Home > Hike in Beijing

Not currently open for booking

This hike is not currently scheduled, and the information on this page may be incomplete or out of date.

CNY Overnight: Yu County’s Ancient Walled Towns and Fireworks of Molten Iron

In Brief: Ancient towns and forts, local culture, and the 300-year old local tradition that sees molten iron being flung against the city walls in lieu of a fireworks display!

Dashuhua performance in Yuxian, Hebei

Part of the Dashuhua performance, where molten iron is flung against the city wall to create showers of sparks.

Key information

  • 2–4 hours walking about each day.

Chinese New Year is the best time of year to visit Yu County. Book in early, this trip will be popular!

On this two-day trip to Yu County in Hebei Province you’ll walk the streets of well-preserved Yuxian Ancient City, visiting the pavilions and pagodas, as well as visiting Jimingyi, the remnants of a Ming Dynasty postal relay center. And, on the first evening, we’ll take in a performance that includes Da Shu Hua, a 300-year old local tradition that translates as ‘Beating Trees into Flowers’ and results in molten iron being flung against the city walls in lieu of a fireworks display!

We did some extra scouting for this trip and found a nice and easy two-hour countryside walk to do on the last day, a good way to see what it's like in really rural China.

Note: we’ll be outside quite a bit, and the weather is sure to be freezing. Bring all the warm clothes you’ve got, and then bring a few extra layers just in case!

During Chinese New Year Beijing empties out as people return to their hometowns to celebrate Spring Festival with their families. With everyone home in Yu County for the holiday it’s sure to be lively, and there will also be extra special shows and performances in the streets of the old towns we visit.

Yu County and Zhangjiakou

Yu County is part of the larger Zhangjiakou prefecture-level city in Hebei Province. Zhangjiakou is right on the main route to Beijing from the northwest, and has been the site of fortifications and wars since ancient times – notably, the Badger’s Mount Campaign in which Genghis Khan won a huge battle against the Jin Dynasty in 1211. Zhangjiakou used to be known as Kalgan, which is a transliteration of its name in Mongolian: The Gate.

Yuxian Ancient City

There’s been a town at Yuxian since the Southern and Northen Dynasties period (420-589), with the area at the time being under the control of the Northern Zhou Dynasty (587-581). The ancient city was rebuilt in 1377, during the Ming Dynasty, and a lot of that construction remains and is well-preserved—some say it’s the closest best-preserved ancient city to Beijing.

The key sights in the Yuxian Ancient City are the Jade Emperor Pavilion, the Nan’an Pagoda (Liao Dynasty, 907-1125), and the Buddha temple.

But perhaps the best part of Yuxian, during the Chinese New Year festival, is how lively it gets, with the streets packed with people and performances all over. Click to see six photos of the New Year festival sights at Yuxian

Nuanquan Town

Close by to Yuxian is Nuanquan Town, notable for a site named Xigubao, or the West Castle. The castle was around 67,000 square metres in size and surrounded by high walls of rammed earth. Key parts of the walls were strengthened with brick, and the structure followed a defensive pattern known as The Urn, whereby attacking enemies could be trapped between inner and outer gates ‘like turtles in an urn.’

As well as the castle, Nuanquan is famous for a tradition of papercutting – on our scouting trip, we picked up some really good ones!

Jimingyi

Cockscomb Mountain, Hebei

The old town of Jimingyi, with Cockscomb Mountain in the distance. Click to see two more photos from Jimingyi

More photos of Jimingyi

  1. The gates of the old town of Jimingyi

Jimingyi Ancient City was a fortified postal relay or staging station, built and used during the Ming Dynasty. The extremely tall and thick walls have a total length of just under two kilometers, and were constructed in the same manner as some of the Great Wall: rammed earth in the middle, with an outer layer of bricks.

In the past, this must have been a very important place: as well as the huge walls, other fortifications include large gates topped by towers, towers on each corner of the main walls, and more outside. Inside the walls, there are five main streets that divided the city into planned and orderly sections - administration in the middle, stables and barns at the north, and other areas for accommodation.

Da Shu Hua: Fireworks of Molten Iron

Throwing ladles-full of molten iron against tall brick walls creates a splash of colour that looks like the sparkle of fireworks, and has been a local tradition in Nuanquan Town for over 300 years, a tradition that’s said to have come about because of the many blacksmiths of the town.

These days, it’s done part of a performance that includes a song and dance routine that illustrates a local legend that culminates with swords being melted down to revive a maiden who’d given her life in order to make the swords better, on the advice of a magician.

Whether there are magicians about or not, it’s still a spectacular sight, and the performance is likely to be attended by quite a crowd. For obvious reasons, it’s an outdoor show, and at night, so we’ll need to wrap up warmly so we don’t freeze before all the action. The performance lasts for approximately an hour, and the splashing about of the molten iron should take up 15 minutes of that hour.

White Horse Temple hike

On the second day of the trip we'll do a short and easy hike in the countryside, walking through the hills around a village and taking a look at White Horse Temple—an excellent way to get a look at real life in China's countryside.

Accommodation

We’ll stay a night in a 4-star hotel. Each room at the hotel has a private shower and bathroom, and towels and bedding are provided. You’ll be sharing a room with another hiker. If you'd like a room to yourself, it can be arranged at an extra cost of 185 RMB, if a room is available—usually not a problem!

Meals

Main meals and drinks, plus water to take along during the walks, are included in the price of the hike. We'll be eating Chinese food at restaurants in the towns. Breakfast on the second day is at the hotel. Bring some snacks and some spending money to buy extras. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements or food allergies.

Iitinerary

  1. Day 1
    08:00 – Bus leaves from Liangmaqiao pickup point.
    08:30 – Bus departs from Lido Hotel Starbucks.
    12:00 – Arrive at Yuxian and check in to hotel. (est.)
    12:30 – Lunch.
    13:45 – Explore the streets, temples, and fortifications of Nuanquan Town.
    19:00 – Local folk performance and Dashuhua show.
    21:00 – Return to hotel for dinner after the show.

  2. Day 2
    07:00 – Breakfast at the hotel restaurant.
    08:00 – Check out of the hotel, get ready for the tour of the old town.
    08:20 – Arrive at the north gate of the old town.
    08:30 – Walk to the Chenghuang Temple and the Temple of the City God, and take a look at the city walls.
    09:10 – Begin the walk through town from the north gate to the south gate.
    10:00 – Visit the ancient pagoda.
    10:30 – Walk back to the bus.
    10:40 – Drive to Jimingyi.
    11:30 – Stop halfway for a short hike, visiting the White Horse Temple and walking through farmland.
    13:30 – Finish the hike and drive on to Jimingyi.
    14:40 – Arrive at Jimingyi, late lunch at local farmers house.
    15:20 – Finish lunch and begin the sightseeing walk around Jimingyi.
    17:00 – Walk around to the town walls.
    17:30 – Depart from Jimingyi.
    19:30 – Arrive at the Lido Hotel
    All times approximate!

What to bring on this trip

  • Lots of warm clothes: hat, thick gloves and socks, scarf, thermal layers, and thick outer layers.
  • Passport / ID card.
  • Wash bag and toothbrush.
  • Snacks to eat between meals.
  • Cameras, phones, chargers.
  • Anything you can’t do without (personal medication, chocolate).

Reasons you might not enjoy this trip

  • It's not a hiking trip – mostly sightseeing and a lot of walking around with just a wee bit of hiking.
  • It's likely to be very cold out there while we're walking about!

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

Level2

Level of difficulty

Level 2 hikes are not too tough: maybe a bit hilly, but no very long climbs. This type of hike will usually be suitable for children – but please check with us if you are not sure.

Is the level of difficulty suitable for me?

Hike statistics

  • Location: Zhangjiakou
  • Drive time: 4 hours each way

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.

Hike in Beijing calendar

See the Hike in Beijing schedule in our calendar


Find a hike

Great Wall hikesGreat Wall campingHillwalking hikesTough hikesEasy hikesShunyi hikesSee all the hikes »Calendar


All upcoming hikes in Beijing

Departure date: Sunday, August 19
Book it

Intelligence Valley and Liyuan Library

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, August 19
Standby

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, August 22
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, August 23
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, August 25
Book it

Big Camp Plate Village and Hengling Valley

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, August 25
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, August 26
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, August 26
Book it

White River hike

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, August 29
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, August 30
Book it

Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 1
Book it

Gubeikou West Circuit (Route 2)

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 1
Book it

Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: September 1–2 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 2
Book it

Big Black Mountain to the Walled Village

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 2
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, September 5
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, September 6
Book it

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 8
Book it

Yanqing Great Wall and High Tower Challenge

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 8
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 9
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 9
Book it

Walk Down The Incense Trail to Dajue Temple

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, September 12
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, September 13
Book it

Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 15
Book it

Yellow Grass Plateau and Seven Towers

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 15
Book it

Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Walled Village

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: September 15–16 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 16
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 16
Book it

Shunyi Hikers: Yajishan Temple Circuit

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, September 19
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, September 20
Book it

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 22
Book it

Over the Hills to Dajuesi

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 22
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 22
Book it

Sunset over the Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 23
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 23
Book it

Chinese Knot Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: September 23–24 (Sun–Mon)
Book it

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Monday, September 24
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Monday, September 24
Book it

Triangle Hike

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, September 26
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, September 27
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 29
Book it

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 29
Book it

Shuitou Village Loop hike

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: September 29–30 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 30
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Monday, October 1
Book it

Over the Hills to Yaji Mountain

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Monday, October 1
Book it

Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Walled Village

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Tuesday, October 2
Book it

The Pinnacle Tower

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, October 3
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, October 3
Book it

Zhuangdaokou to the Walled Village

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, October 4
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Friday, October 5
Book it

Zhenbiancheng Great Wall Loop Hike

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Friday, October 5
Book it

Sunset over the Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, October 6
Book it

The High Tower Loop hike

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, October 6
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: October 6–7 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, October 7
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, October 11
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, October 13
Book it

Heituo Mountain

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, October 13
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, October 14
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, October 14
Book it

Shunyi Hikers: Ming Village day trip

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, October 17
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, October 18
Book it

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, October 21
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, October 21
Book it

Walk Down The Incense Trail to Dajue Temple

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, October 24
Book it

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, October 27
Book it

Yudu Mountains and Sujia River

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, October 27
Book it

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, October 28
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, October 31
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, November 1
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »

Explore China

See more of China on a multi-day trip—travel to famous scenic areas, or choose to visit somewhere obscure and less well-known.

Upcoming trips

Trekking on the Tea and Horse Trail near Dali, Yunnan Province
Trip dates: September 20–24, 2018

Dali’s Old Towns, Cang Mountain, and Erhai Lake, Yunnan (5 days)

In Brief: See the Southern Silk Road sights of Dali and its surrounds, travelling by foot, bicycle, and as part of a mule train as we visit ancient towns and temples on the ancient Tea and Horse Trail and camp out on Cang Mountain.

Book trip
More info »
Baicheng Landform
Trip dates: October 1–7, 2018

Silk Road: Korla to Kashgar (7 days)

In Brief: Spend seven days on the Silk Road, heading west to Kashgar and travelling by jeep instead of camel through the vast empty areas of Xinjiang Province.

Book trip
More info »
A person walks through the sandy dunes of the Tengger Desert
Trip dates: October 2–5, 2018

Tengger Desert Lakes, Inner Mongolia

In Brief: Travel by foot and jeep through the desert, visit desert lakes, ride camels, camp in the desert, and more.

Book trip
More info »