Si Ma Tai — The Road Less Travelled on The Great Wall of China

Great-Wall-of-China

The Great Wall of China is an ancient man-made world wonder that spans over 5,500 miles across the People’s Republic. The magnificent fortress — which commenced building since the 7th century BC — has awed travellers from all over the world for its jaw-dropping historical significance and impressive infrastructure. Ranked as one of the world’s top ten timeless wonders, The Great Wall of China is indeed a must-see attraction on everyone’s bucket list.

Located in the North of Miyun County, Si Ma Tai is approximately 120km away from the city centre of Beijing. Si Ma Tai is the only section on The Great Wall of China that still possesses original traits of the Ming Dynasty. It was previously closed for restoration but reopened to public recently in end 2014.

Read on more to find out why you should visit Si Mai Tai, how to get there and what the necessary steps are to be taken before making a special trip.

As the world’s largest and longest age-old architecture, The Great Wall of China is bombarded by countless of tourists on a daily basis, especially on the Ba Da Ling section.

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As avid travellers ourselves, we wanted a non-touristy experience that would allow us to fully enjoy the grandeur of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Si Ma Tai, an under-the-radar section, was able to provide us the tranquility we were looking for while exploring The Great Wall of China.

Great-Wall


WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT SI MA TAI


As mentioned earlier, Si Ma Tai was only recently reopened to public again in late 2014. This fact remains widely unknown to the outside world as most tour groups are brought to the most popular section called Ba Da Ling.

The quiet Si Ma Tai remains largely untouched by tourism and you can stroll at your own pace without being interrupted by human traffic. You can also be rest assured that your pictures will be free from flag-waving tourist crowds.


HOW TO GET TO SI MA TAI


Take bus 980 to Miyun County from Dong Zhi Men Bus Station, then alight at Miyun West Bridge Station and take bus 38 or 51 and drop off at Si Ma Tai Village Station. You can walk to the entrance of Gubei Water Town to take the shuttle buses that will take you to Si Ma Tai (departs every hour between 9am to 2pm).

Here is a quick clarification for those who are confused on why you have to go to Gubei Water Town – the town is actually the official gateway to Si Ma Tai and is where you purchase tickets, board the shuttle bus etc.

Gubei-Watertown

If you do not have the luxury of time, we strongly urge you to take a taxi from Miyun West Bridge Interchange to Gubei Water Town. A one-way car journey from Miyun West Bridge to Gubei itself will take about an hour.

Taking a bus will probably take 2.5 hours for a single trip. It is important to note that Si Ma Tai Great Wall closes at 4.30pm. If all these are too much of a hassle, you can try looking for Chinese tour companies that could take you to the Si Ma Tai.

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ADMISSION FEES TO ENTER SI MA TAI


It costs RMB 40 / SGD 9 per person to enter Si Ma Tai Great Wall. Children under 1.2 meters tall can enter Si Ma Tai for free, while those between 1.2 meters to 1.5 meters are entitled to 50% off admission fees.

Those who do not wish to walk can take the cable car at an additional RMB 90 / SGD 20.20 or RMB 160 / SGD 35.90 for a single trip and return trip respectively. Similarly, kids who are under 1.5 meters can enjoy 50% discount off cable car rides.

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MUST BOOK ONLINE PRIOR TO VISIT


Unfortunately, you cannot visit Si Ma Tai as and when you please. Visitors have to make an online reservation a day in advance before heading down to Si Ma Tai. Online reservations can be done at this site: www.wtown.com.

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A confirmation text will then be sent to your Chinese cell-phone number. The text message is valid for 10 days and rebooking is required after that period. Please use your real names when making an online booking.

great-wall collapsed tower


THERE ARE FIXED TIMINGS TO ENTER SI MA TAI


Do remember to bring your passport along to Si Ma Tai for identification purposes. Visitors will be brought to Si Ma Tai Great wall from Gubei Water Town on a shuttle bus.

The shuttle bus services are available on a daily basis at the following timings: 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm. Admission to The Great Wall for those without an online reservation will depend on whether or not the maximum capacity has been reached yet.


THERE IS A CAP ON THE NUMBER OF VISITORS


There is a policy established at Si Ma Tai where the number of climbers permitted to enter the wall is capped at 1200 on a normal day, 600 on a windy day, 450 on rainy/snowy days and 220 when there is a thunderstorm.

Do also bear in mind that despite having 34 beacon towers in its area, only tower number 1 to 10 are open to public. It is not possible to hike between Jin Shan Ling and Si Ma Tai like before due to safety reasons.


About the writer:
Hui Jun Ng is a staff writer for ladyironchef. She previously worked in the food and marketing industry. She loves traveling and enjoys exploring underrated destinations. In her free time, you will find her indulging in coffee and her all time favourite local dish – bak chor mee.