Day 3: Mutianyu Great Wall Adventure

Didn’t know that there are more than 10 Great Wall scenic spots near Beijing including Badaling, Juyongguan, Huanghuacheng, Gubeikou, Jinshanling, Simatai, Mutianyu and Jiankou etc. It’s nice to have options, you know, but options also requires the decision of choice.

All right! First things first. Which one should we go? We had our little principles -

  • Do not go to the most crowded ones like Badaling and Juyongguan.
  • Do not go to the ones that are too dangerous such as one of the Wild Great Walls – Jiankou. Even though it’s probably the coolest Great Wall according to our research, safety is always the top priority.
  • Go to one with more original construction preserved with less people.

With that said, we narrowed down our options to Simatai or Mutianyu. As of June 17, 2010, the section at Simatai is closed for repairs for at least 2 years. It’s still not completely opened by now. Therefore, we dragged our attention on Mutianyu Great Wall.

Mutianyu Great Wall is located in Huairou County 70 km northeast of central Beijing. Click the image below to see the location in Google Maps.

Next question – How can we get to Mutianyu from the city center? We did a massive research online, through phone calls and  physically consulting travel agents when we passed by an agency office on the second day of our Beijing trip. Apparently, it’s difficult to find a trustworthy way to follow and without a car, the transportation could be a pain on the neck.

Our hotel Days Inn Forbidden City Hotel did have travel advisory service. Car rental for a round-way trip to Mutianyu would be RMB800.00. We considered this to be our last resort. There are also many travel agents online that arrange different Great Wall tours, which could make things a lot easier. But we would like to arrange our trips on our own, not only for saving money but for the freedom!

We put all the research results together and decided to start our Mutianyu Great Wall adventure via public transportation. Guess what? It only took us an hour and a half to get there. If you want to check out the same Great Wall in an economic way, you are going to like this! Here we go!

How To Go To Mutianyu Great Wall From Central Beijing

Wherever you stay in Beijing, take metro line 2 to Dongzhimen Station. As soon as you get off the train, you can’t miss a big sign directing you the way to the Bus Transfer Hall. Please follow the sign.

You will see the Bus Transfer Hall sign with the narrow multiple times along the corridor underground in the subway station. Just simply follow the sign till you see Exit H and go upstairs from here.

This blue board shows the directions of the North Bus Platform and the South Bus Platform. The bus you are going to take is No.916快 (express) whose terminal is at the North Bus Platform. Turn left after going upstairs from Exit H when you see this sign.

No.916 has two separate routes distinguished by the name of the bus which are No.916 and No.916快 (express). When you arrive at the Bus Transfer Hall, you will find the bus station is located very close to your left.

明珠广场 (Ming Zhu Guang Chang) is the station you want to get off. The bus fare is RMB11.00/head. The maximum ticket price is RMB12.00 for No.916 (express) though. It’s going to take you about an hour from the terminal station Dongzhimen to Ming Zhu Guang Chang Station. Good thing is that a seat for each passenger is pretty much guaranteed. Standing on the bus all the way there would suck really hard.

Some people suggested we take No. 916 (express) all the way to the terminal station – 怀柔汽车站 (Huan Rou Bus Station) and then take a taxi to Mutianyu but it’s actually further in terms of distance according to our research. Mutianyu Great Wall is situated 35 kilometers away from Ming Zhu Guang Chang station, from which is about 30 minutes drive to Mutianyu.

As you  are getting off the bus at Ming Zhu Guang Chang, some drivers will be waiting in front of the bus door and ask the passengers one by one to see if they want to go to Mutianyu Great Wall. This phenomenon sorta proves that Ming Zhu Guang Chang is the right station to get off. These drivers are not regular taxi drivers, so make sure you negotiate the price before getting on the car. RMB40.00/head one way is the price they will be asking for. They are also willing to offer round-way trip. You don’t have to pay until the driver send you to the station of bus No.916 (express) after you finish visiting the Great Wall.

That’s how we met our driver Mr. Peng who is a very reasonable guy. No bullshit, no rip-off try. I have to admit that we were pretty lucky. We paid RMB160.00 in total for a round-way trip. On the way back, Mr. Peng dropped us at the terminal station – 怀柔汽车站 (Huan Rou Bus Station) of No.916 (express) instead of Ming Zhu Guang Chang in order to make sure we could comfortably sit on the bus to go back to the city.

Here’s Mr. Peng’s cell phone number – +86 136 1119 8199. Give him a call beforehand and he will pick you up when you arrive at Ming Zhu Guang Chang station via No.916 (express). Please note that he doesn’t speak any English.

Han with Driver Peng and his car

Let me sum up the transportation from Beijing city center to Mutianyu Great Wall for you.

  • Metro line 2 to Dongzhimen Station (RMB2.00/head) and follow the signs to the Bus Transport Hall.
  • Take bus No.916快 (express) from the Bus Transport Hall to Ming Zhu Guang Chang station (RMB11.00/head).
  • Rent a car from Ming Zhu Guang Chang to Mutianyu (round-way price range is RMB60.00-RMB80.00/head).
  • Have your driver send you to the terminal station - 怀柔汽车站 (Huan Rou Bus Station) of No.916 (express) on the way back and take the bus back to Dongzhimen station (RMB12.00/head).
  • Take metro line 2 from Dongzhimen to wherever you want to go (RMB2.00)
  • One-way time: an hour and a half
  • Total cost of transportation: RMB107.00/head

Now that you know how to go to Mutianyu Great Wall, let’s get straight into the second part of our adventure for the day! Finally arrived at the Great Wall. Excited!!!

Mutianyu Great Wall

As one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall, the section at Mutianyu stretches 2.5 kilometers including 22 watchtowers. It’s going to take you about 2 hours to finish climbing the whole section. For going up to the start point, there are two different cable cars in Mutianyu which are operating in different directions. One is a cable car to take you to a high part of the great wall and also can be used for going down, the other is a chair lift to one of the best scenic spots on the wall where you can toboggan down. The second way is obviously more fun. Here’s the prices-

  • Entrance fee: RMB45.00/head
  • Chairlift and tobaggan round-way: RMB80.00/head

It only took us 5 minutes to go up to the wall from the chairlift station via cable way which is 550 meters long in total.

In a chairlift going up

It’s easy to catch the beauty of Mutianyu Great Wall’s changing sceneries by looking down from the chairlift. From here, you can see the winding metal track where we tobogganed down from the wall.

Arrived at the start point. We were immediately fascinated by the breathtakingly beautiful view. Also, the forest-coverage rate of Mutianyu Great Wall is over 90 percent.

The walk on the great wall involves significant amount of climbing steps, which vary from short steps to some sections with quite steep steps. Be prepared for a workout on your legs and you will be thankful for all your efforts! :-)

The whole available section of Mutianyu Great Wall is already pretty impressive! But that’s not the best part. The best part was that we somehow discovered a secret cool section which made our  little adventure even more exciting! What’s that about? Sh…Come closer. I really should not say this loudly. Why don’t you just follow me?

Went into an unmaintained section by ignoring the sign…

This section is connected to one of the watchtowers’ window through which we enjoyed the differently magnificent view of Mutianyu Great Wall which was built 300 years ago.

The stones are firm but still be careful at this part.

Withered trees occupied most of the walking part, leaving a narrow small path for us to get through.

Overview of the secret section. We went back after reaching to the watchtower. 

That was the best day of our Beijing trip! What do you think? Let us know in the comments! Oh wait… want to show you how we got down from Mutianyu Great Wall via toboggan! Could have gone a lot faster if there hadn’t been an old lady in front of us. Hope you enjoy it. See you soon!

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