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Without a doubt the most famous attraction that there is in China and quite possibly one of the most famous attractions in the whole world is the Great Wall of China. It’s, more often than not, on the top of everyone’s list of things to see on a China tour and rightly so but which part of the Wall should you visit?After all the Wall is over 20,000km long!

The place that most people are going to access the Great Wall from is Beijing, although it does stretch far off into the country, it is around Beijing that most of the best preserved sections are found and where you are most likely to be already on a package tour of China.

The Great Wall at Badaling - Best avoided due to tourist hoards

That being the case you are looking at three main sections that are possibilities. Firstly there is Badaling, this a complete tourist trap and I’d strongly advise you avoid this section of the Wall, unless you have specific mobility issues as this is the only section that has relatively easy access for wheelchairs. I say to avoid it for several reasons. Firstly it is simply just too overcrowded with tour groups being bussed in en masse to this entrance which in turn creates an overly touristy feel as you are given the hard sell on a variety of unappealing souvenirs. It is also mainly rebuilt in this section with little, if any, of the original wall actually there. All in all avoid Badaling and those that try to send you there!

Much better to visit the Great Wall at Mutianyu

Now on to the better parts to visit! Mutianyu is far enough out of Beijing to avoid the mass tourist crowds and is dramatically located with beautiful views to be seen as you look across the mountains that surround this area. There’s also a rather fun toboggan run down to the bottom which is not to be missed; do brake when it tells you to though!

Trek the Great wall at Jinshanling

Finally for those looking for a bit more of an opportunity to trek along the Great Wall, I’d suggest getting out to Jinshanling. It’s a much quieter part of the Wall and you have the opportunity to trek along to another great part Simatai. Simatai itself has been closed for renovations for quite some time at the time of writing this but I would expect it to be opening again sometime in 2014. Another good thing about Jinshanling is that it can be visited on route to Chengde for those wanting to see the place the emperor used to go on his holidays!

To sum up I’d say that it is well worth the extra travel time and expense to get to the parts of the Great Wall that are a bit further afield from Beijing in order to get a better feel for the Wall and it’s significance to this ancient culture - after all it’s not everyday that you get to experience such a monster of World History up close.

Article posted by Phil Stanley: 29th November 2013

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