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Listed as one of the representative sections of Great Wall at World Heritage Site, Simatai is the only ancient architectural site in China that retains the original appearance of the Ming Dynasty. It was designated as the "Primitive Great Wall" by UNESCO. A famous architect, once commented that, "China's Great Wall is the world's most, but Simatai section of the Great Wall is reputed as the most of China's Great Wall."
In 2012, Simatai Great Wall was rated by the British Times as "the top 25 scenic spots in the world that can not be missed".
Simatai Great Wall was built from 1368 to 1398 in the early Ming Dynasty. It stretches from "Viewing Beijing Tower" (望京楼 Wangjing Lou) in the east and to the Houchuankou in the west. It is the only ancient Great Wall that preserves the original appearance of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty. Later, from 1465 to 1487, in order to strengthen the defense, the Great Wall has been renovated and extended. After more than ten years of construction, it has become a solid defense line with high walls, abutments and beacon towers facing each other. During Qing Dynasty, The Great Wall of Simatai, has hosted more than 3 emperors of the Qing Dynasty for worshiping ancestors, hunting. Emperor Kangxi (康熙) had spent the summer here, and Emperor Qianlong (乾隆) had a military parade here, leaving many poems for the later generations. In 1933, the Great Wall was damaged in the war against Japanese artillery. The restoration of the Great Wall began in 1984 and it was officially opened to tourists in 1990.
Simatai Great Wall is featured by its simplicity, historical relics, and the steepness. Even each watchtower has its own characteristics.
Next to the the fourth watchtower, the single-sided wall is about 3 meters high, built with two rows of bricks with perforations for arrows. The largest brick in the Great Wall of Simatai is found there. Unilateral wall is another architectural feature of Simatai Great Wall, and it presents differently in each section. By Appreciating this wall, we can get to know the architectural style and level of each period in Ming Dynasty.
Below the west side of Simatai Great Wall runs the hot spring all the year round, while the cold spring is only within 100 meters to it. The local people give a beautiful name to the lake with both hot and cold spings, "Yuanyuan Lake". (In Chinese, yuanyang are a kind of love birds which always appear in couple.) When it is sunny, you can visit the lake by boat, you can see the mountains, trees and the Great Wall reflected in the rippling water. It is said that soldiers who once built the Great Wall here would come to this hot spring to take a bath to help them relieve pressure and fatigue. If you are interested, you can also go to the hot spring site and have a try.
The twelfth tower, the Five-window Building, is also known as the General Tower. It is about 2.5km away from the parking lot below Simatai Great Wall. It is said to be the place where the commanders of the army were located, and it is also an important watchtower for the information transmission of the whole Simatai Great Wall. It is the most beautiful and exquisite Watchtower in the Great Wall section of Simatai. The different arches, ancient carvings on stone pillars give people a delicate and solemn atmosphere everywhere, as if it is not a defense facility for war, but a fancy pavilion for relaxing.
Viewing Capital Tower, the 16th East Building, 986 meters above sea level, is the highest building of Simatai Great Wall. It stands on the top of Tiger Mountain, like a cone, upright to the blue sky. According to the local people, once standing on this building, the figure of the capital city, Beijijng could be seen, even at night, hence it was named after it. Now it is not permitted to get there for safety reasons. Appreciating it in a distance, it is still stunning as it was in the Ming Dynasty.
It is about 3km away from the parking lot of the scenic spot. The heavenly ladder is actually a single side wall with a barrier wall. The south side of a barrier wall has a sharp ascending, with an inclination angle of 80 degrees. Since this wall built here is very steep, just like a ladder to the heavens. Therefore, it called "heavenly ladder". Sometimes, the visitors should use both hands and feet to climb atop it.
Hike to the top of the heavenly Ladder,and then walk to the east. You will see the fairy tower, which is 5.6 meters long and 4.7 meters wide. It is a two-window tower, which is the most slender one among all the watchtowers. It stands tall and erect like an elegant fairy on the top of the mountain.
For most of the visitors at Simatai for the first time, hiking ranks no.1 on their to-do list. Running around at Simatai Great Wall, enjoying the mountains afar, the lake and town below, you will feel more stunning sides of simatai as the night comes. The round-trip and one-way cableways are also offered. You are suggested to have a trekking pole and watch out the loosen bricks if you would like to challenge the steep walls.
As the night falls, you take a cable car to enjoy the stunning nightscape of Simatai Great Wall with a lantern in your hand. You can see the light just lit in the town below the mountain. The tranquil mountains afar, the shimmering lights around, the starry sky above, the lantern in your lover's hand, make you want to explore the city, the life more with the beloved ones.
Besides the night hike at Simatai, you can also camp at Juxian Tower (聚仙楼) at night. Because Juxian Tower is nearly 1,000 meters above sea level and has high visibility at night, many photographers set up tents here, waiting for the stars, the moon, the sunset and sunrise. In the daytime, you can also have a picnic here in the Great Wall with friends and family, and spend some leisure time together.
Tourists can choose diverse routes to visit Simatai Great Wall.There are usually 2 commonly used hiking routes for your reference.
▲ Route 1: Take a cable car upward to the No.5 east watchtower of Simatai Great Wall and then reach the No.8 watchtower, after passing several other watchtowers, and here you can take the cable car down to the foot of the mountain. This is the only permitted route if you would like to travel Simatai Great Wall at night.
▲ Route 2: Hike along the trail from the entrance to the No.2 watchtower, and then reach the No.5/No.8 watchtower. There, you can take a cable car down to the exit. This route is longer than the former one,which takes more time to hike and is recommended to visit during daytime.
◣ Simatai Great Wall Entrance Fee: CNY 40
◣ Combo Ticket (Gubei Water Town entrance plus Simatai Great Wall): CNY 170
◣ Cable Car: CNY 90 (One-Way); CNY 160 (Round-Trip)
Note: Since Simatai Great Wall is inside Gubei Water Town Scenic Area, if you would like to visit both sites, you may need to purchase the combo ticket. If you just want to visit Simatai Great Wall, you need to book your visit to Simatai online one day in advance, due to the great wall preservation. Besides, every visitor who would like to visit Simatai Great Wall at night must purchase a round-trip cableway ticket for safety reasons. The ticket price is subject to change in different season. Please do not hesitate to contact us for the updated information.
The best time to visit Simatai Great Wall is from March to October, except for the hot summer days. In spring, with the lush vegetation covering the mountain, the winding wall looks like a dragon lying on a green sea. In autumn, red leaves cover the ridge, offering you another wonderful scene. Avoid the Chinese holidays such as the National Holiday (1st-7th Oct) and the hot summer days, but you can have water fun at the nearby Gubei Water Town instead. Also, Simatai Great Wall is the only section opened with Night tour available, don't miss the stunning nightscape.>>Best Time to Visit the Great Wall
Daytime: Apr. - Oct.: 8:00 - 18:00; Nov.- Mar.: 8:00 - 17:30 (Site-cleared at 16:30)
Night: Apr. - Oct.: 18:00 - 22:00; Nov.- Mar.: 17:30 - 21:00 (Mon. - Fri.), 17:30 - 21:30 (Weekends)
Located in the northeast of Beijing outskirts, Simatai Great Wall is adjacent to Gubei Water Town.
◣ Location: Simatai, Gubei Ancient Town, Miyun District, Beijing北京市密云区古北水镇司马台村
There are usually 2 ways to get to Simatai Great Wall from Beijing downtown.
Option 1: By car - fast and comfortable, about 3 hours
Many taxi drivers are not willing to take you to Simatai , since it is too far. If you want to save the transportation troubles, you can choose the private car service provided by China Discovery. We will pick you up from your hotel and send you to the great wall safely with comfortable vehicles, skilled drivers, and professional guides. >>Contact us now
Option 2: By bus - economical, 3.5-4 hours
There are two bus choices. The first one: Simatai Tourist Bus. You can get on the bus at Dongzhimen Outer Bus Station (东直门外汽车站 Pinyin: Dongzhimen Wai Qichezhan) and get off at Gubei Ancient Town. The direct tourist bus from downtown Beijing to Simatai only departs about 4 times a day from 8:00am to 15:30pm. Besides the tourist bus, you can choose to take the city bus 980 at Dongzhimen Bus Station (东直门汽车站 Pinyin: Dongzhimen Qichezhan) to Miyun Bus Station (密云汽车站 Pinyin: Miyun Qichezhan) and transfer to Bus 51 to Simatai Scenic Area where you can walk to Simatai Great Wall within half an hour.
Gubei WaterTown is located in Simatai Village, Miyun District, Beijing, at the foot of Simatai Great Wall. It is the Northeast gateway of Beijing, 120 kilometers from Beijing, 98 kilometers from the Capital Airport, 60 kilometers from Miyun District and 80 kilometers from Chengde City. This town built on the basis of northern culture is becoming a landmark for night trips in Beijing and it attracts more and more young people and international friends to come for vacation and leisure. It is also a paradise for photographers and foodies.
Jinshanling Great Wall is one of the best hiking sections with both good facilities and well-preserved hiking paths, while Simatai Great Wall is 16km next to it, about 0.5h by car. Both of them are less crowded and more "natural", comparing with the great wall sections closer to the Beijing downtown. Many people would like to hike both of them since the short distance between them, and each section of the two great walls offering different stunning scenery.
Gubeikou Great Wall is located in the southeast of Gubeikou Town, Miyun District, Beijing. It is about 120 kilometers away from Tiananmen Square. It is to the west of Simatai Great Wall (about 10km, half hour by car) and very close to Jinshanling Great Wall (about 13km, half hour by car). It is the most complete Great Wall system in the history of the Great Wall of China, and it is also the representative of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty. Compared with the Mutianyu and Badaling Great Wall, it is more primitive and less crowded here.
❶ Items to Pack: Hiking boots, sticks or trekking sticks, backpack, sun-glasses, long pants, sunscreen, snacks, camera.
❷ Risky Hikers: people who suffer arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, and the traveler who are drunk are not recommended to take the hike.
❸ Age Ranges: Don't take baby less than 3 years old for this hike, and the traveler who are more than 80 years old are not recommended to hike.
❹ Sanitation Facilities: Please go to toilet at the entrance of the wall before the hiking, there is no toilet on the Wall. Please carry toilet paper by yourself always.
❺ Unavailable Hiking Conditions: You are not recommended to go, under the following weather condition: Rain, Snow, Strong Wind, etc.
Simatai Great Wall, steep and wild, is a section of Great Wall that you can come to visit at both daytime and night. One or two days are enough to fully explore Simatai Great Wall, the nearby Guibei Water Town, and Jinshanling Great Wall. It is recommended to start your trip early to avoid the traffic jam and crowds.
Besides Simatai Great Wall, there are many other great walls offering you the same marvellous views, including Jiankou Great Wall, Badaling Great Wall and Huanghuacheng Great Wall. Exploring the neighboring Jinshanling Great Wall, trekking on steep mountain ridge of Jiankou Great Wall and the near section of the better preserved Mutianyu Great Wall, admiring the famous and renovated Badaling Great Wall, you can encounter different sparking sides of each section and commemorate the man-made wonder of the ancient Chinese people. China Discovery offers you tailor-made tour service, and you can fully experience all the famous great walls in 2 days. If you have more time, it's also recommended to explore other attractions in Beijing, such as the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, and More!
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[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >