Hike an ancient wonder

The Great Wall of China


Most tourists in Beijing visit a carefully manicured chunk of the Great Wall, struggling to take a photo clear of package tours. Instead, drive 3-hours outside of the city to a section known as Jinshangling. From here, it’s a rugged yet thoroughly rewarding 10km hike to Simatai, crossing 67 watchtowers. Parts of the wall are immaculate, others crumbling under the weight of history. Finish off the last few hundred metres with an invigorating zipline over the river at Simatai. Built by a succession of several dynasties, the world’s longest man-made structure is the ultimate symbol of our desire to keep things out, or in.

Length of Trip : Full day trip from Beijing. The hike takes 3 to 5 hours, depending on your level of fitness.

Cost : It will cost you about US$80-$100 to hire a taxi for the day. Once you get to the wall, have change handy for the cold beers and souvenirs which will be available, as Bob Dylan once said, all along the watchtowers. There is a modest entry fee at Simatai and for cable cars. It costs about $US6 to ride the zipline.

Best time to go : Spring (April/May) or Fall (September/October) to avoid the summer swelter and winter chill.

Wheelchair friendly : No

Family friendly : The hike can get a little challenging. Suited for older kids.

Where to eat :
Capital M
Jinga Taproom - Craft beer in Beijing!
Tribe- Healthy, organic and vegetarian.

Official Site :
Visit Beijing

Where to Stay :
We recommend the Fairmont Beijing, with easy access to tourist attractions such as Wangfujing Street and Entertainment Center, the Forbidden City and the Tiananmen Square.

Getting There :
It's a three-hour drive from Beijing to Jinshangling or Simatai (although you may want to budget some extra time to escape the city's legendary traffic). You can rent a taxi for the day, which costs about $80 to $100, or you can take a tourist bus which runs April to October, departing from the south side of the watchtower in Qianmen (Monday to Friday) or from the Xuanwumen Dispatch Branch Center (weekends). The shuttle cost includes the entry ticket to Simatai.

Note from Robin :
You can experience The Great Wall of China closer to the city, but prepare for extreme crowds and an overall manicured experience. Simatai is a little harder to get to, but here you can experience the wall in its natural state, and the scenery is pretty amazing. Touts might walk with you for miles in the hopes of selling a beer, pop, or postcard. They deserve their yuan. Some of the sections are crumbling so expect to do some scrambling. And it gets hot, sticky and humid in the summer, so drink lots of water.