As you may or may not already know, we are currently on a 8 month backpacking trip. What we have is little money but lots of time.
Here is our notes on the Jingshanling section of the Great Wall. For the most part, its relatively simple and very cheap. You will save a buck or two getting there yourself, and have much more freedom.
This post is accurate as of 5 May 2016 and is based on a summer hike.
WHY DID WE CHOOSE JINGSHANLING?
It is quiet and less touristy
It is ‘less restored’ than the other parts
It is relatively easy to get to
Subway trip – 4RMB each way = 8RMB total
Bus trip – 13RMB cash plus 7RMB on the rechargeable Beijing Metro card each way. If you do not have the rechargeable card, it will cost you 32RMB cash each way (you should get a rechargeable Beijing Metro card if you plan to catch the subway and public transport often) Total = 40RMB return
Entry fee – 65RMB
Pre bought snacks, food & water – 20RMB
Total – up to 133RMB
A hostel tour to Jingshanling is at least 300RMB so you save at least 150RMB if you make the trip yourself. Plus you have more freedom and don’t have to socialise with other people 😉
WHAT TO BRING / WEAR (IN SUMMER)
Runners are fine for a (dry) summer hike. We imagine it to be super super slippery and wet in snow / rain conditions, so in those instances, it would be wise to wear hiking boots.
Music / book for the bus ride
Snacks / food – we got ours from the convenience store
Hat / sunnies
Rechargeable Beijing Metro card
Small change for bus (see below for exact amount required)
HOW TO GET THERE
- Get on your closest subway and train to Wangjing West Station (Line 13 / 15).
- Get off at Exit C. There is only one sign at the platform directing you towards “Exit C and D” (we did not see any further directional signs). So trust that sign and keep walking. Exit C is PAST Exit D, and PAST the platform after that. If you get lost, just ask someone.
- Once you are out, walk towards the road, and turn right and keep walking.
- After about 20 metres, keep your eye out for a red sign across the road that says something like ‘JINGSHANLING GREAT WALL’. Walk to that booth and a man will probably be there and give you a Jingshangling brochure with a map and showing the bus times. He will also point you in the direction of the correct bus.
- Continue down that road and you will get to a bus stop that says ‘JINGSHANLING’ and ‘LUANPING’ – both these buses go to the Jingshanling area. Be careful of drivers who stop you before the bus entry line directing you to their (blackmarket) bus. Remember that if something looks dodgy, it probably is. The ‘JINGSHANLING’ bus is the tourist bus that goes directly there. It leaves at 8am everyday. The ‘LUANPING’ bus goes all the way to Luanping, but also stops at Jingshanling. It runs every 30-40 minutes.
- Catch whichever bus is there. There will be a bus attendant there. You pay your 13RMB cash to them and swipe your Beijing Metro card when you get on the bus (and when you get off).
- The bus ride is a little over 1.5 hours. Get off the bus at the Jingshanling stop (you will know because a bunch of other tourists will also get off, it looks like a big petrol station).
- Get on the free tourist shuttle up to either the East gate or the Main Gate (you can choose depending on your hiking route). The free shuttle bus is a small bus that has a small sign in the windscreen saying ‘JINGSHANLING GREAT WALL’ or something like that. Ignore the drivers who offer you a ride.
WHICH HIKING ROUTE TO TAKE
This is super flexible, it will depend on how far you want to walk, how fast / slow you are, how much time you have.
We hiked from Zhuanduokou Pass to the East Gate. It took us 2 hours rather than the advertised 4 hours. But we are relatively fit and the weather was good.
This website is particularly helpful.
The West to East direction appears to be easier, as there is less steep downhill ramps that way (I personally find downhill a lot harder than uphill).
HOW TO GET BACK
- The free shuttle bus that you got on will pick you up at 3pm from the Main and East gate and take you back down. You can double check this with the bus driver on your way up.
- If you miss this, or if you are super early and can’t be bothered waiting around till 3pm, there will be drivers at both gates offering you a ride down anyway – we got quoted 30RMB (which we didn’t take) but you could probably bargain.
- You will be back at the bus stop area you got off in the morning. Wait around for the LUANPING bus. It comes every 30-40 minutes. I think the last bus back to Wangjing West station leaves at 530pm, but don’t quote me on that.
- Once you get back to Wangjing West station, subway back to your home!
There are hotels and a camping area at the Main gate if you want to stay overnight.
There is a 10km hike from Jingshanling to Simatai area (which we would of loved to do however there was too much conflicting information about whether this section was open or closed so we didn’t try). But you who are reading this in the future, look into it, as the Simatai section (which is unrestored) looks rugged and beautiful.
Even if you walk a little past the East Gate section, that part of the wall becomes real rugged and nice.
Happy travels 🙂