The Great Wall of China is perhaps one of the most famous landmarks in the world. As a Wonder of the World, the Great Wall is visited by thousands every year and is starting to become a top choice for those exploring Asia.
Running over 342 miles, it can be difficult to decide which section of the wall you should visit. Here are some of the most famous sections and the pros and cons of these locations:
Badaling – the most popular Great Wall section among Chinese tourists and often incredibly busy. A 2 hour drive away from Beijing, this section of wall includes cable cars to and from the Wall, a Great Wall Museum, a circular-screen cinema and some wheelchair access.
Mutianyu – the most restored Great Wall section. The most popular section for foreign travellers, the Mutianyu section is 1 ½ hours’ drive from Beijing and offers cable cars up and down to the Wall. We took a private tour to this section and enjoyed some great views and hikes along this part of the Wall.
Jiankou – a completely wild section of the Wall, Jiankou offers the original Great Wall, with steep and challenging climbs – also known as the most dangerous section of the Great Wall.
Jinshanling – popular for Great Wall hikes. Half restored and half wild, the Jinshanling section of the wall is a great trip for those who want to experience the beautiful walks and views available. This section is 2-3 hours’ drive from Beijing and offers a cable car to the wall itself.
Simatai – representing all the greatness of the Great Wall. A 2-3 hours’ drive from Beijing, the Simatai section offers steep hikes alongside built up architectural towers. This section became a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is just stunning in the autumn. Cable cars, battery cars and zip-lines are all offered to transport you to and from the Wall.
BEST TIME TO VISIT?
Those photographic shots and your experience of the Great Wall will change with the seasons but I suggest spring or autumn to visit the Wall. This means that the weather is fairly sunny and the sky is clear without the heat and tourists that arrive from June to August. We visited in early April, which was ideal as the sky was clear whilst the weather was breezy and slightly cold.
We recommend getting a private driver to take you to and from the Great Wall section of your choice, meaning you can leave as early as 6am to beat the crowds of tour buses that arrive between 9am-10am.
WHAT TO WEAR?
Layers are important for most trips, particularly for the Great Wall. Because of the height you are climbing up, the temperature maybe fairly warm at the base but rather chilly as you head higher up. Bring a cardigan or jacket to stay warm during your visit. Wear comfortable shoes, as the wall can be steep with some areas being uneven. Trainers are perfect for your trip to the Great Wall.
FOOD AND DRINK
Some areas of the wall offer food and drink stalls and even restaurants at the base of the wall. However, make sure you bring a bottle of water and perhaps a snack or two for your time on the wall as some hikes can be 2-3 hours and keeping hydrating is essential.
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