Rural Beijing consists of the administrative districts Yanqing District (延庆区; Yánqìngqū), Huairou District (怀柔区; Huáiróuqū), Miyun District (密云区; Mìyúnqū) and Pinggu District (平谷区; Pínggǔqū), 4 partially rural districts in the northern end of Beijing Municipality. The most visited sections of the Great Wall of China run through Yanqing, Huairou and Miyun, and there are an assortment of good day trips for Beijing residents in the 4 districts.
It is convenient to either take the public bus or Beijing Suburban Railway.
From Deshengmen bus station, the north side of an impressive old tower, take bus number 877 to Badaling (¥12 one way, subway card is avaliable and card holders get a 60% discount). The last bus from Beijing to Badaling leaves at around 12:00, the last bus from Badaling to Beijing at around 16:00, but within these hours buses are very frequent. For the ride back, better arrive half an hour early if you want to sit down during the 1-hour drive! This ride can be annoying, with traffic on the freeway plus a self-appointed tour guide lecturing in Chinese over the microphone, but it is the most convenient way to reach Badaling. The ride takes about an hour. Along the walk to the 877 bus, people will try to scam you into taking private buses which cost more and may not even go to the right destination. Ignore them all.
The Beijing Suburban Railway reaches Badaling from Huangtudian Station (500 meters away from the exit G4 of Huoying subway station). This train only runs once every hour or two, so check the schedule ahead of time on cnvol.com. The train is spacious and has very large viewing windows, allowing you breathtaking views of the scenery and the great wall even before you arrive at Badaling. Take a seat on the left as the train leaves Beijing to get the best views. Tickets costs ¥6 each way, they must be purchased the same day of travel and only from the station of departure. If you can't find empty seats you can hang out in the nearly empty dining car, which has a couple of comfortable booths with tables. Upon arrival at Badaling station you'll need to make a left turn and walk 800m to the Great Wall entrance. The ride takes 70 min.
Mutianyu (慕田峪 Mùtiányù) is not as easy to reach via public transportation. Getting there often involves a taxi ride or tour bus.
Take bus #936 from Dongzhimen Outer Bus Station directly to Mutianyu. Buses run from 7:00 to 15:00. Beware of touts at the bus station who will try to misdirect you to get you to take a taxi. Confirm with the bus driver that the bus goes to Mutianyu as there are several #936 lines. Returning by bus from Mutianyu to Dongzhimen. The last 936 bus is at 17:00.
Another bus option from Dongzhimen Outer Bus Station is to take #916 from Dongzhimen Outer Bus Station and stop at Huairou transportation center. From there find a minibus to Mutianyu or take a taxi.
Bus fare is ¥16, but with the electronic Beijing transportation card (purchased at any metro station), expect to pay less than ¥5. See the details about the card on in the Beijing#Get around section.
By tour group
A recommended tour is the Mubus. It's really just a shuttle that picks you up from and drops you back at downtown Beijing. Low cost at RMB 80.
See Great Wall for general information on the Great Wall. Sections are listed from west to east.
- 1 Badaling Great Wall (八达岭 Bādálǐng). The most popular section to see the Great Wall because of extensive, quality renovations. However, very crowded with other tourists. Give yourself about 2 hours to climb up the wall if you're a slow climber, an hour or less if you're speedier. Tickets to climb the wall are around ¥40, with discounts available for the young and the disabled.
- Xiangshui Lake Great Wall, Dazhenyu Village, Bohai Township, Huairou District,. A circuit of tourist sights following nature trails that encompass the partially renovated segments of the Great Wall around the Moshikou Pass, a strategic gateway that has been replaced by a dam constructed in the 1970s. A highlight of the section is a wall segment built on a ridge that leads to the top of a cliff overlooking 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.
- 2 Mutianyu Great Wall (慕田峪 Mùtiányù). Summer: 6:30AM to 6:30PM, Winter: 7:30AM to 5PM. A lot less crowded than the Badaling section and just as well restored. The hike is longer compared to Badling at 3 hours. Unless you want to avoid the more difficult hike, choose Mutianyu over Badaling for your introduction to the Great Wall. There is also a toboggan ride (¥55) and cablecars (¥35 single, ¥50 return). ¥41 for entrance to the wall.
- 3 Badaling Wild World (八达岭野生动物园; Bādálǐng Yěshēngdòngwùyuán), South of Badaling Great Wall, Yanging District (延庆县八达岭长城南; Yánqìngxiàn Bādálǐngchángchéngnán) (Bus 919 from Deshenmen east of Jishuitan Metro Station (line 2), or train S2 from Xizhimen Train Station), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Summer 8AM-5PM; winter 10AM-3PM. Large wild animals like tigers, lions, bears and wolfs can be seen in this park from own car or park buses. Here is much better chance of seeing natural animal behaviour than in the zoo. ¥90.
- 4 Longqingxia (Longqing Gorge). Perhaps the most popular day trip in Beijing. Take a cruise down a picturesque valley flooded by a reservoir completed in 1981 for agricultural irrigation and power generation began. Cruise tickets are available for ¥60/person that take in sights along the water including Coronet Island, a small mountain surrounded by water, and the mountain Zhongshan which looks like a big clock in the water from every angle. Another available activity is downhill rope sliding for ¥50/person, where climbers use ropes to descend in a location between two cliffs with blue sky above and clear water below during the five minute descent.
- 5 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. Beautiful mountain landscape made all the more exciting by a glass bridge and view platform
- [dead link] Goose'N'Duck Ranch (怀柔县怀柔北宅; éhéyāzhuāng), 怀柔县怀柔北宅; Huáiróuxiàn Huáiróuběizhái, ☎ , e-mail: 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. One day package including food, bevarage and internal transporting ¥260; Two day package including food, bevarage, internal transportation and accommodation ¥600.
- [formerly dead link] Caribbean Lagoon Waterpark (加勒比海浪水上乐园; Jiālèbǐhǎilàng Shuǐshànglèyuán), 118 Quanshuitou, Yanxi Town, Huairou District (怀柔区雁栖镇泉水头118号; Huáiróuqū Yànqīzhèn Quánshuǐtóu) (Take the train from Beijing North Railway Station next to Xizhimen Metro Station, get off at Huairou North Station and take an unofficial taxi the last couple of km), ☎ , , , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM-4PM. Large Caribbean themed water theme park with waterslides, wave pool, lazy river pool and island. Mediocre Chinese restaurants available but good picnic areas if you bring your own food. ¥120.
- 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.
- [formerly dead link] Village View Resort (北京乡景度假村; Běijīng Xiāngjǐng Dùjiàcūn), East of Quanshuitou Village, Yanqi Town, Huairou District (怀柔区雁栖镇泉水头村东; Huáiróuqū Yànqīzhèn Quánshuǐtóucūn Dōng) (Take the train from Beijing North Railway Station next to Xizhimen Metro Station, get off at Huairou North Station () and take an unofficial taxi the last couple of km), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Beautifully located hotel close to lakes and mountains. The rooms are not very large and has internet access against surcharge. Business centre, disco, karaoke, children's playground, billiard, tanæe tennins, tennis and basketball available. Chinese and Western restaurants as well as coffee shop, bar and room service. Listed rates for doubles from ¥770, discounted from ¥508, breakfast ¥38-180.
- 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!