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Guide to Climbing the Great Wall

By Viator, July 2016

4.5 288 Reviews | Add your review

Many will be disappointed to know that the Great Wall of China isn’t, in fact, visible from space, but it’s nonetheless one of the most deservedly iconic landmarks in the world. Easily visited from Beijing, no trip to the capital city would be complete with a trip to this UNESCO World Heritage site. And believe it or not, you needn’t be a seasoned hiker to enjoy a day (or two) on the Great Wall, especially if you choose to visit with a local guide.

Temperatures are at their most pleasant and crowds are noticeably thinner in fall and spring, but even in the middle of summer, the wall is as majestic as ever. Some remote parts can even offer a break from the crowds, but with such a variety of accessible sections—both restored and wild—travelers can choose their perfect segment based on what they’d like to see and do.

Badaling
Most visitors to the Great Wall see the section known as Badaling Pass, located about an hour from Beijing. This portion features a cable car to ferry guests to the top of a flat stretch of the wall that spans out in both directions. While it's the most popular and crowded portion of the wall, it's also one of the most convenient and accessible — perfect for those pressed for time.

Juyongguan
This is actually the closest section of the Great Wall to Beijing at about 35 miles (56 km) away, but a somewhat steep ascent keeps the crowds at bay — most opt for nearby Badaling instead. The views of the wall snaking up the mountain here are photo-worthy, and it’s close enough to the city to combine with visits to other attractions such as the Ming Tombs.

Mutianyu
Great for families and travelers with a full day to devote to the wall, the Mutianyu segment is a scenic, flat stretch of wall with great views and fewer crowds than Badaling and Juyongguan. A cable car lets visitors opt out of a steep climb, and a popular toboggan ride returns visitors to the parking lot.

Jinshanling to Simatai
The most popular Great Wall hike spans the six-mile (10-kilometer) stretch of largely unrestored wall between Jinshanling and Simatai. This four-hour walk offers the chance to see wild portions of the wall without many other tourists and is relatively close to Beijing.

Jiankou
Ideal for adventurous hikers, this steep section of the Great Wall is known for its historic beauty. This section hasn't been restored since its original construction, and seasoned hikers who take on the strenuous (and sometimes nerve-wracking) terrain will be rewarded with some of the wall’s most sublime scenery.

Huanghuacheng
Also called the Great Wall Under the Water, the section at Huanghacheng includes both restored and unrestored pieces, with three portions submerged beneath the surface of the Xishuiyu Reservoir. This section is popular with day hikers looking to experience a wilder Great Wall.

Gubeikou
History buffs and hikers alike head to this hard-to-reach segment of the wall that once played a critical role in protecting China from Mongol invasions. The ruined segment between Gubeikou and Jinshanling makes for a strenuous but rewarding day hike, although it is more commonly visited as part of multi-day hiking tours.

Huangyaguan
This fully restored portion of the Great Wall lies about three hours from Beijing. Those willing to make the drive (and cruise passengers visiting from Tianjin) get to explore a beautiful stretch of wall that sees very little tourist traffic. 

Tours & Tickets

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Great Wall of China at Mutianyu Full-Day Tour Including Lunch from Beijing, Beijing, null
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Great Wall of China at Mutianyu Full-Day Tour Including Lunch from Beijing

4.5 star rating: Recommended 242 Reviews

This full-day Beijing sightseeing tour to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China provides an opportunity to experience steeper sections of the ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 6-7 hours

From USD $64.99
Private Great Wall Hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu, Beijing, Day Trips
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Private Great Wall Hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 1 Reviews

Explore unrestored and untouched section of the Great Wall of China from Jiankou to Mutianyu that grants magnificent views of the Great Wall stretching beyond ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

From USD $65.00
Great Wall of China at Badaling and Ming Tombs Day Tour from Beijing, Beijing, Private Day Trips
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Great Wall of China at Badaling and Ming Tombs Day Tour from Beijing

4.5 star rating: Recommended 330 Reviews

See two of China's most popular destinations, the World Heritage-listed Great Wall of China and the Ming Tombs, on one unforgettable guided day trip from ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $72.99
Private Tour: Great Wall of China at Juyongguan and Ming Tombs from Beijing, Beijing, Day Trips
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Private Tour: Great Wall of China at Juyongguan and Ming Tombs from Beijing

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 8 Reviews

See the best of China’s ancient civilization on this private full-day trip from Beijing to the Great Wall of China and the Ming Tombs. At the Great Wall, ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $87.00
Great Wall of China Small Group Day Trip from Beijing, Beijing, Private Sightseeing Tours
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Great Wall of China Small Group Day Trip from Beijing

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 112 Reviews

Discover the Great Wall of China on this small group tour from Beijing. Travel to the restored Mutianyu section and climb the Ming Dynasty watchtowers for ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 7-8 hours

From USD $109.00
Great Wall Hiking Tour from Beijing: Simatai West to Jinshanling, Beijing, Day Trips
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Great Wall Hiking Tour from Beijing: Simatai West to Jinshanling

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 5 Reviews

Explore both untouched and restored parts of the Great Wall of China on this small-group hiking tour from Beijing. Follow your expert guide along the Simatai ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $121.67
Full-Day Small-Group Great Wall Hike: Simatai West to Jinshanling, Beijing, Hiking & Camping
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Full-Day Small-Group Great Wall Hike: Simatai West to Jinshanling

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 31 Reviews

As the most popular hiking trip of Great Wall around Beijing, it will show you both untouched and restored sections of the Great Wall at Simatai West and ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $136.00
Viator Exclusive: Great Wall at Mutianyu Tour with Picnic and Wine, Beijing, Day Trips
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Viator Exclusive: Great Wall at Mutianyu Tour with Picnic and Wine

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 20 Reviews

Scale the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and take in the views with a picnic at its peak, a Viator Exclusive that can’t be booked anywhere else. This ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $159.94
Private Overnight Tour: Hiking to Jiankou Great Wall with Dumpling Cooking Experience in A Local ... 
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Private Overnight Tour: Hiking to Jiankou Great Wall with Dumpling Cooking Experience in A Local Farmer's House

Hike from Mutianyu to Jiankou is a better way to get the authentic experience of the Great Wall.  Besides hiking, you will also have a chance to explore one of ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 1 day 12 hours (approx.)

From USD $169.00
Viator VIP: Beijing's Forbidden City with Special Viewing of Treasure Gallery and the Great Wall ... 
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Viator VIP: Beijing's Forbidden City with Special Viewing of Treasure Gallery and the Great Wall Ruins at Badaling

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 20 Reviews

Enjoy a VIP tour of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites from Beijing – the Forbidden City and Badaling Great Wall Ruins. With your expert guide, gain special ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $195.90

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