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Travel Report: The Great Wall of China, Jinshanling to Simatai.

The Great Wall of China Jinshanling to Simatai

The Great Wall of China, Jinshanling to Simatai.

May 2010. For visitors to China, hiking  a section of The Great Wall often finds itself at the very top of the to-do list. However, choosing which part to tackle can be an overwhelming task. Especially as there are nearly nine thousand kilometres of wall scattered around the country. Some of the most impressive stretches can be accessed in the rural regions outside Beijing. But even this concentrated huddle can be a minefield for the inexperienced traveller. Firstly, let’s get one thing straight: DON’T GO TO BADALING. Yes, it’s close to Beijing and yes it’s very well preserved. But it is so horribly touristy and crowded that it destroys the whole experience.

Very busy Badaling The Great Wall of China.

Want to hike The Great Wall of China? DON’T GO TO BADALING.

My first Great Wall experience was a ten kilometre hike from Jinshanling to Simatai. Located 157 kilometres from the Chinese capital, it’s well worth going the extra distance. Just fifteen minutes or so into the trail and this is the kind of view that awaits you…

Hiking The Great Wall of China Jinshanling Simatai

The Great Wall of China: Jinshanling to Simatai.

Jinshanling is a brilliantly wild section of the Great Wall. While there is some restored brickwork, you’ll also see plenty of crumbling staircases and mounds of loose rubble. The hike is punctuated by a series of watchtowers. One of these, Beijing Tower, even allows for a glimpse of the city on a clear day.

The Great Wall of China, Jinshanling to Simatai.

Steep staircase The Great Wall of China Jinshanling to Simatai

The Great Wall of China: Jinshanling to Simatai.

The Jinshanling to Simatai hike requires a certain level of fitness. Towering staircases like this one are common. Hence I really had to earn those sweeping views as I clambered up several untamed inclines.

Jinshanling to Simatai hike The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China: Jinshanling to Simatai.

I’ll never forget these attractive Colombian twins, who were travelling around Asia with their father. Not that he was actually there! Instead, they’d brought a paper cutout of the man, which they posed with for photos. “He always wanted to travel he world!” one of them told me, “and now he’s doing it!”

The Great Wall of China from Jinshanling to Simatai

The Great Wall of China: Jinshanling to Simatai.

How To Get to Jinshanling.

It is possible to reach Jinshanling independently with a local bus from Beijing’s Wanjing West Subway Station. But take it from me, it’s a real hassle. From what I could gather it goes once a day at 08:00 and takes two to three hours depending on traffic. Tickets cost 32RMB (£3.60/€4/$4.60).

Jinshanling Great Wall hiking map.

Jinshanling: A big old wall.

Don’t expect any level of comfort on the public bus either and be ready for the scam artists, who often work in cahoots with the bus driver. Basically, they’ll tell you that the bus service has been suspended and that the only remaining option is their overpriced taxi. The bus terminates at a place called Jinshanling Highway Service, where a free but unreliable shuttle bus takes you onto the start of the Jinshanling trail.

Hike The Great Wall of China Jinshanling to Simatai.

Mountain views from The Great Wall of China: Jinshanling to Simatai.

As for getting back to Beijing, inconvenient bus times mean it’s usually better to try and stay somewhere locally. For my trip, I took a private minivan through Leo Hostel for about 200RMB (£22/€25/$29). The better operators have comfy seats, air con and an English speaking guide, who gives you a bit of background info on the way. Entrance to the wall at Jinshanling is 65RMB (£7.30/€8.20/$9.40). It’s open daily from 05:00-18:00.

Jinshanling The Great Wall of China Hebei province

The Great Wall of China: Jinshanling to Simatai.

You can read more about my experience hiking from Jinshanling to Simatai in my short story Goodness Gracious Great Wall of China! Taken from my series Challenged in China!

Like this? Read about more of my adventures from The Great Wall of China.

You can also check out my stacks of travel reports from all around China.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not have a leaf through my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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3 Comments

  • Amy Almond

    Looks incredible – definitely on my list of places to go!

    April 5, 2020 - 4:14 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      The Great Wall is really something else, especially if you choose your location wisely. Keep an eye out for two more Great Wall reports published over the next 24 hours 🙂

      April 5, 2020 - 4:29 pm Reply
  • nationalparkswitht

    Amazing! Nice post

    April 6, 2020 - 4:27 pm Reply

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