We woke up extra early to visit 金山岭长城 Jinshanling Great Wall on our second day of arrival in Beijing!
Luckily it was still clear skies this morning, and we grabbed the buns that we bought last night and went to take the subway to 望京西站 Wangjing West Station.
At 望京西站 Wangjing West Station, we exited through Exit B, which led directly to an overhead bridge. We could see another bus interchange when we looked towards the right, but that was NOT the one. Instead, we took the stairs on the left at the end of the bridge and turned right to see a small police station on the right. We kept walking straight, past the public toilets, and saw a bus interchange with 2 gates and took the left one that says 金山岭 Jinshanling.
We had arrived just before 7.50am this Sunday morning, and there were easily 30 people in front of us (There needs to be a minimum of 20 passengers before the bus will move off, and the bus has a capacity of 50 passengers.)!
By 8am when the bus was scheduled to depart, there were still people joining the queue. A lady staff started collecting cash from everyone in the queue. The cost is ￥32 one way by cash, or ￥13 cash plus ￥9.50 by tapping your travel card 一卡通 up and down the bus (tell the staff if you have the card; she will issue an orange bus ticket).
The bus was full and the last few people were turned away. By 8.15am, we were on our way! The ride was quite comfortable, and soon, we were snoozing away!
The bus made its first stop at the East Gate around 10am. We were not sure if this is a usual stop, or if some of the passengers had made arrangement to stop here. Anyway, the driver called out to ask if anyone wanted to get down, around 10 of them got off, and we continued our way. Less than 10 minutes later, we arrived at the main car park and made our way to the restroom at the Main Gate. We highly recommend that you use the ones near the tourist visitor centre, for they were much much cleaner than what you will find up the great wall.
Next, we queued to get our tickets (￥65 per adult). If you wish to enter the great wall area twice within 24 hours, do inform the staff when purchasing your tickets. We also purchased a single way cable car ride (￥40 and it was a single ticket for 2 persons).
By 10.35am, we were on our way in the cable car! It was a sunny day and it got rather warm halfway through the ride, so we were all warmed up quickly. This was good, for I was feeling frozen while getting the tickets. Not too sure if taking the cable car would be a good idea during summer though. The front window of the cable car was kind of foggy initially but cleared up enough fairly quickly so we could see some scenery. We got off the cable car at 10.48am and were ready for a bit of walking.
Despite that there were easily 10 tour buses at the carpark, with many more cars, it was not really crowded. However, there were definitely more people than we expected! For the many blogs that we read spoke of Jinshanling as being very serene, and it felt as though they were the only ones there. It was certainly not the case today. There was at least a dozen of visitors no matter which part of the route, some playing their music loudly, others having fun shouting to one another at different towers. It was also difficult to get shots without people photo-bombing. So we did have to be a bit patient when taking photos and when going up and down the steep flights of steps. It was still pretty fun though!
We thought it was abit too late to try to reach 东五眼楼 East Five-Eye Tower from 花楼 Flower Tower, and then turn back for the bus, and we were not sure how much time we would need to make it to the East Gate and were worried about finding transport back to Beijing. So in the end, we decided to have a mini picnic break at 花楼 Flower Tower and enjoy the scenery, before making our way down to the Main Gate. In all, we finished about 1 litre of water (I think we were dehydrated from yesterday), 3 walnut buns and 1 chocolate bar during our 2-hour walk.
The route that we took:
索道 Cable car > 小金山楼 Small Jinshan Tower > 大金山楼 Big Jinshan Tower > 后川口 Houchuankou Pass > 花楼 Flower Tower > return back to 后川口 Houchuankou Pass to take the small side route exit back to the Visitor Centre.
We reached the Tourist Centre before 2pm, so there was plenty of time for a toilet break.
The convenience stores only sell instant noodles and coffee, but we managed to find a pushcart stall just in front of the carpark and shared a 鸡蛋灌饼 Egg Crepe (￥10). It was oily, hot and delicious!
After resting abit more (and enjoying the cool weather), we made our way to find the bus at 2pm. We were way too early of course, but we did not want to miss the only bus back, haha.
Around 2.25pm, suddenly a queue formed to wait for the bus, so we followed too! The driver came shortly after, and we were seated comfortably inside the bus before 2.40pm. The driver told us to tap our card first, and pay for the tickets later. Within minutes, the bus was full, and some passengers were directed to another bus. The bus left at 2.50pm. We stopped at another carpark where a staff came up to sell the bus tickets.
There were at least 2 car accidents on our route back to Beijing, causing quite a few traffic jams. It was almost 6pm by the time we were dropped off at 城铁望京西站 Cheng Tie Wang Jing Xi Zhan bus stop. Exit C of 望京西站 Wangjing West Station was located behind the bus stop.
- There used to be a ￥120 package where one would board the bus at 东直门站 Dongzhimen Station, and the package included entrance fee, a one-way up cable car ride, and the return bus ride. However, this service has already ceased since September 2015.
- Try to reach 30min before the bus departure time for weekends. It appears that Jinshanling is slowly but surely, gaining popularity, so you really should come earlier to be assured of a seat. During morning wait, the passengers queueing in front were chope-ing spaces for their friends, so there were some queue-cutting, and we often encounter people cutting queues during our visit in Beijing.