Top 10 Great Wall Sections around Beijing; Great Wall of China
With a history spanning over 2,700 years, the Great Wall is the largest man-made military fortification in China, boasting a total length of more than 21,000 kilometers (13,048.8 miles). It is not just a continuous long wall, but a complete and solid military defense system, consisting of city walls, ramparts, fortresses, barriers, guardhouses, beacon towers, and so on. The majestic Great Wall stretches across the expansive land of northern China, like a giant dragon hovering over the rolling mountains, bold cliffs, deep valleys, vast lakes, endless deserts, and wide grasslands.
The Great Wall in eastern China is relatively well preserved, and many of the best Great Wall Sections are located around Beijing, including Mutianyu, Badaling, Juyongguan, Jinshanling, Simatai, Gubeikou, Jiankou, Huanghuacheng, Shanhai Pass and Huangya Pass.
Location: about 72km (44.7 miles) north of Beijing (1.5-hour drive)
Tourism Facilities: Great Wall Culture Museum, China Stone Museum, cable cars, hotels, toboggans, etc.
Hiking Time: 3.5-5 hours
Tickets: CNY40 (around USD6.3) for adults; CNY20 (around USD3.2) for children between 3.9 and 4.6 feet & seniors older than 60.
Cable car: CNY100 (about USD16) for single way, CNY120 (about USD19) for round trip
Toboggan: CNY40 (about USD6.3) per person
Mutianyu is currently the longest section of the Great Wall in China, about 2,250 meters open to the public, with densely distributed watchtowers and 96% vegetation coverage. It is less crowded than the Badaling Great Wall, where you can enjoy the unparalleled natural landscape from the No.23 tower, the highest point of Mutianyu. Mutianyu Great Wall is easy to hike and has battlements on both sides, making it quite safe for younger children to experience. You are advised to hike Mutianyu from east to west, as going up is better for your legs than down on any Great Wall hike.
Location: about 68km (42.3 miles) northwest of Beijing (1.5-hour drive)
Tourism Facilities: Great Wall Museum, Great Wall Theater, disabled accesses, cable cars, restaurants, ATM, etc.
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Entrance fee: CNY40 (about USD6.3) (Apr. to Oct.); CNY35 (Nov. to Mar.)
Cable car: CNY100 (about USD16) for single way, CNY140 (about USD22) for round trip
The best-preserved section of the Ming Great Wall in China, Badaling is divided into two parts – the South Great Wall and the North Great Wall. The south section has relatively gentle slopes, receiving fewer tourists, suitable for families with children and the elderly; the north section has magnificent scenery, requiring better physical strength. However, cable cars and accessibility facilities provide a great convenience for people with limited energy and disabilities. Many kinds of transportation from Beijing to Badaling drives lots of tourists to plan a hike to the Great Wall, and of course, it could be crowded especially during Chinese holidays. However, a good choice for those with very limited time in Beijing.
Location: about 60km (37.3 miles) northwest of Beijing (1-hour drive)
Admission Fee: CNY45 (Apr. to Oct.); CNY40 (Nov. to Mar.)
Known as one of the three major passes of the Great Wall, Juyongguan is built between valleys, in a closed-loop, with one of the “Eight Great Sights of Beijing” – overlapping mountains, lush trees, and beautiful flowers on both sides. You can hike east or west from the main entrance (south gate). The steep stairs on the west part are suitable for energetic people; while the gentle other side is perfect for people with weak physical strength. In addition to the forts on the ancient wall, tourists can pay a historical visit to old buildings like academies of classical learning and temples.
Moreover, the Juyongguan Great Wall section is more recommended for those wheelchair users for it is equipped with better wheelchair access than any other section.
Entrance fee: CNY65 (Apr. to Oct.); CNY55 (Nov. to Mar.)
Cable car: CNY40 for single way, CNY60 for round trip
Jinshanling, the most beautiful part of China’s Great Wall, is half restored and half-ruined. It is a great place for hikers, allowing them to walk from east Jinshanling to the west Simatai Great Wall (4-5 hours). Jinshanling is also a paradise for photographers, with the most splendid view in the morning and dusk, especially the clouds and rainbows in summer and autumn. Photo enthusiasts are recommended to stay overnight in a nearby farmyard (CNY100-150) and get up early the next day to capture the gorgeous sunrise of the Jinshanling Great Wall. May-October is the best time to shoot. There is a cable car available for people with weak physical conditions.
Location: about 140km (87 miles) northeast of Beijing (1.75-hour drive)
Tourism Facilities: Gubei Water Town, cable cars, restaurants, tourism market, lights at night, etc.
Hiking Time: Around 3 hours
CNY40 for adults; CNY20 for children between 3.9 and 4.9 feet
Cable car: CNY90 for single way, CNY160 for round trip
Simatai is the last Great Wall attraction open to tourists, getting very little renovation and still retaining all its original appearance. Built on steep mountains, Simata Great Wall is particularly steep compared with other Great Walls around Beijing, more suitable for experienced hikers. There are not many guardrails and other safety facilities, so pay more attention to your feet when hiking. Simatai is the only section of the Great Wall in Beijing that can be climbed at night, which is sure to be a highlight of your hiking journey. Every autumn, the red leaves all over the mountains here are quite worth seeing!
Location: about 145km (90 miles) northeast of Beijing (2-hour drive)
Hiking Time: 5 hours
Admission Fee: CNY45 per person
Gubeikou Great Wall, composed of Panlongshan Great Wall and Wohushan Great Wall (not officially opened to the public), has not been restored at all and is appropriate for hikers and adventurers. Some of its walls are in ruins and there are certain dangers. It is best not to plan a hiking tour to Gubeikou in bad weather, such as strong winds and rain. Twenty-Four Window, a unique three-story defense construction, is located at the end of Gubeikou, with only the eastern and southwestern walls standing firmly.
Location: about 75km (46.6 miles) north of Beijing (1.5-hour drive)
Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Admission Fee: Free
Winding in the shape of the English letter “W”, Jiankou Great Wall is the most desolate and challenging section of the Great Wall around Beijing. Constructed on the precipitous mountains, the wall bricks of some parts of Jiankou have fallen to the ground. What’s even more surprising is that some parts are almost vertical, which is quite difficult to hike, only suitable for hiking experts. Besides, Jiankou has always been an ideal place for photographers and adventurers thanks to its arduous mountains and enchanting natural beauty.
Location: about 75km (46.6 miles) north of Beijing (1.75-hour drive)
Tourism Facilities: Parking lots, rides including speedboats, sightseeing boat, pedalo, etc.
Hiking Time: around 2 hours
Admission Fee: CNY45 for adults; free for children less than 3.9 feet.
Huanghuacheng is the only section of the Great Wall that is connected to the lake, featuring the unique sceneof an ancient wall submerged in water. The lake provides tourists with a wide range of views of the Great Wall from different angles. Summer is the best time to visit Huanghuacheng Lakeside Great Wall when the lush trees and yellow wildflowers bloom along the lake, creating an excellent environment to splash in to drive away the heat. There is a chestnut orchard at the foot of the mountain, cultivated by the people of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), which is a great “benefit” for foodies. Huanghuacheng is definitely the best Great Wall for child-bearing families.
Location: about 320km (200 miles) east of Beijing (3.5-hour drive)
Tourism Facilities: Shanhaiguan Great Wall Museum, restaurants, parking lots, etc.
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Admission Fee: CNY50 for adults; CNY30 for children between 3.9 and 4.9 feet
Dubbed as the “First Pass Under Heaven”, Shanhai Pass is the starting point of the Great Wall. It’s a great summer resort where you can enjoy the grand Great Wall and the wide sea at the same time. Although Shanhai Pass is far from Beijing, convenient transportation allows tourists to easily travel from Beijing to Shanhai Pass by high-speed rail and tourism bus. There are numerous restaurants at the foot of the Great Wall of Shanhaiguan, serving a variety of local specialties including seafood.
Location: about 120km (74.5 miles) northeast of Beijing (2-hour drive)
Tourism Facilities: Huangya Great Wall Museum, water recreation, hotels, sightseeing cars, etc.
Hiking Time: 3-5 hours
Admission Fee: CNY70 for adults; free for children less than 3.9 feet
Huangyaguan is the only pass of the Great Wall located in the county seat, the eastern cliff rocks of which are mostly yellow-brown, resplendent in the setting sun, hence the name of Huangyaguan. You have two hiking directions to choose from – towards the Huangya Sky Ladder and Taiping Village (steeper). After entering the scenic spot, you have to walk a section of mountain road to reach the Great Wall hiking point. If you want to save energy, you can take a sightseeing bus up the mountain (CNY30 per person). Huangyaguan Great Wall receives few tourists and is suitable for those who prefer a slow-paced hike.
Tips for Great Wall Hiking
Don’t pack too many items, just 2 bottles of mineral water and some snacks to replenish energy like chocolate, dried beef because it is very exhausting to hike the Great Wall. A power bank is necessary just in case.
Children are not advised to run on the Great Wall as there are many broken bricks on the ground in some sections of the wall.
Spring and autumn with pleasant weather is the best time to hike the Great Wall.
Remember to check the weather forecast before hiking. Prepare sunglasses and sunscreen or raincoat.
If you’re a photographer, don’t bring too many accessories, just a tripod.