A Guide to Exploring Rural Tianjin's Ji County

XiKai -Church | © Ken Marshall /Flickr
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenner116/7943797592/in/photolist-d6XYHG-d6Y7Sy-d6Y3gs-d6XLKU-d6XQnh-d6XUY3”>XiKai -Church | © Ken Marshall /Flickr</a>
Jon Santangelo

Tianjin altogether is one of the largest, widespread regions in China. Of the 16 districts that make up its number, only seven are attributed to urban Tianjin, leaving a lot of room to explore beyond the concrete jungle. Travel an hour or more from the bustle of big city life in Tianjin and discover vast mountain ridges, excellent hiking trails, and of course, the Great Wall of China itself. Here’s our guide to the best Tianjin Ji’s rural regions.

1. Huangya Pass of The Great Wall

About 80 miles away from downtown Tianjin is this legendary, limited but incredible section of the Great Wall. Huangya Pass is over 1,400 years old and starts out easy but ends at the top of an abrupt mountain edge. Here you can take in 20 different watchtowers and cross the once fortified bridge which kept out invaders. Be aware, though, that this part of the Wall is not for the timid. At its height, the average altitude is 738 meters, and at times, feels more vertical than horizontal going up. And there’s nothing to stop you from falling… but don’t let that scare you away. Huangya Pass was revamped in 1986 and has been operating for the public ever since. If you don’t mind steep cliffs, the view is definitely worth a day’s climb. Enjoy the overreaching scenic views, waterfalls, and iconic statues that make Huangya Pass the legend it is.

30 km north, Ji county, Ji county, China, +86 22 22718718

https://www.instagram.com/p/BF-UhcHBOcG

2. Mount Pan (Pan Shan)

Mount Pan (Pan Shan), while not a completely authentic nature experience, thanks to man-made temples, pavilions, and plentiful shops, is a viable escape from Tianjin and is located 75 miles away on a two-hour drive. Its highest peak is 2,815 feet above sea level, which makes its temperature nice and cool during the hot summer, averaging late 60s to early 70 degrees F in the daytime. Aside from the hike, try a farm stay where visitors can reside overnight in a local farmer’s house and enjoy organic meals for just over 100 RMB per night. Better yet, get immersed in the cozy little village at the foothills of Pan Shan. Be sure to avoid going during national holidays to avoid the crowds.

Lianhualing village, Guanzhuang town, Ji county, Ji county, China, +86 22 2982 1719

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTy1jaFAnHi

3. Baixan Mountain Natural Reserve

Forest

Thinly-sliced jagged boulders partly make up this rarity of a mountain in northern China, though Baixan Mountain Natural Reserve is almost entirely covered by trees, within which its own myth is contained in the form of Baixan’s tale of “eight fairies” who ventured deep into this forest, drawn by its beauty. They stopped for a drink by a rock, now called “Baxian Table”. Baixan’s highest peak is called Cricket Cage, and is the highest mountaintop in Tianjin at 3,434 feet. Much less commercialized compared to Pan Shan, Baixan is a difficult climb but is one of the few original natural landscapes you will discover in the region.

30 miles northeast of Ji county, Ji county, China

4. Temple of Solitary Joy (Dule Temple)

Perhaps the most sacred, religious sites in Ji county, Dule Temple was first built in the Tang dynasty and later rebuilt in the early Liao dynasty (984 AD). This temple is one of China’s oldest wooden structures and has only two buildings left standing after WWII: the entrance hall and Guanyin Pavillion. The latter is said to be China’s oldest wooden multi-story structure. Inside, it houses a large clay statue of Buddha

Xidajie, Ji county, China

https://www.instagram.com/p/BToMlxyj7eV

Mount Jiulongshan National Forest Park

Mount Jiulongshan National Forest Park is a cornucopia of natural wonders, composed of three scenic areas: Mount Nine Dragon (with an amazing view of Panshan mountain at the top), Limu Tai mountain, and Huanghua mountain, and with more amazing views of Cuiping lake, The Great Wall and Mount Baxianshan. Be prepared to see an assortment of insects, snakes, and birds of prey. More difficult to reach than other mountains, the upside it deters a lot of crowds.

Chuanfangyu country, Ji county, China, +86 22 2276 2069

https://www.instagram.com/p/udQKGnzY8E

Jizhou Baita Temple

‘Baita’ means white pagoda and is the repository of Shaolin Wushu (Kung Fu) of the region. Octagonally shaped, Jizhou provides an immaculate, ancient, tranquil, and authentic experience. Monks are actually on-site and are genuinely kind and helpful. The temple’s design is described as a fusion of Chinese and Indian Buddhism.

No.8 Baitasi Street, Ji county, China

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