OMG so hard but still sssssssssssooooo happy I did this part of the wall then did the Badaling spelling? side later on my China trip. To see the contrast between the 2 differnt parts made this tour even more impressive.
Best way to spend my 49th birthday, but next year maybe just cake and balloons please :
Highlight of our trip. Our group pretty much had the wall to ourselves. It was great to see parts restored and other parts unrestored, and be able to walk on both parts. We took the cable car up to the top for a few quid extra - worth it if it's a hot day and there's lots of steep steps to tackle later on the wall.
The Jinshanling portion of the Great Wall was amazing - there are very few people and the views are awesome. Lots of steps though, so you'll need to be in decent shape.
Unfortunately, the tour itself was very bad - the tour guide never joined us on the wall itself, he only showed us the map and told us which direction to go and what time to meet back at the bottom. Also, the tour company ended having people from a different tour to Water Town ride in the van with us, causing additional stops to drop them off and pick them back up, along with extra stops on the morning pickup route. This cut our time on the wall short by an hour we got 2.5 instead of the 3.5 promised in the tour description, and then we returned to Beijing during the worst of rush hour instead of being dropped back off at our hotel at 4:00 as the tour mentioned. The van stopped at a subway station and the tour guide encouraged us to take the subway if we wanted to get back to our hotel quicker.
Yes, do a tour of Jinshanling, but no, find a different tour operator!
What a fantastic experience! Going in the off season, had its perks as my tour of 10 people were practically the only ones on this section of the wall! Pick up was easy and on time and Paul the guide was great and really knowledgeable. Lunch was really good and no unwanted stops a long the way
Horribly Organized with Hidden Expenses
First, I am not sure why they continue to sell tours to this region when that section of the wall is closed for maintenance. They substituted a different section of the wall of course, but it made for added complexity. We were picked up at our hotel at 6:15, before the hotel even began serving breakfast. We then proceeded to sit on two different buses for nearly two hours before even departing for the wall. Although they did give us water and bread, I would have much preferred to eat a real breakfast and be responsible for getting myself to a centralized meeting point by 7:45 for an 8:00 departure. The bus ride was smooth, allowing for one restroom stop during the 2-hour drive. Upon arriving at the wall, the guide informed us that a one/way cable car ticket was an additional 90RMB/person about 15 USD. The way the timeline was presented to us, it seemed like purchasing at least one cable car ticket would be necessary because the time allotted was insufficient to walk both up and down. In the end, we ended up having to purchase tickets for both directions because the signs for the trail are not well marked and the cable car station was the only thing we could find. Honestly, the Great Wall itself is okay. Its most impressive when you can see it snake off into the distance and start to appreciate its length, but because the air quality in China is regularly horrible, the view was smoggy and really took away from the beauty. We did get to enjoy some fall color and this section was not very crowded. Since our scheduled lunch time was 2pm late for most Americans and unreasonable for anyone forced to skip breakfast, we attempted to leave the Great Wall area to grab lunch on our own. However, since their process is to scan the park ticket on the way out, and our guide never actually gave us our tickets, we were forced to wait another hour for the rest of the group. Luckily, lunch was ready to go as soon as we arrived at the restaurant and the food was good more of an American-style Chinese food. We finished quickly and took the opportunity to walk around the small town not included in the tour and frankly, almost better than the wall itself. Overall, I do not recommend this tour. The tour guide and driver both did a fine job, but your time will not be well utilized and its going to cost you more than the advertised price if you want to make the most of your time walking along the wall.
Great: this section of the wall has very little visitors.
Good: the 3 hour hike is incredible. Once in a life time adventure.
Ok: the hike, can be tough with the steep stairs and inclines but manageable with breaks. Take bottled water!
Bad: Paul tour guide. Bad English, left us on our own
This was an amazing tour, away from the busy tourist side. We basically had the wall to ourselves so we had great photo opportunities and an intense hike . Our guide Nancy was informative and excellent, she has a great passion for her work. The lunch was delicious as well. No shopping trips so this is highly recommended