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The Great Wall at Simatai all to myself (almost)

Beijing Travel Blog

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What the Simatai section of the Great Wall looked like from afar! Isn't it impressive? I hope you agree.
If you had been to the Great Wall of China, most likely you went to the closest one from Beijing, the Badaling section of the Great Wall. I had been there twice, once in 1997 and another time in 2002, I am sure there are a lot more tourists now. So this time I wanted to go to a different part of the Great Wall. After a little research, I decided to go to the Simatai section of the Great Wall.
It is about 120km northeast from Beijing, and took about 2 and half hour to drive there (later I heard from another person  whose drive was 3 and a half hours, with an earlier start at 8:30am, and hitting more traffic in town). As we approached, I started to see some watchtowers and what appeared to be the Great Wall perched on top of this ridge.
The map showing where the towers are at Simatai Great Wall.
It was an impressive sight, and I could see some real steep sections leading to the top.
I arrived at the ticket area right around noon, and there were precious few tourist around! A taxi pulled up and dropped a couple speaking French, but that's about it. After paying the 40RMB ticket, I walked to the cable car stop, to take the cable car to mid mountain.  Additional 50RMB for the roundtrip on the cable car. Then you could take a mini-train up another 300m vertical for another 20RMB. Now it was only a zigzag trail up to tower number 8. From here you can go west, which was downhill, to tower number 1 (if you come back again, it would be a good hike uphill). Or go east, uphill to tower number 12, the last one open to tourists. A vendor woman striked a conversation with me, and tried to sell me a book on the Great Wall.
A closer view of Simatai Great Wall from near the bottom the of cable car stop. The inscriptions on the stone says this section is the best of Great Wall.
I said I did not want to carry a book up the hill, so she just walked with me and claimed it didn't matter if I did not buy it. I figured it would be OK to sort of have a guide, so I let her. It was handy to have her around, since she usually hiked the wall 3 times a day, she knew the route and pointed out various points of interest, which I might have missed. I took my time, and hiked to tower 12, where we could see the "stairs to heaven", the steepest section which can be seen from afar, and then hiked back. Took the cable car back down the hill. It took me about 3 hours! Admittedly I took my time looking and walked slowly. But you could easily spend many hours here if you went both east and west, and you could even hiked further west to the next section of the Great Wall called JinShanLing. At most, I think there were about 50 people on this part of the wall when I was there, not counting the couple of dozen vendors. So I would recommend this to anyone who has the time to travel far out of Beijing, and wanted to see the most spectecular section of the Great Wall in mostly its state from the Ming dynasty.

3 hours later, I was back in Beijing and had dinner with some people at the restaurant called Xi He Ya Ju. It's a popular restaurant, and the food was good.

Tomorrow I would head home.
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What the Simatai section of the Gr…
What the Simatai section of the G…
The map showing where the towers a…
The map showing where the towers …
A closer view of Simatai Great Wal…
A closer view of Simatai Great Wa…
On the cable car going up to Simat…
On the cable car going up to Sima…
A Ming dynasty brick in the wall. …
A Ming dynasty brick in the wall.…
From tower 9, looking at tower 8 a…
From tower 9, looking at tower 8 …
The north side of the Great Wall w…
The north side of the Great Wall …
Inside one of the watch towers
Inside one of the watch towers
The hole in the doorway of the wat…
The hole in the doorway of the wa…
The door step in the watch tower, …
The door step in the watch tower,…
Looking at tower 11 in the foregro…
Looking at tower 11 in the foregr…
Looking northwest from Tower 10, t…
Looking northwest from Tower 10, …
A closer look at Tower 11 and the …
A closer look at Tower 11 and the…
At tower 12, the end of the opened…
At tower 12, the end of the opene…
From Tower 11 at Simatai Great Wal…
From Tower 11 at Simatai Great Wa…
View of Jinshanling great wall fro…
View of Jinshanling great wall fr…
Beijing Sights & Attractions review
Simatai section of the Great Wall is about 2-3 hours drive (120km) from Beijing, and you should plan at least 3 hours there. It is possible to go to J… read entire review
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photo by: Deats