Jiankou Great Wall

Address: Houjiankou Village, Huairou District, Beijing, China

- Mid-range


Conquer the wild watchtowers on this beautiful stretch of Wall in remote countryside.

One of the highest unrestored stretches of the Great Wall, Jiankou’s precipitous, crumbling towers perched on saw-tooth peaks are like something out of a Tolkien fantasy. It’s a hot spot for landscape photographers, though hikers remain scarce, partly because of the relative steepness and inaccessibility of some of the battlements. Names like ‘Heavenly Ladder’ and the ‘Flying Eagle’ give you an idea of the hair-raising adventure that awaits. But with various access points up to the Wall from Jiankou village, you can pick and choose the stretches you want to tackle, and if it gets too hairy, just turn back.

I usually take first-timers on a fairly rudimentary march up through a forested valley to Zhengbei Tower, where the views are simply out of this world. From here, it’s a two and a half hour, rubble-strewn hike south along the Wall to the upper reaches of touristy Mutianyu, where you gain instant credo from the puffed-out tourists who can only wonder at what discoveries lie beyond.

Value for money

Price advice

Entry to Jinakou village is about 20 RMB per person. A night in a farmhouse with dinner and breakfast should set you back about 50-100 RMB per person, but you’ll have to bargain.

Expert tips

To get there without organising a driver and guide, take bus 916 from Dongzhimen Bus Station to Huairou (the final stop). From here, a 50-minute taxi ride to Houjiankou village should cost RMB 80-100.

To get the most out your visit, start as early as possible or stay in one of the rustic farmhouse-style guest houses in Jiankou village.

The going gets quite overgrown in summer, so wear long trousers and bring insect repellent.

Recommended for

  • Seasoned travellers
  • Sporty types
  • Great views / scenery
  • History
  • Nature / wildlife