steps in the forest is free. However the climb is fairly steep, and does not offer views until you reach the great wall itself. If you’re not afraid of walking through some shrubbery, and you’ve got some grip on your shoes, continue on past the restored section and head to the highest local watchtower. You will be greatly rewarded for your effort!

There are two different cable cars in Mutianyu which are operated by different companies. One is a cable car to get to a high part of the great wall, the other is a chair lift to another point on the wall where you can toboggan down. They start at roughly the same point at the entrance to the area, however they operate in different directions. A recommended itinerary if you would like to try both is to buy the entrance ticket (¥45), a one way ticket up the cable car (¥65) which takes you to one section of the great wall, walk on the wall for about 1km in the direction of the second cable car, and take the toboggan down back to the entrance (¥45). Return tickets are significantly cheaper than buying a single trip, however, the two tickets cannot be combined, i.e. you cannot buy a return ticket going up one cable car and coming down the other.

Note that the walk on top of the great wall involves significant amount of climbing steps, which vary from short steps a large part of the way, to some sections with quite steep steps.

Do not miss the stone museum just past the main ticket office on the right, which features beautiful caves with lighted rock art. Entry is free.

The last buses to Beijing Dongzhimen from Huairou city are the 936 at 17:00 while the service of the 916 ends at 19:00. Without the Beijing transportation card (that you can purchase at any metro station) the price is ¥16 but with the electronic card expect to pay less than ¥5.

If you miss the bus, there is accommodation to be found near the shops in Huairou. There is a tourist information office that remains open during normal office hours, though it may seem closed due to lack of visitors. They will be able to help you find accommodation that is licensed to take foreigners, should you need it. The nearby “Yanxi Nightless Valley” area is full of small forest resorts, where you can pay around ¥100 for a fresh, farmed trout. Stay in the valley the night before, then hire a taxi out direct to one of the nearby Great Wall sections in the morning.

The Schoolhouse (a restaurant and lodging company in Mutianyu) also offers a schoolbus that goes to and from the Kempinski Hotel in Beijing to their restaurant that is a 10 minute walk from the wall on Saturdays and Sundays. It departs Beijing at 9am and the Schoolhouse at 4:30pm. The cost is Rmb 110 for a one-way trip or Rmb 132 for a same day round trip. Reservations must be made online at The Schoolhouse website by 6pm on the Thursday before you want to take it. If you are worried about taking a public bus but don’t want to pay for a whole tour, this can be a good reliable option.

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To See & Do


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