Determine which is the best section of the Great Wall of China to visit might seem a bit difficult at first. The wall stretches over 23000 km with various ramifications. In reality only the 30% of the wall remain standing. And of those, some parts of the wall can be accessed and some not. Typically the great wall is a great side trip from Beijing. Another good sections of the wall are located in Shanghaiguan (Hebei province) that goes to the sea, quite awesome. And Jiayuguan (Gansu province). You can find other beautiful sections in Tianjin, Shaanxi province, Jilin… As i say visit all this sections is virtually impossible so lets choice…
01 | WHEN AT BEIJING…
If you are traveling at Beijing visiting the Great Wall is a must, and probably would be a highlight of your China trip. Typically when you ask a tour guide for a Great Wall tour recommendation things might come down to 2 sections. Badaling section vs. MuTianyu section. This is because they are more easily accessible parts. In reality they are not that far away from each other, but the experience might vary greatly. Lets see what options do we have when visiting the Great Wall at Beijing…
Badaling is probably the most popular (crowded) part of the wall. Is a mostly restored part of the wall. Probably the most accessible part of the wall and can be visited in half a day. Nevertheless i would avoid this part of the wall.. as you might feel it has become too crowded and it’s also touts favorite part of the wall.
Badaling Great Wall
Badaling Great Wall
This is the part of the wall you must visit if possible, because the easy of access, beauty and services. It’s a more rough part than Badaling but also more green. There is a cable car also available in this area, which might cost around 80 RMB. Check www.mutianyugreatwall.net for detailed info. Office is open from 7:30 to 6:30 afternoon. Also note that this is about 95 KM north of Beijing, and the city traffic can be quite slow at times. Keep this in mind. Tourist bus number 6 goes here and also goes to a lake.
Mutianyu Great Wall section
Simatai is a less restored part of the wall, can be quite steep and some parts of the wall here can be quite damaged. There is a cable car also in the part that runs from April to November. This place is quite peaceful and thought provoking, you can even observe some parts of the wall that were bombed during the WWII. Is truly amazing. Number 12 tourist bus goes here. Will require a full day to visit here.
Great wall at simatai
Simatai Great Wall
This in amazing part for hiking, also there is many steps missing and broken parts of the wall. If you are adventurous i really recommend this part. The drawback is transportation, no public bus (at least that i know) goes directly here. However Jiankou is faily close from Mutianyu. A taxi can go pretty high 500 RMB or more for 70 km. Not to mention that the taxi driver must agree to go that far, he even might plainly refuse (yeah, i been refused many times from taxi drivers to go to a variety of places). So finding another transportation method to go here is required.
Another section that is worth while visiting. Located at about 65 km from Beijing city. is a resort with mountains and lakes. On summer the area is surrounded with yellow flowers (hence the name “huanghua” Yellow flower in Chinese language. There are broken steps and its challenging for the hikers. It’s uniqueness might surprise you.
“This is a Great Wall and only a great people with a great past could have a great wall and such a great people with such a great wall will surely have a great future.”
Richard M. Nixon
02 WHEN TO GO
On winter with the snow (if any) would be the only time i would recommend to go either to the Badaling section or even better Mutianyu section, as they are more easily accessible on this part of the year. Other seasons of the year i would recommend you take a full day to adventure yourself to he other more interesting and beautiful parts to take those really breathtaking photos. Checking the weather before going is a must, for example during March, April you might expect the place to quite cold to later find the day was quite suffocating…
03 CROWDS CROWDS CROWDS
Yeah, it can be THAT crowded, specially if you never been in China before the “where does so many people come from” is gonna hit you hard. This is why i do recommend to go to a less transited part of the Wall, but not even this guarantees you anything. What time of the year also can have a great impact on this. In any case i wouldn’t overly worry about this, because you might not have the luxury of having many choices if for example you are in Beijing for just a week.
Generally when visiting the Great Wall of China is a good idea to hire a reputable and well known tour guide, as you will get your money worth, and stay away from touts.
04 SO WHICH ONE is thE best SECTION of the great wall of china?
In my opinion at Beijing, Simatai and Mutianyu are simply more beautiful and impressive, with lots of opportunities for breathtaking photography. Hence those would be the best section of Great Wall of China and i really recommend those. Badaling is OK if you really don’t have any other choice and don’t feel like doing a lot of climbing.
Visiting the wall is quite mind boggling experience, once you are there just to think of the distance the Great Wall expands over can impress anyone. How difficult might been at the time to build this, (more than 700 years ago!). Also is quite sad to think of the hardships the poor workers of the wall might been endure when building this. It is included in the Unesco world heritage list, and was also part of the Seven wonders of the world.
Nevertheless is a good walk and a perfect spot for Photography. Visiting the wall is a truly amazing experience that survives the hype, bring your water, get ready to get tired climbing… and enjoy!.