One of the more beautiful sections of the Great Wall of China is Jinshanling (Jīnshānlǐng, 金山岭.) Jinshanling spans 10.5 km through a mountainous Luanping County, 125 km north of Beijing. The wall itself consists of 67 towers and 2 beacon towers. While the first couple kilometers have been restored, as you approach Simatai to the east, you will find the majestic remnants of the wall that separated China from its enemies.
The Great Wall snakes for more than 6000 km through northern China along the southern edges of Inner Mongolia. While some parts of the wall date back to 220 BC, Jinshanling is a more recent addition built by the Ming Dynasty in 1570 AD.
Hiking the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall will allow you some of the best views and most amazing pictures. The wall meanders up and down through the mountains and can get rather steep during the hike. At the entrance, many guides will recommend going left toward the cable car however going right and entering the wall at Zhuan Duo Kou (砖垛口) will give you the chance to hike 9 more towers on a renovated part of the wall without the cable car crowd. From these towers, you will get great photos and be able to see the challenges that lay ahead.
The hike, itself, will consume 3-5 hours of your day and can be strenuous at times. As you near the highest peaks and towers, the wall becomes very steep and the walkway turns to loose rock. This part of the wall has not been renovated and as it looks amazing, you should be careful with your footing. The stairs leading to and from the towers tend to have narrow footholds and be spaced far apart. While the hike should not pose a problem for most people, if need be there are small paths off of the wall that lead you around the steep sections. These are the paths that the local vendors take to get to the Great Wall (to avoid buying a ticket).
The entrance ticket is 50RMB however this is rumored to be increasing to 80RMB in 2012. The entrance ticket does not include the cable car trip. Near the entrance there are public restrooms, small vendor stands selling over-priced trinkets and a restaurant. It is recommended to bring bottles of water and snacks with you. There will be vendors along the wall selling souvenirs, drinks and snacks however they are priced high.
Getting there: The drive to Jinshanling will take about 2.5 hours. Most people will get to the Great Wall early so that they have plenty of time to hike before the hottest part of the day. There are a couple ways to get to Jinshanling by bus.
The first, take a bus bound for Miyun County from Dongzhimen Long Distance Bus Station. When you arrive in Miyun, you can take the local tourist bus to Jinshanling.
You can also take a bus to Chengde from Liuliqiao Long Distance Bus Station. You will get off the bus at Jinshanling Intersection and then either hike or take a taxi to the Great Wall. The buses depart every hour beginning at 8:00 am.
Many tourists will take either a bus tour or private car leaving directly from Beijing. The hostels and hotels will be able to provide more information on the bus tours or you may find a tour promoter near such tourist attractions as the Forbidden City. Be sure to bargain the tour prices as they are set a little high.
A private car service may be ideal for small groups of friends and travelers. Here is Beijing is a local service that we would recommend.
(Blog contributed by TheBJReviewer on October 27, 2011)