This highly restored section of the Great Wall is sometimes frequented by local tour groups, probably due to its close proximity to Beijing and beautiful scenery, including a small reservoir crossing. However, few make it over the hill so escaping any crowds is not impossible.
As one of Beijing’s most important defence points, it forms a highly defendable circular pass in and around a ravine, bordered by the Jundu and Taihang mountains. This was designed as an impregnable gap to trap invaders after the Mongolian Yuan dynasty was overtaken by the Ming dynasty in 1368.
Unalike other sections of the Great Wall, you can avoid backtracking on yourself at Juyongguan by walking the 3 hour circular route around the valley, or cut it a bit shorter by walking halfway round and cutting across the central car park.
Luoting Memorial Temple
Located just south of the southern entrance/ exit, this temple is almost always completely deserted, even in peak season. It makes for a peaceful change of scene and provides an insight into the religious beliefs of the soldiers who once worked here.
Notable for its fascinating stone carvings and inscriptions in six different languages, the Cloud Platform was formerly the base of three Buddhist white dagobas, focal points for meditation. It is conveniently located in the centre of the scenic area.
The steepest section and with the most impressive views, the west half of the pass is particularly recommended for those hoping to escape the crowds. There are some lovely photo opportunities too, with a couple of small pagodas and perfectly positioned watchtowers along the way. The number 13 watchtower is the highest viewpoint and an ideal rest-stop en route, with views across the entire pass and beyond.
Containing a small side-path to a local Taoist temple, the reservoir crossing and views of an unrestored watchtower, the east section is usually more popular with tourists and can get quite crowded. However, it is slightly less steep and still meanders through beautiful scenery.
Tickets: 40 RMB (winter), 45 RMB (summer).
Opening hours: 8:30 – 16:00 (winter), 8:00 – 17:00 (summer).
Recommended visit: 3 hours.
Transport: take metro line 2 to Deshengmen Bus Station (德胜门站) then bus 919 to Nankoulu Koubei (南口路口北), then finally change to bus 879 or bus Chang20 (昌20路) towards the Great Wall.