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  • Recommended locations

    People often ask for recommendations for their first visit to the Great Wall. The best site to visit depends on your individual preferences. These recommendations assume that you are visiting from the Beijing area. If you are elsewhere in China (further east or west), there are many alternatives to these Beijing-area Great Wall locations.

    If you’re more interested in a full-scale tourist attraction than seeing the real Great Wall, Badaling is your best choice. It’s crowded with tourists. It features a Great Wall that is rebuilt to better-than-new condition. And in addition to the Great Wall you can find all sorts of gimmicks from camel rides to toboggans.

    If you want the shortest, easiest trip to the Great Wall, Juyongguan is your best bet. The driving time from Beijing is the least of any Great Wall location. And the Great Wall comes right down to the level of the parking lot, so you don’t even need to ride a cable car or climb any long paths to reach the Wall.

    If you have a little bit more time but still can’t devote an entire day, visit Mutianyu. It’s restored to an unnatural state like Badaling and Juyongguan, but it’s more interesting and less crowded, and the scenery is better. And unlike Badaling and Juyongguan, if you walk to the end of the restored section, you can proceed to the unrestored areas, although this requires ignoring the signs warning you not to continue.

    For those looking to see the authentic Ming Dynasty Great Wall, look elsewhere as follows.

    The best place to visit if you aren’t planning a lengthy hike is Jinshanling. It offers an excellent combination of interesting features, great scenery, and reasonably easy accessibility.

    Another great place to visit is Wohushan. Wohushan differs from Jinshanling in being much less touristy and less developed. There are no facilities of any kind here. You can hike as far as you like (mostly uphill) and when you are ready, turn around and return (mostly downhill) to your starting point.

    If you’re interested in a one-day easy hike, you can hike either direction between Jinshanling and Simatai. Note: "easy" is relative. Hiking the Great Wall is not like a hike in the woods. See Jinshanling to Simatai — FAQ for details on this popular hike.

    Note: As of 2010, Simatai is closed to the public.

    If you want a moderate one-day hike, we recommend hiking from the Zhengbeilou tower at Jiankou eastward to Mutianyu.

    For a two-day moderate hike, consider hiking between Gubeikou and Simatai. In between, you can stay at one of the hotels at Jinshanling, or you can camp in a tower (or a tent) on the Great Wall. Be aware that hiking between Gubeikou and Jinshanling requires leaving and rejoining the Great Wall to bypass a military area, and you must prepare yourself in order to avoid getting lost. If you're pretty fast you can make this hike in one day. If you have extra time and energy, include the excellent Wohushan Great Wall in Gubeikou, and/or include the east ridge at Simatai.

    A good location for a one-day advanced hike is Jiuyanlou to Jiankou pass. This is a strenuous and dangerous – and rewarding – hike. It will take you all day so start as early in the morning as possible. There are a couple of paths to Xizhazi from the Beijingjie and Yingfeidaoyang areas of the Jiankou Great Wall that would allow you to shorten this hike if you don’t want to go all the way to Jiankou pass.

    For a two-day advanced hike, hike from Jiuyanlou to Jiankou as above, spend the night at Xizhazi or camp on the Great Wall, and on the next day, hike from Zhengbeilou to Mutianyu. We recommend walking down the road at Jiankou and rejoining the Great Wall at Zhengbeilou. The Great Wall between Jiankou and Zhengbeilou is too dangerous to recommend to anyone but experienced rock climbers.

    Anything longer than a two-day hike on the Great Wall is an advanced hike. There are really no easy long hikes on the Great Wall due to the terrain and the condition of the Great Wall. This is especially true if you want to hike on brick and stone walls since they are only to be found in the mountains. In the Beijing area, the only long and mostly continuous spans of the Great Wall are to be found in Huairou district between Longquanyu and Qinglongxia, and in Yanqing county between Bijiashan and Badaling. Any long hike on either of these spans is a great challenge in safety, stamina, and logistics.
    Bryan

  • #2
    SiMaTai zip line

    I am travelling to China in April this year and am planning to visit the Great Wall. I will start in Beijing and travel south. A friend of mine went to China last year and has recommended doing a zip-line off the wall and I was wondering where this is possible, apart from Simatai. (I will most likely visit MuTianYu section off the wall. Does anyone know whether or not they have a zip line here?)
    Also, if SiMaTai is the only place I can do this, is the train the best way to get to this section of the wall and how much does this cost/ how long does it take?

    Many thanks
    Last edited by ecoomber; 01-31-2008, 05:31 PM.

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    • #3
      Great Wall Zip Line

      Simatai is the only place I know of that has a zip line. Mutianyu has a cable car (two actually) and you can also ride down on a toboggan.

      You can take a train to Gubeikou and get a local taxi from there. See this link for details: Taking the train from Beijing to the Great Wall.

      Of course you can also take a taxi directly from Beijing; it should cost about 300 RMB.

      Good luck and have fun!
      Bryan

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      • #4
        Re: Recommended locations for visiting and hiking the Great Wall

        Any Great Wall recommendations for a wall that isn't so strenuous that would be suitable for the elderly, disabled, or people with children?.... that is not Badaling, lol. Easier but not too easy.

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        • #5
          Re: Recommended locations for visiting and hiking the Great Wall

          Originally posted by PWCCA View Post
          Any Great Wall recommendations for a wall that isn't so strenuous that would be suitable for the elderly, disabled, or people with children?.... that is not Badaling, lol. Easier but not too easy.
          In my opinion, the Great Wall in the Beijing area is unfortunately not suitable for elderly or disabled persons. One could go to Badaling or Juyongguan and see it at a distance and even walk up onto it, but anywhere one walks along it there will be many steep steps. By the way, Badaling has a handicap access facility that allows wheelchair access for a short distance.
          Bryan

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