Mutianyu Great Wall status updates: Tower 20 is closed on April 4, 2016

Mutianyu Great Wall status update: As tower 20 of Mutianyu is blocked by Mutianyu Great Wall office on the April 4th, 2014. The trail from Jiankou to Mutianyu is blocked. You may not be able to walk from Jiankou to Mutianyu. You may have to walk other parts of the Wall instead. Jinshanling to Simtai West self-guided tour is a good alternative for Jiankou to Mutianyu self-guided tour.























Beijing and The Great Wall By Laura Wilson

A trip to China usually means having to obtain a visa by visiting the Chinese embassy in your home country. We couldn’t do this so a trip to China almost did not happen. Then I read about a 72-hour visa free transit that an increasing number of cities in China are allowing. Passport holders from 51 countries do not need a visa for cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, as long as they are flying in from a different country that they fly out of and do not stay more that 72 hours. We flew into Beijing from Hong Kong and flew out to Kuala Lumpur. All we had to do was show our onward ticket and a visa free visit was granted. Immigration was a little scary and it felt so surreal to be in China once we were there.

I have always wanted to see the Great Wall of China, for as long as I can remember. We arrived in Beijing at around 6pm. We had two nights accommodation in the city and our flight left in the early hours of the day after our second night. This gave us two whole days in Beijing, which was enough to see what we wanted to see.

We stayed at the Dragon King Hostel which we booked via booking. We got a cosy double room, with an en suite and it was very easy to locate via the subway from the Airport. They had a lovely little bar that served nice cheap meals, cheap beer and a good breakfast.

Pizza, Coffee and Beer. What more

could you need?

On our first evening in Beijing we visited Tiananmen Square. The cold weather shocked us so we headed towards the shopping are in search of some gloves. We had a lovely meal back at the hostel and got and early night in preparation for our big trip the next day.

Welcome to Beijing.

As usual, I carried out a lot of research on trips to the Great Wall of China from Beijing. We didn’t fancy a typical coach trip where you rock up, take photos and head back, so we started looking for Hiking trips. I found a website called Wild Great Wall Adventure Tours. They pretty much do any kind of trip to the wall that you could want so I made an enquiry. I got chatting to a lovely man called Ricky and he organised a day trip, which included a hike along a section of the wall. January is a quiet time to be visiting the wall, as it is very cold, so we ended up getting a private trip (at no extra cost). For a driver, an English speaking guide, hostel pick up, local lunch and a hike a long the wall we paid just under 200 pounds for the two of us.

After a breakfast (which was very close to being good) we were picked up by our driver and tour guide; David. It was a two hour drive to Xizhazi, where we would start our walk. I’m not really sure how I expected to get up to the wall, but I definitely was not expecting it to be such a challenge. We had to climb up a steep and snowy 243 metres, from the village to Zhengbeilou; a ruined tower on the Jiankou section of the wall.

Heading up towards the Great Wall.
Glimpses of the Wall on the way up.

I am terrible when it comes to steep hiking. My legs freeze and I have to concentrate on every step. because I think I’m going to fall and die. Luckily Henry (our guide) was pretty tough, and probably used to tourists like me, and ended up dragging me up the steep slope to the tower. The views when we reached the top were insane. I could not quite believe where we were. You really have to stand on the wall to realize just how insanely long it is. It goes on for what seem like forever, no hill too sharp or too high for it to climb. My first few minutes stood on The Great Wall of China, a part of the wall that hasn’t been restored and most tourists do not get taken to, was a moment I knew I would not be forgetting in a hurry.

Zhengbeilou Tower.
The view from the Wall.
The Wall winds up and down the hills.

We walked along the icy wall; overgrown with trees and part of it collapsed. We had to hold on to the sides, cling on the the trees and slide down steep parts on our bottoms. I started to relax even thought the hike was still fairly challenging. Henry, our guide, talked to us about the various purposes of the wall over time and how it was built. He made sure we were safe (and kept reminding me to to not walk on ice and take photos at the same time).

Trying not to fall off the world’s most famous Wall.
You can see the Great Wall for miles and miles.

We soon reached Mutianyu, where we could have a break and appreciate what we had just done. We bought a little pin badge from a sweet lady who had a stall and tied a red ribbon round tree for luck. We sat down for a rest and looked around us in awe. As we were in the depths of Winter, there were few people around and it was very peaceful. We walked back down a steep track to where our driver was waiting for us and pretty much collapsed into the car. It was all over a bit too soon for me, I could have stayed up on the wall for much longer.

Tying a traditional red ribbon on a tree at Mutianyu.

After a traditional Chinese lunch, we were driven back to our hostel where we celebrated with some local draught beer in the hotel bar. We certainly slept well that night.

The following day we went to see the Forbidden City, which was a short (and cheap) subway trip away from our hostel. The Forbidden City was the imperial palace from 1420 to 1912, serving as the home of the emperors and the Chinese government. As someone who knows very little about Chinese history, there was a lot to try and take in and I felt that I couldn’t quite keep up with our audio guides. The palaces were impressive and we enjoyed exploring all the difference buildings, but it was freezing cold.

The Forbidden City.
Looking back at the front gate.

Beijing was well worth the visit, the highlight being the Great Wall. We found everything easy to navigate and the people friendly. I would love to visit again in the summer and maybe do a longer hike (and possibly camping) along the wonderful Wall.

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Alex&Bell Tips on Visiting the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is pretty epic, only in part because it’s the largest man made structure in the world. But standing atop it, as it zig zags through majestic mountains, is even more impressive than we anticipated. And it’s even more straight forward to visit this ancient wonder than you might think. Since 2013, China has implemented a 72 hour transit visa to encourage increased tourism from abroad. This means that so long as you’re flying on to a third country, you don’t even have to prearrange a tourist visa to Beijing, which is the easiest starting point to visit the Great Wall of China. Under the rules of the 72 hour transit visa, you cannot visit Shanghai if you flew into Beijing, but you can visit the magnificent Great Wall.

Great Wall of China Jump

Photo tip: put your DSLR camera on the sports setting, select continuous shooting and hold down the button to capture images like these, and then delete the non-air shots!

Ways to Reach the Great Wall of China from Beijing

There are several ways to visit the Great Wall of China and if you visit the Forbidden City in Beijing (which you absolutely should), a few random tour proprietors on the street will offer to take you to the Great Wall, generally for around 500 Chinese yuan ($77 US). We don’t recommend going this route because they may not be a reputable company and there’s an excellent chance you’ll spend a fair bit of your day shopping, whether you want to shop or not.

You could catch a train from Beijing’s train station to a wild unmaintained section of the wall, which would certainly be interesting for some. Just know that if you choose this route, China can be a difficult country to travel around without speaking Chinese, so expect a couple added challenges along this journey. We contemplated going this route, but as our time was short and we didn’t want to deal with the stress, we decided to book a tour instead.

We booked the most basic package with Wild Great Wall Adventure Tours which offers a lot of options and advice for visiting different sections of the Great Wall on their blog.

Which Section of the Great Wall of China Should You Visit?

Certain sections of the Great Wall of China date back 2,700 years, but the majority of the staggering 13,170 mile (21,196 km) stretch was unified and built upon during the Ming Dynasty in the 1400’s. There’s a lot of picturesque sections to visit that vary in distance from 90 minutes to 2 & 1/2 hours drive from Beijing. Badaling in the most popular section of the Great Wall of China so Badaling is not the section to visit if you want to avoid massive crowds.

Based on our own research, we decided the Mutianyu section was perfect for us in terms of distance from Beijing, beauty, accessibility and fewer crowds. If you want to read more about the various sections of the Great Wall of China near Beijing,this is a straight forward and informative read.

Walk up to the cable car

Hotel Pickup to Mutianyu with Wild Great Wall Adventure Tours

Our driver picked us up from our hotel, the Prime Hotel Beijing in the centrally located Wangfujing district of Beijing. On a quick side note, we also stayed at the Inner Mongolia Grand Hotel in Beijing and we highly recommend that hotel for comfort, location, amenities and overall value. As mentioned earlier, we chose the cheapest option with Wild Great Wall Adventure Company, meaning we received a non-English speaking driver in the comfortable private black sedan shown below.

Wild Great Wall Adventure Private Driver to Great Wall of China

During the drive I needed to use the bathroom and while the driver didn’t speak English, he communicated in English via a translation app and we were able to arrange a special bathroom stop. If you’re not comfortable with this or want a fully guided tour in English, Wild Great Wall Adventure Tours offers a lot of upgraded options. For us, their cheapest option at 700 yuan ($107 US) for two people was perfect, very comfortable and less expensive than some bigger tour companies like Viator. A nice small touch was that there were even bottles of water for us in the back seat of the car and the driver handed us an additional 2 bottles before venturing up to the Great Wall.

Entrance to Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall of China
Cablecar ride

Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China

When we arrived at Mutianyu our driver escorted us to the ticket office to purchase entrance, trolley and cable car tickets (not included in their basic rate). All could be purchased separately or bundled together. As time was limited, we purchased the bundle, including round trip on the cable car. While you could hike up, down or both ways to Mutianyu, it’s better to save your legs and hike along the Great Wall itself. The setting is stunning, so you probably shouldn’t waste your time and energy on anything outside the most epic part!

Our driver waited below for 3 and 1/2 hours as we toured the majestic Mutianyu section of the wall among very sparse crowds. Despite it being early March, and winters are generally very cold in northern China, we were lucky and temperatures were only moderately cold at around 50 Fahrenheit (10 celsius). And while it might have been nice to have paid extra for an English speaking guide, the advantage of not having one for couples is that the journey is more romantic.

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Alex at the Great Wall

Travel Restrictions for the Sep 3 Holiday & Things to be noticed

Tiananmen-Square-In-Beijing-ChinaFrom September 3-5, China will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the vicotry in World Anti-Fascist War as well as Chinese Anti-Japanese War. With the temporary restrictions, many areas will be closed or only with very limited access… If your travel plan involves the sites below during the time, better adjust your plan to other sites to make the most out of your holiday.

Things to be noticed

1:Jiankou Great Wall will be closed to the pubic from Sept 1 to Sept 3.

Tiananmen Gate, the building, is already closed to the public from August 1 to September 9.
2: The Forbidden City will be closed from Aug. 22 to Sep. 3.
3: On August 22 and 23, Tiananmen Square and the Wangfujing area will be closed to the public.
4: On September 2 and 3, Tiananmen Square, Wangfujing, and Qianmen will be closed to the public.
5: Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) and Nanyuan Airport, will be closed from 9.30am to 12.30pm on September 3. Many airlines have cancelled their flights to/from Beijing during the three hours.
6: Lama Temple will be closed on Sept 3.
7: Some subway stations will be closed in accordance with notices from the transportation department on Spe 3.

Enjoy your holiday! Or, take our advice and go to the Great Wall of China.

【News】Forbidden City to be closed on August 22 to Sept 3. 2015

It’s reported online that Forbidden City will be closed between August 22 and Sept 3, 2015 due to Victory Day parade on Sept 3, If your travel plan involves Forbidden City during the time, better adjust your plan to other sites to make the most out of your holiday.