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Great Wall of China

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The Great Wall of China is the famous term used to describe a series of walls and fortifications which protected the states and empires of China from nomadic groups north of the border. The total length of the wall is about 13,171 miles (or 21,196km), and today most visitors choose a section to visit depending on what they’d like to see.

The Badaling Great Wall is the most visited section and has been extensively restored. The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China is one of the most complete and one of the closest to the city of Beijing, being technically still within the city limits. It’s less popular than the Badaling section but can still be extremely busy. At Mutianyu you can ride the cable car up to the watchtowers, explore the length of the magnificent wall, or zip down on the exciting 1 mile (1.5km) long speed slide.

The Simatai section is known for its steep slopes and fantastic views and is a great choice for those who want to hike a section of the wall. The Huanghuacheng Great Wall is mostly unrestored and is much less busy than other sections of the wall, and it’s also the only stretch which is close to lakes.
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Take a trip to Mutianyu and try the cable car or the speed slide!
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Mutianyu Great Wall Bus Transfer with Options
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From Beijing: Mutianyu Great Wall Transfer with Pick-Up
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Small Group GreatWall hiking from SimataiWest to Jinshanling
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6 tips for visiting the Great Wall of China

Climb up the Steps of the Great Wall of China
Pick Your Destination CarefullyNot all of the sections of the Great Wall of China offer visitors the same experience, and some, though beautiful, are very difficult to get to. Decide what you want to get out of your day and select the section that best fits your plans.
Great Wall of China in the Mountains
Take a HikeThe best way to experience the Great Wall of China is to take a hike along one of the less busy stretches. You’ll get to appreciate the effort that was needed to build the wall, especially in the mountain regions, and you’ll also get a good work out! If you’re planning a long hike, wear appropriate shoes and bring snacks to keep you energized during your trip.
Check the WeatherThe wall can be dangerous in snow or heavy rain, while summer in Beijing can be extremely hot. Whatever the weather, make sure you’re prepared, and if the weather is really terrible, consider postponing your visit to another day of your trip.
Take Lots of Photos, But Be Careful!The iconic paths and walls of the Great Wall of China make for great holiday photos, so take your time lining up the perfect shot. Just be careful, especially when taking selfies, not to slip on the steps or steep paths, or to lean on walls that might not be as solid as they look.
Mind the Wild Sections of the Great Wall
Stick to the Sections that are Officially OpenThough it might be tempting to take off for one of the Wild Great Wall sections, it can be extremely dangerous as they aren’t well-maintained and there’s no signage to help you find your way back. You can potentially pick up fines if you’re spotted trespassing on closed sections of the wall.
Great Wall of Badaling
Choose Your Time WiselyTry not to visit the Great Wall on weekends or public holidays, since it’s also a popular destination for domestic tourists. On busy days, some sections of the wall (especially Badaling) are so busy you could be shoulder-to-shoulder with other visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall of China (萬里長城 or Wànlǐ Chángchéng) is a collection of fortifications and border walls built across the northern borders of China. They were built both to consolidate Chinese territories, clearly demarking the territory, as well as to defend those territories from nomadic groups from the Eurasian steppe. They were built in dozens of stages, some dating back to the Spring and Autumn period (771-476 BCE). The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, connected existing fortifications between 221 and 206 BCE in order to protect regions from attacks from nomads. The original walls were built from compacted earth by forced laborers and ran from Gansu to the coast. Later dynasties also built walls in these areas, but they didn’t always follow the original routes. The Han dynasty (202 BCE - 220 CE) extending the walls westward. The Qi dynasty (550 - 574 CE) built almost 1000 miles of new walls, but it’s the Ming walls which largely survive today, and which have the famous combination of battlements and watchtowers that spring to mind when we think of the walls. All the walls together, including branches and sections no longer connected to the main system, measure approximately 13,171 miles (21,196 km). However, many sections of the wall have fallen into disrepair and are closed to the public. Read more.

Which is the best part of the wall to visit?

All areas of the Great Wall of China have their own unique characteristics based on the landscape they were built in. One of the most popular sections to visit from Beijing is the Mutianyu section. With shuttle buses, a cable car, a chairlift, and a toboggan ride to descend, it’s one of the more accessible and fun sections to visit. It also has impressive guard towers built in the Ming style and great views, and it’s a good introduction for those who want to experience the Great Wall on a short day trip from Beijing.
Simatai has some unique features, such as obstacle walls within the main walls, used to fend off enemies who made it over the battlements. It’s also one of the only stretches of wall you can visit after dark, with a shorter stretch illuminated so that visitors can explore safely. If you decide to visit at night then you’ll have to take the cable car up and down, which means the ticket is slightly more expensive. Simatai is also next to Gubei Water Town, a reconstructed historic town where you can experience traditional arts and culture. Some visitors feel that Gubei Water Town is an inauthentic tourist trap, but others find a visit to be informative and fun, especially if you visit outside of the peak tourist times.
Badaling is the busiest section of the Great Wall, and it is also the place where most politicians and official visitors to China are taken. Queen Elizabeth II, Richard Nixon, and Gorbachev all visited Badaling on their trips to China. It’s extremely busy, and the wall itself has been restored several times over the years, not often subtly, but you’ll get great views of the wall disappearing into the distant hills. There’s a daily visitor cap of 65,000 and in the high season, even that massive number of tickets can sell out! From 2020, the Badaling section will also be one of the easiest sections to reach, with a new high-speed train service leaving from Beijing Railway Station and going directly to Badaling.
Huanghuacheng was built to protect a mausoleum built by Emperor Yongle, today known as the Ming Tombs. It’s much less popular than other sections of the wall, and as a result, it’s the ideal spot to visit if you can’t stand crowds. It’s also close to a beautiful lake and really takes on the character of the season of your visit. However, it hasn’t been fully restored, so expect a hike when you visit, and to see some ruined areas. Some tour providers combine a visit to the Huanghuacheng wall with a trip to the Ming Tombs.
Jinshanling is another quiet section of wall since it’s quite a distance from Beijing. You can hike almost 4 miles (6 km) along this section, and it features a high density of interesting watchtowers and inscribed bricks. From April to the middle of November, you can take a direct bus from Dongzhimen Transport Hub, and it’s trickier to reach outside of the warm season.
Read more.

Can you see the Great Wall of China from space?

It depends on what you mean by space. You can see it from low Earth orbit, where the International Space Station lies, with a telescope, but only during perfect weather conditions. It’s much easier to make out cities from space, especially at night, because they make a bigger impact due to pollution and light, whereas the Great Wall of China nestles into its surroundings, is largely unlit, and you’d really need to know where to look in order to catch sight of it. Read more.

Should I take a guided tour?

Some sections of the Great Wall of China are easier to reach than others. One of the most convenient ways to visit the wall is to join a group tour (either by coach or a small group tour traveling by minibus), which will provide transport and a guide who will provide tickets as well as a guided tour when you arrive at the section of wall you’ll be visiting. On the other hand, several parts of the wall have information boards for visitors, and it’s very difficult to get lost once you make it to the wall. If you prefer to sightsee by yourself, on your own schedule, then you don’t need to worry about missing out without a tour guide. Read more.

Do you have to hike to reach the wall?

It depends on which section of the wall you are visiting. The Mutianyu wall has a cable car or a chairlift to get you from the bottom to the top, and Badaling also has a cable car. However, the wall itself can be extremely steep, with uneven flooring and steps, so even walking a few hundred yards can be challenging for those with limited mobility. There are ramps for wheelchair-users at the Mutianyu section, but visitors have reported that these are quite steep and that they needed a companion to help them conquer the path. The Badaling Great Wall is more wheelchair-friendly, with a special lane for wheelchair users and a gradually-sloping ramp between tower 1 and tower 3. For those who love to hike, consider visiting some of the less-busy sections of the wall such as Jinshanling or Huanghuacheng, as you can hike more than two miles along the walls in relative peace. Read more.

Can you walk the whole length of the Great Wall of China?

No. The sections that do connect to each other to form a single wall stretch over 5000 miles (8046 km), which would take around 18 months to walk in its entirety. However, on that shorter distance, there are areas which are completely ruined or even underwater, and which aren’t open to the public. You can walk quite a long way, though you might need to take breaks and take each section separately. The wall can be extremely steep in places where it winds over the tops of mountains, so it would also be a challenging hike rather than an easy stroll along a fixed path. Read more.

General information

opening hours

The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall opens from 8 am to 5 pm during the low season (from November 16 to March 15). During the peak season (from March 16 to November 15) it’s open from 7.30 to 6 pm on weekdays and from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm on weekends. The cable car at Mutianyu is open from 8 am to 5 pm in summer and from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm in winter. The slide is open from 8 am to 4.50 pm on weekdays and from 8 am to 5 pm on weekends.

The Badaling section of the Great Wall of China opens from 6.30 am to 7 pm in summer and from 7 am to 6 pm in winter.

The Simatai section of the Great Wall is open from 8 am to 4.30 pm.

The Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall is open from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm in winter, from 8.30 am to 5 pm on weekdays in summer, and from 8 am to 6 pm on weekends in summer.


Mutianyu Village
Bohai Town
Huairou District

Great Wall of Badaling

Great Wall of Simatai

Huanghuacheng Great Wall
An Si Lu
Huairou Qu
Beijing Shi


Tickets for the Mutianyu Great Wall cost CNY40 per person or CNY20 for discounted tickets. Discounted tickets apply to visitors over the age of 60 and children between 1.2 and 1.4 meters (3’9 and 4’7) tall. Shuttle bus tickets cost CNY10 for a one-way trip or CNY15 for a roundtrip ticket. Cable car tickets cost CNY100 for an adult one-way trip, CNY120 for an adult roundtrip ticket, CNY50 for a child’s one-way ticket, and CNY60 for a child’s roundtrip ticket. Roundtrip tickets for the slide cost CNY120 for adults and CNY60 for children. Entrance to the Great Wall Cultural Exhibition Center cost CNY5 per person. Children under 1.2 meters tall can enter free of charge but may not be permitted to ride the slide.

Tickets for the Badaling Great Wall cost CNY45 from April 1 to October 31 and CNY40 from November 1 to March 31. Tickets for the cable car at Badaling cost CNY40 for a single journey and CNY60 for a roundtrip.

Tickets for the Simatai Great Wall cost CNY40 and tickets for the cable car at Simatai cost CNY90 for a one-way trip or CNY160 for a return ticket.

Tickets for the Huanghuacheng Great Wall cost CNY45 for adults and children over 3’9 (1.2m).

how to get there

The Mutianyu Great Wall can be reached via public transport from Dongzhimen in Beijing. From Dongzhimen you can take the 916 or the 916 Express bus services, which take about an hour, before transferring to bus numbers H23, H24, H35, or H36 to Mutianyu Roundabout, where you’ll be a short walk from the ticket office. The ticket office is about 1.8 miles (3km) away from the scenic area, so you can take a shuttle bus to save yourself the walk. Car parking is also available near the ticket office for over 2000 vehicles.

The Badaling Great Wall can be reached by train from Beijing North station to Badaling station or by bus 919 from downtown Beijing.

The Simatai Great Wall can be reached by bus number 980 from Dongzhimen station in Beijing, or by taking a tourist bus from Tian’anmen Departure Center between 6 am and 9 am.

The Huanghuacheng Great Wall can be reached by taking bus 916 or 916 Express from Dongzhimen in Beijing and changing at Huairou bus station to bus number H21 to Small West Lake (Lakeside Great Wall) station. Parking options are available at all sections of the Great Wall.
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