The Great Wall of China, 8,851.8 kilometres in length, follows a winding journey through mountains, deserts and plains across China.
Despite the imposing construction and the soldiers' attempts to repel the attacks, the wall was broken through by the Mongolians in the 13th century and later by the Manchus in the 17th century.
At present, most of the wall is in ruins, which makes it difficult to walk along it. Fortunately, some sections have been completely restored to show their original appearance.
Sections of the Wall
The thousands of kilometres that stretch across the Great Wall of China are divided into several sections and each unique section is adapted to a particular audience.
One of the most popular sections is the restored area known as Badaling. This section, located less than 80 kilometres from Beijing, was the first to open its doors to tourism in 1957. Today it continues to receive millions of visitors and is the most saturated area.
Badaling has a cable car that makes it easy for visitors to reach the top of the wall.
The imposing mountainous landscape of Mutianyu makes it one of the best choices when visiting the Great Wall of China. It's located less than 90 kilometres from Beijing and, although it's one of the most popular areas, it doesn't receive as much tourism as Badaling.
Its facilities include a cable car, a chairlift and an entertaining slide on which visitors can slide down the mountain after visiting the wall.
Huanghuacheng is one of the most beautiful sections as it boasts the lakeside part of the wall. A part of the wall is also submerged under the water surface of a large dam, which is popular amongst tourists and divers to discover the most mysterious part of the wall.
This section is broken and crumbling with steep paths, yet hikers find it most rewarding. As a result of the challenging trek, there are fewer crowds but there is more to do.
Simatai and Jinshanling
Completely away from the tourist crowds, the stretch between Simatai and Jinshanling is one of the steepest and most complicated to travel, though its spectacular views are captivating.
Simatai isn't suitable for everyone as some areas are crumbling while other steep stretches (70º slope) can only be crossed by climbing.
The ascent can be done by cable car while the descent can be done on a zip line.
Details to consider
The wall runs through mountains and other geographical features, so even the simplest sections can be difficult to walk through. The steep stairs make it essential to wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
Most hotels in Beijing offer tours to the Great Wall. Before you start comparing prices, you should make sure that the tour doesn't include a surprise visit to workshops, factories or shops that will make you lose time during your day.
How to get to the Great Wall
- Private excursion: On this website, you can book a private excursion to the Great Wall. To view the details of the tour, the price and to reserve click here.
- Taxi: Another comfortable option is to rent a taxi for the whole day. The price of a taxi in good condition is usually around 600¥ for the whole day. The only advantage over the previous option is its lower price.
- Bus: The bus is the most economical way to reach the main areas of the Great Wall of China. It's best to ask your hotel depending on the area you want to visit.
- Organised excursion: Both in hotels and on the street you'll be offered group excursions at very low prices. The problem with most of these tours is that they are very crowded and include several mandatory stops at shops, this being their way of financing.