Planning on hiking the Great Wall of China? We wrote this article to explain everything you need about one of the most popular hikes, from Jiankou to Mutianyu. After hiking Mutianyu, you’ll arrive at one of the most popular places to visit the Great Wall of China.
One crazy day we decided to camp on the Great Wall of China with our Couchsurfing host. After camping the previous day at the Jiankou tower, we decided the following day to continue hiking the Great Wall of China from Jiankou to Mutianyu.
We did it despite suffering various setbacks, and we decided to inform travelers how to do a proper hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu!
This is what you will find in this article :
- Why hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu?
- What is Jiankou?
- How to get to Xizhazi, the Jiankou part of the Great Wall of China?
- Do you want to camp on the Great Wall of China?
- Hiking the Great Wall of China from Jiankou to Mutianyu
- Arriving & visiting Mutianyu
- Getting out after hiking Mutianyu towards Beijing
Why hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu?
Mutianyu is one of the most popular areas of the Great Wall of China. This part of the Wall has been restored, and many tourists are flocking every day to see the result. You can even find a cable car to get up and down the Wall. Jiankou to Mutianyu is a popular hike and you’ll find tour agencies organizing the journey with and without the camping option.
The part around Jiankou has not been restored, but it’s still in a good shape. If you want to go hiking the Great Wall of China, it’s one of the best places to do so!
And if you love hiking, why not hiking the highest mountain in Taiwan? Almost 4.000-meter high and guaranteed thrills!
What is Jiankou?
Let’s start with an informative map that I edited with a little more information to understand how to hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu.
As you can see many trails are starting from the Xizhazi village, and this is where you need to go to start hiking the Great Wall of China.
Jiankou is the name of a village located down from the wall. This part of the wall is confusingly called Jiankou as well. Therefore we headed for the village of Jiankou, which was a big mistake. To get from the village to the Wall was an adventure that we will surely remember for ages. It took us almost 4 hours to get up there, and at times we thought we would never make it. Bear in mind that we were carrying provisions for a day and I was carrying a 2-year-old baby.
Don’t be confused as we were, Jiankou is the name of a village as well as the name of a specific part of the wall. Don’t go to the village!
The best solution is to head to the other side of the mountain, to a village named Xizhazi. Public transportation is even more limited on this side since there are only a few buses a day, but you can hike to the wall in about 30 minutes on a straightforward path.
Going to Mongolia after this adventure? Don’t miss the cheapest way to get from Beijing to Mongolia!
How to get to Xizhazi, the Jiankou part of the Great Wall of China?
Step 1: Go to Dongzhimen
The best way to start is to get to the Dongzhimen metro station from wherever you are in Beijing. You will find a bus station there. This is where you will start and probably end your trip.
Step 2: Bus 916快 (1 hour and 20 minutes)
From Dongzhimen Public Transport Hub, take “916快”(RMB12) Remember not 916, but 916快(=916 express) as 916 will take you about 1 hour more. Fare is 12RMB. It will be 50% cheaper if you have a Beijing transportation card, otherwise, you need to bring the exact fare, no change will be given.
After 14 stops and around 1hr 20 mins, exit at Yang Jia Yuan 楊家園
Step 3: Walk 10 minutes, or take a taxi/bus for a short ride
Walk 10 minutes and arrive at Yu Jia Yuan 于家园 bus stop. To get there, you have to keep going the same way as the bus you just went down for 300 meters, and then turn right at the first main intersection. The bus stop is on the right-hand side 250 meters later. This is how it looks like on Baidu Map. A taxi should be cheap, definitely less than 1US$, or you can take the bus H62.
If you need to buy provisions or eat it would be a good idea to do it here.
Step 4: Bus H25 at 11:30 and 16:30, or take a taxi (~1 hour)
From 于家园一区 Yu Jia Yuan Yi Qu, take bus H25 (RMB8) to Xizhazi 西栅子 (note that there are only 2 buses a day: 11:30, 16:30) The ride takes about 1 hour.
There are 3 stops around Xizhazi village. Xizhazi dong (East), Xizhazi, and Xizhazi xi (West) in sequence. If you choose to hike up from the middle part of the Jiankou Wall e.g. Zheng Bei Lou, you can get off at Xizhazi.
Since there are only 2 buses at this stop, you may not find much information about the time of the bus.
In the event of snowing, the bus service of H25 may be canceled. You can call the district bus station at 69619132 for more information, but they definitely won’t speak any English.
Some private cars are frequently waiting around the H25 bus stop to pick up tourists looking to go hiking on the Great Wall of China. A good fare should be around RMB80-100 to Xizhazi.
In total, it should take 2 hours and a half by bus from Dongzhimen and 20RMB (less than 3$US).
Do you wanna camp on the Great Wall of China?
Yes, it is possible! And we did it at Jiankou for some unforgettable memories!
Check out our complete article on how to go camping on the Great Wall of China.
Hiking the Great Wall of China from Jiankou to Mutianyu
After getting to Xizhazi, choose your route
As mentioned before, there are several routes to start hiking the Great Wall of China. If you are an average hiker looking for a great time without complicated passages I’ll recommend you to get directly to the Zhengbei Tower. The trail to get there is easy, and then you can carry on towards hiking Mutianyu. This is the most suitable option for families.
Another option is to hike from Xizhazi to Jiankou. The trail is also easy, but once you arrive at the Wall it will get more complicated. You can also hike to Zhengbeilou and then Mutianyu. This is what we have done.
However, the part from Jiankou to Zhengbeilou is quite steep and can be very challenging. The hiking turns more into rock climbing at times.
Hiking Mutianyu from the Zhengbei Tower
It takes around 4 hours from the Zhengbei Tower to Mutianyu. Of course, that depends on your pace. This part is easier, although it sometimes goes steeply down. Get your camera ready and enjoy the wonderful views while hiking Mutianyu!
From Jiankou to Mutianyu, it took us about 6 hours.
A useful tip: Before arriving at the Ox Horn Edge, there’s a shortcut on the right that will save you around an hour of walk.
Visiting the Mutianyu area
After hiking Mutianyu, you’ll be requested to pay for a ticket if you want to explore the restored part of the Wall. A guard will be there unless you arrive early enough: before 7 am should do the job. It was the middle of the day when we arrived at this point and many tourists were looking at us.
We chose not to visit the area since hiking Mutianyu was already enough for us. After coming all the way from Jiankou to Mutianyu we started to feel tired! Instead, we just continued on a path on the right-hand side and went down along the Wall. We did not have to pay to take this path.
Getting out after hiking Mutianyu towards Beijing
If you pay for a ticket or you manage to sneak into the Mutianyu Great Wall, you’ll just have to follow the other tourists or ask the information center to get back to Beijing. The fastest solution is to take the H23 and once again the 916快 to Dongzhimen.
If you don’t enter the Mutianyu Great Wall section, you’ll follow a parallel path that will lead you to a village. There’s only one road until you arrive at the main square where both roads are going outside of the village towards the same road. The bus stop at the main square is named Bei Kou Cun 北沟, but please note that only three buses running this H36 route at 07:05, 12:15 & 18:30. If you miss them, you will have to hitch a ride or walk 1.9km to arrive at the Xin Ying 辛营 bus stop. The H36 is stopping near the place where you can directly catch the 916快 to Dongzhimen. Have a look on Baidu.
After being done hiking the Great Wall of China and hiking Mutianyu, we passed by the main square of the village and barely missed the midday bus, we walked on the right-hand side road until someone offered us a lift. We weren’t even hitchhiking. He dropped us at the Mutianyu bus stop. While waiting there a car stopped to pick up one of his friends at the bus stop and also offered us a free lift to Huairou, the town where we could catch the 916快 to Dongzhimen. As you can see locals are quite friendly, even though it does help to have a Chinese-speaker with you!
Did YOU get from Jiankou to Mutianyu? Share with us your experience hiking the Great Wall of China, or let us know if you’d like to do it!