Intrepid Great Wall Hiking: Nine-day Shanhaiguan to Beijing
PA91-1

Trip name: Intrepid Great Wall Hiking:
Nine-day Shanhaiguan to Beijing
Trip code: GWPA91
Trip length: 9 days
Hiking sections: Laolongtou, Jiaoshan, Dongjiakou, Pingdingyu, Banchangyu, Shibeigou, Jielingkou, Gubeikou, Jinshanling, Simatai West, Jiankou, Mutianyu, Huanghuacheng, Xishuiyu
Meeting point and time: Your hotel at 07:00 on Day 1
Finishing point and time: Your hotel at 16:00 – 17:00 on Day 9
Hiking duration: 1 hour on Day 1, 5 hours on Day 2, 5 hours on Day 3, 5 hours on Day 4, 5 hours on Day 6, 3 hours on Day 7, 5 hours on Day 8, 4 hours on Day 9
Best time to go: Late March to early November
Physical rating: ★★★★★Strenuous
Departure: Your selected date, start and finish in Beijing, all year round

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Price

Group Size 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Price USD (2016) 1530 1620 1710 1800 1890 2030 2160 3690

All Prices shown are in USD (United States Dollar) and based per person and for twin-shared accommodations for multi-day hiking.

For group sizes over 9 please send us an email request to obtain the best possible rate.

Children under age 12 receive 50% discount. Children under 5 are free. Children’s price is based on adult travelers. Please send us children’s details in email.

Remember when comparing price, you get what you pay for. We don’t earn money by taking you to commissioned shopping stops, a common practice in China, wasting your time. Our guides are carefully selected, highly trained  and well-paid to be friendly and patient travel companions. We are not the cheapest, but we are one of the best.

Highlights

  • Hike on less-visited, wild, original, restored and safe sections of the Great Wall
  • Speak to one local farmer, descendant of Great Wall soldiers and now a local Great Wall historian
  • Visit to Mountain Resort in Chengde, largest imperial resort in the Qing Dynasty
  • Try varied home-made food at local farmer’s guesthouses
  •  Learn Chinese dumpling-making at one local family
  • Optional sunrise watching if weather permits
  • Insight visit to local villages near the Great Wall

 

Detailed itinerary

Day Wall Sections
Day 1 Beijing to Shanhaiguan/Laolongtou
Day 2 Jiaoshan & Dongjiakou
Day 3 Pingdingyu to Banchangyu
Day 4 Shibeigou to Jielingkou
Day 5 Mountain Resort in Chengde
Day 6 Gubeikou to Jinshanling
Day 7 Jinshanling to Simatai West
Day 8 Jiankou to Mutianyu
Day 9 Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu -back to Beijing
Day 1: Beijing to Shanghaiguan/Laolongtou

We will depart early in the morning at 7am. The 4-hour drive will take us to Shanhaiguan (literally mountain and ocean military pass), the traditional east end of the Ming Dynasty (1368 A D -1644 A D) Great Wall next to the ocean. Shanhaiguan Pass, the out-most barrier and defence, plays a strategic role in protecting the capital in the Ming Dynasty. It’s even more important between Chinese and Japanese in World War II and Chinese civil war in 1945-1949. It witnessed many well-known battles recorded in history books. The visit incorporate three sections: Laolongtou (Wall stretch to the ocean), Shanhaiguan Military Pass & Great Wall Museum.

Meals: lunch/dinner
Accommodation: Local hotel at Shanhaiguan

Day 2: Jiaoshan (2 hours/3 km) and Dongjiakou (3 hours/4 km hiking)

Three kilometres to the north of Shanhaiguan Pass, Jiaoshan holds the utmost terrain to keep the nomads out of the middle kingdom. The peak point is 519 meters high and you will see the ocean from the top of the Wall. Connecting the military pass, Jiaoshan set up an integrated defence to protect the interior land and people.

We will do a return hike for 2 hours in the morning. We will then drive (2 hours) to Chengziyu, a Great Wall village in remote Hebei Province. We will have lunch upon arrival and have a short break before heading to the hike this afternoon.

Zhang Heshan, our homestay host, as well as descendants of Great Wall soldiers, will guide us in the afternoon hike (2.5 hours) at Dongjiakou, which is well-known for its elegant arches and windows carving.

Zhang’s family looked after their own family watchtower for more than 3.5 centuries. Zhang also inherited a treasury of folktales passed down through some 20 generations of his family. Typically these stories concern the logistical challenges posed by Wall building: the task of working and transporting heavy, bulky building material, and the ingenious methods devised, for example by herding goats laden with bricks up the mountain.

We will stay overnight at Zhang’s house. Stories can be continued after dinner if we love to learn.

Meals: breakfast/lunch/dinner
Accommodation: Zhang’s house (twin room, very basic with shared Chinese toilet and shower)

Day 3: Pingdingyu to Banchangyu (5 hours/5 km hiking)

The Chinese character, (Yu), is combined with two separate characters, mountain and valley, which indicate that a village named after  Yu blends mountains and valleys.  Today’s hike from PingdingYu to BanchangYu is very challenging. The distance is not long (5 km), however some paths are very steep and you need utmost attention. The Wall was built on big stone (granite) and sometimes the stone itself is a part of the Wall. We will stop at an abandoned watchtower where we could see the zigzag watchtowers on cliffs at Banchangyu. It’s not a easy hiking anyway, however you will be rewarded by your dedication. Zhang will be our guide again to help us achieve our ambition.

Alternative hike: Chengziyu to Pingdingyu hiking (4 hours). If you’re not confident to do the challenge from Pingdingyu to Banchangyu, there’s an alternative hike from Chengziyu to Pingdingyu. Please advise your guide.

We will drive (1 hour) to the city and spend the night at downtown area tonight.

Meals: breakfast/lunch/dinner
Accommodation: local hotel in the city

Day 4: Shibeigou to Jielingkou (5 hours/8 km hiking)

We will drive (1.5 hours) to Shibeigou village after breakfast. Today’s hiking is relatively flat without many straight ups and downs. Firstly we will walk up to a watchtower at halfway to a big mountain where you could see the trail we’re going to walk today. The Wall snakes through farmland which is all green in summer time. You can tell the Wall easily by the contrast of the Wall colour, white, and the crops colour, green. It’s a fierce battlement section between Chinese and Japanese in World War II and you still can trace holes on the Wall which were left by Japanese soldiers.

You will walk for 5 hours on a leisure pace. You will then drive (2 hours) to Chengde and refresh at the city.

Meals: breakfast/lunch/dinner
Accommodation: local hotel in Chengde

Day 5: Chengde

Chengde is the summer resort for emperors and his imperial families in the Qing Dynasty (1644 A.D. – 1911 A.D.). Mountain Resort is the largest imperial garden in China by four major areas: palaces, lakes, mountains and plains. Emperor Kangxi and Qianlong spent almost half time every year, thus it was only second to Beijing and was the political center at that time. Emperor Qianlong once received minority Mongols and Tibetans, as well as the first British delegation to China led by George Macartney in 1792. Putuo Zongcheng Temple was built to welcome Banchan, the Tibetan living Buddha, at Qianlong’s reign.

Today’s visit is a short break after consecutive 3 days walking on the Wall.

We will drive (2 hours) to Gubeikou village in late afternoon and stay overnight at this Wall village.

Meals: breakfast/lunch/dinner
Accommodation: local farmer’s guesthouse at Gubeikou village (western toilet & shower)

Day 6 Gubeikou to Jinshanling (5 hours/10 km hiking)

We drive for 20 minutes after breakfast to the entrance of Gubeikou, from where we trek to Jinshanling. Gubeikou is located 146 kilometres north of Beijing. It has the Panlong (Coling Dragon) and Wohu (Crouching Tiger) mountains in the background. In 1378 General Xu Da ordered this section of the Great Wall rebuilt.

Gubeikou has probably seen more battles than any other part of the Great Wall including some of the most famous in Chinese history. Our trek takes us eastward along the old city wall passing numerous watchtowers and other parts of the wall that have not yet been restored.

After 2 hours hiking on the wall of Gubeikou section, we have to get off the wall to avoid a military area nearby. Going through the path in the field for 1.5 hours, and then we will come back to the wall again on the Jinshanling section. We will then off the wall to have fresh Chinese dishes in a local farmer’s restaurant.

We will drive back to Gubeikou village again.

A Chinese dumpling-making learning will be organised in the afternoon.

Meals: breakfast/lunch/dinner
Accommodation: local farmer’s guesthouse at Gubeikou village (western toilet & shower)

Day 7 Jinshanling to Simatai West (3 hours/6 km hiking)

We will drive to Jinshanling in 20 minutes after breakfast at 8am. (Optional sunrise watching can be organised upon request without additional cost if weather permits, please advise your guide.) It will take about 3 hours hiking on the wall. We will get off the wall at East-five-eye Tower at Simatai West Great Wall.

This section offers arguably the finest hiking anywhere on the Great Wall. It is extremely photogenic, with over 15 watch-towers, and steep gradients that give constantly changing perspectives and wide, open views. There is fascinating variety in the watchtowers here. Some have two storeys, others three. Some have flat roofs, others rounded and others again are pitched with upturned eaves. The walkway along the top is paved with square bricks providing a level surface wide enough to construct or erect batteries. This section of the wall is wild, ruined, preserved and original. On a clear day, it is difficult to fail to take good photographs here.

We will drive (2 hours) to Jiankou village after lunch and spend night there.

Meals: breakfast/lunch/dinner
Accommodation: local farmer’s guesthouse at Jiankou village

Day 8 Jiankou to Mutianyu (5 hours/10 km hiking)

We will drive 40 minutes to start the hiking at Jiankou, and it will take 5 hours hiking on the wall. You will hike on both restored and original walls. We will drive (1.5 hours) to Xishuiyu village after lunch.

Jiankou to Mutianyu section offers a wonderfully satisfying experience of the Wall. It has superb scenery, dense vegetation and many fine watch-towers in an excellent restored section which is about six metres broad. The brickwork is elaborate, with crenellations on both sides and finely curved eaves on some watch-

tower roofs. There are decorative gables with animal statues, and tablets bearing calligraphy above some entrances. The first one hour is going straight up and reaches the wall, and then hikes unrestored towers. The wild Wall to the west is the original Ming Dynasty with fine stonework, and there are almost no other people. You will be rewarded when you approach Zhenbeilou Tower, where you will have a breathtaking view of Jiankou section. There will be a sharp contrast when you arrive at Mutianyu with the restored wall and towers. There’s a chance to try toboggan (optional) when finishing the hike at Mutianyu.

Meals: breakfast/lunch/dinner
Accommodation: local farmer’s guesthouse at Xishuiyu village

Day 9 Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu (4 hours/6 km hiking), Beijing

We will finish our breakfast by 8am and then start the hike for 4 hours today.

Originally built in the Beiqi Dynasty (550 A.D.-577 A.D.), Huanghuacheng was extended and consolidated in the Ming Dynasty due to its close distance to the Ming Tombs area. It was critical to protect the imperial tombs area in the Ming Dynasty. There are four defence walls at this area and Huanghuacheng is the commanding center. The Wall was built on steep mountain ridges and it can be seen from a far distance. Two reservoirs were built in 1970s and the Wall was cut down at two positions, thus there’s reflection of the Wall on the lakes/ reservoirs.

The Wall at the beginning is steep and you have to take many breaks to ease your pace. You will meander through jungles and bushes after halfway. A stunning view is waiting for you  when you reach the last watchtower at today’s hike. You feel like you stand on the top of the Wall and enjoy a beautiful lake scenery.

A lunch is organized before heading back to the city. Your Great Wall experience with us will finish at the hotel.

Meals: breakfast/lunch

Accommodation Overview
Day Location Accommodation Style
Day1 Shanhaiguan Local hotel comfort
Day 2 Chengziyu village Homestay at Zhang’s house very basic – shared Chinese toilet and shower
Day 3 JQinhuangdao Local hotel comfort
Day 4 Chengde Local hotel comfort
Day 5 – 6 Gubeikou village Local farmer’s guesthouse comfort
Day 7 Jiankou village Local farmer’s guesthouse basic
Day 8 Xishuiyu village Local farmer’s guesthouse basic

Additional Information

IncludedNot IncludedWhat to take
  • Air-con vehicle with experienced driver
  • Personal expert English-speaking hiking tour guide
  • Entrance fees for the Great Wall and sight seeings as listed
  • Unlimited bottled water; snacks; meals as listed
  • 8 nights twin-shared accommodation in local hotels or guesthouses
  • A certificate of completion for hiking on the Great Wall of China
  • Travel insurance
  • Cable car, chairlift, toboggan (slideway), flyingfox (zipline) or any other additional local facilities
  • Personal expenses
  • Tipping of hiking guide/driver recommended on good service on a 2:1 ratio separately
  • Passport (with photocopies)
  • Travel insurance (with photocopies, is required to show us before tour departure) USD cash and travellers’ cheques
  • Credit card or debit card
  • China entry visas (or vaccination certificates) required
  • Day pack (with water tank, or water bottle) for daily personal items Wet wipes/Moist towelettes
  • Alarm clock Flashlight/torch
  • Sun hat, sun block, sunglasses Insect repellent
  • Ear plugs for light sleepers Small towel
  • Toiletries (biodegradable)
  • Sturdy walking shoes/sports sandals/hiking boots Money belt
  • Shorts for summer months (June-August) Zip-off hiking pants/track pants
  • Shirts/T-shirts
  • Fleece, jacket, hat and gloves (in winter) Waterproof jacket
  • Cover for backpack or plastic bags to keep clothes dry
  • Camera and memory card Reading/writing material First-aid kit

Notes

  • You will hike the Wall from A to B every day and your belongings will go with the can/van directly to the accommodation, and you need a day pack to carry water, snacks and other stuff.
  • Travel insurance is optional and is the sole responsibility of travellers. It is strongly encouraged to have coverage of injury or accident.
  • There is no toilet along the path on the Wall. There are toilets at entrance of the sections of the Great Wall, otherwise be prepared to commune with nature. Please prepare before hiking and always carry toilet paper by yourself.
  • Unlimited bottled waters are stored in our car/van.
  • We will bring trekking poles in our car/van and please tell your guide if you need one.
  • Since this trip will go through jungles and bushes, then long pants with zip-off legs will be the best in summer time and shorts are not recommended.
  • You will be followed by local farmers when starting the hike on Day 7. The farmers will give you help along the way, as a reward they will sell some souvenirs. If you don’t like this, you have to say NO firmly at the beginning (MAYBE LATER does not work in Chinese culture) or just ignore them and not speak a word with them; otherwise they can be persistent and follow you all the way on the Wall.
  • It’s recommended to prepare some snacks before your departure from Beijing if you don’t like snickers.
  • Travel insurance is optional and is the sole responsibility of travellers. It is encouraged to have coverage of injury or accident.
  • As responsible travelers, we “take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprint”.

 

Customized Pick-up & drop-off:

If you plan the hike on the first or last day of your duration in Beijing, we can include a customized pick-up or drop-off at the following points without additional cost. It’s safe to store your luggage at our car/van.

  • Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK at T1/T2/T3): arrival before 7am or departure after 7pm
  • Beijing Railway Station: arrival before 8am or departure after 7pm
  • Beijing West Railway Station (train to/from Xi’an): arrival before 8am or departure after 7:30pm
  • Beijing South Railway Station (train to/from Shanghai): arrival before 8am or departure after 7pm

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GWPA91- Intrepid Great Wall Hiking
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