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Jinshanling Great Wall

Jinshanling Great Wall, Beijing
Jinshanling Great Wall, Beijing
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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.

 Basic Facts of Jinshanling Great Wall
 It is situated on the Big and Small Jinshanling Mountains, hence its name.

 It was constructed under the direction of general Xu Da in 1368 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and renovated under the supervision of the great general Qi Jiguang and the local governor Tan Lun in 1567.

 It zigzags from Longyu Pass in the west, and ends at the Wangjing Tower in the east, with a total length of 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers), a height of 16 feet (5 meters) to 26 feet (8 meters), and an altitude of 2,297 feet (700 meters) above sea level.

 It has 67 watchtowers, 3 beacon towers, and 5 passes. They are densely distributed, at intervals of 55 yards (50 meters) to 110 yards (100 meters).

 The watchtowers differ in construction materials, the number of tiers, and the patterns of roofs. Some of them are made of bricks and wood, while others are made of bricks and stone. Some has one storey, while others have two or three. The roofs of the watchtowers also vary, including domes, flat roofs, square ones, and octagonal ones.

Opening Hours 8:00- 17:00
Admission Fee March 16th to November 15th: CNY 65
November 16th to March 15th: CNY 55
 

Along this section, there are some sites you should not miss.
 General Tower
The General Tower (Storehouse Tower) is the essence of the defensive system, known as the "Most Representative Enemy Tower". It is 11 yards (10 meters) long, and 12 yards (11 meters) wide. There is a stone staircase leading to the top of the tower. On the upper story is a sleeping den, while a storehouse can be found on the lower storey. There are complex constructions outside the tower. To its north are beacon towers, branch walls, buttress walls, and horse blocking walls. Barrier walls stand to its east and west. Beacon towers were used to detect and transfer military information. The branch walls protect the General Tower, the Zhuanduokou Pass and the Shalingkou Pass from being attacked. Buttress walls stop enemies from attacking the General Tower directly. The horse blocking wall prevents cavalry from approaching the Great Wall. The barrier walls are to defend against enemies ascending the wall to attack the General Tower.

 Small Jinshan Tower
The Small Jinshan Tower measures 13 yards (12 meters) long, 12 yards (11 meters) wide, and 26 feet (8 meters) high. There is a stone arched door on the east and west side of the tower. There is one shooting hole on the east, four on the north, and three on the west and south. A storehouse is on the upper storey, with two windows and one door.

 Big Jinshan Tower
The Big Jinshan Tower is 13 yards (12 meters) long, 9 yards (8 meters) wide, and 36 feet (11 meters) high. The base of the tower is paved with seven tiers of stone slabs. There is a stone arched door on the east and west. There are two shooting holes on the east and on the west of the tower, and four shooting holes on the south and north. A stairway in the east leads northward, which consists of ten brick steps. On the second storey is a delicate storehouse made of bricks and woods. The most striking feature of the Big Jinshan Tower is that the gates are pretty difficult to find.

 Bricks with Characters
There are thousands of bricks with characters. The bricks are engraved with the time when they were made and the troops who made them. For example, the characters on a brick read "In the Six Year of the Wanli Period, By the Zhenlu Cavalry Battalion".

 Kylin Screen Wall
As a highlight of the architectural art of the Great Wall, the Kylin Screen Wall can be found on the Small Pot Tower (Xiaohu Tower) between the East Five-window Tower and the Three-window Tower. It is a precious screen wall with exquisite relief sculptures. It is made of 15 blue bricks. The Kylin Screen Wall is 2.7 yards (2.5 meters) long, and 6.6 feet (2 meters) high. The kylin is standing on auspicious clouds, with its mouth open and tongue sticking out. It is very vivid and interesting. Because there are no stone stairs leading up to the top of the tower, visitors rarely see the Kylin Screen Wall. Therefore, it is well-preserved. Nowadays, a copy can be found beside Jinshan Gallery inside the scenic area, so that visitors can see the mysterious screen wall easily.
Broken Wall and Steps at Jinshanling
Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking

 How to tour Jinshanling Great Wall
The site currently has three gates: the main gate (middle gate), the east gate and the west gate. One can start hiking from any of them.
 The main gate is closer to famous watchtowers like General Tower, Small Jinshan Tower and Big Jinshan Tower, hence more popular among visitors.

 If you don't want to climb, a cable car is available from the main gate to Small Jinshan Tower. A single ride takes about 16 minutes.

Schedule of the Cableway 8:30- 16:30
Fee of the Cableway CNY 40 for a single trip


 However, if you want to complete the whole section without a detour, you are advised to start from east or west gate, and exit from the other one. The west gate is recommended, for the road leading to the Great Wall is easier. It takes about 6 hours to hike from one end to the other.

Jinshanling Great Wall Map
Jinshanling Great Wall Map (Click to enlarge)

 Recommended Hiking Routes
 Route 1: You may start hiking from Zhuanduokou Pass, via General Tower, to Shalingkou Pass. The distance is about 2 miles (3km) and it takes about 1.5 hours to finish the journey. Afterwards, you can go down the mountain from Shalingkou Pass.

 Route 2: You may also start from Zhuanduokou Pass, via General Tower and Shalingkou Pass, to Small Jinshan Tower. After that, you may take a cable car down the mountain. The distance is about 2.5 miles (4 km), and it takes about 2 hours to complete the hiking.

 Route 3: Start hiking from Zhuanduokou Pass, via General Tower, Shalingkou Pass, Small and Big Jinshan Towers to Houchuankou Pass. The whole journey is about 3 miles (5 km), and it takes hikers around 3 hours to finish it. After the visit, you may go down the mountain from Jinshan Horse Track.

 Route 4: Start hiking from Shalingkou Pass, and go by Small and Big Jinshan Tower, Houchuankou Pass, Eastern Five-window Tower, bricks with characters, and Kylin Screen Wall. Finally, you may go down the mountain and exit through the east gate. The route is about 4 miles (7km), and it takes about 4 hours to complete.

Great Wall at Jinshanling
Broken Great Wall at Jinshanling

 When is the Best Time for a Visit?
The best times are in April, May, September and October when the temperature is moderate and the scenery is the most beautiful. One thing to mention is that in early April, the mountains slopes are covered with beautiful apricot flowers in full blossom, making it a sea of apricot flowers. The Apricot Festival is held this time annually.


 How to Get There from Downtown Beijing
 You may take subway line 13 (Exit D) or subway line 15 (Exit C) to Wangjing West Station. Then, take the tourist bus to your destination directly. The bus departs at 8:00 and returns at 15:00. The bus fare is CNY 32. The trip takes about 2 hours.

 Please note that the direct tourist bus only operates during peak travel season (April 1 to November 15) and departs when there are at least 20 passengers. Otherwise, you need to go there by other means, mentioned below.

 You may take a coach to Luanping from Wangjing West Subway Station, and get off at Jinshanling Service Area. Duration is about 100 minutes and ticket price is CNY 32 per person. Then, take a free shuttle bus to the scenic area. You can also hike from the Service Area to the scenic area; the distance is about 1.3 miles (2 kilometers).
Schedule Onward Trip Return Trip
Coach 7:00-16:30 every 40 minutes 6:30-16:00 every 40 minutes
Free Shuttle Bus 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:30 10:30, 11:30, 13:30, 15:00

 Take bus line 980 Express to Miyun County at Dongzhimen Long Distance Bus Station for CNY 17. Afterwards, hire a car and a driver to your destination for CNY 100-200. The schedule of bus line 980 Express is listed below.
Onward Trip 6:00- 20:00
Return Trip 4:30- 18:30
Jinshanling Great Wall Watchtower Jinshanling Great Wall
 Jinshanling Great Wall Marathon
Notably, the Marathon Race is held in late April annually. If you are energetic enough, you may take part in the full marathon, half marathon, or 10km race. It will certainly leave you with a wonderful experience.
 See detailed Great Wall Marathon

 Where to Stay and Dine
 Inside the scenic area, there is a camp site at the foot of the mountain. But you need to pay for it: CNY 150 for camping and admission fee, or CNY 200 for camping, admission, and tent rental fee. Camping on the Great Wall is not allowed. Alternatively, there are some hotels and farmhouses nearby, where you can stay overnight too.
 There are some restaurants near the main gate, where you can taste some local delicacies.