So at the start of 2018, as I was turning 25 I wrote a bucket list with 25 things on it. At the top of my list was to go to North Korea. But right next to North Korea is the weird and wonderful countries of China and on my bucket list was to walk the Great Wall of China. When you think about it, who’s been to China and not seen the Great Wall?
Well if you have been, and not seen the wall … there is something wrong with you. Ideally, if you are not massively into hiking like me, you can just do a Great Wall of China day trip from Beijing.
So I was doing my research by googling ‘trips to the Great Wall of china’ and endless options came up with different places and tour operators from Beijing. There were so any different places you can go to, with so many different things included in the tour.
The tour I went on was booked on a tours website, and we ended up spending hours on a coach going to different places where they try to sell you stuff. I wanted to see the wall, not the inside of a jade jewellery shop, or a Chinese shop. So I would strongly advise to check the itinerary of the tour properly. However after all the pointless stops at we arrived in Mutianyu.
Now before I tell you about the experience of walking the wall. Its important I let you know about the options that come up on tour sites. My one bit of advice to you is to avoid going to the Great Wall of China at Balading like the bubonic plague. If you don’t believe me, go onto youtube and search Great Wall at Balading. Its full of Chinese tourists, and when I mean full, I mean full! Check out how busy it is below!
Anyway, so we arrived at Mutianyu for the Great Wall of China trek and stopped for a quick bite to eat. Regardless of how you get there – there are plenty of places to grab a bite near the coach park. There is even a Subway! I regrettably had a few beers before the hike, so I started my experience on the Great Wall slightly tipsy. There are 2 options. You can get the cable car up to the Great Wall, or you can walk up to the Great Wall. If you have time and are quite fit – you could walk. If your like me and unfit, definitely get the cable car up to the wall. Its £10 and its actually quite a nice experience. If you are scared of heights, just don’t look out the window!
I arrived at the Great Wall. I am standing on a piece of history the is thousands of years ago. I am about to embark on a few kilometres of a 5,500 mile long wall that was built by the Ming dynasty. I would strongly recommend wearing a comfortable pair of trainers as when you are walking downhill – its steep and your toes get squashed in the bottom of your shoes. Someone asked me ‘how long does it take to walk the Great Wall of China’ a while ago. Genuinely, it would take years if you walk it end to end.
Walking the wall was utterly amazing, and at Mutianyu its not to busy, so you can get some good pictures. Check out my pictures below. However if you wanted to go a bit further out and get some even better pictures, I would advise you get a tour that goes to Juyonguan. Based on other people who have walked the wall, they said that Juyonguan is very quiet and very peaceful. Mutianyu has very steep bits, but trust me – when you get to the highest point of the wall which is about a 35 minute walk from the main entry point – it makes everything so worth it. However, I wouldn’t wait to get to the top to get your pictures. Because China and especially Beijing is so polluted, it makes it very hard to get decent pictures at the top because of the smog. If I was to do the wall again, I would take a face mask with me. This is because there are lots of flies and insects flying in the air that are not afraid to get up close and personal.
When you get to the highest point of the Great Wall, you can have a well deserved beer. They sell souvenirs to, so if your like me and collect fridge magnets everywhere you go – you will be in for a treat. However, having a beer on top of the Great Wall comes at a premium! A small can of 330ml beer was about £5.
So my advice to all you potential hikers out there is:
- Check with your tour operator that you don’t end up spending the majority of your day stopping at pointless stops and shops
- Read the reviews of your tour operator. Our driver drove like an absolute mad man!
- Take some water with you, it gets hot up there!
- Take a commutable pair of trainers
- Take a mask, you can pick these up from pharmacies jn Beijing for a couple of quid
But my last bit of advice is to enjoy and embrace it. The wall is thousands of years old, and I would advise you to look into the history of the wall before walking on it. It reminds you that China is a country with massive history that is very is extremely intriguing.