What’s the best way to visit Beijing’s greatest landmark: the Great Wall of China?
The Great Wall of China is one of the wonders of the world.
Truly a sight to behold, it spans 5,500 miles across deserts, grasslands and mountain ridges. That’s why if you’re coming to Beijing, you shouldn’t miss the chance to visit it.
However, in order to best enjoy your experience at the Great Wall, here are some tips for getting the most out of it.
1. Consider the weather
The best times of year to visit the Great Wall are in the spring and the fall, when temperatures and crowds aren’t too severe.
In the summer, it’s extremely hot and you’ll find it packed with the most visitors. If you can brave the freezing temperatures and wind in the winter, it’s a great time to get up on the Great Wall because very few people venture outdoors in the cold.
2. Choose the right section to see
Because it is so vast, there’s no way to see the whole thing.
You should choose a section that will best fit your needs. Jinshanling and Jiankou are both 2.5 hours from Beijing. Simatai is 2 hours away, and Mutianyu and Badaling are each 1.5 hours outside of the city. Jiankou will be the least crowded section, however it is a very difficult area to navigate and is recommended for strong hikers.
If you have children, elderly or handicapped people traveling with you, Mutianyu and Badaling are your best options. Badaling in particular offers handicap accessibility.
3. Invest in a good tour
There are no shortages of tours to the Great Wall from Beijing.
That being said, you’ll notice English-speaking tours are priced higher than the ones for Chinese-speaking tours. Chinese-speaking tours will be very difficult for you to understand even if you do speak some Chinese.
Among the English-speaking tours, choose a reputable tour group. This may take some research, but it will be well-worth it.
4. Food and lodging
You can also opt to eat at the Great Wall, though only in restored sections like Jinshanling, Mutianyu and Badaling will you find restaurants.
They aren’t as good as the ones you’ll find in the city though so it’s not a bad idea to pack your own food. Hotels are in these restored areas too. They’re not of the highest caliber, but if that doesn’t bother you then you can enjoy the Great Wall early in the morning when no one else is around as well as see the sunset and night views of it too.
However you choose to see the Great Wall, make sure you plan out your journey in advance. Talk to other foreigners who’ve taken the adventure there and see if that fuels your inspiration.