The idea behind making a trip to Beijing was definitely the Great Wall of China. Hearing and seeing it on virtual numerous times, I am really inclined to catch it in person, with my naked eye. That’s how I am, Pompeii, Trevi Fountain, Grand Canyon. I have always been super interested to catch some natural wonders in the world after seeing it on screen. Somehow it makes me interested. Great Wall of China was definitely that. Furthermore, I think it is one of the new 7 Wonders of the World? A day trip was definitely on the books just for the Great Wall. The Great Wall is also one of the main tourists attractions for tourists in Beijing, with the other being the Forbidden Palace. It does seems like years of TVB Drama and movies sure ignited my curiosity mind into this 21,196 KM long fortification built since 7th century to defend against invasions.
A little background on visiting the Great Wall Of China, Beijing is the most popular base to get to the place, but only one of them, given that the wall stretch for such a distance, you can in fact based yourself even from other places in China! I shall only cover on the most famous 3 places, which are preserved and serves as tourists centres. These 3 all have facilities and in fact are safer for enjoyment. You do have to understand that some of the sections are so badly damaged that you may easily slip off or injured yourself. You are however free to hike the rest over days and all. These three most famous section are Badaling, Mutianyu and Jiankou, all well-built with necessary facilities.
Badaling is the most famous of all and also the most crowded, since it is the easiest to get to from Beijing City, you can easily get there using the Line S2. However I do not recommend this since I have heard that it is more like a sea of people instead of the Great Wall of China. Something that I really want to avoid. Mutianyu is the other counterpart to Badaling. Doable from Beijing, however just requiring taking a bus and change to another bus or cab to get to the visitor centre, which turns off most people. Jiankou is the most challenging out of the 3, so not recommended for the normal tourists. It is also further and hard to get to.
Mutianyu is definitely my recommendation as well as the one that you go to. I have research much and I decided to hire a car to take me there which seems to be the best way. Get you direct from Beijing, able to rest in the car, beat the crowd. Furthermore I was travelling in a party of 2, so it makes much more sense. I googled and found a driver on some forum which gave me the best rates out of all that I have contacted. The air conditioning after the hike in the car was so amazing, I will share more on this later on! Here are the Driver Details if guys are interested. The rate he quoted me was 600CNY, up to 4 pax. The usual plan would be leaving Beijing at 7.30am, reaching about 8.30am then you get back down around 1 – 2pm and reach back your hotel around 3pm. I will definitely recommend him, pretty friendly and helpful, give good advice and help us in getting tickets. It turn out that he was not even doing this full time!
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The ride was smooth and we had a nice chat with Eric, sharing about driving and car prices, an all time favourite convo starter for Singaporeans. I was definitely surprised to learn of the fact that Eric doesn’t do this for full time. We simply doze off and woke up an hour later at the Mutianyu Visitor Centre. Once there, Eric shown us and help us got tickets, which is totally unnecessary since we speak chinese as well. He didn’t even touch a cent at all, so it is not like he gets a commission.
We first took a bus to the main entrance of Mutianyu about a few km from the visitor centre, which you can then choose to hike up the Great Wall of China, yup the great wall itself or take the chairlift up.
Of course we took the latter, I have at first thought of hiking up but senses got to the better of me and we are better off saving our stamina for the hike itself up there. There was a little wait for the chairlift and it boost amazing view of the area. Time for some photos!
The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is connected with Jiankou and in fact you are able to hike from one section to the other in about 5 – 6 hours for a fit person. My first reaction, wow, the views are so amazing, I have finally seen it in person. Then comes the next, the sun is so damn hot. My entire shirt was literally soak and never once dried. Of course, I have chosen right smack in Summer to come Beijing. I believe that the best season will be spring or fall when the weather is just nice. Winter is in fact discouraged as the snow makes the already slippery smooth stones, even more prone to falling. Mutianyu is one of the best preserved parts and have been restored. According to history, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall was used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. Manageable crowd in my opinion.
I am thankful to come here and the crowd doesn’t seem too bad, despite it being the peak of the travelling season. I was even able to get some really insta worthy pictures after walking awhile. The views are amazing. We in fact spend a solid of 3 hours on the top of the wall exploring more than 10 sections of the Great Wall, including some watch towers. It is indeed breezy on the top. The views were majestic and amazing. Such sweeping views of greens and the snaking wall. You in fact can’t see the end at all, which should definitely be the case. You really have to be careful on the Great Wall as there are lots of algae on the rocks, which makes it very slippery, in addition to being uneven, even we had a few near misses and my friend even slipped at a point, with all this being in Summer. I even met a couple of tourist from Spain and took some jump shots. Check out some of my pictures here!
We decided to turn around with some time to go, catering time for the toboggan ride that we got earlier. That is in fact one of the other great thing here, riding down a winding track in style from the Great Wall of China. This is an alternate method of descent, you can ride down the metal track and enjoy one last view of the Great Wall. You can control the speed and it is actually pretty thrilling and fast.
I certainly got a few shades darker after the trip to the Great Wall. It was an enriching experience for me, something that will definitely be a milestone for my travels. With that checked off my bucket list. Will I probably come back? Maybe not! But perhaps one look in winter with all the snow sounds tempting. Next up, I will share my thoughts on Beijing itself!