the great wall

The Ultimate Great Wall Travel Guide + The Best Sections To Visit

The Great Wall of China is one of the world’s most iconic landmarks and a must-visit destination for any traveler. With its rich history, breathtaking views, and cultural significance, the Great Wall offers an unforgettable experience for visitors from all over the world.

In this travel guide, I cover everything from the best sections to explore, the best times to visit, and a complete tour of the hiking route. Whether you’re planning your first visit or looking for insider tips for your next trip, my guide has everything you need to know to make the most of your Great Wall adventure.

🌟The Great Wall of China | History, Length, & Significance

the great wall

China boasts numerous world-renowned attractions, among which is the Great Wall – an awe-inspiring sight that draws in tourists from both domestic and international locations throughout the year. A popular Chinese proverb states that a person who has not visited the Great Wall cannot be considered a true hero as they have not faced and conquered a significant challenge.

This grand ancient defense system spans over a vast area of northern China, covering 15 provinces, and passing through 404 counties. Known as Wan-Li Changcheng, its total length is 21,196.18 km (13,170.7 mi) and is divided into several noteworthy scenic spots, stretching from Shanhaiguan in the east to Jiayuguan in the west.

With a history of over 2,300 years, the Great Wall of China can be traced back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) and underwent its latest reconstruction during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Throughout Chinese history, it went by various names such as “frontiers” (塞, Sài), “ramparts” (垣, Yuán), and “the Purple Frontier” (紫塞, Zǐsài), instead of the commonly known name “the Great Wall”.

Beyond being a mere wall, the Great Wall was a comprehensive and secure defensive system comprising an array of fortifications such as passes, watchtowers, fortresses, and blockhouses. Its strategic positioning in close proximity to cliffs enabled it to leverage the rugged landscape as a natural blockade against potential invaders.

It may be difficult to fathom, but during the era when it was constructed purely through manual labor, the Great Wall represented an astounding feat of engineering that required workers to contribute their intellectual acuity, physical exertion, and even their lives over several years to build. It is due to this immense effort that the Great Wall has become an iconic global attraction, acknowledged as “one of the Seven Wonders of the World“, and a representation of China’s rich heritage and cultural identity.

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🌿The 8 Sections of the Great Wall You Must Know

In terms of visiting the Great Wall from east to west, the top 8 recommended sections are Simatai, Jinshanling, Gubeikou, Mutianyu, Jiankou, Huanghuacheng, Juyongguan, and Badaling. These fortified walls serve as a stronghold in protecting the capital of China, Beijing. Each section of the Great Wall possesses distinct and unique features.

Jinshanling Great Wall — The Great Wall Section for Photography

Jinshanling Great Wall is one of the most impressive and well-preserved sections of the Great Wall of China. The section spans approximately 10.5 kilometers, and more than 40 watchtowers are opened along this section, evenly distributed along the wall. The wall is built on steep mountain ridges and has a unique and beautiful appearance. It is known for its beautiful and picturesque scenery, and it has been called “the most beautiful section of the Great Wall,” so it is praised by many photography enthusiasts and known as the “paradise of photographers“.

The transportation to Jinshanling Great Wall seems inconvenient, with a round-trip drive of more than 300 kilometers and a one-way trip of 3 hours. It takes 4-5 hours to get there in traffic jams during holidays.

Simatai Great Wall — The Most Precipitous Great Wall Section

simatai great wall

The Simatai Great Wall is a stunning section of the Great Wall located 120 km northeast of Beijing. It stretches for 5.4 km and boasts 35 watchtowers along the way. What sets it apart is the Wangjinglou, the highest tower in Beijing, situated atop a steep mountain. Visitors can take in breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

However, it’s important to note that only a few watchtowers are currently open for visitors. If you take the cable car up the wall, you can only visit 3 or 4 watchtowers, making for a relatively short trip of less than an hour.

Gubeikou Great Wall A Great Wall Section with Rich Culture

gubeikou great wall

The Gubeikou Great Wall, which spans over 20 kilometers and includes 143 watchtowers, is a well-known tourist and hiking destination that connects with the Jinshanling Great Wall and Simatai Great Wall. There were over 130 battles took place here in ancient times. The Wall is divided into two steep and rugged sections, Panlong Mountain Great Wall and Wohu Great Wall, making it a challenging climb. The most remarkable aspect of the Gubeikou Great Wall is Gubeikou Town, which boasts a rich cultural heritage with historical landmarks such as ancient temples, pagodas, and traditional courtyard homes that have remained intact to this day.

Mutianyu Great Wall —The Longest and Best Fully-Restored Great Wall Section

Mutianyu Great Wall

The Mutianyu Great Wall is a segment of the Great Wall of China situated in the Huairou District, located about 70 kilometers to the northeast of Beijing. This section of the Great Wall is one of the most well-preserved parts and is quite popular among foreign visitors. With public transportation available, it is easy to reach downtown Beijing. Unlike other segments of the Great Wall, Mutianyu has not undergone a complete restoration, providing visitors with a more authentic experience of what the wall would have been like in ancient times. It spans 2.5 kilometers and boasts 22 watchtowers that functioned as lookout posts and signal stations in times gone by.

In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of domestic tourists visiting this wall which was once highly favored by foreigners. Heavy passenger traffic and large crowds are common during the holidays and summer vacation. It is advisable to depart early or visit in the afternoon to avoid crowds.

Jiankou Great Wall — The Most Dangerous and Challenging Great Wall Section

jiankou great wall

The Jiankou Great Wall section is situated in the northern part of Huairou District and is approximately 70 km from Beijing. Admission to this section is free of cost. It is known as the most dangerous and wild segment of the Great Wall, being unrestored. The southern part of this section consists of steep ridges and cliffs, and some parts of the wall have collapsed. Though favored by adventurous hikers, Jiankou Great Wall is not officially open to the public and may be dangerous for novice climbers. Tourists are suggested to be cautious and wear appropriate safety gear while approaching this part of the Great Wall. This segment of the wall is also a popular spot for photography and is one of the most frequently photographed sections of the Great Wall in recent years.

Huanghuacheng Great Wall – The Only Lakeside Great Wall

Huanghuacheng Great Wall

The Huanghuacheng Great Wall boasts stunning lakes, mountains, and cultural landscape, and can be easily accessed by private car from Beijing in just around 1.5 hours. It is the most popular section among the locals and a perfect choice for families with kids. What sets it apart from other Great Wall sections is that visitors can hike along the wall and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, which include the reservoir and the distant mountains. Additionally, the reservoir offers boat rides that provide a different perspective of the Great Wall and its surroundings. It is only suitable for visiting from April to October.

Juyong Pass Great Wall — One of the Greatest Mountain Passes of the Great Wall

juyong pass great wall

Juyong Pass is a significant fort on the Great Wall, situated in the Changping District of Beijing. It is the closest section of the Great Wall to Beijing and spans more than 20 kilometers. The region surrounding the pass is adorned with stunning natural beauty.

Although Juyong Pass has undergone restoration to its former grandeur, it has also been subject to commercialization, which may detract from the experience for those looking for a more authentic sense of the history of the Great Wall. Vendors and souvenir shops can be seen lining the main pathways. This commercialization may be viewed by some visitors as taking away from the true cultural significance of the site.

Badaling Great Wall — Most Visited Section of the Great Wall

badaling great wall

Badaling Great Wall was the first part of the Great Wall to officially open to tourists. The section stretches an approximate length of 3.7 kilometers and has a total of 43 watchtowers built along its length. It is one of the most well-preserved and most visited sections of the Great Wall, offering stunning views of the lush mountains and reflecting the Wall’s magnificence and glory. It is easily accessible through public transportation.

Except for the cold winter months, the Badaling Great Wall is a highly popular tourist destination, attracting a large influx of visitors, especially during holidays. With such large crowds come long queues, and the sheer volume of people can detract from the otherwise enjoyable experience of hiking the Great Wall. Additionally, the wall’s commercialization has resulted in the loss of much of its unique beauty, as many parts of the wall have been repaired.

🗺️Map of the Great Wall

Below is a map that showcases the eight sections of the Great Wall discussed in this guide.

🌟Recommended Sections of the Great Wall to Visit

I have previously visited Badaling, Mutianyu, Jinshanling, Huanghuacheng, and Juyong Pass. Out of these, my personal preference lies with Badaling, Mutianyu, and Jinshanling. These three sections offer a longer routing length with numerous scenic spots. This allows travelers to immerse themselves fully in their journey. Additionally, these sections have excellent protection measures in place and offer a wealth of amenities and services to visitors.

Jinshanling Great Wall

🚗How to Get to Jinshanling Great Wall from Downtown Beijing

  • By Bus: From mid-March to mid-November, a direct tourist bus departs from Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station in Beijing at 7:40 am. This bus is scheduled to return passengers from Jinshanling, leaving at 16:00 pm. The round-trip ticket price is approximately 120 RMB.
  • Private/Group Tour: Another option is to book a private tour or a group tour from downtown Beijing, which includes transportation and a guide. For a first-time climber of the Great Wall, it’s recommended to have a guide. The guide can provide insight into the Great Wall’s history and culture and offer plenty of tips on where to eat, drink, stay, and travel in Beijing with great enthusiasm.

🎫Admission ticket: Apr to Oct: CNY 65 | Nov to Mar: CN Y55
🎫Cable Car Ticket: CNY 40 for a single trip, CNY 60 for a round trip (optional)
📍Starting location: The Front Gate
📍Reach location: Small Jinshan Tower

☀️Best Time to Visit Jinshanlin Great Wall

The best time to visit Jinshanling Great Wall is in the spring (April to May) or autumn (September to November) when the weather is mild and the scenery is at its most beautiful. During these months, the temperatures are comfortable, and there is less rainfall, making it easier to hike the Great Wall without being too hot or too cold. You should avoid visiting Jinshanling Great Wall during the peak tourist season, which is in the summer months (June to August) and during national holidays.

🚶🏻‍♂️Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking Route

When visiting the Jinshanling Great Wall, tourists can take either the eastern or western route. However, the eastern route is more popular among tourists as it offers a more magnificent view than the western route. Additionally, there are several hiking routes to choose from in the eastern area. For those with good energy, it is recommended to take the more challenging 7km route, which includes passing through Zhuanduokou Pass, General Tower, Shalingkou Pass, Small Jinshan Tower, Big Jinshan Towers, Houchuankou Pass, Eastern Five-window Tower, and finally East Gate, which can be completed in about 4 hours.

I commenced my hike from the Zhuanduokou Pass, a two-story brick and wood structure with a wooden staircase connecting the floors. After walking for some time, we arrived at Shalingkou Pass, one of the first four passes built on the Jinshanling Great Wall. The architectural design includes doors both inside and outside. These doors correspond to each other and are of the same size, serving as the only entrance to the pass. Heigu Tower is a brick arch structure, consisting of two floors, with three wood and brick rooms on the second floor. Upon descending from Heigu Tower and proceeding east, one comes across Open Tower No.1 and Open Tower No.2. After surmounting a steep barrier wall, I arrived at the Small Jinshan Tower. It is a two-story brick arch structure connected by stone stairs, providing hikers with a breathtaking view of the sunrise, sunset, and sea of clouds in Jinshan, making it an ideal spot for photography. The Big Jinshan Tower is similar in construction to the Small Jinshan Tower, located side by side. These towers are the most exquisite and complete enemy towers on the Jinshanling Great Wall.

jinshanling great wall

Continuing on, I passed through an unrestored wall and a barrier wall and arrived at Houchuankou, one of the four earliest-built passes and the most important choke point of the Jinshanling Great Wall. Upon ascending a steep slope, I arrived at the Flower Tower, a brick arch structure with various Chinese auspicious patterns like flowers and beasts carved on the door and windows. Unfortunately, it had fallen into disrepair and only remnants are left. At the Flower Tower, I could see the Eastern Five-window Tower in the distance, which is the highest tower on the Jinshanling Great Wall at an elevation of 618 meters. It’s a perfect spot to take panoramic photos of the Jinshanling Great Wall and fall colors.

Next, I reached the Kylin Tower, Jinshan No.2 Tower, which is not particularly eye-catching in appearance but is one of the best towers on the Great Wall of China. It’s unique in that there is a carved Qilin shadow wall on the southern side of its roof and a unique Kylin Screen Wall positioned on its peak. The Kylin Screen Wall is made from 15 square bricks that come together to form a 3D image of a running Kylin surrounded by auspicious clouds, with its mouth slightly open and tongue sticking out and its tail raised high, giving it a lifelike appearance. But I could not get to see the Kylin Screen Wall because there are no stone stairs leading up to the top of the tower.

Finally, I walked down the Kylin Tower and ascend to the Bricks with Characters, a 520-meter-long wall with thousands of bricks with characters. As the sun began to set, I started walking back down the wall towards the Eastern Five-window Tower before exiting through the east gate, marking the end of my visit to the Jinshanling Great Wall.

🥘What to Eat in Jinshanlin Great Wall

In the scenic area, there are numerous local specialties and farm foods that are both excellent and affordable. These farm foods are created using original ecological native vegetables, and the dishes primarily consist of pollution-free vegetables, fungi, bamboo shoots, and other green foods that you should give a try.

🏡Where to Stay in Jinshanlin Great Wall

Jinshanling Great Wall Hotel is located at the entrance of the Jinshanling Great Wall and offers 200 comfortable rooms with modern amenities having elegant, modern decor that is inspired by the mountains and classical culture. The hotel’s Chinese courtyard is one of my favorite parts, and that night out with my friends was a blast. The breakfast buffet and authentic home-cooked northern farm dishes are served at the hotel’s second-floor restaurant.

Changhai Farmhouse is located at the foot of the Jinshanling Great Wall, only 50 meters away from the ticket entrance of the scenic spot, this hidden gem is surrounded by ve­rdant mountain forests with refreshing air. The­ rooms are spick-and-span, each decke­d out with amenitie­s including air conditioning, TV, WIFI, and 24-hour hot wate­r supply. Plus, enjoy mouth-watering me­als made from locally sourced ingredie­nts like free-range eggs, fresh green se­asonal vegetables, and farm-featured grilled whole she­ep!

It’s important to note that the accommodations near Jinshanling Great Wall are relatively basic compared to other areas in China. However, they offer an of staying in a rural area and being close to the Great Wall.

Mutianyu Great Wall

🚗How to Get to Mutianyu Great Wall from Downtown Beijing

  • By Bus: You can take Bus 916 Express from Dongzhimen Bus Station to Huairou North Street, and then transfer to Bus H23 to Mutianyu Roundabout. The entire journey takes about 2-2.5 hours, depending on traffic. The cost is around CNY 20-30.
  • By Tourist Bus Line Dongzhimen: Take the bus from Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station and alight at the Parking Lot P1 of Mutianyu to reach your destination. The bus runs from 8:30 am, and the travel time for a single journey is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. The cost is around CNY 30.
  • By Tour Bus: Many tour companies offer organized tours to Mutianyu, including transportation and a guide. I strongly suggest considering Mubus Tour, a renowned tour organization in Beijing that has gained the trust of both locals and foreign visitors. Opting for such a tour is also convenient if you prefer not to navigate public transportation independently.

🔥Tips: I don’t recommend taking a taxi because the price from downtown Beijing to the Great Wall is very expensive, ranging from CNY 200 to CNY 600. And the return trip is inconvenient because you may have to take an irregular car back downtown.

🎫Round-trip ferry ticket: CNY 15
🎫Admission ticket: CNY 40
🎫Cable Car Ticket: CNY100 for a single trip, CNY 140 for a round trip (optional)
📍Starting location: North Entrance
📍Reach location: Mutianyu Great Wall Watchtower No.14
🎫Toboggan Ride Ticket: CNY100 for a single trip, CNY 140 for a round trip(optional)
📍Starting location: South Entrance
📍Reach location: Mutianyu Great Wall Watchtower No.6

🔥Tips: Upon reaching the Mutianyu Great Wall location, visitors will need to board a ferry bus that travels up and down the wall. These buses depart every five minutes. To gain entry into the scenic area, tourists must first buy a ferry ticket and then queue up to board the bus. After getting off the ferry bus, the tourists can walk to the north ticket gate.

🔥Take note: The cable car is designed with a full enclosure and high safety features. Opting for a cable car ride can offer an enhanced view of the Mutianyu Great Wall from a higher altitude, providing a clear view of the entire wall. The majority of tourists favor taking the cable car option.

🔥Take note: The toboggan is constructed against the Wall and provides an excellent opportunity for taking in the breathtaking scenery. While thrilling, it should be noted that the toboggan is open and thus there is a moderate risk when maneuvering it up and down. As such, it may not be appropriate for elderly individuals or children.

☀️Best Time to Visit the Mutianyu Great Wall

  • Nov.1 – Nov.30: Late autumn presents the finest opportunity to explore the Mutianyu Great Wall as you can witness the gorgeous autumn foliage in full swing with a splendid array of fiery reds and vibrant oranges covering the mountain ranges with a soothing temperature and fewer visitors to contend with.
  • Sep.1 – Oct.30: The scorching summer has come to an end, and Beijing is showing off its picturesque beauty. The lush greenery can be spotted all around the scenic areas. As it’s the start of the season, the number of tourists is still quite low.
  • April.1 – May.31: The area’s scenery is abundant with lush and verdant foliage, emitting an air of vitality. With the start of the spring outing season, tourism typically surges, leading to some waiting times on weekends; however, queues are typically short. It is recommended to plan the visit during the week and avoid weekends.

🚶🏻‍♂️Mutianyu Great Wall Hiking Tour

The recommended route for visiting the Great Wall at Mutianyu is the western route, which provides several essential features for tourists. Specifically, the western section of the wall concentrates on most of the stunning scenery in the Mutianyu region and has an elevation difference greater than 600 meters. Furthermore, the western route concludes at “Hero Slope”(好汉坡), which is the highest point of Mutianyu and gives visitors a must-see view.

There are two options for hiking the western route of the Mutianyu Great Wall. The first option is to start at the entrance and hike to Watchtower No.20. However, this route is quite challenging and takes at least three to four hours to complete. You’ll need to hike 600 steps just to reach Watchtower No.6. This option is not recommended if you’re not up for a strenuous hike.

I highly suggest the second option, as it has worked for me in the past. You could ride the cable car to Watchtower No.14 and continue your journey on foot from there. This would offer you an opportunity to relish the picturesque sight at your own pace, without exerting too much effort. From Watchtower No.14, simply head towards the west, in the direction of Watchtower No.23. This stretch of the wall presents mesmerizing views that should not be missed.

mutianyu great wall

I first took the cable car to Watchtower No.14 entrance and then made my way up to the Mutianyu Great Wall viewing platform. I also noticed a special area where tourists are allowed to leave their graffiti scrawls. Moving to the west toward Watchtower No.15, I encountered a gently sloping area surrounded by striking scenery. From Watchtower No.16 to No.18, the section remains relatively easy, providing a comfortable journey. However, the hike from Watchtower No.19 to No.20 was the most challenging part of the journey, with an increasingly steep slope and hundreds of steps to climb.

When climbing to the peak of Watchtower No.20, which is the highest point of the Mutianyu Section, I was treated to breathtaking views of the Jiankou section. Here have the option to turn back or continue exploring. Although most tourists opt to backtrack from this point, there is still plenty to explore beyond the Wall.

I chose to continue, walk through Watchtower No.20 and enter the unrestored ancient Great Wall. It’s a challenging hike, but worth it for the incredible views. It took about 15 minutes to reach Watchtower No.21, which was still a difficult section due to the steep slope.

From Watchtower No.22 to No.24, the path becomes much smoother and the wild wall and old bricks just took my back in time. Finally, when I arrived at Watchtower No.26, I was rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Jinshanlin Great Wall in the distance. It was a thrilling experience and I had a great sense of accomplishment for making it to the summit.

🥘What to Eat in the Mutianyu Great Wall

When exploring the Mutianyu Great Wall, certain travelers opt to bring their own food, consisting of essentials like water and bread. However, if one desires to indulge in a tasty meal following the hike at the Mutianyu Great Wall, a plethora of options are still available. Choices include well-known fast food establishments such as Burger King and Subway, the dumpling house, the Thai restaurant, and the lovely tea house. As the Mutianyu Great Wall is a highly sought-after tourist attraction, dining here may tend to be on the expensive side.

🏡Where to Stay in the Mutianyu Great Wall

Wangshanyuan Farm Stay is perfectly situated within the Mutianyu scenic area, offering an exceptional location. During my stay, I was accommodated in a clear and cozy tatami room equipped with floor heating. Additionally, the rooftop features a delightful terrace adorned with trampolines, swing chairs, and more. The proprietor of the hotel is exceptionally kind and attentive in their service. For instance, they graciously upgraded my room at no extra cost when there were fewer guests. Furthermore, he can drive the guests to the entrance of the Great Wall, assisting with ticket purchases at a lower cost than buying individually. The meals served were homestyle and mouthwatering, particularly the delicious pancakes and chicken stew.

Mutianyu Great Wall Hotel is adjacent to the scenic cable car station and toboggan ride. The retro architectural style of the building blends in nicely with the surroundings, while the interior is beautifully decorated with nice furnishings and strong floor heating. However, the double room size is small, and the door is very close to the bed, which can be a bit cramped, and the sound insulation is not ideal. Despite this, the hotel’s restaurant is noteworthy, serving up delicious food, including freshly baked bean buns. If you book the Parent-child Family Room, you can enjoy the added bonus of three entrance tickets and two cable car round-trip tickets.

Badaling Great Wall

The Great Wall’s Badaling section is segregated into two parts; the North and South sections, both with unique features. The Southern section of the wall is comparatively shorter than the northern section, about 1,300 meters long. A cable car can take you directly to the South Fourth Tower, which is the highest spot in the entire Southern section of Badaling. The southern section poses less difficulty and has a lower influx of tourists, unlike the comparatively steeper northern side. The northern section is longer with more complete facilities and scenic spots like the ‘Good Man Slope.’

The essence of the Great Wall of Badaling lies in its northern section which spans a distance of about three kilometers from Guancheng up to the North Twelfth Tower. The North Eighth Tower is not only the tallest tower of Badaling but is also the most frequently visited spot where visitors can appreciate the grandeur of the Great Wall from its viewing platform. The North Twelfth Tower marks the end of the scenic area, and it is relatively unvisited by tourists.

In reality, a large portion of sightseers typically gravitates towards the northern section due to its greater renown.

🚗How to Get to Badaling Great Wall from Downtown Beijing

  • By Bus: Take Bus 877 from Deshengmen Bus Station, which is near Jishuitan Subway Station on Line 2. The bus runs from early morning until late evening, and the journey takes around 2 hours. The cost is approximately 12 yuan.
  • Tourist Bus Line 1: Take the Tourist Bus Line 1 located the Southwest of Qianmen Arrow Tower, and alight at the Badaling Guntiangou Parking Lot. A payment fee of CNY 20 in cash is required per person. A single journey is estimated to be approximately 100 minutes.
  • Group Tour: This comprehensive day trip from Beijing offers a guided exploration of both the Great Wall of China and the Ming Tombs. The knowledgeable and friendly guide will accompany you throughout the tour. Additionally, the itinerary includes visits to a Jade store and tea shop, providing an enjoyable experience for those interested in such activities.

🎫Admission ticket: Apr to Oct: CNY40 | Nov to Mar: CNY35
🎫Cable Car Ticket: CNY100 for a single trip, CNY 140 for a round trip (optional)
📍Starting location: Guntiangou Parking Lot
📍Reach location: North Eighth Tower
🎫Toboggan Ride Ticket: CNY80 for a single trip, CNY 100 for a round trip(optional)
📍Starting location: Bear Garden at the front mountain
📍Reach location: North Fourth Tower

☀️Best Time to Visit the Badaling Great Wall

It is recommended to plan a visit in either the spring season (April to May) or autumn (September to November). Due to the difference in altitude, the arrival of spring in Badaling is frequently delayed until April or May. During this season, the sun illuminates the ridge, while the valley is decorated with green peach blossoms, apricot blossoms, camellias, and numerous unknown species of wildflowers. Autumn is the most picturesque scenery of the four seasons in Badaling, with the maple leaves gradually changing into a stunning red color during late September. The beautiful red hues are quite striking and breathtaking.

🚶🏻‍♂️Badaling Great Wall Hiking Tour

It took me around 3 hours to walk the entire north section of Badaling on a cool autumn date last yeast. From North First Tower to the North Fourth Tower should be regarded as a relatively gentle journey in the whole Badaling Great Wall, and visitors are relatively few, you can stop and take a snapshot.

North Eighth Tower is the highest tower in Badaling, providing a beautiful view of the Great Wall. But it is also the most crowded area. I arrived here around 9:30 am, but I was not able to hike up. A lot of tourists returned by the same route.

From North Eighth Tower to North Twelfth Tower is quite steep and less crowded that it is not recommended for visitors with children or the elderly. When you arrive at North Twelfth Tower (the end) and you should return to North Tenth Tower to get down.

If you want to avoid the large groups of travelers, you can take a toboggan ride from the entrance to North Fourth Tower, and hike from North Fourth Tower to North Twelfth Tower. And also you can take a cable car from North Eighth Tower to get down to end your journey.

🥘What to Eat in the Badaling Great Wall

There are many restaurants near the Badaling Great Wall that offer Chinese cuisine, including local specialties such as Peking Duck, Kung Pao chicken, and steamed dumplings. Some popular restaurants include the Beijing Baifengtang Restaurant and the Commune by the Great Wall. If you are looking for a quick bite, there are also several snack vendors near the Great Wall selling items like grilled meat skewers, roasted corn, and steamed buns. There are also some Western-style restaurants near the Great Wall that serve burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches. Additionally, some visitors choose to bring their own food and have a picnic on the Great Wall itself. However, please be mindful of the rules and regulations regarding food and waste disposal.

🏡Where to Stay in the Badaling Great Wall

The Great Wall Old Courtyard Ancient Inn is a charming hotel that reflects the traditional courtyard style of Beijing. The accommodations are exceptionally clean, comfortable, and well-appointed. The owner is hospitable and attentive, offering luggage assistance and valuable travel advice. In addition, the inn offers free coffee and drinks, and the breakfast selection includes congee, steamed buns, and eggs, all of which have a light and satisfying taste. However, one drawback is that the rooms are quite small, and the sound insulation is not optimal. As there are multiple rooms within the courtyard, there may be occasional disturbances from other guests staying in the same area.

🎒What to Pack for Great Wall Trip

Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots with good traction. The Great Wall can be steep and uneven, so you’ll want to have footwear that can handle the terrain.

Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses. The sun can be intense, especially during the summer months, so it’s important to protect yourself from the sun.

Water and snacks. The Great Wall is long and there may not be many opportunities to buy food or drinks along the way. Be sure to bring plenty of water and some snacks to keep you energized.

Sportswear. If you plan to visit the Great Wall at Badaling or Mutianyu, you can wear short sportswear, but if you plan to visit the undeveloped section of the Great Wall that is covered with wild jujube and weeds, it is advisable to wear long-sleeved sportswear to avoid scratches.

Camera or smartphone with a good camera. The Great Wall is a stunning site and you’ll want to capture some great photos to remember your trip.

A small backpack or bag to carry your belongings. You’ll want to keep your hands free while walking on the Great Wall, so it’s helpful to have a small bag to hold your essentials.

Trekking Pole. A trekking pole could be a helpful tool to help you navigate the sometimes steep and uneven terrain. Ensure it’s lightweight and collapsible so you can easily carry it when not in use.

Tissue. It is advisable to bring along tissues or toilet paper when visiting the Great Wall, as it is not uncommon for the restrooms at the site to lack sufficient toilet paper or for the lines to be lengthy. Therefore, it can be helpful to have your supply on hand just in case.

Pouch to collect the garbage. If you happen to visit some remote and less developed sections and have a scarcity of dustbins, it would be helpful to bring along a small bag or pouch to collect your garbage until you come across a suitable place for its disposal.

Cash. Many vendors and attractions on the Great Wall only accept cash, so be sure to bring enough money with you.

🎉Tips for Exploring the Great Wall

Choose the right section: There are many sections of the Great Wall to explore, each with its own unique characteristics. Some sections are more touristy and easier to access, while others are more rugged and require hiking. Do your research and choose the section that best fits your interests and abilities.

Consider hiring a guide: If you want to learn more about the history and significance of the Great Wall, consider hiring a guide who can provide you with a more in-depth experience.

Watch your step: Some sections of the Great Wall are in disrepair and can be dangerous to walk on. Be sure to watch your step and stay within safe areas.

Be respectful: The Great Wall is a symbol of China’s rich history and culture. Be respectful of the environment and avoid damaging or defacing any parts of the wall.

Plan your trip ahead of time: The Great Wall is a popular tourist destination, so it’s important to plan your trip ahead of time to avoid crowds and ensure that you have the best experience possible.

Be conscious of certain vehicles that are not authorized: Avoid taking unlicensed or unauthorized vehicles to prevent being overcharged or taken on unnecessarily longer routes.

Be aware of scams: Unfortunately, there are some scams targeted at tourists visiting the Great Wall. Be cautious of anyone offering you tickets or tours that seem too good to be true, and always confirm prices and details before agreeing to anything.

China Travel Planning Guide&FAQ

🎫Do I need a visa for China?

Yes. Most visitors to China will need a visa to enter the country. The type of visa you need will depend on the purpose and duration of your trip, as well as your nationality. If you are a resident of the US, you must apply for a Chinese visa at the Consular Office in the country. On the other hand, inhabitants of countries like Japan, Canada, and the UK can request a visa through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center.

🤔Why is it necessary to install a VPN in China?

In China, the government has strict regulations on internet access, leading to the blocking of popular websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube. To access these sites, a VPN is suggested as a means of bypassing the restrictions. It is important to choose a reputable VPN provider and use caution while doing so. ExpressVPN has been historically deemed the most reliable VPN for this purpose, despite being heavily targeted by China’s censors. Nevertheless, it is still a widely preferred option owing to its ease of installation and user-friendliness.

📲Is it necessary to have a Chinese SIM card while in China?

Yes. It is crucial to acknowledge that accessing the internet in China may pose limitations due to certain websites being prohibited or filtered. To ensure uninterrupted connectivity while staying in China, purchasing a local SIM card is advisable. For optimum results, acquiring SIM cards from either China Unicom or China Mobile is recommended. While China Mobile has the most comprehensive coverage in China and is a market leader, China Unicom is more compatible with foreign phones, enabling 3G and 4G services. Or you can purchase a SIM card online.

🔮Should I buy China travel insurance?

Yes. Although China is generally a safe country for travel, it is still possible to encounter accidents or other unexpected occurrences. Therefore, obtaining travel insurance can provide a sense of security and financial protection. In my research, I have found that World Nomads is a reputable travel insurance provider that covers a wide range of activities and is recommended for the average traveler. Nevertheless, I advise you to compare insurance quotes from various providers before making a decision.

🚙Can you rent a car in China?

Unfeasible. Obtaining a Chinese driver’s license to rent a car and self-drive may seem like an option, but it is not a practical choice for most foreigners. Therefore, many prefer to opt for a driver or public transportation when navigating China, as it proves to be more convenient.

✈️What’s the best site to purchase flight tickets for China?

I suggest using Trip for affordable flights to China. As a China-based company, they often offer lower prices compared to foreign companies. Additionally, they offer English-speaking phone support in case of any issues.

🏡What is the best way to book hotels in China?

Not only does Trip offer a wider range of flight options, but it also provides a greater selection of hotels to choose from. Moreover, Agoda is a reliable resource for hotels throughout Asia.

🎒What do I pack for China?

Travel adapter and converter: China uses a different electrical system than many other countries, so it’s important to bring a travel adapter and converter if you plan to use electronic devices such as phones, cameras, and laptops.  
Sunscreen: The UV index in China can be high, particularly during the summer months, and prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Deodorant: It should be noted that finding deodorant in China may not be a simple task.

📚Can a guidebook for traveling to China be useful?

Yes. If you’re planning to travel to China for the first time, a travel guidebook can be a valuable resource, and Lonely Planet is one of the most reputable guides available globally. Its comprehensive itineraries and recommendations take into account your personal preferences and can save you both time and money. The insider tips are also extremely helpful in navigating China’s unique cultural landscape like a local.

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