Code: GW18

One Day Great Wall Hiking from Jinshanling to Simatai

Important Notice:
The Simatai Great Wall partially reopened on January 1, 2014, after being closed for renovation since July 2010. Only ten watchtowers are now open to visitors and a new building Gubei Water Town (Beijing Wtown) is also open at the foot of the wall. However, the path connecting to Jinshanling Great Wall is blocked, therefore, the classic Jinshanling to Simatai hike is currently closed. There is no news on when the path will be open. We will update you as soon as we get more news about the wall.

Small agents or illegal private guides might offer you this hike through unofficial paths, but we suggest that you do not go with them as it is illegal and risky. You can climb either Jinshanling or Simatai sections, or other sections which will provide you with the same wild and genuine experience, such as Gubeikou and Jiankou. See our Jinshanling Guided Hiking and Simatai Independent Tour.

Hiking duration: 4 – 5hours
Direction: Jinshanling– West section of Simatai
Difficulty: ★★★★★
Best Time to Visit: April to June; September to October
Highlights: Simatai joins the Jinshanling section at the border between Beijing and Hebei province. The wall here has never been restored and its original 400-year old appearance has been well preserved. Because it is full of challenges and set in splendid natural scenery, this section has been a favorite for hikersand photographers from all over the world. Most magazine photos of the Great Wall of China are taken from this section.

Zhuanduokou, starting point of
Jinshanling hiking

The dilapidated watchtower

As it takes about 3 hours one way from downtown to Jinshanling, you'd better set off early in the morning. You are advised to arrive at Dongzhimen Station by 8:00am and take bus No. 970 or No. 980 to Miyun County. The first shuttle bus No. 980 starts at 6:30am, and runsevery 10-20 minutes. At Miyun, you can hire a car or take a taxi to Jinshanling. Bear in mind to bargain with the driver and settle the price at about CNY50 per car. You will arrive at about 11:00am. As there are no food outlets on the wall, you might like to have lunch at a small restaurant at the foot of the wall unless you have brought along some take-away food and bottled water. A special tourist bus from the Wangjing West Subway Station (intersection station of Line 13 and Line 15) to the attraction is also available, but it only operates on weekends and holidays between April and November. The bus leaves from the Exit B of the Wangjing West station at 8:00am, and gets back to the city from Jinshanling at 3:00pm. You only need to pay CNY 120 per person and enjoy a one-day tour package including the round-trip bus fares and the entrance fee for Jinshanling.

The damaged part of the wall

The ruined Jinshanling

This route from Jinshanling to Simatai is about 10.5 kilometers, with 43 watchtowers (18 watchtowers on Jinshanling, 17 watchtowers on the west section of Simatai and 8 watchtowers on the east). The watchtowers on this section stand close to each otherat intervals of 50-100 meters. The whole trip takes about 4-5 hours. Hereunder is the detailed information:

The admission fee toJinshanling is CNY65 from March 16th to November 15th and CNY 55 from November 16th to March 15th (no need to worry if you take the tourist bus). Walking along the road leading to the scenic resort, you will find the "China Jinshanling Great Wall" building. Your challenge hike starts here.

Hiking on the wall

Hiking on the wall

Tips: At the foot of the wall, some local people offertour guide services, charging CNY 30-50. They will also sell souvenirs. It's up to you to decide if you'd like company on the hike - otherwise just ignore them.

Crenel Building (Zhuanduokou Tower) is the first tower you will see and also the entrance to Jinshanling. This part is not terribly damaged, so it is not that tough to climb. Walking eastward from Crenel Building, you will approach the 2nd watchtower (Qiangduolou Tower) and then the 3rd watchtower East Terrace (Dongfangtai Tower). Continue to hike northeast until you find a turnoff to the southwest which is leading to Open Tower (Changlouzi Tower) and Sifang Terrace (Sifangtai Tower). Ignore this turnoff and continue to walk eastward to the 4th watchtower Storage Tower (Kufanglou Tower) and the following 5th and 6th watchtowers of West Tower (Xichenglou Tower) and West Terrace (Xifangtai Tower). Climb forward to Shalingkou Pass. Go on to pass the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th watchtowers, then a turning watch tower erected on the cliff in front of you, which is the 11th watchtower Little Jinshan Building. The 12th watchtower Large Jinshan Building is just about 100 meters ahead. From here, the wall becomes more dilapidatedand shabby, which makes us conscious of the need to protect it. The road is steeper and more ruined on the left part. You must mind your steps as both sides of the wall are cliffs. It's better to hike the wall with companions in case of any emergency.

Hiking on the wall

Climbing on the wall

From now on, you can only "climb" on the wall (i.e. scramble up). Continue to hike northeast from Large Jinshanlou Tower and you will pass the 13thto 18thwatchtowers, namely Yaogou Building (Yaogoulou Tower), Unnamed Building (Wuminglou Tower), Houchuan Building (Houchuankou Tower), Shazi Building (Shazilou Tower), General Building (Jiangjunlou Tower) and Corner Building (Guaijiaolou Tower). By the way, between the Unnamed Building and Houchuan Building, there is Houchuan Pass, from whicha path stretches and leads to the foot of the mountain.

From the Corner Building, you will enter the Simatai section. There will be someoneasking you to buy entrance tickets, which are CNY40 per person. This part has always been described as 'dangerous steps, densewatchtowers, various structures, artful design, and the beauty ofrare relics'. Parts were built along steep crags. Hikers must pay more attention to loose and broken steps. Different kinds of watchtowers are close to each other. Moreover, the environment of this section is also very good. There is a reservoir with limpid water all year round, which will give you quite a different feeling from theroughness of the wall.

Hiking on Jinshanling
The the path is rugged
Travelers should pay attention

Travelers take adventures to
get through the dilapidated part,
though there is a detour.

Simatai section is more dangerous and broken than Jinshanling. It is divided into east and west sections by the Reservoir. There are 17 watchtowers on the west section and 15 watchtowers on the east. Today, you will hike through the west section and the first 8 watchtowers on the east sections.

Starting from the Corner Building, you will pass anunnamed building (1st tower, not the one on Jinshanling), Black Tower (2nd), Tower with three holes (3rd) and Tower with five holes (4th), then turn left and continue to pass through the Small Arc-roof Building (5th), Large Arc-roof Building (6th), Wall made of real bricks, Nianzigou Tower (7th), Tower with three holes (8th), Tower with four holes (9th), Henggou Building (10th) and four unnamed buildings (11-14th). Now you will arrive at the 15th Watchtower – Little Hutong Building. Climb over the 16th watchtower (Sanyanlou Tower), you will get to the last watchtower of the west section - Corner Building (Zhuanjiaolou Tower). Here the Simatai is cut off by the Hot Spring Lake (the Reservoir). Take the chair-lift to cross over and reach the east section, or just walk across the chain bridge over the lake.

Hiking on the wall

Hiking on the wall

Option One: After getting to the east section of Simatai, you will climb through 8 watchtowers to reach the White Cloud Building (Baiyunlou Tower), where you can take a chair-liftto the foot of the mountain.

Option Two: If you are too tired to finish all the 8 watchtowers, you can take the cable car at the second watchtower to the lake half way down the mountain.Then take a battery-powered boat to the parking lot. Otherwise, there is a hillside road at the second watchtower leading to the foot of the mountain.

Option Three: If you are still full of energy after arriving at the 8th watchtower (White Cloud Building), you can continue to climb forward to Wanghailou Building (the 11thwatchtower) and General Building (the 12thwatchtower). The section after the 12th watchtower is not open to tourists. For the way back, you need to return to the 8thwatchtower and then climb down the mountain.

After getting to the foot of Simatai, you can hire a car to Machang, where there are lots of buses to Miyun County. The charge is about CNY20-30 per car. Take a bus to Miyun Bus Station at a cost of CNY5-10 per person. You'd better get to the Miyun Bus Station by 18:00 inorder to catch shuttle bus No. 980 back to Beijing.


The cable car down wall

 Some kind tips:
1. This section of the wall is loose and dilapidated, so it's dangerous to hike through. You'd better go with some friends or hire a local guide.
2. Do not take photos while walking. If you want to take photos, stop and find a safe place.
3. Bring enough water with you. There is no water on the wall. When drinking water, we suggest you sip slowly instead of gulping. Drinking too fast will make you feel thirsty sooner. By the way, there are no toilets on the wall.
4. The wall is badly weathered and rocks crumble easily. Be cautious. As the road is shabby and dilapidated on the way, scrambling up is sometimes the best and safest way to move forward.

Watchtower of Simatai section

Simatai Section

 More Great Wall Hiking Routes: 
Mutianyu Hiking: Mutianyu hiking routes with practical travel tips
Jinshanling Hiking: starting from $69 per person
Simatai Exploration: One day hike tour to Simatai and Gubei Water Town
Jiankou Hiking: Expedition route to wild Jiankou section
Hiking to Huangyaguan
: one day suggestion route

Questions & Answers
Asked by P Dg from PHILIPPINES | Aug. 27, 2018 00:17Reply
Last transport back to Beijing
What time is the last transport from Shimatai to Beijing? Are there taxis in the area? I want to see Shimatai at night but I'm reading that 19:00 is the last bus on weekdays.
Answers (3)
Answered by Lena | Aug. 28, 2018 01:27

As far as I know, there are direct shuttle buses available which start from Dongzhimen Transit Hub to Gubei Water Town Scenic Spot. The bus ride takes around 2 hours. And the last bus from Simatai is at 21:00. Taking taxi is not recommended as the charge is very high. If you are interested, you may also stay a night at the Water Town and climb the Great Wall at night without hurry.
Answered by P G from PH | Aug. 28, 2018 04:42

Thanks Lena,

21:00 is the last bus on weekdays too?

I plan to go back to Beijing. If I stay in Gubei, I have to bring my check-in luggage along the hike from Jinshaling.
Answered by Lena | Aug. 28, 2018 18:18

Yes, the last bus depatures 21:00 every day. It is fine to return to Beijing downtown at night considering the heavy luggage that you take.
Asked by Caroline from USA | Jul. 17, 2018 09:06Reply
What is the best day hike along the wall since jinshanling to Simatai is closed
Answers (1)
Answered by Brad | Jul. 17, 2018 17:56

Spring and Autumn are the two best seasons to climb the Great Wall. However, I would like to remind you that the path between Jinshanling and Simatai are closed now, so it is impossible to hike through these two sites. You are suggested to visit one of the sections.
Asked by Liliane from FRANCE | Mar. 29, 2018 19:29Reply
Great Wall at Jinshanling
Do you know if it’s possible to hike from Jinshanling to Simatai?
Is the road connecting the two section reopned ?
Thanks for your answer
Answers (1)
Answered by Xin | Mar. 29, 2018 20:06

No, the road connecting the two section is still blocked. I guess it probably would never open again.
Asked by ET from SINGAPORE | Dec. 24, 2017 17:55Reply
Jinshanling-Simatai Hike
Appreciate clear answers from those in the know:
1. I understand Jinshanling has been reopened since October 27th. Now, what is the actual status between Jinshanling-Simatai? It seems the hiking route between Jinshanling-Simatai West (what I know is NOT all watchtowers on Simatai East is open) is possible. Can anyone confirm this?
2. From the above, can anyone explain what are the charges for tickets/admission? Do I need to buy two tickets if I start at Jinshanling and finish at Simatai West? If so, what are the charges in January 2018 for both sections and where do I actually buy the ticket for Simatai West (where is this border)?
Answers (1)
Answered by Nancy | Dec. 25, 2017 20:05

As I know, the hiking route between Jinshanling and Simatai is still blocked now. You can visit either Jinshanling or Simatai section but can not get through the border.

The admission fee for Jinshanling Great Wall is CNY65 from April to October and CNY55 from November to March. The entrance fee for Simatai section is CNY40 per adult.
Asked by Yunkyung from SOUTH KOREA | Dec. 17, 2017 22:34Reply
1st day to Simatai, 2nd day to Jinshanling
I heard that it is not allowed to hike from Jinshanling to Simatai, so I plan to hike Simatai during daytime on the first day and go to Jinshanling in the early morning on the second day to see the sunrise. Is this possible?
Thank you very much.
Answers (3)
Answered by Lydia | Dec. 18, 2017 00:10

Hi, if you would like to see sunrise in Jinshanling, you should stay at Jinshanling the night before. It is better to go to Jinshanling after finishing visiting Simatai on the first day. Hope it helps.
Answered by Yunkyung from SOUTH KOREA | Dec. 18, 2017 00:47

Hello Lydia,
Thank you so much for your kind information.
BTW, I already reserved a hotel at Gubei Water Town. Is it possible to call a taxi to go to Jinshanling in the early morning? and How long does it take from Gubei Water town to Jinshanling by taxi?
Thank you again!
Answered by Lydia | Dec. 18, 2017 18:52

Why don't you contact your hotel at Gubei Water Town? Tell them your plan and see if they can arrange a car for you. They must be very familiar with the sunrise time, transportation and price.
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