If I had to pick my top five experiences in China, this would be one of them. Seeing the pink sunset behind the Ming dynasty towers and watching the sunrise bring them back into focus, makes everything seem right with the world.
The sunrise at Jinshanling
A couple of months ago I hiked from Jiankou to Mutianyu section of the wall which you can read about here. This past weekend I hiked the Jinshanling section of The Great Wall which is 125 km Northeast of downtown Beijing in Luanping county. It connects with the Simatai section of the Great Wall in the West although at this time you are unable to hike from Jinshanling to Simatai due to renovations at Simatai. It is not clear when the Simatai section will re-open. To the East of Jinshanling is the Gubeikou section of The Great Wall.
So from East – West = Gubeikou- Jinshanling- Simatai
Jinshanling is a 10km wonderfully picturesque hike. It isn’t too difficult, with only a couple really steep parts when you get close to Simatai. There is a mixture of restored and unrestored section of the wall but most of the hike is restored. Because it’s also farther from Beijing, it’s much less crowded than Mutianyu. Do not go to Badaling, it’s simply too commercialized.
So, below is my step by step how to get to and camp on Jinshanling.
1. Take Bus 980 from Dongzhimen long distance bus station. You can take the subway to Dongzhimen on line 2 and then you will see signs for the long distance bus station. This bus leaves at an interval of every twenty minutes from 6:30 a.m- 6:00 p.m.
2. Get off at a bus stop in Miyun County. You can show the bus driver these characters or you will simply know when you start seeing cab drivers boarding to bus and asking for people to go to Jinshanling.
3. Negotiate a price of no more than 200 RMB for a driver to take you and your group to Jinshanling. The drive from Miyun to Jinshanling takes about 1-1.5 hours.
4. You will be dropped off at the entrance to Jinshanling
5. Once you reach the beginning of your hike( there is only one entrance and it’s easy to follow) you will walk East. You will go through many beautiful restored towers and then when you get closer to Simatai you will start encountering a few unrestored sections.
Towards the beginning of the hike!
What a view!
More unrestored sections on Jinshanling
The second tower in the distance is the start of Simatai. This is around where we turned back.
6. Currently, you can hike all the way to the beginning of Simatai but the hikes don’t connect because of construction. However, you can hike sections of Simatai separately .
7. My recommendation would be to set up your tent in one of the towers closest to Simatai because your views of all the towers you hiked will be amazing at sunset and sunrise!
8. Crack open a beer or a bottle of wine and enjoy!
9. Hike back to the entrance of Jinshanling where you can negotiate a cab back to Beijing.
* Check out: http://greatwallforum.com/ for the best and most detailed tips about hiking and camping on different sections of the wall. I think it’s the most informative resource out there!
* If you are looking to buy some camping gear, check out any of the Decathlon store in Beijing. Everything you need will be at that store and the prices are great! The tent you see pictured was only 150 RMB!
* Make sure you bring lots of water because it’s more expensive on the wall
* In the beginning of this post there is a link to my other information about another hike from Mutianyu to Jiankou. I hiked from Jiankou to Mutianyu and there are plenty of camping opportunities there as well. So if that hike looks more interesting, head there if you want ! There are many possibilities when it comes to camping near or on The Great Wall!
* You can always book a camping experience with hostels or other companies, but this experience ensures that you get to travel on your own time and camp where you want!
Have any questions? Drop me a line! I’d love to help you with your hiking adventures!
Happy hiking my friends!