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Getting to the Great Wall using public transport

To get to the Great Wall using public transport, we recommend using Beijing’s transport card (IC card), accepted on all the buses in the area, because it removes the hassle of having the exact change and gives you a 50% discount on all trips.

First, you need to get to Dongzhimen (东直门) station in Beijing, where you can get bus 916 express to Huairou, the starting point to get to several sections of the wall: Huanghuacheng, Zhuangdaokou, Xishuiyu, Jiankou, Mutianyu. You can hike between :

  • Huanghuacheng, Zhuangdaokou et Xishuiyu
  • Jiankou et Mutianyu

 

Getting to Huanghuacheng

When you are in the 916, you need to get off in Huairou, at the stop called 南华园三区 (Nan Hua Yuan San Qu) and walk straight in the same direction as the bus until the next stop 南华园四区 (Nan Hua Yuan Si Qu). Doing so will make you cross an intersection where the 916 will turn right, but you need to go straight and the bus stop is just a bit further. See below.

From this stop, you need to get on the H14 (which is not indicated at the stop but does come through here). Beware of the many minivan drivers who will try to convince you to use their services or make you get into the H21 (which goes to Zhuangdaokou and Xishuiyu).

Try to get help from the locals to get on board the correct bus. In our case, the H14 came by after a one hour wait, and without a sign indicating the number of the bus. To know where to get off, use Maps.me or ask the ticket lady « Huanghuacheng great wall ». The bus stop is located a 5 min walk away from the dam. See below.

Once you are there, you need to continue walking for a bit less than 5 minutes on the road to find the entrance of the path that leads to the wall (it’s a stairway on your left). On top of the stairway, someone will ask you to pay 5CNY per person, the fee to pay for the upkeep of the path and stairway.

The hike to go to the village of Xishuiyu is quite difficult if the weather is hot (bring lots of water) or if it has been raining, as there are a lot of very steep sections without steps. Expect to walk 3 to 4 hours (depending on your speed and the number of photo stops you take). When you reach the last tower (the one that overlooks a dam), get off the wall by going through the door on the left just before the tower and go down by following the path.

The way down is a bit tough in some places (don’t go there if it’s raining) and brings you to the upper parking lot of the village. From there you can also visit the following section of the wall (called the “Water Great Wall”) on the other side of the dam. This section is fully renovated and has an entrance fee.

From Xishuiyu, you can get back to Huairou by taking the H21 from the lower parking lot, at the entrance of the village. On the picture of the bus schedule below, the two top lines correspond to the way Huairou → Xishuiyu, and the two bottom ones to the way Xishuiyu → Huairou.

The bus top is located there:

For a shorter hike (1h to 1h30), you can stop at Zhuangdaokou, in between Huanghuacheng  and Xishuiyu. The bus H21 also goes there and can bring you to either Xishuiyu or Huairou.

From Huairou to Jiankou

If you come from Beijing with the bus 916, get off at the final stop (bus terminal), then walk back to the main road, turn right and take bus 862 towards the north (you are already on the correct side of the road). Get off at the stop called 于家园 (Yu Jia Yuan). From there, take the bus H25 which comes only two times a day (11h30 and 16h). If you arrive in Huairou with the bus H21, get off at the last stop (which is also called 于家园 – Yu Jia Yuan) and walk 300m to find the stop for the bus H25.

If you want to do the same hike as us, described in our article China (Part 6) – Beijing and the Great Wall: get off the H25 at the last stop, in the 5th hamlet of Xizhazi. Walk back on the main road towards the 4th hamlet and take the second road on the right that shows a “Protect the great wall” sign.

Continue towards the wall on the large and well maintained path until you reach a clearing where you will find the start of a small path. After 10 minutes going up in the forest, you will find a ladder to get on the wall (5 CNY). Alternatively, you can climb a bit more in the forest on your right and find a free access point a bit further (we didn’t know that but we saw other people doing so afterwards).

Enjoy the hike !

 

From Mutianyu to Beijing

There are a lot of buses going from Mutianyou to Huairou (H23, H24, H35, H36). You need to go to this bus stop to take them (see the bookmark below):

Beware, as with every bus stop around the Great Wall, minivan drivers will tell you there are no public buses and that you need to use their services, don’t believe them.

In Huairou, take the bus 916 express to get back to Dongzhimen station in Beijing.

Here is a table of the prices we paid for all of these trips (July 2017 with the IC card) :

Depart

Arrivée

Bus

Prix (en CNY)

Dongzhimen

Huairou 南华园三区 (Nan Hua Yuan San Qu)

916 Express

5.5

Huairou

Huanghuacheng

H14

4

Xishuiyu

Huairou

H21

4.5

Huairou

Xizhazi

H25

4

Mutianyu

Huairou

H23

1.5

Huairou

Dongzhimen

916 Express

6

 

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