Great Wall at Jinshanling
Starting from Zhuanduokou Tower, we hiked eastward (left on the map below) as far as the Fairy Tower, before retracing our steps back one tower to the East Tower and taking a well-marked, paved path down to a parking lot and visitor center where we were picked up by a driver for the ride back to Miyun County bus station.
|Click for Larger Image|
Overall, the hike took about 3.5 hours; we walked fairly leisurely and stopped to take many photos. Lots of up and down walking. The further east you go, the worse the wall condition so you'll need to watch your step, but I would say not a big deal if you are even averagely fit. We took our 3 kids, ages 9, 12 and 14 with no problems. My mom, 78, walked the first section from Zhuanduokou to Small Jinshan Tower, then took the cable car down and rode with the driver to meet us at the end of our hike.
|Approaching Small Jinshan Tower|
|The FairyTower, our turning back point|
From the Beijing Dongzhimen Long Distance Bus Station (北京东直门长途汽 车站), take Bus #980, the "fast" bus (look for the character 快, kuai), about a 2 hr ride. Get off at the last stop; it's fairly obvious - the driver will make you get off at that point!
Then hire a car to drive you the 1hr to Jinshanling. Most likely you will be approached by drivers as you get off the bus. Definitely bargain. If you are really good at bargaining, you can try to settle at 1/3 their initial offer. We weren't so good. He started at 300rmb and we ended up at 210rmb :-) This was for a van that seated 6.
Where to stay:
A lot of people do a day trip, but if you're a photography buff or you like to have the whole wall to yourself :-), staying overnight is a great option. Sleeping on the wall itself is technically illegal. However, there are several small family owned places within a ten minute walk to the entrance (marked "Check-In Office" on the map). Have your driver drive as far down the hill as possible. We stayed at Zhou Hai Jun (周海 军), actually the name of the proprietor. 110rmb for a basic but clean room with bath, sleeps two. Upstairs rooms are brighter. I preferred it to the Jinshan Hotel which is a little further up the hill, more expensive and not as clean.
Side note: Inside the entrance gates, we saw a campground plus a sign for Homestay Bed & Breakfast, so it seems possible to stay inside the "park", 'tho I don't think it will make any difference in terms of when you can enter the park. We went to the ticket booth at 5am, tapped on the glass and from around a corner in the dark booth appeared a sleepy young woman wrapping a robe around herself who proceeded to sell us the tickets.