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Cuandixia ‘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.

Cuandixia Ming Village | The complicated 'cuan' character

The complicated 'cuan' character, seen on a wall of a courtyard house in the village.

Key information

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

The name of this village – ‘Cuandixia’ – translates roughly as ‘Below the cooking-stove’, 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 walk in the hills around 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.

Hike in the hills opposite the village for a view from above
A view of Cuandixia from the hills opposite. (Click for larger image)

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, if trail is repaired)
  • 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.

More photos

In the village

The entrance to a courtyard house in Cuandixia
The entrance to a courtyard house in Cuandixia. (Click for larger image)
Houses, roofs, signs, lanterns
Houses, roofs, signs, lanterns. (Click for larger image)
Hiking up ancient stone footpaths in the village
Hiking up ancient stone footpaths. (Click for larger image)
Lunch at a courtyard house in the village
Lunch at a courtyard house. (Click for larger image)
Inside a temple in the village
Inside the village temple. (Click for larger image)
Views from a high point in the village
Views from a high point, near the temple. (Click for larger image)
Walking the lanes of the village
Walking the lanes of the village's upper section. (Click for larger image)

Hiking in the hills around Cuandixia

A walk near the village passes through 'Yi Xian Tian', a narrow ravine
A walk near the village passes through 'Yi Xian Tian', a narrow ravine. (Click for larger image)
Walking through a narrow ravine in the hills near the village
Walking through a narrow ravine in the hills near the village. (Click for larger image)
Hiking in the hills near Cuandixia
Hiking in the hills near Cuandixia. (Click for larger image)
A shrine to the Goddess of Fertility, found in the hills near the village
A shrine to the Goddess of Fertility, found in the hills near the village. (Click for larger image)

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: 2.5–3 hours

Hikes in Beijing

We publish our hike schedule month by month, with updates around the 10th of each month.

If you're interested in hikes and trips during a month that's not yet listed, use our contact form to let us know and we'll send you a quick email when the schedule is online.

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