Visiting Beijing and Climbing the Great Wall of China – My China Travel Bucket List!
China has always been on my bucket list for years and in March 2018 I had an opportunity to visit Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. The trip was 10 days and at the time it seemed like a lot of time and it all passed in a blur and I was wishing I had more time. Our first stop was Beijing and one of the things I planned if I was ever in Beijing was Climbing The Great Wall of China.
If you’re headed to Beijing to see the Great Wall of China, then you need to do some planning in advance to make sure you get the best out of your trip. Beijing is huge and so is the Great Wall. The wall stretches almost 22,000 kilometers across many different land types including deserts, mountains, and grasslands. Knowing when to go and where is very important.
When should you go?
The first thing I would suggest is to avoid going to the Great Wall of China on any holidays and if possible try to go on a weekday and not a weekend. Weekends and holidays typically are the busiest and if you don’t want to bt to crowded down the narrow walkway of the wall with thousands of people, go there on a weekday.
The best times of the year to go is around October and November as the weather will be slightly cooler, unlike the summer days which can get extremely hot. I also would suggest not going during February as this is the Chinese New Year which typically a lot of tourism happens. March is another good month. I was there in March and the crowds were almost inexistent. It was chilly but the time I had climbed for 1/2 hour it was not cold anymore.
Which parts should you see?
The Great Wall of China is one of the top wonders of the world and a definite must see when you’re in this region of the world. With its huge popularity, it’s quite easy to visit the Great Wall of China but if you don’t want to be shuffling around with thousands of other people I have a few suggestions on which parts to see.
Badaling and Mutianyu Great Wall
The most popular (and often the most crowded) sections are Badaling and Mutianyu Great Wall. They are both well restored and popular among tourists. They each have cable car access and a few different hikes you can do to see different watchtowers.
While these are both great options for a day trip from Beijing, they can often be very crowded. I suggest only going here on weekdays when there will be fewer people or if you are limited on time during your trip and just want to see the wall.
Jinshanling and Gubeikou Great Wall
If you’re looking for a longer hike through the forests and a more remote area of the Great Wall of China then the Jinshanling and Gubeikou Great Wall are great sections. Both are semi or unrestored areas of the Great Wall but they each have incredible views of different lakes and mountains.
These two are perfect if you want a section of the wall with not many people. Great for taking photos without anyone in the background. I only would suggest taking these ones if you have more than 1 day to spend on the Great Wall of China.
These areas also have campsites available for you if you want to spend overnight under the stars.
Before you go
You’ll want to plan before you go to the Great Wall of China. I do highly suggest that you hire a tour guide to go with you. There are millions of people that visit the great wall every year and you can often get lost and will be unsure where to go. Having a guide makes sure that you get the history and access to the hidden secrets of the Great Wall of China.
If you do go for the DIY type trip, taking the bus can often be very difficult for anyone who is not a local. The bus system can be confusing if your language is only English. For those who do a DIY type trip, I would suggest hiring a car and driver to ensure you have your transportation source ready.
One of the things I did before I went to China was I took daily hikes and it was a wise thing to do. Let me explain why! When we got to the Wall our local guide told us there were two ways to climb the easy way and the hard way. Apparently, the more difficult way had better views so…… drumroll I took the difficult climb and it was so worth it. I have to be honest the climb was difficult but the views were spectacular!
One thing I can tell you climbing The Great Wall of China was one of the highlights of my life. It was awesome and absolutely worth the climb.
When you get back to Beijing, make sure to try some of the local favorite destinations food like the Crispy roast duck, savory Beijing-style soup dumplings, pickled cucumbers, and many of the other skewered and barbecued street foods.
Our guide planned a foot massage for us and it was the perfect ending to a perfect day!
If you have a few extra days in Beijing make sure to check out the great tourist destinations like the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven and the Tiananmen Square.
Have fun on the Great Wall and in Beijing!
Have you been to Beijing? Have you had an opportunity to climb The Great Wall of China? Share your experiences with us in the comments!