Results 1-10of 21 Reviews
New Delhi, India
September 8, 2007
The section closest to Beijing is Badaling, approximately 70km away. There are other sections too, most notably at Simatai and Mutianyu, but they’re farther out, Simatai being 3 hours one way. I’d been warned that Badaling was commercial, crowded, and not authentic (it was reconstructed in the 20th century, so what you see is modern). Mutianyu, we decided; but we missed the last bus to Mutianyu simply because our guide book had the timings wrong. We couldn’t think of not seeing the Wall – and we were down to the last day of our trip – so Badaling it was.
We bought tour bus tickets (90 RMB per person, including return fare and entry) at the Beijing Sightseeing Tour Center at Qianmen, and got into one of the buses that leave every ten minutes for Badaling. Our tour guide was an efficient girl who quickly began her spiel – unfortunately only in Chinese. Thankfully, she knew enough English to be able to give us vital information: where to find the bus once we’d finished with the wall; what time to get back; and so on.
An hour or so later, we were in Badaling. It was as bad as everybody said it would be: shops, tour buses by the score, food courts, a huge Beijing Olympics 2008 sign across a hill. The worst part is that you can’t avoid it; the route up to the wall is lined all the way with commercial establishments. We refused offers of Chinese fans, fake jade, I climbed the Great Wall T-shirts and much more before finally making it to the Wall.
The Wall’s a combination of steps and ramps, grey stone and steep in places. Climbing isn’t much of a problem unless you’re woefully out of shape, but the descent can be dangerous. What bewildered me was the number of stiletto-wearing women who were gamely climbing up – and down. How do they manage it?
Fending off hawkers (they’re up there on the Wall, selling souvenirs, mineral water, even ices), we toiled up far enough to shake off most of the crowds. Some appreciative admiring of the view – the Wall is impressive – and then we edged our way down, holding on to the rusty railing along the parapets, stopping for a break at a watchtower. We were down at the bus parking with an hour to spare, which we (in classic touristy style) spent buying cheap trinkets as souvenirs.
Verdict: attempt the Wall at Badaling only if you have no choice. It’s the Great Wall of China, yes; but there’s a superficial and irritatingly commercial feel to it that’s hard to get rid of.
From journal Beijing: The Usual Suspects
September 30, 2000
From journal China budget tour
April 19, 2003
We made use of our hotel's travel agency and reserved a full-day trip to a part of the Great Wall called Simatai. We had intended to try and walk from Jingling to Simatai -- reputed to be a four to five hour walk. Unfortunately, the travel agency could only offer us a two hour walk on the part called Simatai. The package included transport to and from the Great Wall, a guide, and lunch -- all for RMB380 each.
We were fetched at 9am by the guide and a driver. There were two other Americans who joined us. It was a two-hour long drive in a comfortable station wagon, which gave us the chance to nap and view the locals in their daily lives. We drove past locals felling trees. They seemed to be in exactly the same spot when we drove back.
Our guide shared her knowledge with us, but didn't share the experience of the actual hike with us. We were basically pointed in the right direction and told to return within 2 hours. I'm in pretty good shape but the air pollution in Beijing had already taken its toll (that's the story I'm sticking to). There was a short walk to get to the Wall. On the way, we encountered some dubious-looking signs, construction, and locals ready to be our walking partners.
The hike was steep at times and taxing at its worst. Along the way, locals attempted to sell us everything from drinks to snacks to books on China, none of which were of great interest to one so sweaty and out of breath as myself. I made it as far as the sixth tower, my husband the 11th. We could only go as far as the 16th tower because after that, the path/wall is so deteriorated that it is forbidden to walk on. But I figured the view from about the 3rd tower encompassed it all -- absolutely . . . magnificently mind-blowing -- the way it stretches to what seems like infinity and the realisation that we were basically standing on a mass grave -- all for the protection of the capital city and the Emperor.
All in all, we were on the wall for about 2,5 hours. Lunch was near our starting point. Our guide made an amusing comment about the restaurant we ate at: "It not the best food, but restaurant clean," which was kind of ironic when the "chef" came stumbling out of the kitchen with a live red snapper that he dropped on the paved pathway near us. He went back inside, the fish died, and then a lady came out to behead and de-scale the fish.
From journal Historical Emersion in Beijing
San Jose, California
December 20, 2002
The Great Wall is composed of tall solid stone walls topped with walkways connecting watch towers and other military installations. It follows the natural contours of the countryside, crossing rivers and climbing steep hills. As the many signs in English will explain, the wall was built and rebuilt across many centuries and many dynasties.
No matter which portion of the wall you visit, you will only see a small portion of the full expanse. Getting to the wall is easily done by either group tour or taxi. If there are two or more of you, the latter is probably the best way to go. Getting onto the wall takes a bit of a climb and once on the wall there are few level portions. As common in China, there are few accomodations for the disabled. The extent to which you can explore the wall will depend on your level of fitness. Even if you can only visit a small portion, however, you will be treated to amazing views and an experience you'll never forget. Bring bottled water and LOTS of film.
From journal Simultaneous Centuries
July 28, 2004
Badaling located 47 miles nw of Beijing is the most crowded. This section of the wall includes restored towers and turrets, a museum that shows a 15 minute video of the wall, and a cable car. Tours typically give you about 2 ½ hours to explore. The cost is Y40.
Mutianyu was opened to relieve some pressure off Badaling although it has begun to get crowed as well. Like Badaling this section of the wall has been restored and again tours are usually 2 ½ hours long. The cable car is Y35 one way and Y50 round trip with entrance to this section Y35.
Both Badaling and Mutianyu are the relatively close to Beijing and half day tours are offered to both or can be combined with a visit to a tomb. On the other hand, the following sections of the wall involve a three hour drive one way with walking and hiking necessary on rough terrain.
Simatai is 67 miles ne of Beijing and not restored. From the entrance there is the choice of hiking towards the left towards Jinshanling or to the right which is the very steep and can require climbing on all fours depending on how far you go. Tours are not readily available, but mini bus transportation can usually be arranged at hotels for Y80 with the entrance another Y30.
Huangyaguan is 18 miles nw of Huairou and is not restored. The reservoir, water pass and beacon tower along with the yellow leaves in the fall (hence the name) provide the uniqueness to this section. Entrance is Y15. There are no tours for this, but 2 bus routes followed by a mini bus will get you there.
Jinshanling is the least visited section but the best preserved (not to be confused with restored). It is 94 miles from Beijing and includes highlights such as 67 watchtowers with 7 miles, a storehouse tower and obstacle walls which are walls within walls. Aside from public transportation, there is are usually mini buses arranged at hotels for transportation only for Y90. The entrance is Y30, but halfway to Simatai you have to pay Y30 again for the Simatai section.
From journal Beijing Now! Before The Olympics
September 30, 2001
From journal The Trip to China in 2001
Hamilton Square, New Jersey
October 24, 2002
From the entrance, you are offered two choices of a climb: steep and REALLY steep. I've called this an "athletic" sight because the better your shape, the more you'll be able to take in. We chose the steep side, and I climbed about half-way up before deciding I'd gone far enough to get a good view. Some of my classmates made it much further (the panoramic picture of the wall below was taken by one of them -- thanks, Mirek!)
Having climbed as far as I wanted and taken some pictures, I headed back down to stop in the shops. I spent about $20, and bought Chinese outfits for my three nieces, a cloisonne vase, a set of wooden dogs and a wooden dragon. Bargain with the merchants -- they'll often come down as much as 50% from the original asking price.
Our tour guide dispelled a long-held belief about the Great Wall, which is that it can be seen from the moon with the naked eye. The Great Wall is the only man made structure that can be seen from space with the naked eye. However, space starts 50 miles from the Earth's surface; looking at the Wall from the Moon would be like looking at a piece of string from 100 miles away!
Making a recommendation on this is tough, as I can't help but be influenced a bit by the guide books panning of the sight. If you are interested in a less touristy area of the Great Wall and have the time to travel further from major cities to see it, by all means do so. But do NOT leave China without visiting it somewhere.
From journal MBA Students on the Loose in Beijing
March 29, 2003
We decided to go despite the weather leaving a ground cover of white snow. If nothing else, we thought it would provide a different experience. We arrived about 90 minutes later after driving through more rural villages that offered a look at what I actually expected to see in Beijing. The buildings were somewhat run down, had large, colorful signage (in Chinese Characters, of course) and offered views of people about their tasks or visiting with other shopkeepers. Some were playing cards, others sweeping their spot of concrete, some setting out their goods. It struck me many times during the trip the amount of hard labor people endure in their daily life. It's nothing to see bicycles with carts filled eight feet tall and six feet wide of goods. How these people managed to pedal these heavy loads, much less navigate in traffic is beyond me. I saw carts with laundry, fruit, mattresses, wood, all piled sky high and pedaled by people of all ages.
90 minutes later we finally see our GREAT WALL! I have been dreaming of this for years! I could hardly believe my eyes! It was so beautiful. This morning showed blue layered mountains as far as the eye could see through the beautiful haze. Pictures here.
From journal China Discovery
July 24, 2002
There are different starting points to see the wall. We choose the see the south end which is the most popular and accessable from Beijing. There are other options which I have heard should be even more beatiful, but we were satisfied with what we saw.
Words can not describe the view but basically it is a very broad wall where you can walk on top and this gives you a beatiful view of the landscape.
The wall was used the protect the Chinese people agenst their enemies and you should try to imagine being a soldier gaurding the wall hundreds of years ago against an unknown enemy.
You need to be in good condition to get the full experience from the wall. You will see the most rewarding sights when you walk for at least a few miles.
From journal Beijing - silk marked & The Chinese wall
by world designer
Rancho Santa Fe, California
January 6, 2001
From journal Beijing- A historical wonder