The Great Wall of China is the greatest symbol of ancient Chinese engineering and one of the world's most famous structures. Its name in Chinese means 'Long Fortress', and it was built to protect the northern edge of the Chinese empire against invasions from Mongolian nomads.
All up, the Great Wall, including trenches and natural defensive features such as rivers, stretches 8,850km (5,500mi). It was begun in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) on a very simple scale, and was expanded and fortified in the Ming Dynasty. Truth to tell, the Wall was never that effective against Mongol invasion, but eventually the threat abated anyway as the Mongol nomads were converted and assimilated.
A wander on the Great Wall these days takes you back to the Ming empire as well as affording you sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.
Review by LarryG, April 2013
Doing what: Shixiaguan Great Wall Hiking Adventure with Transport from Beijing
This tour was an extraordinary opportunity to visit a distant but lightly-traveled part of the Great Wall. Our guide spoke only Chinese, but her love of this part of China was readily apparent. Other people we encountered on the trail were able to fill in the translation. The hike was very strenuous and challenging, quickly climbing and descending 1430 feet, sometimes on mere stone rubble. Only fit persons with significant hiking experience should attempt it.
Review by Brian W, April 2013
Doing what: Great Wall of China at Mutianyu Full Day Tour including Lunch from Beijing
Hi, I am the author of "Moments in Time-a collection of 30 short stories"". I have based many of my 30 stories on overseas experiences. I have travelled a lot. The Great Wall trip is an experience worthy of another story- maybe my next book due to come out in September. It is certainly one of the wonders of the world -a must to see. I thought Viator provided extremely good value for money and the tour guide was most knowledgeable. The trip included transport (driver), tour guide, and a meal. This section of the wall is steep, interesting and currently not a great number of tourists to spoil one's exploration. I recommend this tour.
Review by Philip N, April 2013
Doing what: Beijing Essential Full-Day Tour including Great Wall at Badaling, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
We had Mike on our tour and it was fantastic. Remember, you will be stopping by a Jade Factory, Silk Museum, and Tea House, so if you aren't into all that then this is not your tour. All three will try to sell you expensive products afterwards, however, the tea is pretty neat and seems to be worth the money. The food at the Jade Factory is nothing special, so you may want to bring a snack. Mike is really knowledgeable, speaks great English, and we all had a blast. The Great Wall is absolutely incredible, but be ready for a serious hike. Finally, the tour involves driving out of the city which will certainly lead to sitting in traffic. Be prepped for an all day event.
Much of the Great Wall is now in disrepair, but certain sections are maintained for visitors. One of the most popular is Badaling, close to Beijing; this section is often crammed with tourists.
The Mutianyu section offers a quieter alternative, also close to Beijing, This section features an optional cable car ride, or an opportunity to climb more than 1,400 steps to the top.