A province located close to Beijing with parts touching the Yellow Sea to the east and Taihang Mountains to the west is the Hebei Province. The area offers some of the most scenic parts of The Great Wall of China. Hebei Province also has ancient historical burial sites for the emperors of China, quaint mountain villages, and the largest acrobatic theme park.
Here are 10 sites highly recommended while backpacking through Hebei Province, China.
Located 80 miles northeast of Beijing is the mountains of the Hebei Province lies Jinshanling Province. Of the many Provinces in China, it’s one of the most scenic parts of the Great Wall of China. The wall is connected to the Simatai section to the east and the Mutianyu section to the west. The section is about 10 km long. It includes 67 towers, 3 beacon towers, and 5 passes equally spaced along the wall. Backpackers have the option to climb or take a cable car to the highest point. For ease of convenience, cable cars depart from the front gate.
Also, the Jinshanling section has been restored for easier climbing allowing people to hike the entire way. Along with towers, the wall includes a complete defensive system. It has barrier walls, battlement walls, watchtowers, gun replacements, horse blocking walls, and shooting holes. Getting to Jinshanling is easy from Beijing.
Several buses run throughout the day costing less than $10. Admission is about $9 and people have options to camp nearby for an additional $11. This then makes for a budget-friendly Great Wall experience.
Mountain Resort of Chengde
A key national cultural protection unit listed in the World Cultural Heritage Directory is the Mountain Resort of Chengde. It is a vast complex of palaces, temples, and administrative buildings. Interestingly, the grounds are composed of imperial gardens with lakes, pastureland, and forests.
Built during the Qing Dynasty in the early 1700s, the resort was originally a summer retreat for royal families. Also, it is the largest existing imperial palace-garden and temple complex in Hebei Province, China. It covers a total area of 218 square miles. Additionally, it features 72 scenic spots named by Kangxi and Qianlong emperors.
Additionally, many of the scenic spots around the resort’s lake were copied from well-known garden landscapes in southern China. The resort was important in strengthening relations with ethnic minorities. Hence there’s a placement of 12 imperial temples along the eastern and northern hills outside the complex. These are the largest imperial temples in all of China. The city of Chengde offers a variety of backpacker hostels, costing $3 to get a taxi to the complex.
Another scenic portion of the Great Wall of China is found on the east end in Hebei Province. It was built to protect the central plain from northern nomadic tribes. This portion is known as the Shangaiguan Pass. It was built during the Ming Dynasty and stretches about 4.5 miles with four gates at each side. Along with each gate, defense towers had been built to protect the people. However, only one tower remains today. This tower is the Zhendong Tower, also known as “First Pass under Heaven”. It was the primary defense tower defending against Mongolians. Standing at45 feet, it has 68 windows on all sides where soldiers could shoot arrows.
Also, close to the tower, you’ll find the Shangaiguan Great Wall Museum. Here it has exhibitions on the history, structure, and military function of the great wall. The walls encompass an ancient town with well-preserved old buildings with ancient architecture which can be explored for free. Along with the town, you can find a number of temples built inside the pass.
Also, for accommodations, it is best to stay in Qinhuangdao City. This wonderful city is about 9 miles from the Shangaiguan Pass and provides budget accommodation. For backpackers’ budgets, there are also low-cost restaurants.
Wuqiao Acrobatics World
In the city of Cangzhou situated in southeast Hebei Province is the Wuqiao Acrobatics World; the only acrobatics themed park in the world and biggest folklore tourist attraction in China. This area is known as the birthplace of Chinese acrobatics. It includes circuses, tricks, Qigong, Chinese opera, a marionette show, and a training rats show. Additionally, the complex is composed of seven performing venues, museums, hotels, lakes, rivers, and a fun zoo.
However, today the acrobats wear Qing Dynasty costumes and speak using the ancient language. Some of the well-known acts include those from Gao Fuzhou. There are also acts where performers can slice a cabbage on a person’s belly and split bricks all with a single hand. The Funny Zoo includes ridiculous animal acts; tigers riding horses, African lions crossing fire rings, elephants giving massages, and bears with playing knives.
The larger cities are about a 4-hour train ride from the park. So, it is recommended to stay in the town of Dezhou where backpacker hostels can be found.
Yesanpo National Park
One of Hebei’s top travel destinations for its beautiful natural scenery and cultural relics is the Yesanpo National Park. It is nearly 520 square kilometers with 7 scenic spots. This includes the Baili gorge, the Baicaopan Forest, the Juma River, and Jinhua Mountain. The area includes a cluster of mountain villages with views of spectacular mountain peaks. The Baili Gorge is a 50 km maze of impressive rock formations, valleys, and peaks. The tallest section involves a 2800-step climb and surely will test your skill level.
Also, not far away is the Yugu Cave which is lit up with neon lights like many caves in China. This is a site for spelunking if you have experience or you can simply walk along manicured pathways and stairs. Regular buses run from Beijing to Yesanpo which takes 45 minutes. This is good for backpacking budgets as they cost less than $4, making for a great day trip.
Yuanjiacun Stone Village
A village made of stone which has not changed over the past 500 years is the Yujiacun Stone Village. It is found deep in the countryside about 60 km from Shijiazhuang. The village contains 40,000 stone houses, 3,700 meters of stone pathways, 1000 stone wells, and over 200 stone tablets. Also, not only are the buildings made of stone but everything inside is also made of stone. This includes stone stools, stone desks, stone chairs, stone balusters, and so forth.
The most renowned structure is the stone multi-story courtyard built during the Ming Dynasty. The courtyard occupies an area of 650 meters with over a hundred rooms. As the village continues to remain unchanged so do the lifestyles of the villagers. This then makes it one of the most enchanting timeless villages to come by. Basic accommodation is available to stay in a common village inn to make for a complete stone village experience.
Eastern Qing Tombs
The largest and best-preserved mausoleum complex in Hebei Province, China is the Eastern Qing Tombs. These tombs are located in the city of Zunhua, 125 km northeast of Beijing. The complex consists of tombs of five Chinese emperors. Along with them are four empresses, five imperial concubines, three princes, and two princesses of the Qing Dynasty all placed with the most distinguished in the center.
Also, the tomb of Emperor Shunzhi, Xiaoling, is the biggest and most elaborate of all the tombs. It is aligned with the axis of the main apex of Changrui Mountain. This means the person buried there is the most important of the group. Emperors who follow are placed at either side of him depending on their position and grandeur.
The site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in the year 2000. It stretches over 80 square km with the Great Red Gate at the entrance. Additionally, upon entering you’ll see several buildings with yellow glazed tile roofs. These are connected by brick paths, all of which connect to the area of Xiaoling.
Commonly referred to as the Big Buddha Temple just outside of the Chengde Mountain Resort is the Puning Temple. This marvelous temple was built in 1755 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor in the Qing Dynasty. The temple is one of the “Eight Outer Temples” of Chengde. The temple occupies more than 23,000 square meters with the main structure being the Hall of Great Buddha. This hall is 36 meters high with a gold plated dome roof. The hall represents the architecture of Chinese temples and mosques.
Also, a Bodhisattva statue weighing 110 tons carved out of wood and plated with gold is treasured in the hall. The statue has 42 hands holding a variety of different musical instruments. The rest of the hall contains pagodas and terraces and other Tibetan constructions. The temple holds an important position in the history of Chinese architecture. It mixes various Tibetan and Indian styles preserving the image of Buddha.
The world’s oldest open-spandrel segmental arch bridge is the Anji Bridge. Found in the southern part of the Hebei Province, it is the oldest standing bridge in China. The name means “Safe Crossing Bridge” in Chinese and was constructed in the years 595-605 during the Sui Dynasty. The Anji Bridge was selected by the American Society of Civil Engineers as the twelfth milestone of international civil engineering. It was given a bronze monument.
The bridge includes sculptures such as dragons and flowers demonstrating the artistic style of the Sui sculpture. The bridge has been honored as the first well-known stone bridge in ancient China. Also, it is recommended for backpackers to stay in the city of Shijiazhuang. This is because there are several buses that run back and forth to the bridge.
Situated about 280 kilometers north of Beijing is Bashang Grassland, the first grassland in North China. With unique natural landscapes and pleasant climate conditions, it’s a common destination for locals to escape city life. With unique natural landscapes and great climate conditions, it is a popular destination for tourists and photographers to explore.
It has long been one of the ideal sites to escape the hustle and bustle in city life. The Grassland includes activities such as horse riding, motocross, bonfire parties, folk dancing, grassland wrestling, and more. On interesting thing all backpackers and tourists should see is their annual Grassland Vulcan Festival.