Most Great Wall of China information fails to include any details about how to get onto the wall or how to get off again! So, once you’ve decided which part of the wall to visit, here’s what you need to know!
TOP GREAT WALL OF CHINA INFORMATION – WHICH SECTION TO VISIT
The easily walked section of the Great Wall at Mutianyu is a great spot to visit. It’s a little further away from Beijing than some of the other areas offered by tour operators but that’s a bonus. As it’s further away, it’s less crowded and you get MUCH better photo opportunities!
The wall gets very crowded during high season (April-June) and in early October, when travel throughout the country is heightened with Chinese people on holiday to celebate China’s National Day (1 October).
After you/your guide pick up your entry tickets, get the shuttle bus to the departure point but be prepared for this to be very busy too.
If you have elderly/disabled folk in your party, look out for the disabled lifts from the car park – other routes are quite physically challenging and uneven.
On arrival at the departure area, it’s time for you to choose how you want to get up and off the wall!
3 OPTIONS FOR GETTING UP THE WALL
- Walk/hike: Are you kidding me? If you’re fabulously fit AND have lots of time to spare, this may be the option for you. It’s a long way and a seriously steep climb! If this is you, go fill your boots. Take plenty of water…..
- Cable car: If you fancy being whisked up the 725 metre hill in a cable car (capacity 6 people) in a safe, efficient and quick cable car, this is for you. The cable car takes you to a spectacular section of the wall, but be warned – it’s very steep. You will need to be fit to manage the multiple, uneven steps. The photo opps here are fabulous though, so you can just take a short stroll, shhot lots of pictures and then descend again – returning in the cable car.
- Chair lift: This is the fun option (and the ONLY way to get to the toboggan run) The chair lift takes you up over the toboggan run and onto an easily walked section of the wall.
VIEWS OF/FROM THE WALL
Turn right when you ascend the wall and you’re very close to one of the steep stepped sections. No need to worry about those steps though, you can get all the photos you want without breaking a sweat. Just position yourself at the top of the steps and see the wall snake away over the hills into the distance.
Turn left from the arrival point and you’ll soon reach one of the many gatehouses on the wall, with time to explore and take many more photos.
The gatehouses are fascinating places to visit as these are where the soldiers lived while guarding the wall. They’re pretty bleak and must have been freezing in the exposed mountains during winter months!
A LITTLE LIQUID REFRESHMENT?
Once you’ve seen enough of the wall and filled your camera with fabulous photos, you can have a sneaky celebratory beer in the little beer garden just by the chairlift station. Be warned though – the beer is not cheap!! (We paid about £12 per bottle)
TIME TO LEAVE THE WALL – MAKE YOUR CHOICES!
If you’ve gone up to the wall by cable car, the only way down is to return by cable car. If you went up by chairlift, you have 2 choices:
- Chair lift: simply glide back down the same way you arrived. Nice and easy.
- Toboggan run!! If you’re up for an exhilirating 20 minute slide down the world’s longest toboggan run (1580 metres) this is the ultimate way to go! You’ll reach speeds of up to 30 kph on your way down the twisty, turny route and you’ll get your photo snapped on the way.
Top Tip: If you want a good, fast run, leave a long gap between yourself and the rider in front of you. (You don’t want to get snarled up in a toboggan jam, or to end up tailing a slow rider) It’s so much more exciting to really whizz down!
Have you been to the Great Wall? Do share your stories/photos in the comments. We love to hear from readers.