I Know A Little Place. It’s called… the Great Wall of China! Ok, ok, so that’s not such a little unknown place but we just wanted to share how to get to a part of the wall that was officially closed to the public called Huanghuacheng. Huanghua means ‘yellow flower’ in Chinese by the way. The only thing we knew was that we didn’t want to join the masses and stand in a queue like a conveyor belt waiting for our turn to take a picture of the wall crammed with visitors. Instead we wanted to find a place where the wall was still in it’s original state and we wouldn’t have to deal with throngs of people.
Avoiding the tours really isn’t too much of a mission to do. Here’s how we went about it:
1. Get yourself down to the bus station in Dongzhimen and take bus number 916 to Huairou. There is an air-conditioned “expensive” bus costing roughly CNY12 or you can go for the cheaper option with no air-con for CNY7 (this was perfectly fine for us). You can get off the bus pretty much anywhere in Huairou but we went to the end of the line.
NOTE: When this section of the Great Wall is re-opened you can get there from Huairou by local bus, in which case you would want to get off at Huairou Dishui which is the local tax bureau and take the bus to Xishuiyu.
2. The easiest way to get to the wall is by taxi. When we got off the bus in Huairou there were plenty of drivers trying to get our attention. Make sure you haggle with them, they’ll always start at a ridiculous price and work down. We managed to get the price knocked down from CNY300 to CNY150 for the trip there and back. She waited at the bottom while we spent as much time as we wanted on the wall.
3. When you’re there just cross over the dam and head up to the wall. We paid a guy CNY2 to get on.
Couple of warnings: Firstly, you may find the odd opportunist on the wall that asks for some money for “his section” (He wanted CNY20 each). We refused based on the fact that we’d already paid to get on and received a bit of yelling so we just carried on, he didn’t give us any more problems. But you may need to pay a small amount to locals if you want to use the ladders they’ve built to allow you to get onto the towers.
Secondly, wear good shoes – the wall is pretty steep in places, especially if you plan on walking a decent distance, and take sunscreen if you’re going in summer – it was crazy hot and humid when we went.
Well, think that’s about all, hope this helps to get you to one of the best places we’ve ever visited. Enjoy the wall without the thousands!