Warning re: Taking the Bus to the Great Wall of China
Replies: 13 - Last Post: May 30, 2010 7:38 PM Last Post By: onegirlworld
May 29, 2010 1:52 AM
Warning re: Taking the Bus to the Great Wall of ChinaToday I ventured up to the Great Wall to do the 10 km walk from Jinshanling to Simatai. I took the 980 bus from Beijing to Minyun as per the LP guidebook with no problem (1 1/4 hours). According to the LP, there are minibuses which run from Minyun costing 7 RMB (about $1 USD).
When I got off the bus, I was immediately accosted by a Chinese man who told me there were no minibuses and I had to take a taxi for 200 RMB. I said no thank you and walked away, looking for the minivans. The minivans were there, but no one would talk to me - this guy was obviously the kingpin and everywhere I walked, he followed. He started to get threatening and in my face about the whole thing, insisting I pay 200 RMB. As a female on my own with no other foreigners or police in sight, I started to get a bit scared. I told the guy to go away - he refused, bullying me even more. At one point he just snapped and started screaming at me with a crowd of people around. That was enough for me - I said f-this, crossed the street and waited for the next bus back to Beijing. He followed and stood there while I waited still yelling - Go back to Beijing! over and over. It was awful...I was shaking when I got on the bus and quietly cried the whole ride back to Beijing.
From my experience, I would not recommend taking the bus to Minyun at all, unless you are with a few big fellas and are ready for a fight. Save the hassle, pay 260 RMB for the tour through your guesthouse...you'll be saving your peace of mind as well!
(By the way, I talked to the police in Beijing later and they said there is no way to regulate the minivans, even if it is clear that there are people completely ripping foreigners off. I suppose most people only have one day for the Great Wall, get all the way up there and just pay the money (that is 200 RMB each way!!). )
Good luck. Other than that I have only positive experiences in China!
May 29, 2010 3:52 AM
May 29, 2010 5:08 AM
May 29, 2010 6:59 AM
3Sorry to hear about that happened to you. In the future, I'd recommend finding someplace with security guards like a bank, hotel, McDonalds, or KFC where they probably won't tolerate that guy. You can also ask them to help call the police on the spot.
That said, 7RMB to drive all the way from Miyun to either Jinshanling or Simatai is impossible. It's a 40 minute drive! The most recent China LP says that the price is 120CNY for a round-trip from Miyun to Simatai. That matches my experience.
Another way of getting to Jinshanling that I've used many times is to take the 6453 train from Beijing North to Gubeikou. From there, you can either walk down the road about 1km to town to hail a gray mini-van or convey your intention to one of the workers in the train station, who have helped me call a taxi before. This taxi ride should be around 20-30 CNY.
May 29, 2010 7:50 AM
4I have also heard horror stories about trying to do Jinshanling-Simatai on your own - it seems that it is just not popular enough to have a formal transportation system. I did the hike in April and went with the tour offered through the Beijing Downtown Backpackers accommodation. Cost aside, I'd highly recommend it if you are set on doing Jinshanling-Simatai. It costs 280 RMB, which includes more than 100 RMB of entrance tickets plus transportation. It's a tour in that transportation is organized for you and there is nominally a guide, but in fact the group splits up on the wall and everyone hikes on their own.
May 29, 2010 2:23 PM
5I booked the Jinshanling2Simatai-Trip at my hotel (I think it was 180 yuan without entrance-tickets which again almost cost 100 yuan. but it was a great trip.
I travelled on my own to Mutianyu. Not to save money (i saved just a little bit) but to not depend on a group-schedule. So I took a very early bus (like mentioned in LP). You cannot go to Mutianyu directly, I also had to take a taxi (I was the only passenger, there are not really many single travellers in china to meet just by accident). It was 50 Yuan one way. In the evening I travelled back with the same guy. He said, usually it would be 60 Yuan one way. The trip took maybe 30 minutes, I don' remember.
But I really enjoyed my free time on the wall and hiked till to the most picturesque parts of Jiankou. I also enjoyed a short storm on the wall with heavy wind and rain, but it disappeared as quickly as it came, before and after the sun was shining. Fortunately there was no lightning.
May 29, 2010 5:11 PM
6This does sometimes happen once out into the far reaches of China and I've experienced similar treatment in a few places. It is rare and look for signs of places you can take refuge or to call a policeman as egjeg suggested. Don't feel bad about your reaction as a rather large man, I too got rattled in threatening situations.
Typically, I think, there are other Chinese willing to step in to help and to show some protection. However, this is an example where that didn't happen.
At other locations in and around China, look to what is being offered as local tours by the various hostels. Their prices are usually very good as the clientel are looking for cheap ways to see things. You can join them even if you are not staying at their place. I agree with hunanjess that the Beijing Downtown Backpacker's usually have reasonable tours.
May 29, 2010 7:32 PM
May 29, 2010 8:45 PM
8I believe some on here have said there are local Miyun buses that go to Simatai, though I've never seen them. Your story is a rare and unfortunate one. The few times I've done the trip, there have been others on the bus who also planned on heading to the wall, I either befriended them on the bus or stood around when they negotiated and then negotiated the same price with the driver. The minivans base their price on how many people are going along for the ride, so if you were the only one, RMB200 isn't all that unreasonable because they're making you pay to ride alone. Typically, they will charge between RMB20-40 a head and try to get 6-8 people each time.
May 30, 2010 4:36 AM
Thanks for all the replies and support - I wasn't expecting so much response! But this is important info to share and I think the LP guide should warn people about this...
@egjeg the bus from Beijing to Miyun was 1 hour 15 minutes and only cost 14 RMB..
Anyway I did the tour today and it was great, no hassle and well worth the extra money. At Miyun there are no KFCs, no nothing, just a few shops and a lot of Chinese people, so don't expect anyone to help if you dare to try going on your own!
It's a shame that one bad person can make such an impact - @jeremyjohn thanks for sharing your story, makes me feel better knowing t's not just me!
Happy (and safe) travels :)
May 30, 2010 5:21 AM
That is a large public bus carrying 50 people and may even be partially subsidized by the city. A private car from Miyun to Simatai will cost more. If anyone has information on getting from Miyun to Simatai for less than 10 RMB, I'd be very interested to know since I make this trip pretty often.
May 30, 2010 7:08 AM
11onegirlworld, you were in Miyun county's city, but not in the city center, which does have a KFC, a large supermarket, and a decent sized mall.
egjeg, yes, the large public bus is a Beijing city bus, part of the city's network and completely subsidized by the city. Why do you go from Miyun to Simatai so much? Less than RMB10? No chance in hell. There are no taxis in Miyun, despite a lot of taxi drivers living there, it's all "black cabs". From a village in Miyun to the city center costs RMB30, let alone the massive distance to Simatai. As I've said, its been mentioned on here that there is a Miyun County bus to Simatai, but I've yet to see it.
May 30, 2010 7:37 AM
I go to Gubeikou/Jinshanling/Simatai a lot because I live in Beijing and whenever friends or family visit, they want to go see the Great Wall. This is my favorite section to take them to. I usually take train 6453 to Gubeikou and then hire a gray van to Jinshanling. After the hike, we take a gray van to Miyun and bus to Beijing. Recently though, I'm starting to prefer the Gubeikou to Jinshanling hike.
May 30, 2010 7:38 PM
13Please keep in mind the point is to warn people about the hassle of these unfortunate individuals who intimidate someone into a 200 RMB ride. Let's try to offer people the best knowledge and info we have on the situation to best prepare them to make their own choice.
I'm just hoping LP will include a warning about the whole Miyan bus/taxi/van whatever so travelers know what to expect.
And yes there are KFC etc in other parts of Miyun, but I was making it known that there is nothing like that at the main bus stop. You're not exactly going to ask for a taxi to the KFC when some guy is getting in your face demanding money from you and making a scene.
I would especially warn solo travelers not to make this journey - surely a few people together may be able to share a large fare or talk the drivers down.
egjeg, good info on the train, thanks for sharing. When you finally do get to the Wall, it's worth it!
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