Friday, November 23, 2012

JinShanLing Great Wall: Travel Guide

Jin Shan Tower at JinShanLing Great Wall
Undoubtedly, one of the best portions of The Great Wall of China is the section at JinShanLing.  Most tourist, even local Chinese tourist, either just go to the Badaling or the Mutianyu sections.  I've never been to the Mutianyu section but I have been to Badaling Great Wall.  While it was still overwhelming for a first timer, the hoards of tourists just somehow destroys the experience.  Not only is it harder to climb the wall with all the crowding going around, the beauty of the Great Wall is somewhat diminished as well - our group even had to pass by a portion with puke on the ground.  For me, the best way to enjoy The Great Wall is when it's quiet, peaceful, and with only a few tourists around - just like viewing masterpieces in a museum.  If you are looking for a similar experience, your best chances of getting one is by going to JinShanLing.

How to go to JinShanLing Great Wall

The safest and most economical way to go the JinShanLing would be to take the tourist bus that's available from Donzhimen Bus Terminal on weekends and statutory holidays during peak season (April 3 to November 1).  We didn't try this because we went on a weekday.  The latest information I can get on the web about this is from TripAdvisor.  Here's the entry from user MichaKri of Germany.

1. Take the metro to Dongzhimen bus terminus in Beijing2. Ignore the signs that point to the bus terminal and go towards Exit B (take the right Exit)3. Walk towards the east (early morning this is where the sun is :) ), but you can also walk having the main road on your right side.4. After very short walk pass the bus terminal on the left.5. You will come to an intersection, where you have to turn left.6. Walk for about 5-10 minutes, pass many buses and you will see an outdoor bus terminal (Great Wall Terminal) on the left side7. The first counter on the left, once you enter the driveway, sells Jinshanling Tickets which have a golden souvenir coin (120 CNY in September 2012). It includes round-trip bus ticket, admission fee, cable way, and the tourist car at the scenic spot.
Adress: 东直门外斜街 45号 (45 Donghimen Wai Xie Jie). If you get lost show this to the local people, they point you to the right direction. Ask multiple times and different people, sometimes they do not know the way and point the wrong direction.
On weekdays, you'll have to do it on your own.  It's a bit hard, and I won't actually recommend it, but it's definitely doable.  Just prepare to spend a little more than usual.  All that hard work will pay off though, just check out my pictures of JinShanLing on this page.

Here's a step by step guide on how to go to JinShanLing Great Wall by taking public transport from Beijing. I gathered most of the information from my experience and from different forums in the net.  There are a lot of sites ran by China-based travel agencies available on the net.  These were probably created in time for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 so expect the information to be a bit outdated.  Surprisingly though, these forums/sites are still well monitored.  They actually reply to your queries so don't hesitate to ask them if you have questions.  

1. Take the Metro or Hire a Taxi to take you to DongZhiMen Station.
2. At the station head to the DongZhiMen Long Distance Bus Station
    Chinese name: 东直门长途汽车站(dōng zhí mén cháng tú qì chē zhàn)
3. You need to take Bus No. 980 (DongZhiMen to Miyun Bus Station)

Bus 980 to Miyun Bus Station is located at the North Bus Platform in Donzhimen Long Distance Bus Station

4. There are 2 buses available.  Take the express bus. You'll recognize the express bus by a Chinese character after the number (980快) If you took the regular bus by mistake, don't worry, you'll still get to your destination, it'll only take a little longer and it won't have the comfortable seats of the express bus.

Bus 980 to JinShanLing - This is the regular bus.  The queue for the Express bus is infront of this one, where are the locals are lined up.  We boarded the regular bus! 

5.  Bus fare is 15 CNY per passenger regardless whether you take the regular or express bus.  If you're taking the express bus, prepare exact change as there will be no bus conductor on board the bus.

A fare collector also boards the regular 980 bus.  In the express bus, you just drop the exact change in a machine by the door.

6. The ride will take about 2 hours.  Your destination is the last bus stop which is the Miyun County Bus Station.
7. Upon alighting at Miyun, hoards of minivan drivers and operators will crowd you asking where you want to go.  While most travel sites would indicate that the minivan fare is only 10 yuan per person, this probably only applies if there are a lot of passengers heading towards the same destination.  If they force it, a minivan can fit roughly around 10 passengers.  Doing the math, you'll probably need to shell out about 100 yuan per minivan to go one way from Miyun to JinShanLing.  It's best to travel with friends so you can split the fare among yourselves.  If you're on your own, look for fellow travelers going the same direction to share the cost.  It might be hard to get a ride back from JinShanLing as well so it's best to negotiate with the driver for the ride back as well.  In our case, our driver agreed to take us to JinShanLing, wait for us there for about 4 hours, and then take us back to Miyun for 210 yuan.     
If you see our driver, say hi to him for us.  He looked scary but he was really friendly in the end.  Minivans from Miyun to JinShanLing.  Really small vans, quite uncomfortable for long-legged individuals.

8.  The ride from Miyun Country to JinShanLing takes about 1.5 hours.  (Be prepared! We didn't expect this at all, good thing we bought food at DongZhiMen Station before we boarded the bus.)  Tell your driver to take the expressway, it's faster but he'll probably charge you an additional 10 yuan for the toll fee.       

9.   If everything went as planned, you should be in JinShanLing by now! Congratulations!  
JinShanLing Entrace Ticket - 65 yuan during Peak Season

JinShanLing Cable Car ticket - 40 Yuan

JinShanLing Great Wall Entrance Fees
(September 2012) 
65 yuan High Season (March 16 - November 15) 
55 yuan Low Season (November 16 - March 15).

Cable Car (One way)
40 yuan  

During the time we visited they said that you can only take the cable car one way.  You have to hike down from the wall.  Was pretty sure they weren't being very truthful because we could see other foreigners taking the cable car ride back down.  

Upon arriving at JinShanLing, some local farmers will offer their services to help guide you through the wall.  They call themselves the "souvenir ladies."  They won't charge you for the help but they'll insist that you buy one of their souvenirs after the trek down.  They are quite helpful for those who need assistance during the trek part.  They're great at taking your photos as well.  They'll try and sell you the most expensive souvenirs at first (around 100 yuan), try and ask for something cheaper.  

I've heard of instances where the cable car is not functional for the day.  In this case, you'll have to trek to reach the top of the wall.  It's a pretty easy climb with a clear path to take however the trek downwards may not be as easy especially if the path is wet and muddy.  Just be prepared for the worse.

I hope I haven't discouraged you from going to JinShanLing!  I've saved the best part for last.  Just check out these pictures!  If these doesn't convince you to go, then nothing else probably will.   

The JinShanLing section of The Great Wall of China
Exporing the unrenovated portion of the JinShanLing - more than 500 years old!

Lounging and enjoying the view with some chips and Coke - JinShanLing ... marveling at the beauty  and enjoying the  peaceful surroundings.

Levitation shot at the Great Wall - Souvenir photo at JinShanLing
The Path for the trek down.
Another good thing about this section of the Great wall was being able to step on both sides of the wall!  An experience which you probably won't be able to do anywhere else.  I believe this portion used to separate China from Inner Mongolia.  I'd like to think that by stepping on both sides, I was able to visit Mongolia as well. Hahaha.  You get to do this at the end of the wall leading to Simatai (this portion of the wall is temporarily closed to visitors), you'll have to go down the right side of the wall and then make a U-Turn to this opening that leads to the track going down on the left side of the wall. 

10.  The guide isn't over yet.  Last bus from Miyun to Beijing leaves around 6 pm.  It's best to leave JinShanling utmost around 4pm.  The bus bound for Beijing is on the right side from where you were dropped off.  Facing the road, walk to the right.  From here it should be easy to spot the buses coming out from the bus station.  You don't actually enter the bus station.  You board the bus by the road in front of the entrance.  The picture below should help.
Express Bus 980 bound for Beijing from Miyun Bus Station - prepare exact change of 15 yuan per passenger and drop it off at the machine on the left side of the door.
After that tiring but satisfying journey, it's best to treat yourselves to a Roast Duck Dinner in Beijing.  We certainly did that - we found one of the best at Da Dong Restaurant.  More about this on the next post to come.  Click here to subscribe for FREE!  Posts will be sent to your email directly!

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1 comment:

  1. Your pictures are amazing. Just looking at those pictures make me want to climb the Great Wall of China now. I should go through my India pictures and post some. In return, I also found a great blog of Jinshanling travel tips, I’d love to share it here with you and for future travelers.


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