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Ming Village day trip

In Brief: Spend the day out in Cuandixia, a Ming Dynasty-era village in the mountains west of Beijing – first a walk in the hills near the village, then a good look about the old courtyards, temples, and narrow lanes of the village itself. Lunch included.

A view of the stone houses of Cuandixia, Mentougou District

A view of Cuandixia, a Ming Dynasty-era village built on the side of a hill in a remote valley. View more photos »

Key information

  • 3–4 hours of walking and hiking over approx. 8km.

The name of this village – ‘Cuandixia’ – translates roughly as ‘Under The Oven,’ which could be interpreted as meaning a good safe spot that’s hard to find. You’ll also find it on maps as ‘Chuandixia,’ as the character for Chuan () is much less complicated than that of Cuan ().

We'll start our day out with a hike in the hills above the village, making a loop that will bring us back to the starting point for a big lunch, Then we'll take a tour of the alleys, lanes, paved stairs, and courtyard houses. It will be quite a long day, but well worth it!

The drive out to the village is long and scenic, following a national road through mountains and along the bottom of deep canyons, passing through small townships in the mining country of west Mentougou district.

A view of the stone houses of Cuandixia, Mentougou District

A view of Cuandixia from the hills opposite. Click to see a larger version

The village lies on the side of a hill on the old road between Beijing and Xi’an, and is made up of many well-preserved stone buildings, including about 70 courtyards. The majority of these courtyards are now guesthouses, and the owners are usually happy enough to let people explore. In the village we’ll find much history, with old Cultural Revolution slogans slowly fading on some of the walls, and art, stone, and wood work from the Qing and Ming Dynasties. Cuandixia was lucky to escape destruction during the war, while some other villages in the area were destroyed almost completely.

Outline of itinerary

  • Arrive at Cuandixia
  • Walk up main street of village and out to visit the narrow canyon in the hills behind the village; hike up to caves (optional)
  • Lunch at village restaurant
  • Explore the key sites in the village
  • Climb up to viewing point opposite the village

What to bring on this trip

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • There's not a whole lot of hiking on this outing. But there is a bit of a stair-climb involved to reach the best viewpoints.

There are risks involved in hiking. Please read our Risk Acknowledgment and Waiver and inform yourself before participating.

Level2+

Level of difficulty

A level 2+ hike is a bit more difficult than a regular level 2 hike, but less difficult than a level 3: maybe a bit hilly, and perhaps with a bit of hillclimbing.

Is the level of difficulty suitable for me?

Hike statistics

  • Distance: approx. 8km
  • Time to complete: 3–4 hours
  • Total ascent: 640m
  • Start height: 657m
  • Peak: 858m
  • Lowest point: 638m
  • Finish height: 657m
  • Location: Mentougou
  • Drive time: 3–3.5 hours

Hikes in Beijing

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