Mutianyu had frozen snow on 19th, December

We had a short walk at Mutianyu Great Wall yesterday (19th, December, 2012). My experience? It’s hard to walk on it as there’s lots of snow on the Wall. We went up by cable car and found the frozen snow on the left towers (as we were facing the entrance) was so slippery that it was hard to keep our feet. No people on the left towers. We were even told by the staff of cable car ticket window that yesterday (18th, Dec) the Mutianyu toboggan ride was officially closed due to too much frozen snow.

Seeing people walking towards tower 14 then we decieded to go that way. The good thing was the section between tower 14 and 12 had less snow, it’s more walkable. Even so, there’s just few people walking between tower 11 and 10. We finally ended our short walk by taking cable car after reaching tower 13. Click pictures to enlarge.

Related Tours: Mutianyu Walk with Toboggan Ride Tour   
                         Jiankou Hiking plus Mutianyu Toboggan Ride
Related Links:  Mutianyu travel guide

 

—Frozen snow on the Wall near tower 14

 

The section between tower 13 and 14 had less snow.
 
 
—The stairs between tower 14 and 13 had less snow, it was more walkable.

 

—Nobody walked towards the left towers when we were there as the frozen snow was so slippery that it was hard to keep your feet.

 


Half-day Closing for Forbidden City

It is on several online newspapers that from January 1 to March 31 next year, the Forbidden City will be closed every Monday afternoon, expect for 11th Feb,(the Chinese new year) to protect the architecture and cultural relics.

The Forbidden City will be closed for half day on the following days:
January: 7, 14, 21, 28. Feburary: 4, 18, 25. (it will open the whole day on 11th, Feb). March: 4, 11, 18, 25.
The Forbidden City announced the museum will be open to the public from 8 am to 12 am and the ticket office will be closed at 11 am.

Forbidden City Travel Tips:

Forbidden City will transport you straight to the past. You don’t realize the magnitude of the Forbidden City until you are there. It takes about 2-3 hours to visit all the known places at detail. Here I got a few tips for visitors:

There is a quick bag check in the Meridian gate. You are allowed to take in water and other beverages. Audio guide is available in the Meridian gate, which has a map with lights on it to tell you once where you are in the Forbidden City. This is really helpful since it’s easy to get lost, especially when walking around the six east or west palaces. Picture taking is allowed in all parts except for the original-state halls. Generally the central axis is crowded withtour groups. Don’t neglect the side chambers and other areas, which have exhibitions on various aspects of the Qing court such as jade, jewellery, ceramics, calligraphy and painting etc, they are largely ignored by the tour groups.

Related Tours:  Jiankou Hiking plus Mutianyu Toboggan Ride                    
                          Gubeikou to Jinshanling Hike
Related Links:   How to Get to Ming Tombs and Sacred Way

How to get to Juyongguan Great Wall?

Getting to Juyongguan Great Wall from Beijing

Getting to Juyongguan Great Wall from Beijing is not difficult as Juyongguan is the closest section to the city. Some tour groups probably switch to Juyongguan from Badaling because it is a little closer and also it’s less crowded than Badaling.

 

 

Juyongguan Great Wall review

Unlike Wild Great Wall such as JiankouJinshanlingGubeikou, Juyongguan looks like a complete military castle with many steps along the way to the top on either side. The predominant feature of Juyongguan is the steepness. You really have to raise your legs to climb each step of the way.

As higher you are climbing the less people you will see. The steps are wide enough for the amount of people climbing –  if you have a heart problem or high blood pressure you may need to think about it.

 

 

If it’s too much of a challenge for you to climb the southern section, north eastern section of the Wall that goes across the river is a little less steep and not crowded. Both sections offer terrific views. You may prefer the quieter north eastern section. You won’t see loads of souvenir stalls as you get to see in Badaling. Be sure to get your running or walking shoes on.

Getting to Juyongguan by car

Hiring a private car to Juyongguan is less hassle than trying to get there by bus. If you are travelling with 3 or 4 people, this way is really good value for your money.

Looking for a cheap, reliable car hire service? Check out our Great Wall car rental service page; Car hire to Great Wall from Beijing.

Getting to Juyongguan by bus

Going this way would add to the sense of adventure (subway plus bus). You need to change stations and find bus stops, go over read the signs, take a couple of minutes to digest where you are. There are two routes to choose from:

Route 1:

Take the Subway Line 13 at either Dongzhimen Station or Xizhimen Station and get off at Longze Station, take the shuttle bus No.68 (the bus is marked 昌68) and you will reach Juyongguan Pass. Bus No.68 is parked on the opposite side of Longze Station. Don’t worry which directly bus No.68 goes because that’s its first station.

 

Bus 68 is marked 昌68

 

Bus 68 is parked on the oppoiste site of Longze subway station.
Route 2:

Go to Jishuitan by Subway Line 2, make your way to Dengshemen Bus Station, and take 919 bus. Take that for about 40 minutes to “South Mouth ” 南口 then switch to bus No.68 (going the same direction, on the same side of the street), and that will take you all the way to Juyongguan as it is its last stop and will park right next to the ticketing booth.

 

Bus 68 is at Juyongguan parking lot.

Hiring Private Car to the Great Wall

Hiring a private car for excursions outside the city a good choice if you are not travelling on budget and want to avoid the crowded people and traffic. If you are travelling with 3 or 4 friends, this way is much more cost-efficient.

We offer a single online destination to service all of your rental car needs including round trip rental cars, one-way rental cars, airport rental cars and off-airport rental cars.Your rental car with a licensed driver will help you get the most out of your holiday!

Vehicle (Car, Van, Coach) Rental Rates (RMB)

Options Airport-pickup/ drop off Mutianyu+Ming Tombs  Longqing Gorge Juyongguan Mutianyu Great Wall  Mutianyu+Summer Palace Simatai OR Jinshanling 
4 seats Hyundai/Camry
300 790 890 750 690 790 990
6 seats Refine/Buick 350 950 1090 890 890 950 1290
14 seats Ford Transit
550 1490 1490 1390 1390 1490 1790
18 seats Joylong 750  1890  1790  1690 1690 1890 2090

Vehicle (Car, Van, Coach) Rental Rates (RMB)

Options Tiananmen, Forbidden City
Mutianyu
Airport pick up Mutianyu
airport drop off
Airport pick up / drop off
Mutianyu & city sites

Loingqing Gorge & Badaling

Shilinxia (Glass Platform) Eastern Qing Tombs Cuandixia Village
4 seats Hyundai/Camry
790 850 1190 950 950 990 990
6 seats Buick Mini Van 990 1050 1390 1140 1150 1290 1190
14 seats Ford Transit
1290 1490 1590 1590 1390 1490 1690
18 seats Joylong 1790 1890 1890 1890 1690 1890 1890

All Prices shown are in RMB (Chinese Yuan) unless otherwise stated. Driver’s working time is 9 hours daily. The extra cost is 100RMB per hour.

The cost includes:
  • City accommodation pick up / drop off,
  • Non-English / Chinese speaking driver
  • Quality vehicle with A/C
  • Transportation fees
  • Parking fees, gasoline, toll fees
The cost doesn’t include
  • entrance fees to the sites
  • single journey of chairlift / toboggan / cable car (optional)
  • round trip of chairlift / toboggan / cable car (optional)
  • Meal and tips
Weekend Special!

Enjoy weekend rate of 600RMB for a four-seater air-conditioning car to visit the splendid Mutianyu Great Wall from Beijing. Explore the spectacular Mutianyu on an intimate, private car trip. Recommended length of visit: 2-4 hours. Check out Mutianyu travel guide for more tips.

The cost includes:
  • City accommodation pick up / drop off,
  • Non-English / Chinese speaking driver
  • Quality vehicle with A/C
  • Transportation fees
  • Parking fees, gasoline, toll fees
The cost doesn’t include
  • Airport (hotel) pick up / drop off
  • 60RMB p.p entrance fees to Mutianyu
  • 100RMB p.p for single journey of chairlift / toboggan / cable car (optional)
  • 120RMB p.p for round trip of chairlift / toboggan / cable car (optional)
  • Meal and tips
Price Promises:
  • No factory / shopping stop
  • No hidden costs
  • Quality time on attractions
  • Honest prices, no surprise
Related Tours: Jiankou Hiking plus Mutianyu Toboggan Ride 
                        Gubeikou to Jinshanling Hike

Group / Bus Tour vs. Private Tour: Which is Better?

I like hiking in a small groups rather than large ones, although I’m also out a lot only with my wife. The problem with large groups is the pace they move at. For example, Mutianyu Great Wall opens at 8:30am. Tour groups arrive at around 10:30am when the attraction is at the busiest time. Independant tourists may get to Mutianyu on opening when it is quiet.

Although major attractions in Beijing have group tours window where they could buy group tickets a bit faster (group tours have a different line to get into attractions as well), you will have to stick with group timings. Group tourists are still at Mutianyu when it’s heaving while Independant tourists leave Mutianyu before lunch and have the rest of the day in Beijng. Although large groups can be good fun, in my opinion 10 is the ideal maximum for large groups.

With a smallish group, there’s more group bonding and people support each other, more personal attention and interaction with each other. Tour leaders can manage difficult sections more easily. Small groups has less visual intrusion into the environment, more interaction with local community and other tourists.

With a private guide, chances are your guide will be very knowledgable and you can time your visits to your interests, have all your questions asked and hopefully answered. You can spot a special sight or stop somewhere just for amoment of tranquility away from the crowds. Your guide can give you a lot of help with eating, getting around and shopping. Beijing traffic can be horrendous at rush hours, so plan your transit times effectively.

Bus tour might save a bit of money but they do so at the expense of rushing you from place to place, regardless of your individual interests. It can take quite awhile for them to do all the pick-ups (and drop-offs at the end) as the bus will stop at different hotels/hostels before leaving the city. Small group tour take you where you want to go, when you can go which won’t cost you too much (rather than share a tour guide with 20 others on the bus).

Semi-Independent travellers always have a handy guide book and have a bit of a sense of adventure. All in all, on the balance, I prefer small group tours or private tour to bus tour if I am not concerned about the difference in price when hiking Jiankou, Jinshanling,Simatai etc

Related Tours: Gubeikou to Jinshanling Hike
                          Jinshanling Simatai West Hike 
Related Link:   Simatai Reopen
Your turn

Do you have a question? What do you think about it? If you’ve enjoyed this article, I’d ask that you share it with a friend or consider leaving a comment below. As always, your thoughts and opinions matter, so feel free to leave them below. We’d love to hear from you!


Travel tips: how to get to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Huanghuacheng Great Wall is picturesque, much quieter, much less developed and less known than other sections in Beijing. It is one of the best sections to explore. The ancient Wall is about 10.8 km (6.7 miles) long and combine with a summer resort, mountains and lakes. You could easily spend a whole day here.

Getting to huanghuacheng is a little difficult as there is no direct bus that goes here from Beijing, but still this is the place for you if you like beautiful scenery, mountains, lakes and peacefulness of it.

Looking for a cheap, reliable car hire service? Check out our Great Wall car rental service page; Car hire to Great Wall from Beijing.

 

By Bus

How to get to Huanghuacheng Great Wall by bus? Catch 916 Express bus at the Dongzhimen bus transfer depot in Beijing stop and get off at Nanhuayuansanqu. 916 Express is at North Bus Platform of Dongzhimen bus transfer. It takes a little more than an hour from Dongzhimen to Huairou and it costs 4.4RMB by using Beijing IC Card/ commuter pass. From Nanhuayuansanqu bus stop go forward about 100 meters (110 yards) you will see the traffic light then cross the street and turn right to get to Huairou Dishui bus stop.

The bus stop is in front of the pubic toilet (white building) which is next to Huairou Local Tax Bureau Building. Then take the local bus that runs between Huairou and Shui changcheng (Water Great Wall). The local bus with the sign written only in Chinese saying it runs between Huairou and Water Great Wall. It takes more or less one hour to reach Huanghuacheng (The last stop). The bus ticket costs 3.2RMB by using Beijing commuter pass.

 

 

Where is 916 Express bus station in Beijing?

916 Expressbus station is at the North Bus Platform which is inside the bus transfer depot of Dongzhimen. The bus transfer depot is just outside of exit B of Dongzhimen Line 2 subway staion. There are signs, in English, throughout the subway station pointing you toward the bus transfer depot and exit B. Most of the buses are inside bus transfer depot in a massive building.

 

Two hiking routes to choose from- the western one and the eastern one.

Eastern hiking route: The route is mainly on the Wall itself. In some parts it is very steep and quite shattered. Take the eastern hiking route by crossing the river on the damn. Ascend the hill and climb up onto the Wall with a ladder. The route is breathtaking including the winding Wall through the steep mountains and the lake by the damn. It is so called: “Walking the dragon’s back as it dives and emerges from the lake”.

After winding up and down with the Wall, through steps and watchtowers, at a certain point you go down a steep slope to the bottom of a creek. It may take you one hour to cover 200 meters as this is an extremely steep descent with exceptionally narrow shattered steps. Look eastward you will see the deteriorating Wall meandering up the 1500 meter high mountain. If you have strength, time and gear to camp, you may want to spend two days on attempting this climb.

 

 

 

Western hiking route: The initial hike up to the watchtowers is quite strenuous but the view is definitely worth it. Take the western one by walking through an unmarked trail through the pastoral chestnut, walnut, apricot and vegetable patches to a really steep sections. Make sure you wear good walking/hiking shoes and bring a camera, lots of water (especially in summer when it’s in hotter conditions). This kind of ‘wild’ bit of the Wall is best done via a tour, or hiring a car. If you are adventurous, you do it by public transport. In my opinion, how you actually do it probably depends on your budget.

 

 

Hiring Private Car to the Great Wall

Hiring a private car for excursions outside the city a good choice if you are not travelling on budget and want to avoid the crowded people and traffic. If you are travelling with 3 or 4 friends, this way is much more cost-efficient. We offer a single online destination to service all of your rental car needs including round trip rental cars, one-way rental cars, airport rental cars and off-airport rental cars.Your rental car with a licensed driver will help you get the most out of your holiday!

Vehicle (Car, Van, Coach) Rental Rates (RMB)

Options Airport-pickup/ drop off Mutianyu+Ming Tombs  Longqing Gorge Badaling OR Huanghuacheng Mutianyu Great Wall  Mutianyu+Summer Palace Simatai OR Jinshanling 
4 seats Hyundai/Camry
300 790 890 750 690 790 990
6 seats Refine/Buick 350 950 1090 890 890 950 1290
14 seats Ford Transit
550 1490 1490 1390 1390 1490 1790
18 seats Joylong 750  1890  1790  1690 1690 1890 2090

Vehicle (Car, Van, Coach) Rental Rates (RMB)

Options Tiananmen, Forbidden City
Mutianyu
Airport pick up Mutianyu
airport drop off
Airport pick up / drop off
Mutianyu & city sites

Loingqing Gorge & Badaling

Shilinxia (Glass Platform) Eastern Qing Tombs Cuandixia Village
4 seats Hyundai/Camry
790 850 1190 950 950 990 990
6 seats Buick Mini Van 990 1050 1390 1140 1150 1290 1190
14 seats Ford Transit
1290 1490 1590 1590 1390 1490 1690
18 seats Joylong 1790 1890 1890 1890 1690 1890 1890

All Prices shown are in RMB (Chinese Yuan) unless otherwise stated. Driver’s working time is 9 hours daily. The extra cost is 100RMB per hour.

The cost includes:
  • City accommodation pick up / drop off,
  • Non-English / Chinese speaking driver
  • Quality vehicle with A/C
  • Transportation fees
  • Parking fees, gasoline, toll fees
The cost doesn’t include
  • entrance fees to the sites
  • single journey of chairlift / toboggan / cable car (optional)
  • round trip of chairlift / toboggan / cable car (optional)
  • Meal and tips
Weekend Special!

Enjoy weekend rate of 600RMB for a four-seater air-conditioning car to visit the splendid Mutianyu Great Wall from Beijing. Explore the spectacular Mutianyu on an intimate, private car trip. Recommended length of visit: 2-4 hours. Check out Mutianyu travel guide for more tips.

The cost includes:
  • City accommodation pick up / drop off,
  • Non-English / Chinese speaking driver
  • Quality vehicle with A/C
  • Transportation fees
  • Parking fees, gasoline, toll fees
The cost doesn’t include
  • Airport (hotel) pick up / drop off
  • 60RMB p.p entrance fees to Mutianyu
  • 100RMB p.p for single journey of chairlift / toboggan / cable car (optional)
  • 120RMB p.p for round trip of chairlift / toboggan / cable car (optional)
  • Meal and tips
Price Promises:
  • No factory / shopping stop
  • No hidden costs
  • Quality time on attractions
  • Honest prices, no surprise

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