The Great Wall of China

The moment has arrived.

It’s the mother of all of China’s tourist attractions, the Pièce de résistance of the country and the coolest landmark in the world.  We all heard about it at an early age and the myth and allure of it draws 10 of millions of tourists to witness this new World Wonder.

You know what I’m talking about, The Great Wall of China.

Did it live up to the hype?

You bet it did!

great wall of china empty

Great Wall of China

We were expecting hoards of tourists and chaos when we visited the Great Wall. Instead we got serenity and beauty during our time there.

That would be because we have smart tour guides at Intrepid Travel.  They brought us to the more remote section of the wall, a two-hour bus ride outside of Beijing. The MuTianYu Great Wall section is far less crowded than the Badaling Section.  The Badaling Great Wall is the most famous and most Chinese tourists go there as it was the first and most heavily promoted as a national relic.

Significant events of Chinese history took place at the Badaling section of the Great Wall attracting domestic tourists. Emperor Qin himself visited this section of the wall and it was here that the Mongols crossed the Wall and took control of China under the Yuan Dynasty for nearly 100 years.

great wall of china landscape

Foreign tourist will be very happy with making the trip to the MuTianYu section though. It has less tourists than the other sections and it is the most well preserved section of the entire wall.  Made from granite it remains one of the best quality sections of the Great Wall of China.

If you want to stay away from the masses of people, we suggest the MuTianYu Great Wall.

Be Prepared to Hike!

The Great Wall snakes over hills and rolling mountains so make sure to wear the proper shoes.  We saw a woman in heels!

great wall of china dave


There are 22 watchtowers at Mutianyu Section spanning 2.5 km.  To make the most of the view, you can easily catch a gondola up to watchtower number 6 to start your hike.  The gondola is a fun little ride to catch some panorama views of the wall and countryside on the way up.

Once you are up at number 6, you have the opportunity to either walk down the great wall or continue up to watchtower 22.   We chose to walk up to check out the spectacular scenery.

china gondola

The day was just about as perfect as it could get.  The brisk December air kept the clouds and pollution away and we had clear blue skies during our entire time at the site.

china group

The Walk

The walk is steep but not strenuous.  This section of the Great Wall is very well restored and the stone pathway is quite even and easy to walk.  I read that the Mutianyu Great Wall is narrower than other sections at 4 metres wide, but with very little crowds and 2.5 km of tourist free walking, it felt very spacious.

great wall of china deb dave

We stopped regularly to check out the watchtowers and look over the wall at what was once Mongolia.

The Great Wall of China actually consists of several different walls brought together after China's warring states unified under the rule of Emperor Qin.  It was during the Qin Dynasty, over 2000 years ago that the Great Wall was unified and constructed.  Using hundreds of thousand of workers and prisoners, the wall was constructed over decades of work.

For over a thousand years the wall served as protection from the nomadic tribes to the north.  Later dynasties repaired and maintained the wall to keep their fortification intact.

great wall of china kissing

It wasn’t until Genghis Khan came along in the 13th century that the Great Wall finally fell.  He unified the Mongols bringing together warring tribes and seizing control of land spanning from Eastern Europe and Russia through the Middle East and Central Asia all the way to China and South Korea.   The Great Wall was of little consequence to the now organized Mongols and once they decided that they wanted China, they broke through with ease.

great wall of china map

They held power for 100 years as the Yuan Dynasty and since the ruling party was from Mongolia and part of the nomadic tribes that the wall was built to keep out, it wasn't needed anymore and left to fall to ruins.

When the Yuan Dynasty fell, the Great wall was once again rebuilt and restored by the Ming Dynasty over a one hundred year period only to be breached again by the Manchurians.

This was the final nail in the over 2000 year ongoing project.  The wall was left and forgotten to fall into disrepair over the centuries.

It was almost destroyed completely during the Cultural Revolution under the Rule of Chairman Mao. Wanting to do away with the past and erase anything that seemed old fashioned or useless, the Great Wall was ordered demolished.

But in 1984 when a new ruler came into power, Deng Xiaoping re-opened its doors to the rest of the world and opted to rebuilt the Great Wall to restore National Pride.

great wall of china black and white

Whatever you may think of the Great Wall of China, it is an incredible feat of engineering.

With hundreds of thousands of men constructing thousands of miles of wall over the centuries, it is astounding to comprehend the history and events that took place over its lifetime.

Additional Information:

  • Admission 40 Yuan
  • Cable Car 45 Yuan One way
  • Opening hours 8 am to 4 pm
  • You can take a toboggan down instead of walking if you feel like a little fun
  • The wall is 2.5 km long
  • You can take a local bus from Beijing to the Great wall.
  • If you go in December, dress warm, it is cold and windy on the wall
  • If you take public transport remember that the wall is only open until 4 not giving you a lot of time to get there.

Read More

Where to Get Off the Beaten Track in China

Top 10 Things to Do in Shanghai, China

Spectacular Mutianyu Great Wall – Your Travel Video Coffee Break

Why You Should Travel Off the Beaten Path in China

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