Two hours outside of Beijing you’ll find a magical little place called Gubei Water Town, which is connected to the Simatai section of the Great Wall.
With hot springs, beautiful bridges, and charming little cafes, you’ll quickly fall in love with Gubei. One day is enough time to see the town and hike the Simatai Wall, but it’s even better if you stay one or two nights to enjoy the views when the town and wall light up.
Getting To Gubei Water Town and Simatai Great Wall
The easiest way to go to the Gubei Water Town is to take the Tourist Express Bus from the Dongzhimen Outer Bus Station. The bus sign will read: 东直门外-古北水镇. It costs 48 RMB for one way and takes about 1.5-2 hours depending on traffic.
The bus to Gubei only leaves a few times a day and has a different weekend schedule, so check the timetable here before you go. We took a bus at 9:00 a.m. and returned on the 5:00 p.m. bus.
Things To Do In Gubei Water Town
Gubei Water Town is actually a replica of the Wuzhen Water Town in Southern China. Even though it’s not an ancient historical site, it’s still a popular tourist destination because of the little houses and shops built alongside the river.
Tourists can stroll along the old streets, try local Chinese snacks, shop at the outdoor bizarres, watch Chinese drama shows, and enjoy the scenery, which is especially beautiful at night.
The Simatai Section of the Great Wall
After you walk through the Gubei Water Town, you can enter the Simatai Section of the Great Wall. Simatai is one of the more wild and authentic sections of the wall and has a beautiful view of Gubei and the surrounding mountains from the top.
Facts about the Simatai Section of the Great Wall:
- The Simatai section of the Great Wall stretches 5.4 kilometers (3.4 miles), and is separated into an eastern part and western part by Mandarin Duck Lake.
- Currently the western part that connects to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall is closed, so you can only hike the eastern part.
- There are 10 beacons you can hike to on the eastern section of Simatai. You can take a cable car up to the top, or hike from the bottom.
Want to visit another section of the Great Wall? Check out my trip to the Badaling Section.
Visiting Gubei Water Town and Simatai Great Wall
If you’re looking for a more unique and atypical Beijing Great Wall excursion, the Gubei Water Town and Simatai section of The Great Wall are great destinations to add to your Beijing itinerary.
Ideally it’s best to visit during the spring or fall for brighter colors, but I enjoyed visiting during the end of November because there was hardly anyone there! I’ve heard how crowded Gubei Water Town can be during peak season, so it was nice not having to fight crowds or try to take photos without other people. No matter the season, you’ll find a trip here worth it!
Check out some of my other favorite places in Beijing:
- The Best Instagram Spots in Beijing
- 5 Tips For Visiting The Summer Palace
- Exploring the Beijing Panjiayuan Flea Market