The Jian Kou section of the Great Wall has never been renovated since its construction during the Ming Dynasty 700 years ago. Thus, it is one of the most well-known Great Walls sections that is falling apart but can still be accessed by visitors. It’s what’s known as ye chang cheng or ‘wild Great Wall’.
People are not technically supposed to climb any area of the ‘wild Great Wall’ and there are numerous signs around stating this. But Chinese people don’t care about rules, and climb it anyway. There are even family businesses in the area that capitalize on this and have opened restaurants and guest houses to accommodate the influx of visitors over the years. The good thing is, there are way less people climbing this section than the restored sections like MuTianYu and BaDaLing, and most visitors are Chinese.
I’m not sure how to drive to Jian Kou but I know it was about 2 hours from Beijing. My aunt and uncle took us so we just slept in the car (perks of having family in the area!). There’s a per-person fee for accessing this part of the mountain – again, capitalizing on the illegal tourism.
We parked in the small dirt parking area at the base of the mountain and began the hike up.
The hike doesn’t take too long, maybe 20 mins, and you emerge at the base of the Great Wall.
You can see the outside degrading and exposed. Then you can hike up and down however much you like in either direction. Everything is falling apart so it’s pretty dangerous to climb this area and you have to be very careful.
The entire wall is overgrown with vegetation which makes it hard to climb most of the area. I’ve heard of some hardcore people though, who have climbed this section for miles and miles, camping out for days.
Back at the bottom of the mountain, the Zhao family has built an accommodation building complete with guest rooms and a restaurant. We eat here for lunch and the food’s pretty good. It’s considered ‘village food’.
If you’re an adventurer who likes to travel off the beaten path, you’ll love Jian Kou. Super unconventional and not your traditional tourist hot spot, this section of the Great Wall is perfect for visitors who want to see what the locals see. I believe it’s cheaper than MuTianYu and BaDaLing too.
I don’t recommend small children because they might fall off the side of the Wall, but I think 8 years and up are fine.