Jiankou Great Wall Overview
JianKou Great Wall is regarded by some people as the most picturesque section of Great Wall and is a good example of “Wild Great Wall”. It’s become a popular photographic hotspot and hiking destination in recent days. Jiankou is translated as “Arrow Nock” in English, since the shape of the mountains where the wall was built is like an arrow with the collapsed ridge opening as its arrow nock. The main section of the wall was built along the ridges with steep cliffs on each side. Therefore, you have to prepare for a good fitness and great care if you climb this section.
Jiankou Great Wall is located at Xizhaizi Village, 30 km from Huairou District, and 70 km from Beijing. It will take a two-hour driving from Beijing downtown.Originally Jiankou Great Wall was built in Tang Dynasty and was restored largely in the Ming Dynasty. It connects to Mutianyu Great Wall in the east and Huanghuacheng Great Wall in the west. It’s the most dangerous and steep section of all Ming Dynasty Great Wall. It stretches from “The Ox Horn Edge Wall” in the east to “The Nine-Eye Tower” in the north via “The Beijing Knot” with total length of 9.3 miles. Different from the building material – bricks – at Mutianyu and Simatai sections, Jiankou section was mainly built with local material – dolomite, which made the base of the wall harder and stronger. Therefore, Jiankou section is more steeper, higher and vaired compared with other sections of the Great Wall near Beijing. At the foot of the Xizhaizi village, you will see the clear dolomite base of the Great Wall.
Jiankou Great Wall consists of 28 towers, and the most popular towers includes: The Nine-Eye Tower, The Beijing Knot and Stairway to the Heaven. One section called 38 Big Steps is really steep with an angle of 80 degrees. Zhengbeilou Tower is the right place to appreciate the beauty of sunrise and sunset.
Activities at Jiankou Great Wall
- Jiankou Great Wall is not peaceful any more. The scenery is breathtaking here, but it’s not for all ages. Due to the unrestored condition and more and more visitors, the wall is becoming loose and unsteady.
- Some walkers claimed here as rock climbing instead of hiking. Try to avoid weekend in summer time, since it’s crowded with local Chinese, and you have to wait the long queue in certain dangerous sections. You have to watch your steps very carefully. In a bad weather like lightening and rainstorm, you have to get off the wall as quick as possible. Several Chinese were killed by lightening in the past years.
Definitely kids and seniors are not recommended here. Simatai, Jinshanling and Mutianyu are good alternatives.
- It’s highly recommeded to employ an English-speaking guide in Beijing and a local farmer guide in the village who is familiar with all secret path in the wall just in case. Comfortable boots is a necessary. Stick is helpful but some sections you have to climb up by hands.
- Hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu or reverse can be an alternative for those who really want to experience Jiankou section. You can start from Zhengbeilou Tower, where you have a panoramic view of the whole Jiankou section, and then walk eastward to Mutianyu. In this route, you will not miss the scenery, and not try the risk as well, and a fairly 5 hours hiking. You will finish the hiking at Mutianyu, and then try a fun experience of toboggan down the mountain.
- Jiankou Great Wall is not opened to public by local authority, but nobody can stop the visitors.
Travel Tips at Jiankou Great Wall
Raise special attention to the following sections, even skip them if possible:
- Stairway to the Heaven
- The Eagle Flies Facing Upward
- Beijing Knot
- Wangjinglou Tower
Getting Jiankou Great Wall
- Take Bus No.916 at Dongzhimen, get off at Huairou Fangshan (diagonally opposite Huairou First Hospital). There you can find local buses to Jiankou Great Wall. The buses run between 10:00 and 15:00. Sometimes you get confused and puzzled of find the local buses, so you can negotiate with local taxi dirvers with RMB 150-200 for a round trip.
- Otherwise find a local tour operator in Beijing to organize vehicle.
Dining & Accommodation
Xizhazi Village 西栅子村
Situated at the foot of Jiankou Great Wall, Xizhazi Village is the base of Jiankou Great Wall where visitors can stop for a rest. If you do a day trip to Jiankou, it’s not necessary to stay overnight. If you want to experience the sunrise and sunset, this village is the best location.
Most the local farmers have newly-built guesthouses, and they are basic and simple. Simple but fabulous home-made local Chinese food is available at these guesthouses. Jiankou is becoming a popular destination among local Chinese, so you have to reserve an accommodation if you go there at weekend, otherwise just go straight. The local farmers can not speak any English and it’s recommeded to employ an English-speaking guide in Beijing.
Standard twin room with private facility will cost RMB 150-200. Multi-shared rooms will cost RMB 20 each and the local heated brick bed (Kang) will cost RMB 20 as well. A public toilet and shower is available for multi-shared accommodation.