Rural Beijing consists of the administrative districts Huairou District (怀柔区; Huáiróuqū), Miyun District (密云区; Mìyúnqū) and Pinggu District (平谷区; Pínggǔqū). The three urban and rural districts are in the north-central and northeastern end of Beijing Municipality. Yanqing District, Beijing's northwest most district, is covered in a separate article.
The most visited sections of the Great Wall of China and an assortment of good day trips for Beijing residents are in the area.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Simatai (司马台 Sīmǎtái). The most authentic part of the wall is at Simatai; the wall here is of original construction unlike Badaling. Simatai in combination with the adjacent Gubei Watertown, a reconstructed historical town, has become a popular weekend travel destination for domestic and international tourists. Night tours overlooking the well illuminated Gubei Watertown are popular and tickets are sold separately.
- Gubeikou (古北口 Gǔběikǒu). Gubeikou is also far from central Beijing than other sections but the extra time it takes to get there is rewarded with a very significant reduction in crowding and tourist traps.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tianyun Mountain, Huangtuliang, Huangsongyu Town (Nearest bus stop is 3.5km away; tour group or taxi only viable means of getting there). 8:00-17:00. The destination has a 160 meter glass bottom bridge and small viewing platform built over 1,000 meters above the valley. The surrounding landscape of mountain peaks is lush in the summer, making for one of the most beautiful outdoors sights in Beijing.
- Shilingxia (石林峡), Diaowo Village, Huangsongyu Township (Bus 852 from central Beijing to Pinggu District Bus Terminal and then local bus No.25). The park's large hiking loop will take you past steep rock formations and small waterfall streams. The scenery is not as spectacular as in nearby Tianyun Mountain. However, the star attraction isn't the nature but a UFO shaped structure that is the world's longest cantilever viewing platform. The bottom of the UFO platform is glass and the structure is perched over the highest peak in the park. For kitschy fun, a classic flying saucer with 2 blue alien passengers is suspended in the center of the viewing platform.
- 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 runners and people in line behind you insist otherwise. A suggested combo is to take the cable car up and the toboggan ride down.
- Mutianyu wild wall hike. 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.
- Jinshanling to Simatai hike. The majority of the wall east of Jinshanling is also unrestored. The hike from Jinshanling to Simatai is roughly 10 km. It is a significant hike in distance but more so in the elevation change, but you will be rewarded with spectacular views and a good day of exercise. Expect to spend anywhere from 2.5 hours to 6 hours on the wall, depending on your fitness level, ambition and frequency of photo ops. When you are half way between the two sections, there are hardly any tourists. You will be hiking on moving bricks sometimes combined with steep climbs. During the middle of this hike, collectors will charge you again because you are entering another part of the Wall. If you are going between sections, there is little you can do about it other than turn back.
- Goose'N'Duck Ranch (怀柔县怀柔北宅; éhéyāzhuāng), 怀柔县怀柔北宅; Huáiróuxiàn Huáiróuběizhái, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Ranch with activities including go-kart racing, horseback riding, archery, paintball, both outdoor and indoor swimming pool, bowling, table tennis and party games. One day package including food, beverage and internal transporting ¥260; Two day package including food, beverage, internal transportation and accommodation ¥600.
- Xiaolumian, Yingbeigou Village, Huairou District (one hour from downtown Beijing), ☏ . Open March-November, Weekends and Holidays 12AM-4PM and by prior appointment. A rustic farmhouse tucked into a valley next to the Great Wall. Xiaolumian is really a trip back in time and a taste of village life. Serving only local handmade noodles, soups and sauces from locally grown materials, the menu is as authentic as the setting itself. Eat lunch in a private room while sitting on the Kang surrounded by antique furniture and textiles, or enjoy special roasted barley tea on the slate terrace in the small orchard.
- The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu, 12 Mutianyu Village, Huairou District (one hour from downtown Beijing), ☏ . Open 10AM-9PM. Located in a renovated schoolhouse at the base of the Great Wall. The Schoolhouse hosts a Western restaurant, an art glass studio and an art room. The Schoolhouse has a charming simple atmosphere. The food is Western homemade style based on fresh and local organic ingredients where possible. Worth a visit if around Mutianyu Great Wall.
There are resort options to turn a Great Wall day trip into a weekend getaway. Around Huairou is "Yanxi Nightless Valley", an area full of small forest resorts. At the foot of Simatai, is Gubei Watertown, a reconstructed historical town. It's a fancy high end tourist development by a venture captial fund and has been immensely successful in transforming Simatai into an overnight attraction.
- Brickyard Retreat & Spa. Hotel and spa that is part of The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu. Communal cooking. RMB 1,400.
- Commune by the Great Wall Kempinski Beijing. 11 villas designed by top Asian architects and design firms, all of which have butlers. For those with money to splurge!