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Advice: Simatai East and 2 days hike

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  • Advice: Simatai East and 2 days hike

    Hello all!

    I've been reading most of the posts here and found them very useful.

    We're three going for a month to China in October, and, like many people here, we'd very much like to hike between Jiankou and Mutianyu in one day, then the next between Jinshanling and Simatai.

    (Though my chinese girlfriend is adamant about it being "pointless" to spend to entire days at the wall since she's been told that Jiankou-Mutianyu would be enough and the rest would simply be repetitive...)

    Anyway, I'd like to ask about the Simatai East part that according to Wikipedia has just been reopened after 10 years of closure.

    Could anyone confirm that it is indeed open and visitable? More so, would it be worth it to visit? How long would it take? =)

    Despite all the useful information found in this forum and other sources, I'm still having somme trouble setting up the whole thing. We'll be coming from Beijing and would like to go to Chengde for a day as well.
    I thought it could make sense to go first to Chengde, stay overnight then head up early to Simatai (closest GW point?), go to Jinshianling, camp the night on the wall or hire a taxi or a local car to take us to Mutianyu and spend the night there at a local's guesthouse, then kickstart an early hike to Jiankou and from there hire a taxi or a car back to Beijing.

    That all seemed fine on paper, but I don't know for sure it's "easy" to do, I mean timeframes and the chances of finding transportation (and at what cost), accomodation, etc.

    - How long does it take by car between Mutianyu and Jinshianling? (they seem to be the closest points between these two hikes).
    - How long between Chengde and Simatai?
    - How long between Jiankou and Beijing centre?

    - What's the best form of transportation, duration in hours and usual cost?

    All this is still open to discussion as we're flexible in reorganizing to fit what makes more sense and what result more convenient, but we're in a hurry to set it on stone so that we can book the hotel in Beijing and get the visas. Time is pressing on... =(

    A last question (sorry there are so many): would it be best and convenient (

  • #2
    Re: Advice: Simatai East and 2 days hike

    If you have a Chinese girlfriend then you have the greatest Great Wall visiting asset anyone could ask for - someone who speaks Chinese!

    She is right and you should listen to her. 250 euros is insanely expensive for anything to do with the great wall in Beijing - it's nearly 2,000 yuan. Last weekend I paid 180 yuan round trip for a ride from Huairou to near Jiankou and back.

    Find the instructions on this forum to get the 916 bus from Dongzhimen to Huairou. It's about 12 yuan per person. At Huairou, get a driver to take you to Xizhazi. The car should be about 100 yuan (the car, not per person). Walk to Mutianyu. At Mutianyu, get a bus or seat in a minibus (about 40-60 per person depending on your bargaining). Return to BJ on the 916 (12 yuan) or get a ride to nearby Miyun town, or even on to Jinshanling if you want.

    Total cost, absolutely nowhere near 2,000 yuan.

    Meanwhile I would encourage you to look beyond the storied Jinshanling to Simatai route. There is so much more to the Great Wall than that, all of which you can do very easily if you have someone who speaks Chinese.

    If you want to camp, you're better off going elsewhere than JSL because there are often other people doing the same - especially on weekends. Explore the idea of the western side of Gubeikou, for example.

    I don't know about timings to Chengde, as I haven't been. But in fair traffic you can get from Xizhazi (Jiankou northside) to the city in 90 minutes; in bad traffic it can take 2 hours, in awful traffic it can take even longer. Mutianyu to Jinshanlng by car is probably 60-90 minutes, traffic dependent.

    Transport should be easy to find at Mutianyu, Jinshanling, Huairou, and Miyun. It's a little trickier at Xizhazi village just because it's small. If you go there and require a pickup, organise it in advance.

    Listen to your local knowledge, you're lucky to have it.
    If you're tired of the Great Wall, you're tired of life.
    Journeys, &c


    • #3
      Re: Advice: Simatai East and 2 days hike

      Many thanks "Batman"!
      That's a lot of useful information!
      We've been looking at Chengde together and decided to drop it in favour of more time in Beijing.
      Could you give me your opinion on those two hikes? Is the scenery really that different and complementary? Is it worth it to do both and isn't it too difficult on a physical level? (we're all young and in good health, though probably not quite ready for a marathon). ^^
      Where would you advice we spend the night on the wall?
      Have a nice day!


      • #4
        Re: Advice: Simatai East and 2 days hike

        J-S is an easier hike. Part of it is restored. If I were to do that, I would probably prefer to start at Gubeikou and go to Jinshanling anyway, because the best bits of JSL are at the western end really. SMT to the E is good too but it's another entry ticket to buy and I believe it's a bit steep (the price, not the wall). At JSL you will be bugged by grannies wanting to sell you postcards. IMHO JSL doesn't really count as "wild wall" any more, despite mostly being unrestored.

        If you only do one, AND you are comfortable with some pretty tricky scrambling, then JK-MTY is the better option. Less restored, often fewer people, but it is an order of magnitude more difficult because of the scrambling.

        At both places avoid weekends if you can.

        Camping at either is fine and should be awesome; JK has fewer towers that are, how to put this politely, not trashed by lazy visitors who can't be bothered taking out their rubbish and not crapping right there in towers or on the wall. One friend told me the tower they stayed in had rats. Whether that's true I don't know but sadly it would not surprise me. Parts of JK are a real tip.

        If I were to camp anywhere along the JK route it would be further west towards the Beijing Knot end, and I'd bivvy on the wall rather than in a tower.

        Be advised that Jiankou is a tricky place to hike. A few pics in other threads on this forum (like here (look under Great Wall Forum > Great Wall Locations > Beijing Municipality > Huairou District > Jiankou for more) will give you an idea what to expect. Bear in mind the route has changed a bit since some of those photos were posted.

        Hundreds of people do it, including little kids in denim overalls with Hello Kitty backpacks (!). it's entirely do-able, but you should know that it involves real scrambling. You need a head for heights, put it like that.

        GBK-JSL/SMT is not like that. That might be a deciding factor.

        But as for physical exertion (ie not scrambling) they're much of a muchness I guess. JK-MTY is shorter, depending where you start, but harder. The other one is easier but longer.

        If you do it I thoroughly recommend starting at Xizhazi village on the north side and not from "jiankou" village on the south side because that's just a nasty uphill slog for two hours to hit the wall. From the north side it is an easy 1km walk up a road (to get exactly at Jiankou pass where many like to start) or an easy 1km up a slightly steeper path if you start further west. Any driver in Huairou will know XZZ village.

        Download our forum map, it shows the paths and the wall line at both XZZ/JK and at GBK area. You can view it on Google Earth and do a screen shot print out.

        Last of all, remember these are real mountains, you have to be careful and go prepared. Take enough water, enough food, something warm and dry to wear (though it rarely rains, you can get caught out). Above all walk carefully. Especially at JK. Take a torch/flashlight. You'd be amazed the number of people who manage to get caught out (it's happened to me).
        If you're tired of the Great Wall, you're tired of life.
        Journeys, &c