Gubei Water Town – Ticket, Transportation, Highlights, and Tips

gubei water town

Gubei Water Town (古北水镇, Gubei Ancient Town) is a popular tourist destination located in Miyun County, about 150 kilometers from Beijing, China. It is a recreated ancient water town with traditional Chinese architecture, and it is situated near the Simatai section of the Great Wall. The town is built around a canal system, and visitors can take boat rides to explore the area.

The town has a rich history dating back to the Ming Dynasty, and it has been beautifully preserved to showcase traditional Chinese culture. It features stone bridges, winding canals, ancient houses, and narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants selling local delicacies and souvenirs.

One of the main attractions in Gubei Water Town is the Simatai Great Wall, which is located nearby. Visitors can take a cable car up to the Wall and enjoy a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and countryside.

Gubei Water Town is also known for its hot springs, which are said to have therapeutic properties. There are several hot spring resorts in the area, where visitors can relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Overall, Gubei Water Town is a unique and picturesque destination that offers a glimpse into traditional Chinese culture and history. It is a great place to visit for anyone who wants to experience the beauty of ancient China.

Table of Contents

Basic Information

Estimated Length of Tour1 – 2 days
Ticket PriceTicket to the water town: 140 RMB
Ticket to the water town and Simatai Great Wall: 170 RMB
Ticket to the water town and Simatai Great Wall (night tour): 280 RMB
Opening Hours24 hours a day
Telephone Number0086-010-81009999

Location and Transportation

Gubei Water Town is located in Miyun County, about 150 kilometers northeast of Beijing, China. To get there from Beijing, there are several transportation options (how to go to Gubei Water Town from Beijing):

By car/taxi: You can hire a car or taxi to take you directly from Beijing to Gubei Water Town. The journey takes around 2-3 hours depending on traffic conditions. Or you can use the private transfer service, which is more convenient than the taxi.

By coach: There is an express coach departing at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm from Dongzhimen Stop to Gubei Water Town. The jorney takes about 2.5 hours and costs 48 RMB

By train: You can take a train (S501 or S503) from Beijing North Railway Station to Gubeikou Station, which is located near the town. S501 departs at 6.58 am, and S503 departs at 2.20 pm.

By organized tour: Many travel agencies in Beijing offer organized tours to Gubei Water Town, which includes transportation and guided tours.

Highlights of Gubei Water Town

Ancient Architecture

ancient architecture in gubei water town

Gubei Water Town is known for its well-preserved ancient architecture, which dates back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The town is built in traditional Chinese architectural style, with narrow streets, stone bridges, and ancient houses that feature distinctive roof styles, intricate carvings, and elegant decorations. The buildings are made of wood and brick, with white walls and gray tiles, creating a simple yet elegant atmosphere. The town’s layout is designed to reflect the principles of feng shui, with buildings arranged according to the natural landscape and the flow of water. The architecture of Gubei Water Town offers a glimpse into the traditional Chinese way of life and culture.

Canal Rides

canal rides in gubei water town

Canal rides are one of the most popular attractions in Gubei Water Town. Visitors can take a leisurely boat ride along the town’s ancient canal system, which offers a unique and peaceful way to explore the area. The boats are designed in traditional Chinese style, with ornate decorations and canopies to provide shade from the sun. The canal system itself is a testament to the ingenuity and engineering skills of the town’s ancient residents, who built it to transport goods and materials in and out of the town.

Hot Springs

hot springs in gubei water town

Gubei Water Town is famous for its natural hot springs, which are believed to have therapeutic properties. There are several hot spring resorts in the area, where visitors can relax and enjoy the warm, mineral-rich waters. The hot springs are heated by underground volcanic activity and are said to have a variety of health benefits, including improving blood circulation, easing muscle pain, and reducing stress. Some of the resorts offer private hot spring baths, while others have communal pools where visitors can soak and socialize. The hot springs in Gubei Water Town are a great way to unwind and rejuvenate after a day of sightseeing and exploration.

Simatai Great Wall

night tours in simatai great wall

Simatai Great Wall is a section of the Great Wall of China located near the town of Gubei in the northeast of Beijing (Mutianyu and Gubei Water Town). It is known for its steep gradients, unique architecture, and well-preserved state. The wall stretches over 5.4 kilometers and has 35 watchtowers. It is one of the few sections of the Great Wall that retains its original appearance and has not undergone significant restoration. It is also the only section that is open for night visits, providing a unique and unforgettable experience.

Cultural Performances

cultural performances in gubei water town

Gubei Water Town is not only known for its natural and architectural beauty but also for its cultural performances that showcase the traditional music, dance, and martial arts of China. The performances take place in different venues throughout the town and feature talented local performers dressed in colorful traditional costumes. Visitors can watch traditional Chinese operas, folk dances, and acrobatics shows, as well as demonstrations of martial arts like Tai Chi and Kung Fu. These cultural performances offer a glimpse into China’s rich cultural heritage and are a great way to immerse oneself in the local culture and experience a unique aspect of Gubei Water Town.

Map Of Gubei Water Town

Classic Route: Simaxiaoshao Distillery → Yongshun Dyehouse → Paper Cutting Store → Shadow Puppet Theater → Riyue Island Square (Performance) → Food Street → Zhenyuan Security Bureau → Eight Banners Guild Hall → Mandarin Duck Boat Dock → Yinghua Academy → New Year Picture Store → Kite Culture Store → Yue Lao Temple → Yangui Boat Dock

Romantic Couple Route: Simaxiaoshao Distillery → Yongshun Dyehouse → Riyue Island Square → Zhenyuan Security Bureau → Eight Banners Guild Hall → Mandarin Duck Boat Dock (Boat Tour) → Riyue Island Dock → Hilltop Church → Yinghua Academy → Yue Lao Tavern → Yue Lao Shrine → Post Office Cafe

Family Route: Yongshun Dyehouse (Tie-Dye Experience) → Shadow Puppet Theater → Children’s Playground (Forest Hall/Rainforest Restaurant/Race Track/LEGO Building Blocks, etc.) → Yinghua Academy → Riyue Island Square → New Year Picture Store / Kite Culture Store

Other Activities:

  • Yinghua Academy: Movable Type Printing
  • Kite Experience Pavilion: Kite DIY
  • Jiankun Hall Lantern Shop: Lantern DIY
  • Paper Cutting Store: DIY Experience
  • Baoxinglong Shoe Shop: Embroidered Shoe DIY
  • Goldfish Pavilion: Hanfu Experience

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Gubei Water Town is in autumn, especially from mid-October to mid-November. During this period, Gubei Water Town hosts the “National Style Red Leaf Season,” featuring four themed events: “The Splendor of the Ming Dynasty,” “The Great Tang Dynasty,” “National Style Special,” and “National Style Carnival,” offering visitors a taste of historical and cultural charm. Additionally, Gubei Water Town, with its unique northern water town scenery and diverse cultural activities, attracts many visitors and is considered one of the best places in Beijing to enjoy the autumn foliage. The red leaves decorate the entire water town, and a boat tour offers a particularly charming experience.

Vlog about Gubei Water Town

Timetable of Performances

09:00-09:20Lion Dance WelcomeSquare in front of Tourist Center
09:20-09:40Jingdong DrumsOld Stage on Riyue Island
09:40-10:00Modern Opera Model PlayArea in front of Liyuan Inn
09:50-10:10Street AcrobaticsGoldfish Pavilion Area
10:20-10:40Traditional Opera Model PlayOld Stage at Yang Wudi Shrine
10:45-11:05Folk Acrobatics and JugglingRiyue Island Square
11:10-11:30Yang Family Iron Plate BookOld Stage at Yang Wudi Shrine
11:10-11:25Street PerformancesLongfeng Pool Area
11:15-11:25Opera Parade InteractionRiyue Island Square
11:30-12:00Peking Opera/Hebei BangziOld Stage on Riyue Island
12:30-12:50Yang Family Iron Plate BookOld Stage at Yang Wudi Shrine
13:00-13:30Peking Opera Martial ArtsMiyun Grand Theater
13:40-14:00Street AcrobaticsGoldfish Pavilion Area
14:00-14:10Opera Parade InteractionRiyue Island Square
14:15-14:45Peking OperaOld Stage on Riyue Island
14:45-15:05Folk Acrobatics and JugglingRiyue Island Square
14:50-15:10Yang Family Iron Plate BookOld Stage at Yang Wudi Shrine
15:20-15:35Street PerformancesLongfeng Pool Area
15:40-16:00Traditional Opera Model PlayOld Stage at Yang Wudi Shrine
16:20-16:40Modern Peking Opera Model PlayArea in front of Liyuan Inn
16:40-17:00Manchu WrestlingEight Banners Guild Hall
17:20-17:40Jingdong DrumsOld Stage on Riyue Island
18:30-19:00AcrobaticsRiyue Island Square
19:20-19:40Xihe DrumsOld Stage on Riyue Island
20:00-20:10Drone ShowRiyue Island Square
20:20-20:40Modern Peking Opera Model PlayOld Stage on Riyue Island
21:20-21:30Drone Show (Saturday Additional Performance)Riyue Island Square
19:40-20:00Great Wall Music and Water Dance ShowWangjing Street
20:15-20:35Great Wall Music and Water Dance ShowWangjing Street
20:50-21:10Great Wall Music and Water Dance ShowWangjing Street
21:25-21:45Great Wall Music and Water Dance ShowWangjing Street
22:00-22:20Great Wall Music and Water Dance Show (Friday and Saturday Additional Performance)Wangjing Street

Accommodation Choices in Gubei Water Town

Gubei Water Town offers three types of accommodation options:

Inside the Water Town Scenic Area:

  • Advantages: Since the hotels are within the scenic area, you can buy a ticket and enjoy the attractions for the entire duration of your stay, no matter how many days you stay.
  • Disadvantages: It is expensive. However, for a small family (couple with a child), a large bed room can be an affordable option.
  • Suitable for: Couples with children. You can drive from Beijing in the morning, arrive and check in by noon, explore in the afternoon, enjoy the night scenery and performances, continue exploring the next morning, and return to Beijing in the afternoon.

Apartments Near the Scenic Area in Walking Distance:

  • Advantages: Close to the scenic area, slightly cheaper.
  • Disadvantages: You cannot use one ticket for multiple days, and the accommodation is similar to staying at home, with no novelty.
  • Suitable for: Extended families, such as three generations. It’s affordable, close to the attractions, and convenient for elderly family members.

Far Mountain Villa Area:

  • Advantages: Beautiful community environment, villa living experience, large viewing terrace, children’s play facilities, flowers, grass, and cats, with moderate prices.
  • Disadvantages: Cannot use one ticket for multiple days, a bit far, but there is a free shuttle bus.
  • Suitable for: Extended families with many children (six or seven people) who can have a pleasant living experience.

Dining Options in Gubei Water Town

Choosing Large Restaurants:

  • If you opt for large restaurants like Simagang Grand Hotel, be aware that these restaurants often prioritize group meals. As a solo traveler or small group, you might have to wait a long time.
  • It’s advisable to visit after 1:30 PM when the crowd thins out.
  • The braised pork at Simagang Grand Hotel comes in large portions but is somewhat greasy and has a mediocre taste. The restaurant is located close to the scenic area exit.

Choosing Inns for Dining:

  • Many inns in Gubei Water Town offer dining services, making them a convenient and cost-effective option.
  • The quality of food varies, so it may require some exploration to find the best options.
  • Some inns offer group meal packages which can be compared for value.
  • Inns are scattered throughout the area, so choosing one with fewer diners can provide a more relaxed dining experience.

Choosing Street Food:

  • Famous snacks in Gubei Water Town include roasted sweet potatoes, Qiaotou cake, Xishi tofu, snail rice noodles, clay pot rice, radish cake, lamb skewers, and braised offal.
  • In terms of taste, the ranking is: clay pot rice → Qiaotou cake → snail rice noodles → Xishi tofu → roasted sweet potatoes → radish cake → lamb skewers → braised offal.

Banshanju (伴山居)

  • There is a downhill path next to the hotel.
  • This spot offers a panoramic view of the town.

▪️ Tanghezhai Bridge (汤河寨桥)

  • From this bridge, you can capture overhead shots.
  • It provides great views of the food street and Xiaotang River.

▪️ Chaohechuan Bridge (潮河川桥)

  • Walking along this river, you’ll find many photo opportunities.
  • It’s an ideal spot to watch and photograph the sunset.

▪️ Yinjian Bridge (银笺桥)

  • Stand on the bridge with a backdrop of lush climbing ivy.

▪️ Mountain-top Church (山顶教堂)

  • This location offers a full panoramic view of Gubei Water Town.
  • The Cloud Café here is perfect for photos.

▪️ Yongshun Dye House (永顺染坊)

  • The dye house is adorned with hanging flower cloths.
  • Capture unique overhead shots from the upper floor for a distinct perspective.

History of Gubei Water Town

Gubei Water Town has a rich history that dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when the town was originally built as a fortress to protect against invading forces. Over time, the fortress was transformed into a water town, as the local residents developed a canal system to transport goods and materials in and out of the town.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Gubei Water Town became a prosperous commercial center, as the local residents engaged in trade and commerce with nearby towns and cities. The town was also home to several prominent scholars and officials, who contributed to the cultural and intellectual development of the region.

During the early 20th century, Gubei Water Town suffered from a period of decline, as the canal system fell into disrepair and the town was cut off from the rest of the country due to political instability. However, in recent years, the town has undergone a major renovation and restoration effort, in order to preserve its cultural and historical heritage and make it a popular tourist destination.

Useful Tips Summarized from Reviews

Experience the Hot Springs: It’s highly recommended to indulge in the hot springs at Gubei Water Town, especially after exploring the Great Wall. Whether it’s soaking in the hot springs after a hike or enjoying them after a nighttime stroll through the ancient town, the experience is said to be excellent.

Evening Performances: Evening performances typically start around 8 or 9 p.m. These include a water dance show featuring music, fountain displays, and 3D light shows, as well as drone performances that may showcase the name “Gubei Water Town” and the release of Kongming lanterns.

Hot Spring Attire and Facilities: Remember to bring your swimsuit for the hot springs. The Duan Family Courtyard offers both indoor and outdoor hot spring pools. Indoor pools are segregated by gender, while outdoor pools are not.

No Pets Allowed: Keep in mind that pets are not allowed within the scenic area, so plan accordingly if you’re traveling with pets.

Dining Recommendations: Manage your dining expectations as reviews suggest that the food options may not be exceptional. Food prices within the scenic area are standardized, so there’s no need to wait in long queues at any particular food stall.

One-Day Itinerary: A single day is typically sufficient to explore Gubei Water Town. However, if you wish to experience activities like night climbing on the Great Wall or enjoying the hot springs, consider staying overnight at one of the hotels within the scenic area.

Weather Considerations: Be prepared for slightly cooler temperatures compared to downtown Beijing, as the climate in Miyun tends to be about 3 to 4 degrees Celsius lower. Bring along suitable warm clothing to stay comfortable during your visit.

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