East Qing Tombs-Huangyaguan Pass-Chengde Three-Day Hike

Route 3C : Three-day Great Wall Hiking Tour on Great Wall A fun romp through China’s imperial and majestic past!


  • You Visit the East Qing Tombs, the final resting place of China’s last ruling dynasty and an often overlooked treat
  • A hike on Huangyaguan, which is designed to encapsulate the entire Great Wall of China, meaning you can view the entire wall in just under a day!
  • Visit Chengde, the former summer resort of the Qing Dyansty, and marvel at the majestic palaces and temples
Stuff you should bring with you:
  • Tough hiking boots, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Backpack, and snacks or energy/protein supplements you want to have before lunch
  • Extra cash for driver/guide tips along with money for either cable car or toboggan ride
  • Don’t forget your camera!

(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

Day-by-day Hiking Itinerary

Beijing-East Qing Tombs-Huangyaguan (L+D, 1.5hours)

After meeting your guide at your hotel between 7:30-8am, we will make the drive to the East Qing Tombs. The Eastern Qing Tombs, which is among the finest, best-preserved and largest of the extant tomb complexes in China. Along the south side of Changrui Mountain, the tombs of five emperors, four empresses, five imperial concubines, and one princess are arrayed based on the traditional concept of placing the most senior and most distinguished in the center.

Of all the tombs, Xiaoling is the biggest and most elaborate, standing as the focal point of the entire structure. The grandeur of this tomb may be attributed to its having been the first sepulcher constructed for a member of the royal family of the Qing Dynasty, so the builders hoped to set the tone for a prosperous future. Crossing through the Great Red Gate, you can see buildings of different sizes, all with roofs of yellow glazed tile, connected by the brick paths or 'sacred ways' that converge in the area of Xiaoling.

An example of the most exquisite architecture of the Eastern Qing Tombs is Dingdongling, the tomb of Empress Dowager Cixi. Although she handled affairs of state for more than 45 years, she never ascended the throne. (The only female ruler in Chinese history was Empress Wu Zetian in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Elaborate and highly refined decorations and carvings inside Dingdongling make it unique among the tombs of the Qing Dynasty. The main material used in the tomb, which took six years to build, was gold, the symbol of royal family.

Shortly after lunch we will drive to a small village, where we will start our afternoon hike on the Great Wall on Huangyaguan. It is designed as a miniature of the entire Great Wall of China, thereby allowing you get an understanding of the entire wall in a fraction of the time. The entire section is built on an abrupt mountain ridge. Being endowed with both natural beauty and cultural interest, it has become famous as a natural beauty spot and a summer resort.

After about an hour’s walk we will reach a peak overlooking the valley below. Form the peak we can also see the Huangyaguan Fortress, which was restored in 1984. From this vantage point, we will be able to see its Baguan pattern, a specially designed labyrinth designed to confuse and entrap the enemy. We will then walk down to the fortress for a fascinating and informative visit inside.

For that evening we will stay in a traditional courtyard hotel built on the site of the fortress.

Hunagyaguan-Chengde (B+L+D, 10km/6 miles, 4-5 hours)

With breakfast in the hotel, we will then continue our hike on Huangyaguan, We will soon reach the major scenic point of Huangyaguan, the “Heaven’s Ladder”. Ascend the 200 steps of the "Heaven's Ladder" to gain a ridgetop above Huangyaguan. We will follow the trace of the Great Wall as it undulates across the mountains before gradually descending into a valley.

After ward, we will make our way to a local village near the wall. There, we will enjoy a provincial-style lunch made with loving care by one of the village’s families. We will wander around the village a little bit, chatting up with the locals. Who knows, maybe you’ll make a friend or a pen pal!

Then we will make the drive back to Chengde, staying overnight and taking in dinner at a 4 star hotel

Chengde-Beijing (B+L)

After waking up between 7;30-8am, we will head to tour Chengde’s main attractions. We will visit the Mountain Resort (known as the Bishushangzhuang in Chinese), a vast imperial garden (the largest in all of China) and once used as the summer Retreat of the Qing Dynasty, and a UNESCO World heritage Site. The Mountain Resort is divided into four parts: the Palace Area, Lake Area, Plain Area and Mountain Area. The resort is reported to have 72 scenic posts. How many will you be able to find?

After lunch you will visit the Small Potala Palace (Putouzongsheng in Chinese), which was modeled after the Potala Palace of Tibet. It is the largest cluster of royal temples in the world. It makes up one of the “Eight Outer Temples of Chengde”. The Eight Outer Temples were built by the Qing government to strengthen a unity with the minorities, thus the temples not only feature Han style, but also the Mongolian and Tibetan styles, with the symbolic meaning of unity in China. The architectures, inscriptions, sculpture, and murals in these temples are important materials for the study of history, culture, religion, and architectural art. At the palace you can enjoy the fusion of Chinese and Tibetan architecture, and marvel at the Buddhist sculptures and ornate yellow-tiled roofs.

After visiting the palace you will be drive back to your Beijing hotel at 7pm, ending your tour and hike.