Many people don’t realize just how far-reaching the Great Wall actually is, hence its literal name in Chinese, 长城, or “long wall.” There are numerous sections of the Great Wall to see, stretching from the deserts of Gansu, to where it plunges into the Bohai Sea at the Old Dragon's Head.
Our map of the Great Wall’s many sections will further illuminate just how many options you have when deciding where to visit. Today our journey will be to the sections of the Great Wall in Hebei Province, to Xifengkou and Panjiakou, then beyond to a potentially new section of the Great Wall: Lǐjiāgǔguān (李家谷关).
If you're having trouble deciding which section is for you, check out our overview of the many sections of the Great Wall or our guide to Beijing daytrips to the Great Wall.
Journey to Lijiaguguan
The journey starts in Tangshan, Hebei, where a user of the Great Wall Forums named Iwazaruu decided he wanted to see a part of the wall that the majority of travelers in China will never see. Two years ago, he made his way to Xifengkou, the section submerged underwater, but on his most recent adventure in November stumbled into a completely different section of the Wall.
He followed the wall east until eventually reaching the part of the Great Wall of China that wasn't conquered by Mongolians, but by nature. The unmaintained wall of brick and stone can now be seen partly submerged in the ground, covered by bramble bushes.
Great Wall in Your Backyard
I suppose that given the length of the Wall, it was bound to show up in some people's backyards, acting as nothing more than a curious fixture in their lives. But for the adventurous traveler looking to see a part of the Great Wall that many do not, sometimes it can be as easy as going to a section that you're already familiar with, in this case Xifengkou, and following it until the Wall crumbles before you.
This part of the Great Wall is certainly not a tourist attraction, with nary a path, snow wherever there wasn't sunlight and prickly bushes disguising chunks of the Wall as inconsequential ground. The joy of exploring such an unkempt section of the wall is being in such close contact with a piece of history, changed only by the cruel mistress of time.
The other joy is to simply point at something off in the distance and follow your finger until it grows larger and larger.
Before you know it, you are in a completely different section of the Great Wall of China. This part is called Lǐjiāgǔguān (李家谷关), and he notes that "in the two years since I've gone there they have installed information stones and much of the wall is now cleared of the brambly bushes that plagued my last visit. There are also clear markers on how to get the starting point."
Could this be a new tourist attraction being prepared for adventure-seekers looking to see something new...but old? What appears to be a ticket booth is being constructed near the front of the small village that is nestled by this part of the Wall corroborates this theory. However, as of yet, there are no tickets to be purchased, boisterous tour groups clogging what's left of the Wall, and very little information about Lijiaguguan on the Internet in Chinese, let alone English.
The view from the top of Lijiaguguan is spectacular. In the distance the small village can be seen at the foot of the hills, along with the rest of Qianxi County, an out-of-the-way destination with plenty to discover.
How to Get to Lijiaguguan
1. From the Tangshan Long-Distance Bus Station take a 2-hour bus ride to Qianxi (迁西).
2. At the Qianxi County Bus Station tell the person in the ticket booth that you want to go to Xifengkou as they likely won't be familiar with Lijiaguguan Great Wall. This bus ride will be 45 minutes to one hour.
3. After you arrive you will see a sign that says "Xifengkou Broadsword Garden." Head down the small road next to it for 20–30 minutes and you will arrive at the village of Lijiaguguan.
From there it’s very easy to find the entrance to this section of the Great Wall.
Warning: Like many other sections of the Great Wall, expect a lot of unscrupulous taxi drivers to lie to your face and tell you there are no buses that go to the Great Wall. They won't stop at the front gate, but they will definitely take you to the area by the wall. If you want to take a taxi, the distance is roughly 40 km.