Huairou District (怀柔区; Huáiróuqū) is a district in the far north of Beijing Municipality. It is a mix of rural and urban settlements. Mutianyu, one of the most popular sections of the Great Wall of China for international tourists, is located in the district.
Mutianyu Great Wall
Mutianyu (慕田峪 Mùtiányù) is not as easy as the Badaling section in Yanqing District to reach via public transportation. Getting there often involves a taxi ride, public bus or tour bus.
You can take a combination of the #916 and #936 bus to Mutianyu. From Dongzhimen Outer Bus Station take bus #916 and stop at Huairou transportation center. From across the street get on bus #936 to Mutianyu. You may be hassled by touts with misleading offers to get in a taxi along the way. Bus fare is totally ¥14 (¥12 for the #916 and ¥2 for the #936) with the electronic Beijing transportation card (purchased at any metro station). See the details about the card on in the Beijing#Get around section.
By tour bus
A recommended tour is the Mubus. It's really just a shuttle that picks you up from and drops you back at downtown Beijing. Costs you RMB 80.
See Great Wall for general information on the Great Wall. Sections are listed from west to east.
- Lakeside (水长城). Popular spot for Beijingers on a weekend trip. A dam was built at this section, blasting a gap in the run of the wall. The flow of water from the dam submerges a part of the wall. So the classic view of the wall running into the distance as a thin, continuous line is interrupted by the dam. But the small man-made lake is a good place for kids to practice steering a boat when the dock at the Peninsula is open during the summer. During winter, the chance to get up close to a submerged part of the wall under the frozen lake is a unique feature.
- Xiangshui Lake, Dazhenyu Village, Bohai Township, Huairou District. The hiking trail is a circuit and goes past partially restored segments of the Great Wall. There is a break in the Great Wall for what was once the Moshikou Pass, which was a strategic gateway. The pass was replaced by a dam constructed in the 1970s. A highlight of the Xiangshui Lake section is a segment of the wall running along a ridge that leads to the top of a cliff overlooking the gap that was the Moshikou Pass. Appropriately the segment is called the Lianyunling Great Wall, meaning “a ridge linked to the sky". It's not possible to climb the wall to the peak but from below the remnants of the wall structure looks like a shadowy mountain hideout. The underwhelming Xiangshui Lake Great Wall Plum Blossom Exhibition in early spring draws big crowds.
- Jiankou (箭扣 Jiànkòu). Jiankou is translated as 'Arrow Nock' in English, because the shape of the mountain is like an arrow, with the collapsed ridge opening as its arrow nock. There are many famous sections of Jiankou Great Wall, such as The Nine-Eye Tower, an important command post. It has three layers, and there are nine holes which look like nine eyes on each side. The Beijing Knot (北京结 Běijīng jié) is the meeting point for three walls coming from different directions. The Sky Stair, is a precipitous stair whose angle of elevation is 70 to 80 degrees. It leads to The Eagle Flies Facing Upward, a watch tower built on the lofty peaks. It is so dangerous that supposedly even eagles have to fly facing upward to reach the top. Zhengbei Tower is the right place to appreciate the beauty of the sunrise and the sunset.
- 1 Mutianyu (慕田峪 Mùtiányù). Summer: 6:30AM to 6:30PM, Winter: 7:30AM to 5PM. This is a magnificent section that is as equally well restored as Badaling with greener surroundings. It is a lot less crowded than the Badaling section. But the hike is a bit more difficult than Badaling. Choose Mutianyu over Badaling for your introduction to the Great Wall if you don't mind the hike. There is also a fun theme park like toboggan ride (¥55)(see below). You get choose cable car or chairlift (¥120 round-trip) or walk up the foot path to get to the watchtowers. The more modern cable car takes you to watchtower #14 (more towards of the north end and higher in elevation) while the chairlift brings you to watchtower #6. There is also a shuttle bus from the entrance complex up to the bottom of the cable car (¥15 round-trip). ¥45 for entrance to the wall.
- 2 Hongluo Temple (红螺寺; Hóngluósì), Hongluo Street, Huairou District (怀柔区红螺路; Huáiróuqū Hóngluólù) (Take bus 867 from Dongzhimen Station. The bus leaves once an hour and the ride takes two hours so plan accordingly). This is the largest Buddhist temple in northern China and was built in 378. The temple has been quite important for centuries and has functioned both as temple and monastery. It is beautifully located next to the Hongluo Mountains, which you can climb or reach by cable car. The temple grounds are big, covering almost 800 hectares. You can easily spend a whole day touring the three main scenic areas - The Hongluo Temple, Guanyin Temple and the Five Hundred Arhat Garden. They also have an alpine slide for a little fun in getting down from the higher temple areas. ¥30.
- Mutianyu toboggan ride. The toboggan down is a curious addition to the Mutianyu section and makes it feel a bit theme-parky, but it's quite fun and quite long (over 1.5 km) with an elevation drop of 100 meters. Just don't get stuck behind a super-cautious slowpoke. The toboggan run is a one-lane affair, and most of the fun is racing down like you're on an Olympic luge track. But getting trapped behind someone too afraid to go more than 10 km/h will make you regret spending the money on the attraction. So make sure to wait 30 seconds before departing after the person ahead of you even if the ride operator and people in line behind you insist you hop in and go. A recommended combination is to taking the cable car up and the toboggan ride down.
- Hiking Jiankou to Mutianyu. The hike from Jiankou to watchtower #23, the western end point of Mutianyu, is a popular wild wall hiking route that offers breathtaking natural beauty in in late September, the best time for autumn hues. The trailhead starts at Nanjili (2nd sub-group of Xizhazhi village) with a 1 hour hike to reach the ladder for climbing onto to the Jiankou section. The hike to Jiankou is atmospheric with a distant watchtower to the west that from the distance looks shrouded in myth. From Jiankou to Mutianyu the hike becomes slippery requiring at times a slow descent while holding onto the wall. In autumn, a rescue team was pre-positioned to help injured hikers. There is a small archway window a few hundred meters before reaching Mutianyu. The spot is a gorgeous photo-op with a long stretch of the Great Wall in the background.
- Hiking beyond Mutianyu watchtower #1. From watchtower 1, the path appears to end. But only for the timid. Look out the windows. On the south side (where the sun will be), there is a completely wild and un-restored section of the wall. Hang off the window or jump to the old section of the wall, and you are on a fascinating trek. Incredible old ruins of walls, beautiful isolation, wild vistas, and most importantly: your own, real experience.
- Camp at Lakeside Great Wall. Lakeside Great Wall allows overnight camping but not on the wall itself. However, camping is allowed on a high viewing area next to a watchtower. Another camping spot is around the BBQ restaurant near the boat docks of the Peninsula. The spot has the advantage of being close to restrooms but hardly feels like camping near the wall.
- Goose'N'Duck Ranch (怀柔县怀柔北宅; éhéyāzhuāng), 怀柔县怀柔北宅; Huáiróuxiàn Huáiróuběizhái, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Ranch with activities including go-kart racing, horseback riding, archery, paintball, both outdoor and indoor swimming pool, bowling, table tennis and party games. Overnight accommodation has poor reviews. One day package including food, beverage and internal transporting ¥260; Two day package including food, beverage, internal transportation and accommodation ¥600.
- Yanxi Nightless Valley, Huairou. An area of small forest lodgings.
- Brickyard Retreat & Spa. Hotel and spa that is part of The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu. Communal cooking. RMB 1,400.