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China Great Wall Trekking Challenge

  • Off the beaten track
This program has been crafted for serious Great Wall enthusiasts who would like to experience the best parts of the eastern Wall, but who has only limited time. This is a long and comprehensive Great Wall tour that we offer, combined Great Wall hiking and the historical sites along the way together as well nearby city in Chengde with one day special hiking experience inside the Summer Resort., and...

This program has been crafted for serious Great Wall enthusiasts who would like to experience the best parts of the eastern Wall, but who has only limited time. This is a long and comprehensive Great Wall tour that we offer, combined Great Wall hiking and the historical sites along the way together as well nearby city in Chengde with one day special hiking experience inside the Summer Resort., and you'll be hard pressed to find a better constructed one at any other travel agency.

We begin our hike at Old Dragon’s Head, and hike eastward to Dongjiakou, where descendants of the original builders still proudly maintain their section of the wall. The following day we will take a visit to East Qing tombs, the resting place for much of China's final ruling dynasty. Then drive to the massive fortress at Huangyaguan, which includes part of the Wall which is constructed over a body of water. One of our stops, Jinshanling, is the best example of the Ming Dynasty wall, which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Afterwards, we will meet the highlight for this tour, which is the sites with long history and rich culture, the Summer Resort in Chengde where we could arrange 4 hours soft hiking. We will enjoy a leisure time in Gubei Water Town and hike into the eastern portion of Simatai, an area known for its steepness and challenging paths. Then drive to Jiankou, a largely dilapidated section that features awe-inspiring ruins set against some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable.

We’ll get a break when we cross over into Mutianyu, a largely restored section where the hiking is relatively tame. The scene then shifts to Hunaghuacheng, where we will trek until we reach Xishuiyu, which is famed for its underwater portion of the Great Wall. The last two trekking days, when you are wandering on the “Wild Great Wall” at Shuitou village to Miaogang village, the beautiful surroundings, and the broken towers will lead you breathing the “historical air”. Later the great hiking tour will take you across the “Pristine Great Wall” from Yangbiancheng before you will reach the end point, Dayingpan, of the hiking journey. The magnificent scenery and a unique view of the wall will be an unforgettable memory of your journey to China. And when we get back to Beijing you'll get to pick any kind of city tour you like (Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, etc.) And the end of trip, fly to Shanghai.

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Customizable tour itinerary

This tour idea is fully customizable

This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: Arrival in Beijing

You will be met at Beijing International Airport by our CAT guide and transferred to a hotel in central Beijing. Today you will have an opportunity to rest and recover from the long flight. In the late afternoon, there will be a briefing about the Great Wall Trekking in the following 9 days. Welcome dinner will be followed by that.

Overnight in 4* boutique hotel Beijing


Day 2: Tour to the great wall museum

After an early breakfast we will make a 4-4.5-hour drive to the Shanhai Pass (Shanhai Guan), which is in a town situated in the northeast of Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province.

After lunch at a local Chinese restaurant, we’ll have a tour to the Great Wall Museum to learn about the history of the Great Wall. Then, we will walk to Shanhaiguan Pass Fortress nearby, which is hailed as "the first pass of the Great Wall" due to its strategic location in the ancient time.

In the late afternoon, a short drive will take us to the sea and we will start our hike at Old Dragon’s Head, also known as Laolongtou. Laolongtou is the most eastern section of the Great Wall was built in 1381, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was an important line of defense against enemies coming from both the land and the sea until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

For the night we will stay at a courtyard hotel (a simple but clean hotel with private washroom and hot water shower), and have a tasty dinner of Northern Chinese cuisine to get you started for tomorrow’s hike.

Overnight at a 5* hotel in Qinhuangdao.

Beijing, Shanhai, Shanhaiguan, Qinhuangdao Shi

Day 3: Hike to the Jiao Shan ancient wall

Today, beginning at the Jiaoshan Great Wall we will head towards Sandao Guan.

Note: Be sure to wear a long sleeve shirt, as we will be walking through lots of bushes. We will hike from the bottom of Jiao Shan upwards directly to the Jiao Shan ancient wall, which provides you a sense of historical vicissitude and a overall view of the magnificent Shanhaiguan City in the sun. 

Walking on the dilapidated wall is a great challenge. The wall appears more and more crumbled and deformed as you forge ahead. In some sections, the wall is only built on one side, with the other side being the deep cliffs. One-hour's climb, you will arrive at Dapingding Peak, the main peak of Jiao Mountain, where we will be able to enjoy a beautiful bird’s-eye view of Shanhaiguan city in the early morning sunlight on clear day, far below.

We will then strike off for the next 3-4 hours, travelling in a north-easterly direction, hiking partly on the wall and partly on a wild mountain trail, until we come to our destination - a beautiful valley overlooked by Mt. Longevity. This peaceful valley is characterized by huge stones, a quiet forest, and crystal-clear creeks. In the shadow of Mt. Longevity sits the little village of Sandaoguan (“Three-layer-wall Pass”) with about 35 families living in it. We will walk down to the village, where we will enjoy a short rest and meet our vehicle. After a short break, we will drive back to Qinhuangdao. 

Overnight at a 5* hotel in Qinhuangdao

Qinhuangdao Shi, Jiaoshan

Day 4: Visit the ruins of the fortress of Dongjiakou

Our day will begin with breakfast, take short drive, then we'll start hiking in Dongjiakou.

We will take 20 minutes hike up on the mountain to the Cihou Tower, a special structure that is only seen at this portion of the Great Wall. Although this Dongjiakou section is relatively short, with a length of only 5.9 km, it has remained one of the best-preserved sections of the original Ming Dynasty Wall, built more than 600 years ago.

Apart from the castles, about 60% of constructions of Dongjiakou Great Wall including defense towers and beacon towers are still in intactness on the whole. And some of its bricks are carved with various true-to-life folk patterns of South China, which is distinctly distinguishing from the blank bricks on other sections of the Great Wall.

Then we will return to the Donjiakou village to visit the ruins of the fortress and to chat with the villagers, who are the offspring of the garrison, still living at the village and inherit their ancestors' mission of guarding Dongjiakou Great Wall. 

In the late morning, we will start our 3-hour hike westward along the Wall, stopping to have a simple lunch along the way. At the end of our hike, we will start our long 4-hour drive to the hotel in Jizhou.

Stay at a 4* hotel in Jizhou.

Qinhuangdao Shi, Dongjiakou, Jizhou

Day 5: Discover the splendor and majesty of the Ming tombs

This morning, you will drive to visit the spectacular East Qing tombs, make up an imperial mausoleum complex from the last feudal empire (Qing Dynasty 1644-1911) in China, which far-surpass their more famous predecessors, the Ming Tombs, both in splendor and in majesty. These tombs form a countryside version of the Forbidden City and are nearly as elaborate. Tastefully restored for the most part, this Imperial City is vast, grand, and less crowded.

After lunch, we will make a one hour drive to a small village near Huangyaguan Great Wall. From here, we will hike for about one hour and a half, westward, to Huangyaguan Pass, which is situated in a beautiful valley in the heart of the Yanshan Mountains. Because the cliff rocks to the east of the pass are mostly yellow and they look gilded at the sunset, the pass got its name Huangya (Yellow Cliff) Pass.

From there we will continue our trek heading up the steep renovated steps until reaching a sheer cliff face. This is where we encounter "Heaven’s Ladder", a steep climb of over 200 steps carved into the precipice, leading up towards a breath-taking section of the Great Wall. Once we have caught our breath at the top, you will back to the bottom of Huangyaguan. Take a short drive to tonight’s lodging place.

Overnight at 4* boutique hotel in Jizhou.

Jizhou, Huangyaguan

Day 6: Fairly easy trekking on Jinshanling section

This morning, after breakfast, we will drive directly to Gubeikou. Upon arrival, you will make the trek eastward from Gubeikou to the General Tower in Jinshanling. Although you have to take a detour of the Wall to walk around the restricted military zone, today's trekking still be fairly easy, because the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall is still kept well. Then take a short drive to Gubei Water near at the bottom of Simatai Great Wall. Check-in the comfortable traditional style room in the Watertown. In the late afternoon we could stroll around the water-town with a massive backdrop of the world famous Simatai Great Wall. Tonight you will be treated with a great dinner. 

Overnight at a 4* boutique hotel in Gubei Water Town.

Jizhou, Gubeikou, Jinshanling

Day 7: Exploring the imperial summer resort of the Quing Dynasty

This morning, after breakfast, we will drive directly to Chengde, one of the premiers historic and cultural cities of China. Upon arrival, the guide will take you to visit the Imperial Summer Resort.

After lunch, we will continue to visit Puning Temple (Temple of Universal Tranquility) and Putuo Zongcheng Temple - a small model of Potala Palace accompanied by the guide.

Puning Temple: a Chinese-style temple at the front, with chubby Milefo (Laughing Buddha) welcoming visitors and more Tibetan-style features at the rear. 

Putuo Zongcheng Temple: the largest of the Chengde temples, a mini-facsimile of Lhasa's Potala Palace. The architecture of the Putuo Zongcheng Temple is intriguing, as it combines Han and Tibetan Styles in perfect harmony. In the late afternoon, drive back to Gubei Water Town. Leisure in the evening.

Overnight at a 4* boutique hotel in Gubei Water Town.


Day 8: Take part in some culture activities of the watertown 

This morning is left free for us either to climb to the top of Simatai Great Wall for the panoramic view of the whole area, or to explore the Watertown and take part in some culture activities (e.g. learning tie-dye, kite painting, need to be booked ahead of time) . The Simatai Great Wall is not only recognized as the World Culture Heritage Sites by UNESCO, but also the No. 1 site on the list of the "must-see-in-your-life-time" by The Times. 

Gubei Water Town is situated in Gubei Township of Miyun County northeast of Beijing, hence the name of Gubei Water Town. It has a charming location with a massive backdrop of the world famous Simatai Great Wall, accompany of the romantic Yuanyang Lake ( Mandarin Duck ) and the ancient Simatai Village that was developed from Simatai Castle. 

In the afternoon, take a 2hrs drive to Jiankou section of the Great Wall, check into a boutique hotel at the bottom of Jiankou.

Overnight at a 4* boutique hotel at the bottom of Jiankou.

Gubeikou, Jiankou

Day 9: Visit the most beautiful part of the wild wall 

The Jiankou section of the Wall is known to be one of most beautiful part of the Wild Wall near Beijing, loved by photographers. After a half-hour climb upwards, through a gentle wooded area, we will clamber out onto a portion of the Wall not visited by tourists.

After breakfast, hike eastwards to Mutianyu Great Wall. The hike itself is quiet and beautiful - in about four hours of passing deserted sections of the Wall in its original state, we will get to the well-known restored section of the Wall - Mutianyu. What a difference between the tourist section and the original Wild Wall we have just seen! Enjoy a simple lunch at the bottom of Mutianyu. Then transfer to a nice hotel in Huairou.

Overnight at a 4* boutique hotel in Huairou.

Gubeikou, Jiankou, Mutianyu Great Wall, Huairou

Day 10: Climb steep westward to Xishuiyu

Today we will start our hike westward to Xishuiyu. Although the climb is steep, there is a good trail alongside the Wall, and it only takes about half an hour to get to the watch tower on the cliff. Here is a great place from which to take photos, one of which must be of the moon-shaped reservoir far below. Then, after another half-an-hour hiking, we will reach the highest point in this area. From this vantage point you will have a nice sunny panoramic view of the whole wide valley, stretching even further toward the west. From this summit the Wall dives steeply downwards into the valley.

After walking down by the steps, we will reach a platform and hike westward again, climbing upwards along the broken Wall to our picnic lunch spot (sometime our lunch will be in a homestay at the bottom of the Wall), a tall cliff overlooking Xishuiyu Lake. From here, the view is amazing! You can see the broken Wall running directly into the lake, and beyond it, the endless mountain range. Unfortunately, from here on, the Wall is really too broken to traverse safely, so we will instead follow a pleasant mountain trail downwards to the village. At the end of our hike, we will drive the Shixiaguan section of the Great Wall and check in a boutique hotel in Shichuanguan village.

Overnight at a boutique hotel in Shixiaguan.

Huairou, Xishuiyu, Shixiaguan

Day 11: Sightseeing with fantastic mountain views on the great wall

This great hike combine the best preserved Great Wall with fantastic mountain views and the countryside field with tiny villages. Located in the mountain near Miaogang village, Yangbian Great Wall is also called the Miaogang Great Wall. We will start the hike from Miaogang village. Get out of the village we will climb slowly along the abandoned country road up the mountain to the Yangbian Great Wall. Compared to the Great Wall around Beijing, Yangbian is comparatively “wild.” It was built using stones and rocks in irregular shapes from the mountainside.

After hundreds of years though, some parts of the Wall are broken, by both the weather and people who needed stones to build houses. We have time to take in the intriguing rock formations of the wall before trekking to view a huge dilapidated water gate. We stop for some lunch before continuing in the afternoon trekking through canyons and then up the country field until we arrive at a very small village called “Dayingpan”. Here we have a chance to meet some of the local villagers before trekking down the mountain to meet our bus. Drive back to Beijing.

Check in the hotel and rest in the evening.

Overnight at a 4* boutique hotel in Beijing.

Shixiaguan, Beijing

Day 12: Beijing city tour

After breakfast, we will follow in the footsteps of emperors, court ministers and eunuchs and head south to the magnificent and colorful Forbidden City. Forbidden City Beijing, also called Imperial Palace Museum, is located in the very heart of Beijing. This afternoon, we will transfer to visit Summer Palace.

Summer Palace located in a northwestern suburb of Beijing, it is an immense park containing some Chinese traditional architecture and arts. It was built and served as a royal garden during the Qing Dynasty. It exhibits the quintessence of the Chinese classical landscape gardening. The halls, the pavilions, the corridors, the pagodas, the bridges and the water were elaborately arranged. The long Corridor is one of the most exquisite structures in the garden. It is over 700 meters long and decorated with thousands of Chinese traditional paintings.

At the end of travel, back to the city to enjoy a delicious Peking Duck dinner - the capital's most famous dish. Once imperial cuisine, now the legendary duck dish is served at restaurants around the world.

This evening we will go to Beijing Temple Theatre to watch a Chinese opera performance. Highlight: before the start of the show, We can go to the backstage to look actor makeup process. The Beijing Temple Theatre which we will watch the opera is the living fossil of China's ancient opera towers. One of the few remaining industrial and commercial guildhalls in Beijing, Temple Theatre (Zhengyici) was also called 'Banking House Guildhall'. The two-storey opera tower in the temple theatre is unique among guildhall opera towers and is honored 'the living fossil of China's ancient opera towers'. 

Overnight at a 4* boutique hotel in Beijing.

Beijing, Forbidden City, Summer Palace

Day 13: Enjoy a Hutong rickshaw tour

In the morning, after breakfast, we will visit 798 Art District. "798” modern Art Zone was originally the site of a factory that produced electronics. Its massive ducts and bright windows are seldom seen elsewhere. The halls were built using Soviet aid in the 1950s, with East Germany providing architectural and industrial design. Beginning from 2002, it gradually became an area of international character, bringing together contemporary art, architecture and culture with a historically interesting location and an urban lifestyle which attracting attention from all around. Now “798” has evolved into a cultural concept of interest to experts and normal folk alike, influential on our concepts of both urban culture and living space.

Then enjoy a Hutong rickshaw tour. As the Forbidden City is the symbol of China's royal family, the Hutongs in Beijing show the real life of the common people. When you visit Hutong by rickshaw, you could really taste the life of common people in Beijing. Lotus Market, located in Houhai area, famous for old hutong and modern bars. You will also have chance to have a view of the Beijing drum show today to get close to the Chinese traditional art.  

After lunch, we will go to visit the Temple of Heaven. Temple of Heaven was the venue for the Ming and Qing emperors to offer sacrifices to the Heaven and pray for harvest. This temple was built in the 18th year during the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle in 1420.

After visit, transfer to Beijing West Railway station, take a high speed train to Shanghai. Upon arrival, meet by the local guide and transfer to the hotel and have a rest. 

Overnight at a 5* hotel in Shanghai.

Beijing, Hutong, Shanghai

Day 14: A day tour at Shanghai museum

After breakfast, the local guide will pick you up at your hotel lobby at about 9 am. Today activities include visit Shanghai Museum and Yu Garden, The Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the Bund Shanghai Museum: Shanghai Museum used to be near the Bund. It is now situated in People's Square and its new buildings were built in 1996, designed by a Shanghai architect named Xing Tonghe.

The new design symbolizes China's ancient understanding of the world: round sky and square earth. The museum has a circular roof and rectangular base. It stores 120,000 precious artifacts, which narrate a story of China's 5,000-year civilization. Yu Garden is one of the most famous gardens in China and is national heritage listed. It was built in 1559 and extended in 1577. Each section of the garden is separated by curved white walls crowned with the head and body of a dragon on them. It's named after the original owner. 

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is unquestionably an icon of Pudong’s renaissance. Looming through the mist, like a reproduction of a classical Chinese ink painting of landscape, stands Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Its soaring height of 468 meters boldly characterizes the Lujiazui cityscape.

The Bund: Also called the Zhongshan Road, is a Famous waterfront and regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. It was the Centre of Shanghai’s politics, economy and culture hundreds of years ago, consulates of most countries and many banks, bus nesses and newspaper offices were settled there.

Overnight at a 5* hotel in Shanghai


Day 15: End of the tour in China

Free in the daytime, then our guide will pick you up from the hotel, transfer to Shanghai Pudong International Airport for our return international flights.


Beijing Shanhai Shanhaiguan Qinhuangdao Shi Jiaoshan Dongjiakou Jizhou Huangyaguan Gubeikou Jinshanling Jiankou Mutianyu Great Wall Huairou Xishuiyu Shixiaguan Forbidden City Summer Palace Hutong Shanghai Shanghai

Price details

This tour idea is fully customizable

The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Approx. $3,490 / 15 days
Excluding international flights
2 to 3 pax4 to 5 paxSingle Supp
Price per person in double room$5,140$3,440$1,250

Included in price:

  • Local transportation: A private vehicle (land cruiser in the desert, bus or mini-van elsewhere) will accompany us for the entire tour. While we are trekking, our vehicle will transfer our food and luggage to the appointed site or hostel and wait
  • Equipment, as required: rope (very necessary in some parts of the Wall), water (4 liters per person per day), 2-way radios, compass, first aid kit, GPS
  • Leader: Experienced English-speaking tour leader and one or more service persons along the Wall as needed
  • Entrance fees: All first-entrance tickets to the tourist spots mentioned in the itinerary
  • Accommodation: twin-share boutique hotel listed in the itinerary
  • Meals: All meals as indicated in the itinerary, with some simple picnic lunches while trekking on the Wall
  • High-speed train from Beijing to Shanghai (Based on first class)
  • Activity fee: Peking Opera
  • Travel agency liability insurance

Not included in price:

  • Personal gear required: if camping, a sleeping bag sufficiently warm to protect against minus 20°C (-4°F) in Jan-March, against -10°C or -5°C (14°F- 23°F) in April and May, against 0-5°C (32°-41°F) in June. Also: hiking boots; raincoat; cap; camera; sun-cream; sun-glasses; pocket knife; day-pack, etc
  • Expenses of a personal nature: favorite snacks, soft drinks, laundry , local or long-distance calls, etc
  • Tips to tour guide and driver (recommended USD8-10/guest/day )
  • Tourist accident insurance. NB - you are strongly suggested to buy travel and health insurance before you start out from your home country
  • Any service persons to carry personal belonging while trekking (although this can be arranged, it should be unnecessary - participants should find that trekking with a single day-pack for personal items should suffice)
  • Single supplement costs (for those who want accommodation on a single basis)
  • Visa to China
  • Domestic and international flights and related airport taxes not listed in the itinerary
  • Supplementary trips, entrance fees and services not mentioned, and extra costs due to unforeseen circumstances

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