Huanghuacheng. It’s a real tongue-twister. But what is it? Well, does ‘Badaling’ ring any bells? I’m talking about the Great Wall of China. The endless chain of bricks that defended Imperial China against nomadic attacks. The Great Wall was the whole reason why I wanted to visit China in the first place. And I am not the only one, because with me thousands of other tourists plan to visit the Great Wall every year. So I gave myself the task to find a section without the tour groups, touring busses, and selfie sticks. And I found it at Huanghuacheng. A beautiful piece of the Great Wall of China.
Why is it less crowded at Huanghuacheng?
Well, to visit this piece of the Great Wall, you have to put in some effort and climb a mountain for a sturdy 20 minutes. No elevators, no clear hiking trail, and no route signs. Or at least no clear ones for us non-Chinese readers. It’s a pretty tough challenge, but one that is worth the trouble. This is the only part of the Great Wall that is surrounded by water. To get to Huanghuacheng, I joined a hike of Beijing Hikers. A professional team of hikers that organizes hikes around Beijing every other week. They plan everything, from the transportation to a lovely brunch at the end. The only thing we had to do is to enjoy ourselves. And that’s exactly what we did!
From a pile of ruins to some neat little tiles
But before we had set any foot on the Great Wall, we first had to do some heavy climbing through tons of itching bushes, scratching branches, and right through a flock of gigantic crickets. I’m not a fan of insects, but gigantic insects really freak me out. And when I heard we also passed a snake I was starting to dislike this tour. I’m just kidding of course, but it did make me want to rush to the top quicker. And after some 20 minutes of climbing, we were finally there. We had reached the Great Wall of China! Aah!
All the hard work wasn’t over yet. Our walk along the Great Wall of China started on the unrestored parts of Huanghuacheng. A part that is taken over by forest, crushed by storms, and some parts are even completely gone. Mother Nature took over here. We had to climb over bushes and walk across some awfully narrow parts. But hey, we didn’t complain because the surroundings were simply stunning. A true reward for all our efforts, and scratches and sweat.
The yellow flower city
Slowly we arrived at the restored parts of Huanghuacheng. Weeds disappeared and made room for a neat little row of pavement and steps. The scenery also changed from a luscious green forest to a set of small idyllic villages by a lake. The Haoming lake it is. Home to the Huanghuacheng and by the locals referred to as the ‘flower lake’. In summer the walled villages around this lake are covered with wild yellow flowers. ‘Huanghua’ also means yellow flower. Unfortunately, I was at Huanghuacheng in September and I hardly saw any yellow flowers. Still, Huanghuacheng is a pretty sight with its green and blue colors.
How to get to Huanghuacheng?
It is possible to get to Huanguacheng on your own, but it is not ideal. You can take the direct bus from Dongzhimen station departing at 8.30 am (35 CNY). However, there is a catch. It only goes once a day, on the weekends, and only during peak season. The direct bus back to Beijing departs at 16.00. As I said, not great. That is why the most comfortable way to visit Huanghuacheng is by tour. Click here for some great tours to Huanghuacheng, and other parts of the Great Wall of China.
Are you planning a visit to Beijing? What part of the Great Wall did you visit?
Please note that China is rapidly changing. I visited Huanghuacheng in 2015 and it was a quiet, good experience. However, things can always change. Chances are that it is a lot busier today.
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