How to get there: Take the bus from Beijing Wangjing West Subway Station 望京西站 to Luanping 滦平 in Hebei province and get off at Jinshanling Service Station 金山岭服务区, it takes 90 minutes (at least). The bus leaves once an hour from 7am. You can also often find private buses to Luanping at the same bus stop, leaving when they are full (slightly more expensive, 50 yuan).
There’s also a direct bus every morning from Dongzhimen Public Transport Hub 东直门枢纽站 to the Jinshanling main entrance. It usually leaves 7.30 and returns 16.00, but not during the winter season.
There is supposed to be a shuttle bus running between Jinshanling Service Station and the main (= middle, central) and east gates, but when we arrived on May 8th 2019 people told us the bus has been canceled and doesn’t run any longer. Not sure if it’s true, perhaps it’s just temporary, but we took a private car to the main gate. The distance is around 2.5 km, and to the east gate it’s less than 1.5 km, so it’s possible to walk.
Time of visit: May 2019
Jinshanling highway exit, next to Jinshanling Service Station:
Jinshanling Great Wall main (central) entrance:
Detailed map of Jinshanling Great Wall (to see the full size, right click and download the image):
If you enter through the main gate: after the ticket check, do NOT take the cableway up to the wall. Instead, continue walking a couple of hundred meters until you see “Farming Times 农耕时代” on the right. Follow the path up to the wall, it takes maybe 20 minutes.
Taking the cable car up makes it impossible to walk the entire Jinshanling wall from west to east, because the upper cable car station is located in the middle between the eastern and western ends.
See the map below:
You arrive at Taochun Tower (Taochunkou 桃春口, Taochunlou 桃春楼) close to the western end of Jinshanling. This is the unrestored part of Jinshanling Great Wall. To the west there’s only one more tower to visit, Liuyanlou 六眼楼 “Six-window Tower”, beyond this tower is a forbidden military zone.
From Taochun Tower it’s possible to make a one hour long detour below the wall and then get up on the wall again and continue hiking to the west all the way to Gubeikou 古北口. A guard is sitting in Taochun Tower checking tickets, if you arrive from Gubeikou you have to buy a ticket for Jinshanling.
To the east you can hike on the wall for 4-5 hours all the way to the exit that leads down to Jinshanling East Gate. It’s a 30-40 minutes walk downhill to the gate. You’re not allowed to continue to the east on the wall, Jinshanling wall ends here and Simatai Great Wall 司马台长城 begins. Unfortunately the wall has been blocked and it’s not possible to sneak into the Simatai area.
Jinshanling is the most beautiful section of the restored Great Wall, the western part is unrestored but the major part of Jinshanling has been restored. To our surprise we met very few tourists during the 5-6 hours we spent here, in sharp contrast to Mutianyu and other restored parts. It was fantastic to be almost alone here.
But there’s one big problem with Jinshanling: they have installed loudspeakers with motion detectors along the wall, as you get near a loudspeaker it starts making noise (pop music or “information”). It’s extremely annoying, treating a UNESCO World Heritage site like this shouldn’t be allowed.