Simatai Great Wall
If you want to have a look at the original appearance of the Great Wall, Simatai section is the site you should be sure not to miss.
Why Visit Simatai Rather Than Others
Distinct from other developed sections like Badaling and Mutianyu, renovations here have focused only on essential reinforcement work. Its original appearance is still preserved to let you feel the truly historic atmosphere.
It was ranked first in the list of the 'World's Top 25 Scenic Spots' by the Times newspaper in 2012.
A night tour can be undertaken in this section, offering you a different viewing experience.
A cable car is available allowing visitors to save energy, making it possible for everyone to ascend it, even seniors and little kids.
Mandarin Duck Lake lies at the foot of the wall, with a water town (Gubei Water Town) by the lake. Travelers can experience at the same time the beauty of the water town as well as the grand Great Wall.
Basic Facts of Simatai Great Wall
This section was constructed under the supervision of Qi Jiguang, a famous general in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
It stretches 3.4 miles (5.4 kilometers), and is separated into eastern part and western part by Mandarin Duck Lake.
This section has 34 beacon towers, with 18 of them in the western part and 16 in the east. They are relatively close to each other, with the average distance apart about 460 feet (140 meters).
Presently, only the eastern part from No. 1 Tower to No. 10 Tower has been restored and officially opened.
Simatai Great Wall displays various patterns of construction. Here, you can not only view the conventional appearance of the Great Wall, with battlements on each side of the track, but also see on steep cliffs the half-wall style, with battlements built only on the outer side. The slope and width also change dramatically depending on the different terrain. Some segments along the gentle slopes are so wide and mild that even horses can walk on them. At other narrow points, only one person at a time is able to pass.
Another feature of Simatai is the diverse architectural styles of the beacon towers; there are two-storey or three-storey towers, and towers of square shape, oval shape, or hexagonal. The number of arrow holes on each tower also varies, and includes two, three, four, and even 24 holes. Of the towers, the most distinctive are the Fairy Maiden Tower (No. 15 East Tower) and Wangjing Tower (No. 16 East Tower). The former is the narrowest tower of this section, while the latter occupies the highest point of the whole scenic area. There is an almost vertical stairway with large steps leading to the Fairy Maiden Tower. Built over the sheer cliff, it makes the tower very hard to reach.
|Admission Fee||CNY 40|
|CNY 20 for children between 3.9 and 4.9 feet (1.2 and 1.5 meters) in height.|
|Free for children less than 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) in height.|
|Opening Hours||Daytime||April to October||8:00 – 19:00 (Site is cleared at 20:00)|
|November to the following March||8:00 – 17:00 (Site-cleared at 18:00)|
|Night Time||April to October||18:00 – 21:00 (Weekdays), 18:00 – 21:30 (Weekends) |
Ticketing Time: 19:00 – 20:30
|November to the following March||17:30 – 20:00 (Weekdays), 17:30 – 20:30 (Weekends) |
Ticketing Time: 17:30 – 20:00
How to Tour Simatai Great Wall
The steps in the opened part are in sound condition and not very steep. The rest of this part may not be safe and not recommended to visit. This includes the Fairy Maiden Tower and Wangjing Tower. However, it's still worthwhile to admire these two towers from No. 10 East Tower. Standing at the top of the lofty mountains, they look magnificent even from a distance.
If one insists on hiking the unopened eastern part, be well prepared with professional hiking equipment.
Since the western part is closed, hiking from Simatai to Jinshanling is not allowed.
The wall was built along steep ridges. So, more energy is needed for ascent. Generally, it takes around two and a half hours hiking to reach the East No. 10 Tower, and around an hour for descend.
If you feel it too difficult to go the whole way walking, a cable car is available to save your energy. After reaching the cable car upper terminal, there are two footpaths leading to the East No. 5 Tower and East No. 8 Tower respectively.
Cable Car: CNY 160 (round trip), CNY 90 (single trip)
Only the segment between No. 5 East Tower and No. 6 East Tower is opened for the night tour. Visitors are required to take the round-trip cable car.
Better Make a Reservation in Advance
Because of the damage in some parts, in order to let visitors have a safe and pleasant tour, tourist number is limited in each time interval. To guarantee a visit upon arrival, you'd better make a reservation in advance.
If you intend to climb the Great Wall only, you should make an online reservation one to ten days in advance at www.wtown.com, using a valid ID certificate like passport. After booking, you will get a confirmation message. Upon arrival, buy the entry ticket at the visitor center square using the reservation confirmation message and your ID certificate. From there, you will be guided to the shuttle bus to the Great Wall. The ticketing service is only available at 10:00, 12:00, and 14:00, so, you should arrange your itinerary well.
Visitors who have not made a reservation in advance are not guaranteed a ticket when they arrive. They will only be given a ticket if the number of tourists with reservations doesn't reach the limit.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
The best time for a visit is April, May, September, or October. In April, May, and September, the warm weather is very comfortable for visitors. With lush plants covering the mountain, the winding wall looks like a dragon lying on a green sea. In October, red leaves cover the ridge, offering you another wonderful scene.
How to Get to Simatai Great Wall from Downtown Beijing
You should take subway line 2 or line 13 to Dongzhimen Station first, and then take bus 980 or 980 Express from Dongzhimen Transit Hub. Get off at Miyun Bus Station and transfer to bus Mi 37, Mi 50, or Mi 51 to Simatai Village Station. Then walk to the entrance of Gubei Water Town where you will find the visitor center to buy ticket.
|Bus Number||Fare||Operating Time|
|980||CNY 15||From Dongzhimen: 5:50 – 21:00 |
Return Trip: 4:40 – 19:00
|980 Express||CNY 17||From Dongzhimen: 6:00 – 20:00 |
Return Trip: 4:30 – 18:30
|Mi 37||CNY 8||To the Wall: 7:15 – 13:15 |
Return Trip: 9:10 – 15:10
|Mi 50||CNY 8||To the Wall: 6:50 – 13:10 |
Return Trip: 8:50 – 15:10
|Mi 51||CNY 8||To the Wall: 9:00 – 16:00 |
Return Trip: 7:30 – 14:30
Where to Eat
Although there are food stalls on the wall, they are not cheap; it is recommended you bring some snacks and bottled water with you.
If you also buy a ticket for Gubei Water Town, you can have a meal in the town after your visit to the Great Wall. The water town is also a great place to stay overnight.
If you don't plan to visit the water town, you can go to the Simatai Folk Culture Village for dining and accommodation. It is about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) from Gubei Water Town. You can get there by bus Mi 37, Mi 50 or Mi 51. Get off at Shalingzi Station and you will find the village.