5 based on 556 reviews
Jinshanling Great Wall is located in Luanping County, Chengde, Hebei Province, 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of Beijing. It used to be a sound defensive system including barrier walls, battlement walls, watchtowers, gun emplacements, shooting holes, horse blocking walls, and branch cities. Today, it is renowned as the "Paradise of Photographers" and a popular tourist destination because of its magnificent appearance and intoxicating scenery.
I've been to The Great Wall before at Mutianyu, however, the group was there for only 90 minutes. That was completely inadequate for anything but taking a quick walkabout, shooting a few snaps, and buying souvenirs. This time, I wanted a more meaningful experience at the Wall that was more about having the time to fully appreciate this incredible UNESCO World Heritage site than checking off an item on a bucket list.
Years ago, I had read that Jinshanling was one of the most picturesque sections of The Great Wall. There are also a lot fewer tourists because Jinshanling is 154 kilometres from central Beijing. When my professional photographer friend told me he was going to Beijing and wanted to see the Wall, I suggested he visit Jinshanling. He's now been there twice and his photos vividly confirmed both of these points.
It is possible to get to Jinshanling and hike it on your own. I would not recommend this for everyone. Being pressed for time, I was looking to have a guided visit and was aware there were Great Wall hiking specialist agencies. Browsing TripAdvisor, I settled on taking a three-hour Jinshanling hike on Saturday, May 27, with the top-rated Great Wall Hiking. I was subsequently told that Jinshanling may be closed for renovations and I may have to choose another itinerary. However, as luck would have it, a back entrance was still open for another two days.
The group meeting point for the Jinshanling hike was the McDonald's at the Oriental Kenzo shopping centre. As it was near the Dongzhimen subway station, I had no problem finding it. We were small, all-male group of two Americans, a Brit, a Salvadoran, a Venezuelan, myself, and the guide.
We made the two-hour journey to Jinshanling by minivan. Aside from scrutinizing the details of the terrain, the house architecture, or any obvious means of people's livelihood (e.g. farming), the drive itself became rather monotonous, as freeway driving often is. It isn't until you get to Gubeiko that you get the first glimpse of the Wall. The Jinshanling visitor centre is only another 15 minutes further.
Once through the ticket gate, you can take a cable car up to the Wall to a path just below the Small Jinshan Tower. We trudged up a track through low, dense vegetation to the watchtower at Houchuan Pass, then followed the wall east for three hours along the ridge to Zhuanduo Pass.
Capped by stone battlements seven meters high and six meters wide, this imposing fortification is punctuated every 100 meters by a ten-meter-high watchtower. Two isolated beacon towers acted as forward observation posts to provide early warning to the defenders. Curiously, the nearby village of Hualougou is on the invaders' side of the Great Wall. In the event of an attack, residents would have had to retreat over the wall for protection.
The sky was cloudless, albeit smudged with haze towards the horizon. When exposed to the elements on the rampart, you felt every bit of the 30°C beating down on you from the molten sun. The dank interiors of the bulky watchtowers, on the other hand, easily persuaded you to dally in their cool shade while mesmerized by the crenelated barrier snaking above the undulating landscape visible through their arched windows. Intermittently, we encountered couples or small groups. Otherwise, the Wall felt virtually deserted.
Three hours was adequate to negotiate the undulating landscape, fully appreciate the captivating vistas, snap numerous photos, and even take a couple of extended breaks to enjoy a refreshing beer. Jinshanling fully met my expectations and I wouldn't hesitate to visit again. It would be nice to experience this section of the Wall in another season.
Note: this is a fairly strenuous hike. If you are not physically fit, it would be best to go to a different, more restored section of the Wall that is closer to Beijing, such as Badaling or Mutianyu.
Tip: before visiting The Great Wall, I recommend you read "The Great Wall" by John Man. It's a very readable account of Man's journey along the Wall from its western-most outpost in the desert to its eastern terminus at the Pacific Ocean. He also theorizes about historical aspects of the Wall that are thought-provoking.
4.5 based on 402 reviews
China's largest imperial garden and the former summer capital of the Qing dynasty is surrounded by lakes, forest and Mountains.
My wife and i visited this on a tour of China, it was another Nice palace, we enjoyed the walking in the Gardens and taking in the beautiful landscapes,
Also marvelled at the crowds of Chinese Men all in dark suits that where visiting, it's funny the things that stick in your head, but thats one
4.5 based on 216 reviews
This is an important and famous section of The Great Wall originally built in 583 AM that played a significant role in the military defense of the Ming Dynasty. Shanhaiguan Pass is located in the small harbor town of Qinhuangdao by the Sea.
Newly reconstructed, this section of the wall is one of many you can visit around Qinhuangdao. I preferred the original section about an hour out of the city, but this is best for easy visiting. Impressive in scale and organization, there are also buildings open with displays of weapons and armor. It is a good walk around, and it offers plenty of good views up into the hills to see the towers still in place higher up. The area around the entrance is of course very touristy and filled with vendors, but the wall itself is very good.
4 based on 131 reviews
4 based on 66 reviews
Out of seven months spent in China, Cangyan Shan is still a highlight (as was Shijaizhaung city (museum, ancient bridge, old walled city, Yujia stone village). The surprising thing is that it is so close to Beijing.
I visited in Spring, when the cable car was closed. It's a short easy hike up under the two Bridges of the temple. At the bridgens, you can either go left or right. Tough call. I went both. A second path back down to the mountain base is to the left side (looking from the cliff bottom). While the right side has a spectacular path on a cliff edge. I'd recommend walking down the way you didn't come up, as the views looking at the temple are great from this path.
The older temples in the cliff are very beautiful. The two newer temples on the cliff top were not so much. It was very quiet and sleep when I visited, as it was out of season. Try to go on a no smog day, but even if smoggy the valley is a little sheltered.
The road to Cangyan Shan goes near Yujia Stone village, so try to visit both. Bargain with taxi drivers. I paid 300RMB for a hassle free ride from the city centre to the temple, then I paid 80RMB to get to Yujia Stone Village. Finally I hitchhiked back to the city centre for free.
4.5 based on 42 reviews
When we were living in Beijing, almost every winter weekend we would come to Wanlong to ski. Now that we have left Beijing, we only visited Wanlong recently and pleasantly surprised that it has been upgraded with much bigger parking, restaurant, lockers facilities, and also more ski runs. The ski runs are quite well maintained, and if you don't have time to travel aboard to ski, then this is next to the best thing easily available in Beijing as it's just 2 hours drive from the city.
4 based on 61 reviews
After visiting the tombs in Vietnam and being told they were modelled on the Chinese Emperor tombs I was very much looking forward to seeing these.
What impressed me the most was the immense scale of the site.
A shuttle bus actually drives you from the ticket office to the tombs but in doing so it passes the sacred way with the animal statues, numerous gates and entrances.
Thank goodness the shuttle bus was included else it would have made a tiring visit at the end of the day near impossible. The scale of this site is huge.
I only visited 2 tombs: the underground Buddha tomb with intricate Tibetan inspired Buddhist carvings and also Empress Dowager Cixi's tomb.
Please note that the underground Buddha tomb is under scaffold so disappointing from that point of view, but the real treasure is the carvings underground.
No photography allowed underneath in the tombs ( although I witnessed other tour groups simply ignoring this)
My guide explained that he recommended these tombs over the Ming tombs as the underground Buddha carvings were unique and the Ming tombs showed no such designs.
Naturally the Ming tombs are more often visited as they are closer to Beijing and near Badaling section of the wall which I understand is to be avoided as it is overly crowded, commercial and reconstructed so as not to be authentic.
After visiting the two tombs in this site, that was enough for me and it was another 2.5 hours to get back to Beijing.
4 based on 61 reviews
Many people from Beijing travel here for relaxation and horse back riding as well as to experience nature which can't be found in parks around Beijing.
We traveled here after attending a wedding in FengNing just to see what these grasslands had to offer.
There were horses everywhere and the gentle breeze of the grasslands cooled us off from the heat of summer. The village where we stayed showed us the unspoiled way of life for the villagers even though there were plenty of tourists.
We rode horses, ate roasted lamb, strolled around the village and grasslands as well as went to the Genghis Khan Temporary Palace which was really good.
If you want to get out of Beijing - or anywhere else, come here for a time to unwind. It is worth the 5 hour drive!
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