Teach in Beijing: Camping on the Great Wall
The Great Wall of China is something which makes it onto everyone’s bucket list. But most who actually visit end up going to the tourist traps of Badaling or Mutianyu…
When you get there, you arrive on a bus in a dusty car park. You queue up, pay 100RMB to enter, then make your way past the hawkers selling crap and the caged bears entertaining tourists.
Once you get on the wall itself, if there’s not a sea of people, you might notice how new it looks despite being built in 1504. Well, that’s because you’re walking on bricks laid during heavy restoration in the 1960’s.
But that’s not the way it needs to be. When you live and teach in Beijing, or anywhere, you hear about cool places to visit and get tips from those in the know…
Camping on the (real) Great Wall of China.
While teaching over there, I heard about a hiking trial in Jiankou. It lies on the outskirts of Beijing and is perfect for camping overnight. Here’s my guide to getting there.
- +2 litres of water per person
- Fire lighter
- Sleeping bag
- Yoga/camping mat (recommended)
- Local taxi number (mentioned later)
Bring pleanty of water as there’s no shops once you start hiking.
As for sleeping options, you can camp in an empty guard tower, on the wall with a camp fire, or even set up a tent.
From central Beijing, it takes around 3 hours to arrive at the starting point of the hike.
Take Bus 916 from Dong Zhi Men bus station to Huai Rou ( 怀柔) – 1.5h.
Then get a black cab to Shun Tong Rainbow Trout Farm (順通虹尊魚养殖中心) – 1h.
A black cab cost around 100 yuan last time I went. Make sure to get the driver’s number, and check they can pick you up the next day.
Hiking to The Wall – 1.5h:
At the fish farm, you’ll see chinese families pulling trout out of the pond, and eating them the from the restaurant adjacent.
To the far left of the pond, you’ll see some stairs. Go up and turn left.
After 10 minutes of walking you should arrive at a large blue sign which reads “This section of the great wall is not open to the public.” If you see this, you’re on the right trail. Just keep on going.
When you get to the wall, turn right and start climbing towards one of the guard towers. You can set up your camp for the night there, and make a fire to cook with.
The next day you can return the way you came and get lunch at the trout farm. Or, if you are confident climbers you can continue along the wall to the next village.
Note: Continuing along the wall is pretty difficult, and people have died on this area (hence the blue signs). So don’t go alone and be careful!
Also make sure to tidy away any mess and the remains of your camp fire! 😉
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