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Great Wall of China • 3 • To See & Do

by mythic44

• Huanghuacheng one of the most well built sections of the Great Wall that caused the beheading of Lord Cai, the builder, for mismanagement and waste. It’s far less crowded than Badaling and Mutianyu…. mostly before more difficult to access and less renovated To get there, go first to Hairou (see the Mutianyu description there above to go there) bus station (bus 916), then take the bus (number 936) to “Shuishangcheng” (litterally “Wall above water”, other name of Huanghuacheng Great Wall). To get the second bus stop, turn left out of Hairou bus station up to next light crossing, turn left again (about 300m) until you get to the bus station. The bus are not very frequent (every hour). Huanhuacheng-Shuishangcheng is the last stop. to go back to Hairou, the bus leaves every hour (10:30, 11:30….) up to 5:30pm. It says there is a direct bus from Dongzhimen to Shuangshangcheng on the WE, but it will leave only if enough people (more than 10). Difficult to count on it so. Arrived at Shuishangcheng, you can access to the reservoir trough an entrance gate (45 RMB/each), where you can see the wall. However, to climb on the wall, you can also go to the parking in front of East entrance, then take a small trail at the left of the toilets (without passing the entrance gate so): you’ll be able to access the wall without paying the entrance fee!

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• Gubeikou, Jinshanling and Simatai are a bit farther from Beijing than other sections, but the extra time it takes to get there is rewarded with a very significant reduction in crowding and tourist traps. Services are also limited, however; make sure you bring your own supply of water and extra film. The most authentic part of the wall is at Simatai; the wall here is of original construction unlike Badaling. These three locations are 80 miles northeast of Beijing. As of June 17, 2010, the section at Simatai is closed for repairs (probably for at least 2 years).
As of October 15, Simatai is still closed, but some hikers have reported successfully entering before 6 AM. Better yet, get up a bit earlier and catch the sun rising over the wall. For people who wish to visit Jinshanling only for a day trip, it is worth mentioning that there is a ‘One day Travel Package’ available. It costs ¥120 in total for the round-trip bus ticket, admission fee, cable way, and the tourist car at the scenic spot. Tickets can be purchased at Dongzhimen bus terminus/东直门长途汽车站. Be wary of bus scams. There will be “harmless looking” middle-age woman/man who will approach you at the bus terminus pretending to be helpful and lie that the direct bus service is cancelled due to bad weather and then advise you to take a public bus to Miyun bus terminus which you’ll then be force to take a private transport to Jinshanling.

• Jiankou Many published photos of the Great Wall are from this area. ‘Jiankou’, is translated as ‘Arrow Nock’ in English, because the shape of the mountain is like an arrow, with the collapsed ridge opening as its arrow nock.

There are many famous sections of Jiankou Great Wall, such as ‘The Nine-Eye Tower’, an important command post during the ancient wars. It has three layers, and there are nine holes which look like nine eyes on each side. ‘The Beijing Knot’ is the meeting point for three walls coming from different directions. ‘The Sky Stair’, is a precipitous stair whose angle of elevation is 70 to 80 degrees. It leads to ‘The Eagle Flies Facing Upward’, a watch tower built on the lofty peaks. It is so dangerous that even eagles have to fly facing upward to reach the top. ‘Zhengbei Tower’ is the right place to appreciate the beauty of the sunrise and the sunset.

• Shuiguan Located near the Badaling Great Wall, the Shuiguan Great Wall is sometimes called the ‘Badaling-Shuiguan Great Wall’. It often happens that innocent visitors are guided to the Shuiguan Great Wall instead of their original destination – the Badaling Great Wall, especially during holidays or peak periods. Travel China Guide (TCG) kindly reminds you that no matter which wall you want to visit, please consult our guide-books and web-site beforehand. Especially check the admission fees.

The wall was opened to the public in 1995 after repair. Besides climbing the wall, you can also visit the Genghis Khan Palace, the Stone Buddha Temple, Luotuo Peak (Camel Peak) and the Great Wall Stele Forest nearby.

Hebei and Tianjin
• Shanhaiguan, at the Old Dragon’s Head, the wall juts out into the sea. To get there from Beijing takes about 3 hours by train.
• Panjiakou Reservoir – sunken part of the Great Wall
• Huangyaguan – worth a visit for its water run-off controls, well-preserved towers, challenging hiking and striking scenery
Liaoning
• Hushan – can be explored from Dandong
• Xingcheng – a Ming dynasty walled town
• Jiumenkou – located 18 km east of “The First Pass Under Heaven’ at Shanhaiguan

Shanxi
• The Outer Wall of Shanxi – Li’erkou to Deshengbu, Juqiangbu to Laoniuwan, and along the Yellow River
• The Inner Wall of Shanxi – Yanmenguan, Guangwu Old City, Ningwu Pass and Niangziguan

Shaanxi
• Yulin and Shenmu – garrison towns in the time of the Ming dynasty

Ningxia
• The Eastern Ningxia Wall – Hongshan Castle and Water Cave Gully (Shui Dong Gou)
• The Northern Ningxia Wall – in the area of Helanshan
• The Western Ningxia Wall – Zhenbeibu and Sanguankou

Gansu
• Wuwei – garrison town
• Minqin – oasis town
• Zhangye – garrison headquarters
• Jiayuguan – Fort at Jiayu Pass, nicknamed “Last Fort Under Heaven”
• Lanzhou – former walled town that now is capital of Gansu Province

Hike from Jinshanling to Simatai The majority of the wall east of Jinshanling is also unrestored. The hike from Jinshangling to Simatai is roughly 10km. It is a significant hike in distance but more so in the elevation change, but you will be rewarded with spectacular views and a good day of exercise. Expect to spend anywhere from 2.5 hours to 6 hours on the wall, depending on your fitness level, ambition and frequency of photo ops. When you are half way between the two sections, there are hardly any tourists. In fact, more foreign tourists are seen doing this thorough hike than domestic Chinese tourists. Comfortable shoes and clothes are needed, as you will be hiking on moving bricks sometimes combined with steep climbs. Water and snacks should be in your backpack. But you will find some local vendors selling water and sometimes snacks on the wall. When you descend down from Simatai, there is a zip line available for ¥40. It’s roughly 400m, and is over a river. It will take you down to the other side of the river, and includes a short boat ride back to catch your ground transport. During the middle of this hike, collectors will charge you again because you are entering another part of the Wall. If you are going between sections, there is little you can do about it other than turn back. As of June 2010, the Simatai section is closed for repairs, so you can only hike to the western end and then have to turn back.

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