The Water Pass Great Wall (Shuiguan) was built in a valley and shapes a huge “V”. In the bottom of the “V” is an Arrow Tower. There used to be a river flowing through under it, hence the name Water Pass, or Shuiguan in Chinese. Shuiguan Great Wall is just to the east of the world-famous Badaling Great Wall, so someone also call it Badaling Shuiguan Great Wall. But you should know that Badaling and Shuiguan are two different sections.
Although the Great Wall at Water Pass is grand as well, the steps are steeper and the military defensive system is not complete. Innocent visitors are often guided here instead of planned Badaling nearby, especially during holidays or peak seasons. So, you are advised to double confirm this before joining a tour.
Why Visit Water Pass Great Wall
- Although not as famous as Badaling to its west and Juyongguan Pass to its east, this section is not crowded. Hence, you can better enjoy the scenery and the climbing.
- Compared with others, this section is steep, especially the eastern part. Therefore, it is a great destination for hiking lovers and energetic young travelers.
- Located not far away from downtown Beijing, it can be reached easily.
Basic Facts of Water Pass Great Wall
- With a history of about 400 years, it was constructed under the supervision of the great general Qi Jiguang in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
- It has a length of about 5 miles (8 km). About 4 miles (6.8 kilometers), eight watchtowers, and one arrow tower have been renovated and opened so far.
- It is V-shaped, with an arrow tower (Zhengguan Arrow Tower) in the valley and two sections of walls stretching along the mountains to the east and west. The east section has three watchtowers opened to visitors while the west section has five.
- In the past, a stream flowed through the arrow tower, forming a natural defense, hence the name “Water Pass”.
- Some parts of the wall were built on mountain cliffs angled at about seventy degrees. Some of the highest stairs measure 20 inches (50 cm).
- There is a battlement wall on both sides. Hence, soldiers could defend against enemies from both sides.
|April to October: 6:30-17:00
November to March: 9:00-16:30
How to tour Water Pass Great Wall:
- Arriving at the scenic spot, you will be first attracted by the Zhengguan Arrow Tower which served as a water gate and a place from which soldiers could shoot arrows. It measures 52 feet (16 meters) in height, and 13 yards (12 meters) in average width. Such a splendid arrow tower is very rare. Standing on it, you can appreciate the Great Wall in the distance.
- The Zhengguan Arrow Tower divides the Great Wall into two parts: the eastern part and the western part. Both parts have been restored and equipped with iron handrails, making it easier and safer to climb.
- The western part having five watchtowers is flatter, and suitable for even senior visitors and children.
- The eastern part with three watchtowers is steep. Visitors should seize the handrails tightly, and descend backward. Therefore, it may be more suitable for energetic young people.
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Tip: There are many stone steles along the wall, which are engraved with “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man”. Some locals will charge CNY 2 or more for taking a photo by the stele. Please note that all of the steles are fake and the real one is on Badaling section.
Also Read: Top 9 Most Famous Regions in China
When is the Best Time for a Visit?
The best time is April, May, September, and October. The temperature is moderate and the scenery presents its utmost beauty. It is warm in April and May when you can enjoy the colorful wild flowers in full blossom. In October, you can delight yourselves in the intoxicating red leaves. Try to avoid the May Day Holiday (from May 1st to 3rd), and National Day Holiday (from October 1st to 7th) when there will be more visitors.
How to Get There from Downtown Beijing
It is located in Yanqing County, 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of central Beijing.
- One can take bus line 877 from Deshengmen to Badaling Great Wall, then take bus 879 for two stops to Nankou Lukou East; after, take bus 919 for one stop to the site. Duration is about 80 minutes. Although transfer is needed, it is still the fastest way as 877 is an express non-stop line.
To reach Deshengmen, one can take subway line 2 to Jishuitan, Exit B2, and walk eastward to reach the bus stop; or take bus nos. 5, 27, 305, 315, 380, 409, 625, 635 to get there directly.
- One can also take 919 from Deshengmen to get there directly. Ticket fare is CNY 12. It takes about 2 hours for it has lots of intermediate stops. You should also know that bus 919 has many branch lines and some of them do not pass by the site. You are highly recommended to double check the stations with the driver before getting onboard.
What to Eat
There are some restaurants near the entrance, but the food they provide is quite expensive. You may bring some food and water before departure.