As the name implies, Huanghuacheng Lakeside Great Wall is the only section of Great Wall in Beijing that is connected with a lake. It is a famous tourist resort where you can appreciate the bold northern-frontier and gentle Jiangnan-like (southern China) scene at the same time. Huanghuacheng Great Wall is surrounded by mountains and lush forests, forming a beautiful natural landscape throughout the year. Immersed in its natural beauty and man-made wonder, you will feel rather relaxed to temporarily get away from the hustle and bustle of modern cities.
Huanghuacheng Great Wall, or Huanghuacheng Lakeside Great Wall, is located at Jiuduhe Village in Huairou District of Beijing. It is about 80km (2h15m by car) to the north of central Beijing (Tian’anmen Square).
To Forbidden City: about 75km, 2 hours’ drive
To the Summer Palace: about 68km, 1h45m’s drive
To the Temple of Heaven: about 90km, 2.5 hours’ drive
To Beijing Hutongs: about 75km, 2hours’ drive
To Beijing Capital International Airport: about 80km, 1h45m’s drive
To Beijing South Railway Station: about 90km, 2.5 hours’ drive
To Beijing West Railway Station: about 80km, 2 hours’ drive
Huanghuacheng Great Wall was built in A.D. 1404 under the command of Emperor Yongle (Zhu Di) to increase the defensive force. It was built 2 years’ earlier than the Forbidden City and 3 years earlier than the Ming Tombs. The construction of Huanghuacheng Great Wall lasted as long as 188 years. During the latter stage of the construction, rumors had it that the Great Wall was in poor quality despite of so much money and time. Emperor Wanli was very angry. So he summoned General Cai Kai (the supervisor of Huanghuacheng Great Wall construction at that time) back to Beijing and had him beheaded. But after investigation, the emperor found that Huanghuacheng Great Wall built by General Cai was very solid and firm. He realized that he had slain the general wrong. So he inscribed two Chinese characters Jintang (金汤), meaning impregnable fortress, at the foot of the Great Wall to commemorate the excellent work of General Cai. Nowadays, Huanghuacheng Great Wall is sometimes referred as Jintang Great Wall.
Lying on the rolling mountain ridge and built around the Haoming lakeside, the Huanghuacheng Great Wall itself is a pleasure to eye. It is not only a gate guarding Beijing in the north, but also an important gateway in protecting the Ming Tombs. So a lot of effort was put into the construction of Huanghuacheng Great Wall, which can also be seen from the 188 years in building it. It fully deserves the honor of “the essence of the Great Wall”.
Haoming Lake (灏明湖) naturally divides Huanghuacheng Great Wall into several sections, two of which are underwater now, forming a peculiar landscape of water submerging the ancient wall. So Huanghuacheng Great Wall is also known as water Great Wall. This scene was formed in 1974. In order to build Xishuiyu reservoir at that time, it needed to dam the lake, which resulted in a water river rise. So the part of Huanghuacheng Great Wall in the low valley was in the water ever since. Now seen from the top, Huanghuacheng Great Wall is like an agile giant dragon stretching its head into the water of great momentum.
The chestnut garden covers an area of over 100 mu (about 7 hectares) with more than 100 ancient trees. All these trees were planted by the soldiers guarding Huanghuacheng in the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368 - 1644). Because at that time, the soldiers needed to do some farming work to support their daily supplies. Having weathered 600 years’ ups and downs, such a large area of ancient chestnut garden is still thriving and fruitful, which is indeed an amazing scene in Beijing suburb. The chestnut garden is most beautiful in autumn (late September - November) when the leaves all turn yellow.
Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall is very hiking-friendly compared with the others. There are surely also many steps to climb, but in general, the steps are relatively flat. According to your own condition, you can choose to hike in an easy or a more challenging way. From the West Gate to the Pier, it is about 1.1km and needs 20 minutes. If you follow the trail in the north to get to the Pier, you will need to hike about 2km (40 minutes). From the Pier keep heading west for 2km, you will get to Heilong Pond after about 40 minutes. So finishing a round hiking trip will need 2.5 - 3 hours.
>>2 Days Jiankou - Mutianyu & Huanghuacheng Lakeside Great Walls Hiking Tour
It seems unbelievable to have a boating trip while hiking the Great Wall, but that’s totally doable at Huanghuacheng section! You can take a boat from the reservoir dam near the east gate to the biland at the center of Haoming Lake. There are several kinds of boat for your choice, such as yacht, sightseeing boat, pedalo, and rowing boat. This 6-minute trip will save you much time and energy, and provide you with a unique experience of “boating” the Great Wall.
Not having enough fun hiking the Great Wall? What about holding a bonfire party with your friends? The wood needed will be provided by the scenic spot. Imagine on a quiet night under the starry sky, you hold a bonfire party on the biland or the fish-shape beach with your families or friends, singing, dancing, cheering, and even having a barbeque. The campfire lights up the green hills, clear water, and the ancient Great Wall, breaking the silence around. The water great wall at that time is full of vitality and a different kind of charm. The warm bonfire, the people you are happy being with, the tasty mutton kebabs, streaky pork, and other delicious food… What a beautiful night!
Thanks to the advantageous geographical environment, a development training base has been built here. You can take part in various activities in Huanghuacheng Great Wall Scenic Area such as dam speed drop, making a raft by yourself, camping (available from May to September), etc. The base follows the rule of integrating the national beauty and cultural building in harmony, and has successfully combined outdoor extending activities with taking relaxing vacations. It is an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
As Huanghuacheng Lakeside Great Wall is a place you can appreciate the great wall, the Haoming Lake, the rolling mountains, and the chestnut garden at the same time, it always has something to offer you all year round. Considering the scenery and weather, it is most recommended to visit there in April, May, October, and early November. But please try to avoid the National Day Holiday (October 1 - 7) because during that time, most attractions in Beijing will expect much more tourists than usual.
In peak season (April - October), you can take a direct tourist bus (about 2 hours) from Dongzhimen Transportation Hub Station (东直门公交枢纽站) to Huanghuacheng Great Wall. This bus operates only once a day. It will leave Dongzhimen (about 9km, 30 minutes’ drive to the northeast of Tiananmen Square) at 8:30am and bring you back from Huanghuacheng Great Wall at 16:00pm. If you miss the bus or travel there in off-peak season (November - March), then you will spend at least 3.5 hours on bus transfer from Tiananmen Square.
To save all the troubles and make your trip more enjoyable, you can consider traveling with China Discovery . According to your own needs, we will customize a private tour for you covering all the transfer you need during the trip from the airport/train station to the hotel and the tourist attractions. In this way, you can travel worry-free with a comfortable vehicle, skilled driver, and professional guide.>>Read More About How to Get to Huanghuacheng Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall is about 26km (40 minutes’ drive) to the east of Huanghuacheng. To transfer between these two places, it is recommended to take a car, because the bus will make a long detour that takes you about 2.5 hours. Mutianyu section is the “longest great wall in China” so far. It boasts splendid culture, beautiful scenery, and densely dotted watchtowers. It is well protected, so you can still see its original appearance there.>>Read More About Mutianyu Great Wall.
The Ming Tombs is about 20km (30 minutes’ drive) southwest of Huanghuacheng. Bus is also not recommended because you need to make at least 2 transfers and it will take you about 3.5 hours. The Ming Tombs, covering an area of over 120 square kilometers, is the resting place of 13 emperors in the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). There is a 7km Sacred Way leading to the tombs with 12 stone animals lining up on each side. At present, only the Sacred Way, Changling Tomb, Dingling Tomb, and Zhaoling Tomb are open to the public. One hour or two is sufficient for you to take a trip there.>>Read More About the Ming Tombs
There are many choices for you to take a Great Wall hiking tour. If you want to visit Huanghuacheng, you can start your trip at around 8:00 or earlier. After about 2 hours’ drive, the rest of the day is for you to explore Huanghuacheng Great Wall freely. But generally speaking, 3-4 hours is fair enough. So you can return to downtown Beijing or head to another section of the Great Wall in the afternoon. Usually the Great Wall is just one part of a Beijing tour. To better explore this ancient city, you are recommended to spend about two more days to visit Tiananmen Square, now the largest city plaza in the world, one of the world’s five most important palaces – the Forbidden City, the largest and best-preserved royal garden in China Summer Palace, and experience the typical Beijing Hutongs.
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