The Great Wall of China at Simatai (司马台)

The most dramatic and stunning section of the Great Wall, Simatai is characterized by incredibly sharp inclines that take the wall to an elevation of almost 1km. Like the section at Mutianyu, the Simatai Great Wall was first built in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577) while the present wall dates from the Hongwu reign Ming Dynasty (1368-98). Sections of the wall here can be as steep as 70 degrees (you’ll need to use your arms to climb up). But if that isn’t to your fancy, the western part of Simatai is much easier to traverse and you can walk a fair way east before it becomes precarious. Simatai is about 110km north-east of Beijing – allow at least two hours to reach it.

Admission: ¥40 and ¥50/¥30 return/one-way on the cable car. Open: 8am-5pm.

Tel: +86 (010) 6903 1051. Website:

Directions: On weekends and public holidays you can take Tourist Bus #12 from the South Cathedral (right next to Xuanwumen subway) between 6:30am and 8:30am. Otherwise, take a bus to Miyun (密云) (numbers 970 or 980) from Dongzhimen long-distance bus station. From there you’ll have to haggle with the mini-bus drivers. ¥60-¥70 one way is a good price and you can fit up to six people in the minivans.