Living in Beijing, we have been fortunate enough to have visited many different parts of the Great Wall (and some even more than once!).  To be honest, I had no idea we would be visiting this many different sections once we moved here.  It’s been amazing to hike all these different parts as they each are different in their own way.  Check out some of our pictures from all the sections we’ve visited so far in Beijing (depending on the list you check out, there are 12 total for Beijing).

Here’s a guide to the parts that we have seen:

1.

My Favorite:  Jinshanling

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Distance:  about 2 1/2 to 3 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  Anyone can hike this section.  There is a chairlift but it’s never been running when we’ve gone.

Dogs:  I asked and they said you could bring them

Accessing the Wall:  You park in the parking lot and then walk up along the road until you reach the wall.  It’s really not that bad.

Tips:  When you hike up to the Wall, turn left to hike the restored section or turn right and hike the unrestored section (note:  by turning right and hiking the unrestored section, you eventually have to stop hiking due to it being closed due to a military zone).

Why I love this section:  It’s never been crowded and you get incredible views as the Wall really branches out in different sections here.

 

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2.

My Second Favorite:  Jiankou

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Distance:  about 2 1/2 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  Hikers (you need to be in shape for this part and be prepared for some heights)

Dogs:  You could bring them and hiking through the mountain would be fine but I would not have them on the Wall due to it being so wild.

Accessing the Wall:  We entered Nanjili into our GPS and we to this town.  Once we reached the town, we parked out car and paid a local 10 kuai for parking.  Then we walked to a path leading us into the woods to hike up to the Wall.

Tips:  There are many different ways to get to Jiankou.  The path we found in Nanjili village worked for us. I definitely think going from the North (Xizhazi Village/Nanjili) is better that going from the South (Wofo Mountain Villa).  Coming from the North the hike up to the mountain should be around 1 1/2 hours as opposed to 3 1/2 coming from the south.

Why I love this section: The views are spectacular.  You are just so high up.  I was also really proud of us for finding this section and hiking it on our own.

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3.

The Closest Option that’s the Best:  Juyongguan

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Distance:  about 1 1/2 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  Anyone can visit this section to get nice views of the Great Wall right there but you should be in shape for hiking it

Dogs:  I wouldn’t due to the steepness throughout

Accessing the Wall:  The Wall is right there next to the road

Tips:  This is a closed loop section.  I recommend hiking the east side first (go right) as it’s lower (and also usually less crowded to start).  After hiking the east side, you can decide if you want to continue onto to the west (it’s SUPER steep but awesome views) or you can cut back through the middle.

Why I love this section: It’s an easy drive from the city and it wasn’t overall crowded.  It’s also interesting since it’s a closed loop.

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4.

Wild Wall Option:  Gubeikou (Wohushan and Panlongshan)

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Distance:  about 2-2 1/2 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  Anyone can visit this section who is in shape.  The Wohushan side is more of  of hiking along dirt than on neatly paved stones (the Wall is too crumbled to walk on it on that side).  The Panlongshan side (starting from the town) has more ups and downs but plenty of flat places too (and walking on the actual Wall).

Dogs:  We took ours and they did just fine on the Wohushan side.  I wouldn’t take them to the Panlongshan side due to some steeper drop-offs.

Accessing the Wall:  There are two section of Gubeikou–Wohushan and Panlongshan.  Wohushan is to the left (across the bridge from the town) and Panlongshan is to the right (you access the Wall from the town).

For the Wohushan section, you go across the bridge and you’ll then see a sign for the Great Wall (there are toilets no longer in use to your left and nice big stairs to your right with parking just beyond that).  Once you park, you’ll walk up the stairs…there is no sign telling you to go up the stairs for the Wall.  We actually took a goat path that is to the left as you look at the stairs (closer to the parking and you walk along a little bridge and past some gazebos).

For the Panlongshan section, after you enter into the town, you’ll turn right pretty soon and there should be a sign that points towards the temples.  After you turn right, you’ll go through the town briefly and be sure to turn right after that.  It looks like a one-way street but you want to go that way and then you will see parking on your right (and toilets there too!).  Park there and then head left up to the bridge/underpass that takes you to the stairs leading to the Wall.  There may be someone collecting money for a ticket there (or you may see someone else selling tickets along your hike as you can access this section from different places).

Tips:  I think that Jiankou is a slightly more interesting wild part of the Wall but Gubeikou is much easier to access and not as intense while hiking.  When hiking here, it seems you are taking goat paths up to the actual wall.

If you do the Panlongshan section, you won’t see the stunning views for a little bit, so keep following the markings (at one point you cut through a little mountain path to pick up at the Wall again).  It is awesome to do this part because you see Jinshanling in the distance and can hike all the way there until you get to a military zone (and you would have to get off the Wall to hike further).

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Why I love this section: On a clear day, you can see Jinshanling and Simatai way in the distance.  It is said that Wohushan, Panlongshan, Jinshanling, and Simatai actually all make up Gubeikou.

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5.

Fun Tourist Part:  Mutianyu

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Distance:  about 2 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  This is most popular with foreign tourists.  Anyone can visit this section (you take a bus up closer to the wall and then the cable car or chair lift from there)

Dogs:  No dogs-way too touristy here

Accessing the Wall:  It’s an easy drive to Mutianyu with a parking lot and many restaurants/shops.

Tips:  This one is more expensive because you have to pay to get on the way and then your bus ticket and then your cable car or chair lift/toboggan ticket.  You definitely want to take the bus up the mountain first.  I would probably do the chair lift up and then turn right to hike that section.  You’ll pass by the toboggan there.  If you still have energy, keep going to to get a bit of a view of an unrestored section.  I would then take the toboggan down-it’s fun and not scary like I thought!  (Cable car up and toboggan down are two different tickets)

Why I love this section: While it’s touristy, this is the first part we visited, so it’s special to us.  I think it’s also maintained very well.  The cable car gives you lots of great views and the toboggan ride is a fun experience too.

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6.

Fun by the water:  Huanghuacheng (Lakeside Great Wall)

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Distance:  about 2 1/2 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  Anyone can visit this section

Dogs:  Yes!  There are lots around–especially down by the water.

Accessing the Wall:  There are a couple parking lots and you pay to walk across the dam to enter into the area.  You then walk either the dam or through the woods to get to the water and the wall from there.  (Some people find ways to enter through a village)

Tips:  In some ways, it does feel touristy with a lot of families hanging out by the water but this is the perfect place for a picnic and exploring some of the wall.  The wall wasn’t crowded either.

Why I love this section: It so different from other sections since it is by the water.  It has a different feel, and I love that the dogs could explore with us.

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7.

Short and straight up:  Xiangshuihu

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Distance:  about 2 1/2 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  Because it’s basically stairs straight up, I’d recommend it for those in shape

Dogs:  I wouldn’t due to the steepness

Accessing the Wall:  You actually have to stop first (there is a blockade) and pay for a ticket/for your car to drive up to the parking lot where you access the Wall.

Tips:  This section had a cool feel to it with the way it sits in the mountains.  If you can go when there is shade, it makes it much more enjoyable.  We walked over the damn and then climbed down a little before going up, up, up.  Eventually, you can’t hike anymore.

Why I love this section: This one is just past Mutianyu (you drive right by the Mutianyu parking lot).  It feels more out there to me without actually being out there.  I thought it was a fun hike.

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8.

More than just the Wall:  Simatai

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Distance:  about 3 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  Anyone can visit this section but be sure that the shuttle is running or you may end up doing a lot of walking before actually getting to the Wall

Dogs:  No–this is a tourist area and you can to take a cable car up.

Accessing the Wall:  You actually park in the Gubei Water Town and access the Wall through the town (or take the shuttle from the town).

Tips:  You can purchase a ticket for all these:  entrance into the town, shuttle, cable car, and Great Wall inside the Gubei Town Ticket office.  I would recommend going there for that. The town itself is interesting to see too and the cable car ride up is awesome since it’s very steep!  If you’re afraid of heights, be prepared though as this is a wild wall and some of the walls are missing!

Why I love this section: I wasn’t expecting this to be so touristy since it’s a wild section of the Wall but be prepared because it is.  I thought the cable car provided some awesome views.

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9.

Waterfalls and the Wall:  Lupiguan

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Distance:  about 2 1/2 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  Anyone can visit this section

Dogs:  I’m not sure but we didn’t take ours.

Accessing the Wall:  Well, this part of the Wall is actually along the road.  You park on the side of the road in Miyun.  We did this on our way back from Black Dragon Pool where there is more of the Wall there but you can’t access it.

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Tips:  Go to Black Dragon Pool for a nice hike in the woods to see some waterfalls!  Stop by the Great Wall either on the way there or the way back.

Why I love this section: I wasn’t expected to find waterfalls so close to Beijing, so that was cool!  It was a great hike and nice to then see the Wall in the town.

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10.

Another Close Option:  Shuiguan (Water Pass)

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Distance:  about 1 1/2 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  I would advise for those in shape as it’s very steep in the beginning.

Dogs:  No–it is very steep and more touristy too.

Accessing the Wall:  Shuiguan is in-between Juyongguan and Badaling.

Tips:  It’s more touristy than Juyongguan, and we’ve only gone to the left which we found to be very steep until you reach the top (finally!).  It is cool walking until the end and then getting a view of Badaling (where all the crowds are!).

Why I love this section: It gives a great view of Badaling (the one most popular with Chinese tourists).

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11.

Shixiaguan (Badaling Remnant)

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Distance:  about 2 hours from downtown Beijing

Who For:  Anyone can visit this section to at least see it from the road

Dogs:  No–at least not the part that is visible from the road

Accessing the Wall:  Your GPS may take you to a parking lot that is now in a construction area (where they are building temples) but before you even get there, at the start of the town, you will see the wall there and can pull to the side of the road to hike up it a bit.

Tips:  While there are other ways to access other parts of this section, the easiest that we found was to just pull off to the side of the road and climb up it a bit.  It is a wild part with not much remaining.

Why I love this section: It’s always interesting to see what is left of some sections.

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12.

Still to come:  Badaling

This is the most popular with Chinese tourists (think wall to wall crowds climbing the Wall), so we’ll try this in the off-season.


 

We also want to head to where the Wall meets the sea (Dragon Head).  It’s about a four hour car ride (or a couple hours by train and then you hire a taxi from there).

Also, to note, some of these sections, we only had the chance to hike one way, so we’d love to go back and hike some more in the other direction and find other parts of the Wall to explore.

TOTE:  Take advantage of the adventures when you can!