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Reviewed April 13, 2009

My fiancee and I just came back from a 6-day trip to Beijing, and I must say the highlight of the trip was the hike from the Jinshanling section to the Simatai section of the Great Wall!

We got our hotel to arrange for a cab (RMB800 both ways) to pick us up at around 8:30am, and after a comfortable 2.5 hour (mostly highway) journey we were dropped off at the entrance of the Simatai section. It was a beautiful sunny day, there were few other tourists, so we were off to a good start. We paid our entrance fees (RMB50pp for the Jinshanling section and another RMB40pp for the Simatai section), bought ourselves some good & sturdy hiking poles (bargained down to RMB50 each), stocked up on bottled water & biscuits, and off we went!

We had an option to either walk (20 minutes) or take a cable car from the entrance to the wall (ie the actual starting point). We thought the walk would be a good warm-up and better prepare us for what's ahead so we opted to walk instead.

As soon as we set foot on the first watch tower, we were amazed by what we saw - the early spring blossoms of green contrasted beautifully with the rustic, unrestored ruins of the Great Wall that snake through the ridges of the Jinshan Mountains to as far as we could see!

During the next 4.5 hours, we covered approximately 10km and 26 watch towers, and had to walk (oftern climb) along some very steep, rugged sections. We saw a few vendors along the way selling souvenirs and refreshments and/or offering to guide tourists through certain shortcuts in return for the tourists to buy some souvenirs off them. We were told that these vendors were farmers from nearby countryside; most of them could only speak Mandarin but we also saw that some could speak passable English. These vendors were generally not a hassle and could in fact be quite helpful when you most needed them (eg they were usually "strategically" located at the very top (ice-cold water was a blessing after you hiked up some knee-high steps) or the very bottom of a very steep section (that is if you decide not to climb up the more difficult parts and have the guide leads you through the hillside footpaths; this may be particularly helpful if you are travelling with young children and/or people that are less physically fit)).

Our journey came to an end after we walked over a bridge (RMB5pp) that was suspended over a small river. We were happily exhausted when we were greeted by our driver at the car park near the entrance to the Simatai section, and were soundly asleep in the car on our way back to Beijing.

7  Thank Kilai
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 31, 2009

My wife and I just returned to the US after a 2 week stay in China. The hike from Jinshanling to Simatai was the absolute highlight of our trip. It is a pretty good hike for those of us who aren't in the best of shape. If you are older, or out of shape, you will need more than 3-4 hours....maybe more like 5 hours. Lot's of steps!

We had dinner and stayed at a small guesthouse near the entrance at Simatai called Dongpo Restaurant. I can not recommend this place enough!! The food was incredible. The man and his wife were great hosts and cooked fabulous meals for us. The best food we had during our entire visit. I found out about it from this website:
http://www.simataiguesthouse.com/

It was incredible! I would be happy to give you more information if you want to contact me.

7  Thank snorth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 10, 2008

Jinshanling Great Wall has not been turned into the "Great Mall of China" as the stretches closer to Beijing have (Babaling, Mutianyu). We took a comfortable 4 hrs from Jinshanling to Simatai, stopping frequently to take pictures and catch the incredible view.

Saw fox droppings on the wall, falcons flying above us. Talked with the locals selling water and souvenir on the wall, really nice people just trying to make some money. Some told us they were unemployed farmers since their land had been bought up to build factories.

I'd recommend you wear comfortable shoes, clothes, some snacks and water to bring with you. We hiked in mid October and the temperature was moderate. If you were doing this in the summer, I'd imagine it'd be far more exhausting and tiring. 10KM up and down several hundred meters is no small feat, be prepared!

The zip line when you descend down Simatai is a lot of fun. RMB40 is worth it!

6  Thank CA_Boston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 3, 2008

A must do is to hike to Simatai.

It takes only 3 hours at a comftorable speed. Very few other people doing this during the week.
We took public transport out there and caught a tour bus back to Beijing

Thank TX_Flyer001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 21, 2008

This was definitely the highlight of my 5 day trip to Beijing. We booked our trip (via email) with Downtown Backpackers, which was a good compromise on having pre-arranged transport but being able to complete the walk on our own.

We met at the pre-arranged time at the hostel and boarded a mini-bus with about 12 other hikers for a 3 hour drive to Jinshanling. There is an optional rickety looking cable car for the walk from the carpark to the wall which I elected to use to save my legs. This wasn't included in the tour price but all other entrance fees and tolls were.

These parts of the wall are mostly unrestored and offers panoramic views up and down the structure. Some of the steps are quite large, giving my quads quite a workout and inciting a little bit of vertigo on the climb up to some of the water towers, but the views inspired me to keep going.

We were accompanied on the hike by a local guide who knew basic English but we elected to walk by ourselves rather than with the group. This was no problem as long as we were back at the agreed Simatai meeting point by 2pm. I think he was there to make sure no one walked right (away from Simatai), rather than left ,at the initial junction.

We'd been told to bring our own water and lunch as there were no shops en route. There were however very weathered looking local people positioned at various watch towers selling 'ice cold coca cola ice cold beer' ; I didn't see anyone taking them up on their offer.

After piling back onto the mini-bus in Simatai we returned to Beijing, with most of the other walkers dozing off after their strenuous morning.

I was pleased there were no obligactory stops at jade factories, tea stores or other tourist traps on our trip.

Overall I had a fantastic day and felt that the Downtown Backpackers' tour was very good value for money. Perhaps you could do it cheaper organising it yourself but you'd have to spend time finging a driver and negotiating their price.

5  Thank aligee26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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