“He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man”
I’d imagine that the Great Wall of China is on everyone’s bucket list and if it isnt on yours, then damn well put it on! This wonder of the world was built between 220–206 BCE.. Take yourself back to the Ming Dynasty and imagine what it would be like to scale the terrain with massive rocks, all to build this wall of defense from invaders, the only way to get a sense of truly appreciation of the bloody hard work it took to build this “wall” is by visiting it.
So the decision is made, you are travelling to China and you’re visiting the Great Wall, now comes the tricky part, picking which part of the wall to visit….. There are hundreds of day trips and tours you could organize, I originally went with Viator, which offered fairly good price. However your hotel can assist with making a booking for you if that’s easier.
Make sure you wear comfortable pants and shoes as walking some sections of the Great Wall is not easy and ensure you dress for the weather. The Great Wall steps vary from small to large within a matter of metres and also make sure to take plenty of water as it’s hard work and you need ensure you stay hydrated.
There are multiple sections of the Great wall of China to walk, It can be difficult to work out the best part of the Great Wall of China to visit When I did my research into which section of the Great Wall of China to go to I found 2 of the most popular sections, not too far from Beijing. The below guide will go through Mutianyu or Badaling on the Great Wall of China:
Badaling Great Wall vs. Mutianyu Great Wall
Option 1 – Badaling Great Wall of China:
Badaling Great Wall is the most popular (and the most crowded but not always as crazy as the below image which is a festive in China) after of the Great Wall, its located approx 75km from Beijing city, taking approx. 1 hour and 20mins to get there.
While Badaling can be very crowded, it is best part of the Great Wall to visit as it’s the best preserved and most complete section of the wall. The stairs here are not as steep, making it easier to climb, so it might be suitable for people who do not have a moderate or high fitness level or people who have mobility issues.
The total length of this section is 12 km with 43 watchtowers, however only 3.74 km and 19 watchtowers have been restored and opened to visitors.
Admission Fee: Apr. 1 to Oct.31: CNY 45;Nov.1 to Mar.31: CNY 40
Opening Hours: Apr. 1 to Oct.31: 06:30-19:00; Nov.1 to Mar.31: 07:00-18:00
Optional Cable Car
CNY 80 (single trip); CNY 100 (round trip)
CNY 30 (single trip); CNY 60 (round trip)
Option 2 -The Mutianyu Great Wall of China:
Mutianyu is the longest fully resorted section of the Great Wall of China measuring 2.2km with 23 watchtowers, about one every hundred meters on an ascending mountain ridge. The Great Wall at Mutianyu is less crowded and has better architecture than at Badaling, with more watchtowers, the scenery of the mountain ridges are just incredible. It takes approx. 1.5 hours to get from Beijing city centre to Mutianyu (approx 75km). I think that Mutianyu is the best part of Great Wall for photography.
Mutianyu is a little touristy but not nearly as crowded as Badaling section of the Great Wall. There were still a lot of people around when I went in October however not nearly as bad as Badaling.
The steps at Mutianyu Great Wall can be steeper, you require a moderate level of fitness to enjoy the walk however there are handrails so assist when you get tired. There is also a “non tourist” section where most people go as well, this section is not restored and you go on it at your own risk, make sure to watch your footing as there are steeps drops at certain sections.
Admission fee: Adults: CNY45; Children: CNY25
Opening hours: March 16 to November 14: 07:00 – 18:00; November 15 to next March 15: 07:30 – 17:00
Optional Cable car ride –
Adults: CNY80 for a single trip, CNY100 for a round trip;
Children: CNY40 for a single trip and CNY50 for a round trip
Optional Side car (toboggan)–
Adults: CNY80 for a single trip, CNY100 for a round trip (Cable car up, slideway down);
Children: CNY60 for a round trip (Cable car up, slideway down)
CNY 15 for a return ticket; CNY 10 for a single ticket.
The shuttle bus takes visitors to the foot of the wall, which is 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) to the ticket office.
Note: The toboggan ride can be a little dangerous as no helmets are provided and you can fall off and crash into others but don’t be discouraged its still fun! ** Cable car conductors only accept cash**
When’s the best time to visit the Great Wall of China?
The best times to visit the Great Wall of China are April, May, September, or October, when it is not too cold or too hot. During Spring and Summer the Great Wall surroundings are covered in greenery while during Autumn the Great Wall is decorated by red leaves and of course in Winter some sections are covered in snow (which would be beautiful but maybe not very fun or practical)! Try to avoid the May Day holiday (May 1st -3rd) and the National Day holiday (October 1st-7th), when the sites may be overrun with tourists (as above picture!).
Conclusion: Personally I found Mutianyu to be a much better choice to visit, the Great wall was less crowded and the views are incredible, no matter which section you choose! Plus who doesn’t like the idea of going down the hill on a toboggan!!!!
Recommended Day tours from Beijing / Great Wall of China tours :
- Great Wall of China Small-Group Day Trip from Beijing
- All Inclusive Mutianyu Great Wall and Summer Palace Private Day Tour
- Mini Group: Beijing Forbidden City Tour with Great Wall Hiking tour at Mutianyu
- Full-Day Small-Group Great Wall Hike: Simatai West to Jinshanling
- Mutianyu Great Wall Small- Group Tour from Beijing including Lunch
- Private Great Wall Hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu
- Private Half-Day Mutianyu Great Wall Tour including Round Way Cable Car or Toboggan