on December 4, 2008
We decided to go to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall having heard good things about this particular section (albeit restored). We were not disappointed. We were fortunate to have an amazing weather… bright blue sky with not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was just perfect, about 20C. We also went in the afternoon and we pretty much had the Wall to ourselves. There is a lift (think a chairlift on a ski hill) that we took to get to the Wall from the parking lot area. Then we took the fun toboggan back down. My Chinese friend said that you can also hike up to the Wall and not have to pay the lift fee but you will still have to pay the entrance fee. The hike takes around one hour, I believe. One thing I recommend if you are planning to spend even a couple of hours at the Wall, take snacks. There are people selling cans of coke or bottled water at the top (at exorbiant prices of course) and there were a couple of stalls selling strange dried meats and nuts where the parking lot is but nothing really tempting food-wise. We wish we had taken a couple of energy bars or a couple of pieces of fruit with us. Taking public transport there was a cinch. We took a taxi to Donzhimen long distance bus station and hopped on the #980 bus to Huairou (the closest town to the Mutianyu section of the Wall), which if I remember correctly cost 8 RMB. Then from Huairou we could have taken a shuttle bus but we ended up getting a bit confused. In the end we hired a taxi to take us there and back. He waited for us in the car while we went up the Wall. The taxi driver initially asked 200 RMB for the ride there and back (it's about a 20 minute ride) but we were finally able to talk him down to 100 RMB, which we still thought was well worth it, considering it gave us the freedom to leave when we wanted instead of having to wait for the next bus. The bus ride back to Beijing was uneventful although this time it did take well over two hours as the traffic going into the city was terrible. Definitely one of the best days of our trip!
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