Located 125 km northeast of Beijing or around 2.5 hours' drive in normal traffic, Jinshanling Great Wall not only offers some of the best sceneries among both restored and unrestored sections of the Great Wall; thanks to the longer drive from Beijing, it also sees far fewer tourists than closer sections like Badaling and Mutianyu. If your itinerary allows for one full day seeing the Great Wall, then we highly recommend Jinshanling.
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The Jinshanling Section of the Great Wall was first constructed during the Ming Dynasty in 1368 and then renovated under the supervision of the great general Qi Jiguang in 1567. This section is around 10.5 km long, including 5 passes, 67 towers, and three beacon towers. Part of the wall has been restored but some of it remains unrestored, offering you the opportunity to appreciate both the original appearance and the wild side of the Great Wall.
Being closer to the renovated part of the Wall, the Front Gate is the main entrance used by visitors to Jinshanling Great Wall. Once through the ticket check gate, you can take a cable car up to a path just below the Small Jinshan Tower. Following this 200m path, you will climb onto the Wall at the Small Jinshan Tower. There are also several paths that allow you hike all the way up to the Wall. The easiest one is the one that leads to Zhuanduokou Pass. This paved path is 1km long and requires just a 15 minute walk from the entrance gate.
The section from Big Jinshan Tower to Zhuanduokou Pass is well renovated, and it is relatively easier walking in this direction, since most of it is downhill. If you don't want to climb much, you can also take the cable car up and down, and stick to the part near the Small Jinshan Tower while you are on the Wall. While you can stay on the renovated part of the Wall, we suggest you go beyond the renovated section and hike a length of the unrestored part to experience the wild side of the Great Wall.
The Great Wall at Jinshanling has some of the most epic Great Wall hiking routes. Unlike Simatai and Jiankou, hiking at Jinshanling is of medium difficulty and is appropriate for anyone who is physically fit, including families with older children. Keen hikers can take the Jinshanling to Jinshanling East route, an epic 5 km hike that starts from Zhuanduokou Pass to East Five-Window Tower and allows you take in a complete picture of the scenic Jinshanling Great Wall, both restored and unrestored. When you finish the hike, you can get off the Wall at East Five-Window Tower and hike another 30 minutes along a mountain track to the East Gate of Jinshanling Great Wall. Or you can also do this route in reverse, i.e., enter via East Gate, and then hike from East Five-Window Tower to Zhuanduokou Pass. The whole hike takes 3 to 5 hours depending on how fast you can go. If you don't want to hike the whole length, you can also stop halfway at Small Jinshan Tower or Houchuankou Pass, then ride the cable car down or hike around 30 minutes down to the ticket check gate. Note that the Jinshanling to Simatai route remains closed.
There are many ups and downs as well as some loose rock along the hike, and there are no railings, so be sure wear comfortable walking shoes with good grip. When it snows in winter, some steep parts can get very slippery and should be avoided. Remember to bring a hat and/or apply sunblock no matter what season you visit, as there is no shade on the Wall. Be sure bring along some snacks and water, since the hike will last a few hours. There are usually vendors selling water up on the Wall, which you can use to top up if you run out of water.
While it is possible to hike from Jinshanling to Gubeikou Great Wall, we suggest you do the opposite, i.e., hike from Gubeikou to Jinshanling, which puts Jinshanling Great Wall, the most scenic part, at the end or your hike.
Jinshanling Great Wall also boasts some good photo opportunities, especially at sunset or sunrise (weather permitting). If you want to stay overnight to take some stunning photos at sunset or sunrise times, there are basic hotels and farmhouses available near the ticket check gate. There is also a camping site at the foot of the mountain inside the scenic area, which costs 220 CNY for camping and 150 CNY for tent rental.
Camping on the Great Wall itself is not permitted at Jinshanling. If you do want the unforgettable experience of sleeping on the Great Wall, we will take you to another watchtower nearby.
Opening Hours: 8:00am - 6:00pm (March - November) / 9:00am - 4:00pm (November - March)
Admission Fee: 65 CNY (March - November) / 55 CNY (November - March)
Cable car: 80 CNY (round trip) / 40 CNY (one way) (Noted: cable car is not in operation during low season)
Average time for this activity: 1 day
There are tourist buses and coaches departing from close to Wangjing West Subway Station that take you either directly to the entrance of Jinshanling Great Wall or the Jinshanling Service Area, from which you can take a free shuttle bus or hire a car to the entrance of the scenic area. If you have enough time in China and have the flexibility to accommodate potential delays, then the public bus is a cheap, convenient option. Otherwise, we suggest you hire a taxi or take a private tour to Jinshanling Great Wall.