Guide to Climbing the Great Wall

By Viator, August 2015

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The Great Wall, a Wonder of the World and one of China’s most recognizable landmarks, deserves a place on any itinerary to Beijing. With several sections located just outside of the city, you’ll have your pick of experiences depending on what you want out of the visit.


A majority of tourists to the Great Wall see the section known as Badaling Pass. Located about an hour from Beijing, this portion of the wall features a cable car to ferry guests to the top of a flat stretch of the wall spanning out in either direction. While it’s the most crowded portion of the wall, it’s also one of the most convenient and accessible.

If you don’t mind doing a little climbing, Juyongguan is actually the closest portion of the wall to Beijing -- only 37 miles (60 kilometers) -- but it doesn’t have a single flat stretch in sight, and the steps are very steep and uneven.

The Mutianyu section requires a full day’s journey, but it’s worth it for the scenic, flat stretch of wall, cable car and sparser crowds than the first two segments.

Jinshanling to Simatai
While much of the Great Wall is officially closed to tourists, those wishing to hike a portion of the wall can do so between Jinshanling and Simatai. This will allow you to see completely unrestored portions of the wall without another soul in sight.

Ideal for adventurous hikers, this steep section of the Great Wall is known for it's wild beauty. This section hasn't been restored since it's original construction, so parts are dangerous to climb for unfamiliar hikers.

Fall and spring are the best times to visit the Great Wall, as temperatures aren’t as hot and the crowds not as thick as summer. If possible, avoid weekends when Chinese families like to visit, and avoid visiting on Chinese holidays at all cost as the crowds will be intense.

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