You might have heard of the following quote: “He who never climbed the Great Wall cannot be deemed a Man”. We can agree with Mao: climbing the Great Wall of China, one of the world wonders, is a must-do in China for sure!
A guide to the Great Wall of China
Starting from 600 BCE consecutive monarchs raised walls to protect against threatening neighbors. Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi decided to merge the different walls into one great wall. Over 800.000 soldiers and convicts were occupied with the immense task, of which a quarter died on the job. It is said that the bodies of the victims are buried in the fundaments of the wall.
Parts of the wall to visit
Badaling: The easiest reachable and therefore the most visited part of the Great Wall. The wall and watchtowers are renovated. There is a museum, a cinema, gallery and cable car. Prepare for big crowds of tourists! (Distance from Beijing: 70km NW | Opening hours: 8am–8pm | Cost: 45 ¥)
Mutianyu: Not too hard to reach either, and perfectly renovated as well. Nevertheless not preferred by tour operators. The perfect alternative for Badaling! (Distance from Beijing: 90km NE | Opening hours: 8am–4:30pm | Cost: 45 ¥)
Huanghua Cheng: This part is located right in the middle of superb scenery. A bit more desolate and rough, not renovated or touristy. (Distance from Beijing: 88km N | Opening hours: Guarded by a local farmer; not sure if he drags you off the wall if it’s too late… Camping forbidden! | Cost: 30 ¥)
Simatai: The part that was the most wild and authentic close to Beijing. Now, there is a cable car and parking, so tourism booms. However, it is not completely renovated, and still offers 20km of spectacular trek and views. (Distance from Beijing: 110km NW | Cost: 45 ¥)
Jinshanling: You can compare Jinshanling to Simatai, although there are less people. From the entrance, it is a one-hour uphill hike through forest to reach the wall. Don’t worry, there’s a cable car too. (Distance from Beijing: 150km NE | Cost: 50 ¥)
We started in Jinshanling and did the hike through the forest to the wall. Although fatiguing, we loved that we couldn’t see the Great Wall at first and it suddenly enfolded once we were out the forest. We trekked to Simatai and passed 14 watchtowers (single way). Then, we couldn’t go further, because that part was closed for renovation. For us, it was perfect: (1) There were almost no other people (as proven in the picture). (2) As the part wasn’t renovated back then, it felt very authentic and rough. (3) Seen the burning heat and climbs, the hike had the perfect length.
If you have any questions regarding visiting the Chinese Wall, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are more than happy to try to help you out! Any recommendations or additional information? Shoot!