Friday, October 30, 2015


Sandaoguan is located six km north of the Shanhaiguan Pass, running across the ravine between two mountains-the west one, 398 meters above sea level and the east one, 292 meters. Erected on precipitous slopes, the Great Wall here reaches 70 degrees in steepness, looking like a soaring dragon and was dubbed the “Hanging Upside-Down Great Wall”. Three barriers were erected across the bottom of the ravine. The first one was at the opening of the ravine, with a narrow gate-the sole access to the second barrier, the second one was at the midway point, which served as the main pass gate, on the top of which there used to be a watchtower, and the third one was at the end of the ravine, also with only one narrow gate. Because of the three barriers and three gates, the stronghold was called Sandaoguan (Three Barriers Pass).

Sandaoguan village in the valley was the administrative seat of the pass. Going northeast from here, one can reach Si’eryu, the terminal of the Shanhai Route section of the Great Wall, and further on, one can reach the starting point of the Shimen Route section of the Great Wall. West of Sandoaguan Village lies Xuanyang Cave. Inside the case the “Poem On Xuanyang Cave” is inscribed. It was written in 1602 by Zhu Hongfan, the Assistant Commander of the Shanhai Route Section of the Great Wall. In the valley are cliff carvings dating from the Chongzhen reign period (1628-1644) of the Ming Dynasty. In 1985 this valley was developed into the Mt. Changshou (Longevity) Scenic Area, which contains the Cave of Miracle-Working Doctors, where statues of distinguished doctors of ancient China such as Hua Tuo, Zhang Zhongjing and Li Shizhen have been erected. There are rocks engraved with the Chinese character shou (longevity) in a variety of styles by outstanding calligraphers.

Visitors who like off-path hiking may take the route in the valley called Duanmuchong north of Mt. Changshou. Along the route, one can find Housi Temple, Tuanyuan Temple, site of an ancient hot spring, and rocks of grotesque shapes. This area lies beyond Yanse Lake, and therefore is difficult to access. Traveling westward from here, one can find the ruins of Baita (White Pagoda) Temple in Baita Village, a big rock resembling an elephant’s trunk, the old house which served as the headquarters of General Zhang Xueliang during the second Zhili-Fengtian War in Shahezhai Village, and an old ginkgo tree said to be over 1,000 years old in Qianshuiying Village.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Mt. Jiaoshan is the first mountain the Great Wall stretches across on its westward journey from the coast of the Bohai Sea. The huge, jagged rocks on the mountain look like a dragon’s horns, hence its name Jiaoshan, meaning a mountain resembling horns. Hanmenguan is a small pass from where the Great Wall turns north and winds up to the ridges of Mt. Jiaoshan. Built during the reign of Emperor Hongwu (1328-1398) of the Ming Dynasty, the Jiaoshan Great Wall extends about 1,500 meters, from Hanmenguan at the foot of the mountain to Dapingding, the highest point. There are three watch towers and four beacon towers. In 1986 the pass was renovated and a stone plaque inscribed with the name “Hanmenguan” was added above the brick arched gate of the pass. The land outside the pass is smooth, and might have been cultivated by the local garrison, as in the Ming Dynasty, the garrisons had to support themselves by part-time work on state-owned tracts called State Farms. This section is built of locally quarried rock and bricks. The height of the wall ranges from seven to ten meters, following the contours of the mountain itself, and the average width is four to five meters, although at one point it narrows to just 2.7 meters.

The biggest watch tower is on the summit of Jiaoshan. The two-story structure is built in four sections, with the top forming a rough square 10.4 meters by 10.2 meters. Along the top are watch holes and embrasures for shooting arrows. Halfway up the mountain stand fortifications of Jiaoshan Pass, built in the early years of the Ming Dynasty. The pass town is an irregular quadrilateral built of rocks and stone, with a gate in the southern side and a path leading to the foot of the mountain. In the town there used to be a building five bays wide and two bays deep for storing ammunition and provisions. The Great Wall climbs up to the peak along the ridge of from the Hanmen Pass. In this section five watchtowers and battle platforms were built. This section is also typical of the parts of the wall built on steep terrain, with the outside wall higher than the inside one for better defense. The No.1 Watchtower and the Zhenlu Beacon Tower built on the top of peaks, together with the Hanmanguan Pass, form an interdependent complex defense system.

The Zhenlu Beacon Tower on the top of Mt. Jiaoshan was built in 1565, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). In plan it is an oblong, with the top smaller than the base. It is encased with bricks and rocks, its solid interior filled with a crushed mixture of stone and clay. It stands on the summit of the mountain, ready to report the movement of enemies at any time. Halfway up the temple lie Qixian Temple, also known as Jiaoshan Temple, built during the early Ming period. Many scholars and high-ranking officers, including distinguished calligrapher Xiao Xian, Vice Minister of War Zhan Rong and Investigating Censor Zheng Ji, once lived and studied here. As a result, the temple was crowned with the title “Cradle of Shanhaiguan Culture”. In rainy periods during the summer and autumn, it is common for it to be raining below the temple and sunny above it. Dapingding, the summit of Mt. Jiaoshan, is an ideal place to watch the sunrise on a fine day. Looking east from the hilltop at dawn visitors can see the red sun leaping out of the sea, and the sea water turning red, mirroring the color of the sky. The scene is known as “Lotus Flower Cradling The Sun”, because the shimmering red sea water looks like a blossoming lotus flower, on which sits the sun.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015


Located 49km north of Qinhuangdao City, the Dongjiakou section of the Great Wall runs across high ridges and mountains, its highest point reaching 556 meters above sea level. Along this 8.9 km section, at strategic spits 36 watchtowers, 28 protruding platforms, 16 beacon towers and three fortress towns were built. These military structures are well preserved, except for the three fortress towns of Dongjakou, Damaoshan, and Chengziyu, which were built during the Ming period (1368-1644) to quarter garrison troops. Today they have developed into villages-Dongjiakou village at the center, Damaoshan village one km to the east, and Chengziyu village two km to the west. The villagers of Dongjiakou are the descendants of the builders and guards of the Great Wall. Therefore, the villagers have taken it upon themselves to maintain this section of the Wall as original as possible. Due to lack of personal money, they have been able to restore only a small section, but have done a remarkable job none-the-less. Old bricks were collected and re-deployed to repair broken sections. It is interesting to note that a local villager, Mr. Sun, has taken it upon himself to make a voluntary daily inspection of the Wall to ensure its safety.

The section of the Great Wall north of Damaoshan village has been opened to the public. It has six watchtowers; among them the one called Jianlou (Arrow Tower) with 24 embrasures in the walls was built on the top of a 100 meter-high peak. The stone arch above the first gate of the first watchtower in the east is carved with two lions playing with a silk ball, a typical stone carving of the Ming Dynasty. On the top of the Great Wall from the foot of the mountain to Sunjia Tower-the second watchtower in the west-embrasured barrier walls were built, vertically attached to the battlements. These barrier walls functioned as shields for the guards when they were shooting arrows through the embrasures at enemies who had already climbed to the top of the wall. On the top of Sunjia Tower there are four drum-shaped stone plinths, which supported the wooden columns of the soldiers’ living quarters. The third watchtower in the west has a stone arch engraved with the characters zhongyi and baoguo, meaning “serve the country with loyalty and righteousness”. The tower has a winding corridor and a caisson ceiling. 

On the fifth watchtower in the west there is an arched doorway in the outer wall, allowing the garrison to make sallies against the enemy. This is not found in other watchtowers in the section. The sixth watchtower in the west is remarkably narrower than ordinary ones, and has gates opening to the north and south. In its north wall there are five embrasures, and in the south wall, six, which is rare, and thus the tower was also called “Six-Eye Tower”. To the north of the watchtower stands a surveyors’ beacon marking an altitude of 462.1 meters. Kulou (Stonehouse Tower) located on an old riverbed north of Chengziyu, served as a major arsenal during the Ming Dynasty. A large number of weapons were found here, including metal arrowheads, stone grenades, gunpowder, iron cannons, and brass harquebuses. Among these, the most valuable are three brass harquebuses together with 24 shells manufactured during the Jiaqing reign period (1522-1566) of the Ming Dynasty. They are in the collections of the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution and of Funing County.
At Zouliuhe village, three km from Dongjiakou, stands the Guandi Temple, dedicated to Guan Yu, a general who was deified as the god of war as well as the patron guardian of business. Though not big in scale, it has couplets and murals of a high level of artistry, recounting stories about Guan Yu, his virtues, and merits.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Baiyangyu Great Wall

If you’d like to have a weekend hike on a wide and overgrown section of the Great Wall around Beijing, Baiyangyu Great Wall is highly recommended. This section of the Wall is located about 250km northeast of Beijing. It is under the administration of Dacuizhuang Town of Qian’an County in Tangshan City, Hebei Province. “Baiyangyu” literally means “White Sheep Valley”. There used to be a grand water pass of the Great Wall bridging the valley which now still divides the Baiyangyu Great Wall into two sections – East and West. The two sections of Bauyangyu Great wall are a 4552m-long fairly well preserved wall with 21 guide-towers. Baiyangyu Great Wall was originally built in Northen Qi Dynasty (550-577) and reinforced in Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) by the builders and army led by Qi Juguang.

Also known as Baiyanggu, Baiyangyu is located on the southern ridge of the Yanshan Mountains, 20 km north of Qian’an City. The Baiyangyu Great Wall stretches on for seven km in the west. This section contains a water gate, blockhouse, beacon tower, watchtower, wall, ramp and trench, making it the epitome of the entire Great Wall as an ancient military defense system. A river named Baiyang runs from north to south through the pass. Two gates were built across the river for more effective defense, the first one being designed for attack, and the second for defense. Such a design is rarely seen elsewhere on the Great Wall of China, and it is a pity that it has not survived. Of the watchtower on the east bank of the river, only the foundation remains. There are 36 watchtowers on the Baiyangyu Great Wall, most of which are well preserved. The one named Shenwei Tower, to the west of the destroyed water gates, is unique in its design. Unlike other watchtowers built on top of the wall, it was built and attached to the outer wall. It is built of gray bricks and lime mortar, and has an “arrow window”-embrasure for shooting arrows at the center of the outer wall, which also serves for ventilation and natural lighting.

Below the “arrow window” are two embrasures designed specifically for throwing down rocks at enemies approaching the tower. Likewise, the eastern and western walls each have an “arrow window” and two embrasures through which large rocks could be discharged upon the enemy. The tower is oblong in plan, and has a barrel vault top. On the lintel of the gate is a horizontal stone panel bearing the three characters Shen Wei Lou (Shenwei Tower) and the words “Inscribed By Mobile Corps Commander Zhang Shizhang” and “Erected In The Midsummer Of the Bingshen Year Of The Wanli Regin Period (1593). Opposite the arched gateway is a screen all in which a stone tablet bearing a record of events is laid. This tower, though looking like a wooden structure, uses neither tiles nor timber, except for wood in its gates and windows.

To the east of Shenwei Tower is a watchtower with a timber-beam frame, which is a unique example among watchtowers of brick barrel-vault construction. In addition, there are many built-in closets in the walls inside the tower, which is extremely rare. When the Baiyangyu Great Wall was first built in with rocks in the Northern  Qi Dynasty (550-577), the wall was only three meters in width. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Qi Jiguang reinforced the wall, facing some strategically important with bricks, and widening it up by up to six meters. Normally located far from the pass, and easy to defend but difficult to attack, the fortifications were built of rocks. One case in point is the wall section between Fangzilou and Kengzilou, which was built by stacking rocks, not a single brick being used even in the inner wall and the outer embrasured battlements. It is still in good condition even after more than 400 years.

The eastern section of the Baiyangyu Great Wall was faced with bricks. On the inner side of the wall two boundary tablets were inlaid, bearing inscriptions marking the boundary between the Yanhe Route and the Taiping Route under the jurisdiction of the Ji Defense Command, each taking charge of the construction, renovation, and defense of the Great Wall section within its own territory.  Tablets were erected to mark the boundaries of Routes in the course of constructing the Great Wall.
To the west of the two boundary tablets at Baiyangyu, the base of the wall and the watchtowers were built with limestone, while to the east of the boundary tablets, the base of the 2.1-km-long wall and watchtowers was built with marble. The grayish-white and purplish-red colors look quite striking, and are another unique site along the Great Wall.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Simatai Great Wall Update

Unfortunately, due to the recent developments at the Simatai Great Wall, we will be unable to offer this program anymore as the Simatai Great Wall will be unavailable to hike. In the meantime, please look to programs like 1AA and 1B, as these programs, and others like it, give you wild and unrestored Great Wall as well as majestic and grand reconstructed brickwork. In the future, once Simatai is fully re-opened, we will offer day hikes to Simatai as well as to its nearby "watertown". We thank you for your patience and understanding!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tibet Travel Permit

How to get the Tibet Travel Permits?
Great Wall Adventure Club can assist you to obtain the Tibet Travel Permit, a necessary document to allow you to tour Tibet. To get a permit you should submit the following documents and mention the following information to us.
Full name | Gender | Date of birth | Passport number | Nationality
All exactly the same as on your passport. And you need to tell us your occupation because journalists and people that could be involved in political matters could be revoked (they need more complicated procedure to get a permit). You need to apply for the travel permit at least 20 days prior to your entry date.
Please note that if you do not book any tour from a licensed agent, we can not help you get the permits. No travel agency can provide "permit-only" service. A Must services include transfers and guide.


  1. All kinds of people can get Tibet travel permit through a travel agency except diplomats, journalists, and senior government officials who should travel to Tibet under the arrangement by the Foreign Affairs Office of Tibet Government.
  2. After having a permit, we could continue the following operation for your amazing tour in Tibet.
  3. Only the guide could hold the permit after you establish yourself on Tibetan land. You are not allowed to bring with it and travel to anywhere you want because except Lhasa you need another permit named as "Aliens’ Permit".

Other documents

Other documents are the same as you travel to other places of China - you need hold a valid passport with valid visa (issued by the Chinese Embassy). If you are coming to Lhasa from Kathmandu, you'd better get a China visa from Kathmandu because no matter you've already got the visa in your country or not, you must get a visa in Kathmandu, which is regulated in an official memo between China and Nepal.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Xishuangbanna of Yunnan Tour

Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture is located at the south end of Yunnan Province. It shares a boundary of 966 kilometers (619 miles) with Burma and Laos in the east, south and west, being a vital pass from China to indo-China Peninsular by land.
To the Dai people, Xishuangbanna was known as 'Mengbanaxi' in ancient times, a name that means a miraculous and nice utopia. It had been a settlement where 13 ethnic minorities have lived in tight-knit communities for generations. The Jino ethnic minority is peculiar to the prefecture.

Located in the south extension of the Hengduan Mountains, Xishuangbanna has over ninety-five percent of its territory occupied by mountainous and hilly areas. Most of the prefecture is below the altitude of 1,500 meters (4921 feet). Jinghong City is only 550 meters (1804 feet) above the sea level. The Lancang River runs through the prefecture and when it passes through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, it is known as the Mekong River.

The weather in this region is a combination of continental and oceanic climates with an annual average temperature of 18 degrees Celsius. The coldest November is similar to the middle of summer in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River; thereby, Xishuangbanna is reputed as a happy land without winter. Generally, there are only two seasons. May to October is the rainy season and November to April is the dry season.

Although it is an all-year-round tourist destination, the weather is most favourable from November to April. However since the roads conditions are excellent, Xishuangbanna is also a popular destination during the rainy season. Local products that are made in abundance in Xishuangbanna are tea, coffee, tropical fruit, herbs, and Yunan tobacco.
The Water Sprinkling Festival is New Year's Day for the Dai, and is the most important and grandest festival of the year. It lasts three days from 13th to 15th, April (the sixth month of the Dai Calendar). Dai people dip branches into the river and sprinkle the water onto others as a way to express their best wishes. In addition, the festivals of the Hani, Jino and Yao ethnic minorities are also delightful part of Xishuangbanna's ethnic customs.

As the only tropical rain forest nature reserve in China, the area has surprising biological diversity in the virgin forest, particularly because Xishuangbanna is so far away from central China and considered isolated.
In religion, it is greatly influenced by Hinayana Buddhism of Southeast Asia. The enticing white masonry structure, Manfeilong Buddhist Pagoda, is the quintessence of Hinayana Buddhist architecture. The main pagoda is comprised of eight small pagodas, like a cluster of bamboo shoots.

SingleTree Forest:
A tree does not make a forest. But a nine hundred year old banyan in Daluo Town of Xishuangbanna is the exception. It covers an area of 120 square meters (143.6 square yards) with over thirty stand roots. This 70-meter-high (230-feet-tall) banyan is an attractive and marvelous forest in itself.

Wild Elephant Valley:
Chinese wild elephants are only found in the virgin forest of the Wild Elephant Valley, located in the Mengyang Nature Reserve, 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Jinghong. There are hostels in the elephant park. Cabins in trees on riverbank are the most perfect localities to admire the elephants.

Manfeilong Buddhist Pagoda:
The Manfeilong Pagoda is situated on the top of a hill near Manfeilong Village, 70 kilometers (43 miles) away from Jinghong City. It was built in the year 1024 and is a famed stupa complex in Xishuangbanna. It is also known by two other names: White Pagoda and Bamboo Shoot Pagoda. These descriptive names are derived from the fact that the pagoda is, of course, white while its overall shape resembles a bamboo shoot. The pagoda is dedicated to Hinayana Buddhism (a small, conservative branch of Buddhism).
The Manfeilong Pagoda consists of nine stupas. Seen from the distance, they look very like bamboo shoots that have emerged from the soil after the spring rain. They are made of bricks, with typical club-like bases topped by calabash shaped bodies. The principle and central stupa, which is 16.29 meters (53 feet) high, is surrounded by eight smaller stupas, each being 9.1 meters (30 feet) high. In each stupa, there is a niche wherein a statue of Buddha is laid. The bells hung at the top of the pagoda make a tinkling sound when the wind blows. Just to the south of the pagoda, there is a footprint on the rock. According to legend, this is the left footprint of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism.

Tropical Plant Research Institute:
Lying at the western suburb of Jinghong, the institute exerts a strong pull on tourists although it opens to public just a few years. In additional rubber plantation, the institute plants over 1,000 plants with economical or medicinal value. The large variety needs a botanist to figure out what they are. In the plantation, visitors get access to Zhou Enlai Memorial, which was built to commemorate the China's beloved premier's 1961 visit.
It is an institute combining research, education and preservation of animal species into one. Characterized by tropical plants, strong ethnic flavor and beautiful tropical ambience, it can be mainly divided into tropical fruit trees garden, aquatic plants garden, palm trees garden, banyan trees garden, medicinal plants zone, bamboo plants zone, aromatic plants zone and Endangered plant species protection zone.
Visitors to the institute will be attracted by many rare plants, such as the Dancing Grass which can dance with the music rhythm, the Raining Tree which can 'rain', the Clock Flower which is able to flower on time and also the flowers able to change colors. Pitcher plants eat worms and a kind of deciduous trees that yields poisonous juice are real eye-openers. Moreover, visitors will have opportunities to enjoy the plant wonders such as plants strangulation, old stems blooming and hanging gardens.

Olive Dam:
Olive Dam is the lowest and hottest place in Xishuangbanna. However, its torrid climate brings rich tropical fruits and products. It consists of two stockaded villages, each of which is highlighted by an eyeful of typical Burma styled Buddhist pagodas and bamboo building of the Dai minority.

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