Seeing the Great Wall of China is on many travelers’ ‘to-do’ list and it’s certainly high on our list of recommendations for Beijing. But which section of the wall should you visit? And what should you do there? Read on for our top suggestions.
(Spoiler Alert: where possible we always avoid Badaling, a famous and over-crowded section of the wall. We recommend you do too!)
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The Great Wall from Beijing: For the Wild at Heart
If you’re an avid hiker looking for a lesser-visited section of the wall, then Huanghuacheng, the “Yellow Flower Wall” might be the place for you. The Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall is further away from the city of Beijing than Mutianyu or Badaling so, if you get there early, you’ll likely have it entirely to yourself.
Huanghuacheng’s unique mountain and lake scenery is breathtaking and the area has recently undergone a five-month repair project – meaning it’s open to visitors once again. Hiking at Huanghuacheng is mid-to-high on the difficulty scale. Your WildChina guide will show you the safest route and will bring a picnic along for when you get peckish. Apart from the natural scenery, this part of the wall is also known as the “First Pass” for its strategic importance.
For a little adrenaline and an even more challenging hike, the Great Wall at Jiankou covers the steepest, most varied terrain of the Great Wall. Another example of the “Wild Wall”, Jiankou remains largely unrestored. The Jiankou section of the Great Wall was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) out of white dolomite stone from the surrounding area; set boldly against the tall, jagged mountains, this section of the wall is a photographer’s paradise.
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The Great Wall from Beijing: For the Thrill Seeker
For families or travelers looking for a different perspective on the Great Wall, why not choose a helicopter ride over the Mutianyu section? Two hours outside Beijing proper, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall affords views of the stone structure snaking over precipitous mountain ridges on the horizon. It’s one thing to stand atop the wall, looking down onto the mountains below, and its’ another entirely to look down, even on those who have performed the climb, to see the grandeur of the wall itself from a birds-eye view.
If you’re a thrill seeker hoping to keep your feet closer to the ground, the toboggan ride down the wall at Mutianyu won’t disappoint. If you want to skip the whole climb, you can opt for the gondola ride up to the top, followed by a toboggan ride along a metal track all the way back down, along a scenic route that’ll make you more familiar with the surrounding area.
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The Great Wall from Beijing: For a Special Occasion
What better way to celebrate a birthday or anniversary than by asking us to arrange a romantic champagne picnic on your own, private Great Wall turret – it could even be a surprise for your loved one. We’ll arrange everything, so you can enjoy the day too!
After you’ve watched the sun go down, a glass of bubbly in hand, we recommend staying at the luxurious new Dhawa Jinshanling Hotel. Here, the wild sections of the Great Wall take over from the restored as it stretches ever further west. The hotel itself is a serene, contemporary collection of “cocoons” just steps from Jinshanling, one of the most photogenic, idyllically uncrowded sections of the Great Wall.
There are many ways to experience the Great Wall from Beijing, how will you choose to define your experience?