Sited on the junction of the Mongolian Plateau, the Inner Mongolia Grasslands, and the North China Plain, Bashang is a photogenic place of beauty with a cool climate and an interesting history.
The wide, flat Mongolian plateau slopes gently down towards the mountains north of Beijing, providing an easy way for the raiding horsemen of Genghis Khan to get close to the city, and vice-versa for troops heading the other way. Consequently, the grasslands have been the site of many battles, from ancient dynasties up until the Second World War.
These days, the prairie is peaceful, home to nomads and grazing flocks of sheep and herds of cows.
With an average height of more than 1,300 metres above sea level, the grasslands on the plateau are higher than many of the mountains we hike while in Beijing. This means that the temperature is lower than that of Beijing: freezing cold in winter, but cool and refreshing in summer, with temperatures expected to be in the low 20's (°C) during the daytime, and because of the altitude it can get pretty chilly in September..
On this trip, you’ll explore the rolling hills on foot, and enjoy a bonfire, BBQ, and stargazing in the broad night skies.
Day One Private bus to Bashang (5hrs), overnight in guesthouse.
Day Two Hike through “Hundred Flowers Valley” and “Lover’s Valley” (approx. 17km, 5 hours of hiking, difficulty level 4), free time, dinner, bonfire.
Day Three Loop hike to “Spirit Wall” Mountain. (approx. 11km, 4 hours, difficulty level 3), private bus back to Beijing (5hrs).
For this trip, you'll meet the bus at the same pickup points as we use for our day hikes: close to Exit B of the Liangmaqiao Subway Station on Line 10; and at the Lido Metropark Hotel Starbucks Coffee shop. See our where to meet before a hike page for more details.
Hundred Flowers Valley and Lover's Valley Loop
Time: approx. 5 hours
Start/finish height: 1,564m
Total ascent/descent: 657m
Setting out after breakfast on Saturday morning, we'll board the bus for a short drive from our guesthouse to get out into the hills.
The hike begins with a fairly easy walk up into a valley, before a short climb that crosses a low point on a ridge.
On the other side of the ridge we'll spot the new Seventh Ring Road, which has, unfortunately for us, been built right through the middle of the grasslands. We'll walk past it quickly, and will soon round a corner and leave the big road behind us.
The next part of the hike is another slow climb up on to a ridgeline, steady at the beginning, and a bit steeper as we reach the top. After a bit of a rest we'll be off again, following the ridgeline all the way up to a high point that's almost 2,000 metres above sea level. With the big road behind us, we'll have super views of the rolling hills of the grasslands as we walk through the grass and beside small forested areas.
The climb up to the high point is the toughest part of this hike, but it won't take too long, and you'll have a great reward - 360° views of the grasslands.
The hike continues down the other side of ridgeline, passing through '100 Flowers Valley' as we get down into the farmland on the other side - at the right time of year the combination of wild flowers and the fields of buckwheat and canola is a beautiful sight!
Another long climb takes us up on to another ridgeline, and back to our Seventh Ring Road crossing. Our bus will be waiting for us there, and will take us back to the guesthouse for a huge lunch!
We'll ask our local guide to bring his two horses along in case anyone gets tired of hiking, and there are also options to make the hike a little shorter.
Spirit Wall Mountain Loop
Time: approx. 3–4 hours
Start/finish height: 1,564m
Total ascent/descent: 475m
The hike begins with an easy walk into the foothills, but then we've got a big climb to get up on to the ridge.
We'll follow that ridge up to a cairn on another high point in the hills, a scenic location where we'll see rocky crags protruding from the grassy rolling hills.
The trail takes us down the ridgeline and then down and out a long valley, skipping over rills in the eroded area of the hills.
At the end of the long valley we'll find several farming villages surrounded by fields of squash and melons.
We'll walk along the road that joins the villages, keeping an eye out for pigs wandering about. Just after the second village, we'll make another climb up to a ridgeline, and then down the other side to complete our loop hike.
As with the hike on Saturday, there's an option to make this walk a little easier.
Horseriding and motorcycles
Horses and 4-wheel motorcycles are available for hire from locals at an hourly rate. The cost of hire is not included in the price of the hike because it's not likely that everyone will want to participate in these activities. We can help you arrange rental – the horses cost around 100 RMB per hour; the motorbikes around 30 RMB per hour. They cost a lot more if you break them! Note: sometimes all the 4-wheelers are mysteriously unavailable. If that's a point of interest for you please let us know, and we'll call to ask about it.
There is often quite a bit of pollen in the air in the grasslands. Hayfever/allergy medication may make this trip more enjoyable, especially if you’ve had hayfever in the past.
The Bashang Prairie is at an elevation of more than one thousand metres above sea level, and is consequently cooler than the weather in Beijing. The weather is also known to change quickly – sunny one minute, cloudy the next, and then a bit of rain before the sun comes out again. In the week before the hike we’ll send the weather forecast. It could get as low as 6°C at night.
We will stay in a guesthouse near one of the small towns on the grasslands. You’ll be sharing a room at the guesthouse with another hiker. If you'd like a room to yourself, it can be arranged at an extra cost of 240 RMB, if a room is available—usually not a problem!
The facilities at the guesthouse are fairly basic, with a small bathroom that has a basin and a open shower over a sit-down toilet.
Further details about room shares and single supplement can be found in the documents we send you as part of the registration.
We’ll drive to and from the trip in a private bus.
Main meals and drinks, plus water to drink during the hikes, are included in the price of the hike. We will take most of our meals at the guesthouse. Bring some snacks and some spending money to buy extras. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements or food allergies.
- View photos from our September 2011 trip to the Bashang Grasslands
- View photos from our August 2012 trip to the Bashang Grasslands
Things to bring
- Passport/ID card for registration at the guesthouse
- Long pants
- Long sleeved-shirt
- Light shoes or sandals to wear around the guesthouse
- Some warm clothing for the evenings
- Waterproof clothing, just in case
- Hat and gloves
- Torch or headlamp
- Hayfever medication
- Wash bag, toothbrush
- Footwear: while sports shoes would be fine, hiking boots would be most comfortable; bring some sandals to relax in after the hikes
12:00 — Bus leaves from Liangmaqiao Subway to drive to the Lido Hotel
12:30 — 5hr bus ride Beijing to Bashang
18:30 — check into guesthouse, dinner
07:30 — Breakfast
08:00–13:00 — Hiking
13:30–14:00 — Late lunch after the hike at our hotel
15:00–19:30 — Free time: walk about more, hire a horse
19:30–20:30 — Bonfire and BBQ
07:30 — Breakfast
08:30–11:30 — Hiking
12:00–12:50 — Lunch at our hotel
13:30 — Pack up and get ready to leave
14:00–19:00 — Back to Beijing
All times are approximate, and depend on our speed of movement.
With 8–10 people signed up, this trip is all go!