Plan your Great Wall Tour? Needless to say, you must visit the Great Wall of China on your first trip to Beijing China. So, what, when, where and how?
The Great Wall of China was built mainly during the three dynasties – Qin Dynasty (221 B.C to 206 B.C), Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D ) and Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D - 1644 A.D). The most powerful Yuan Dynasty and the last Dynasty – Qing Dynasty did nothing about the building of the Wall since they were “barbarians” against whom the Wall of China was supposed to have been built.
Actually the history tells us the Wall played no role in preventing the “barbarians”. Never did the Wall stop any invations, large or small. But the Wall did do many things: it proclaimed the frontier, it employed the thousands, it prevented defections, it displayed the mighty of the emperor.
The Wall is not an “it” as you think. It is a “them”, walls in the plural, and they do not form a continuous line. They are in bits built in different dynasties. Those “bits” of the Wall are scattered around the northern China stretching from Shanhaiguan in the east to Jiayuguan in the west, snaking along the southern edge of Inner Mongolia.
Beijing is a good place to visit the “bits” of the Wall built in Ming Dynasty. Most of the “bits” of the Wall here are tamed and reconstructed for the safety of travelers. So the tamed sections give way to wild ones – crumbling, overgrown and barred to walkers.
Here are some tips for your visiting the Great Wall of China around Beijing:
Tip # 01: The best time to hike the Great Wall of China
In Beijing, all the sections of the Wall are open to tourists all year round. The ideal months for the Great Wall hike fall on spring, early summer, autumn – later March, April, May, June, September, October and early November.
If you happen to visit the Wall in summer – later June, July and August, be prepared for heat stroke prevention – sunglasses, sun cream, sun block, hat, water.
Winter Great Wall Hike is a bit challenging mainly due to the frozen weather in later December, January and early early February each year in Beijing. You are advised to dress warmly – winter hat with ear flap, ear warmers, gloves, scarf, warm jackets and ther winter accessories.
The Great Wall hike is impossible only because the road access to sections is blocked due to the heavy snow. If you plan to do the hike in winter, we do suggest you check the weather report.
Tip # 02: Avoid weekends or public holidays for the Wall
It is better to hike the Wall during the weekdays instead of weekends. Strongly advise you not to visit the Wall during China public holidays.
On these special days you will waste much of your valuable time on the way from your hotel to the Wall. On the Wall, you have to take group photos since there are a great number of people on the Wall.
There are approxi 8 bits of the Wall around Beijing. 7 of the 8 bits of the Wall are legally open to tourists home and abroad. “legally open” means these sections of the Wall are tamed, repaired and controlled by a local Great Wall administration bureau.
Within its administration, the entrance fees are collected, a police station is set up and security guides are dotted along Wall. These “legal” sections of the Wall are Juyongguan, Badaling, Mutianyu, Jinshanling, Gubeikou, Huanghuacheng ( certain sections opened) and Simatai (temporarily closed ). Jiankou is not open to tourists due to their wildness and treacherousness. Below are the tips for choosing the right bit of the Wall you most like:
1) If you don’t have much time, but you still want to have a glimpse of the Wall, especially on a busy day, choose Juyongguan Great Wall.
Badaling (八达岭）- Deshengmen (德胜门）
Train S201: 06:12 – 07:31
Train S203: 07:58 – 09:20
Train S205: 08:34 – 09: 47
Train S207: 09:02 – 10:15
Train S209: 10:57 – 12:13
Train S211: 12:42 – 14:01
Train S213: 13:14 – 14:25
Train S215: 13:35 – 14:50
Train S217: 15:24 – 16:43
Train S219: 17:11 – 18:30
Train S221: 17:41 – 18:51
Train S227: 21:28 – 22:44
Badaling Great Wall → Beijing North Ralway Station Train Timetable
Train S208: 08:23 – 09:47
Train S210: 10:51 – 12:12
Train S212: 11:19 – 12:40
Train S214: 11:50 – 13:12
Train S216: 13:02 – 14:23
Train S218: 15:19 – 16:43
Train S220: 15:52 – 17:25
Train S222: 16:21 – 17:39
Train S224: 17:33 – 18:54
Train S226: 19:34 – 21:11
Train S228: 20:06 – 21:43
Train S232: 21:33 – 23:03
Directly running to Mutianyu Great Wall 慕田峪长城
The Tourist Bus 867 operates two daily departures: Start at 7:00am and 8:30am; return at 2:00pm and 4:00pm
Valid time: from March 15 – Nov 15 each year.
Important Notice: The final destination of the Bus 916 Express is actually Huairou Beidajie (怀柔北大街）in Huairou District, then you have to change for the local bus No.936 (Huairou – Dongtai 怀柔至洞台), continue to take the bus 936 (936路支线) for another 18.6km, pass 8 stops and get off at Mutianyu Great Wall finally. Bus 916 Express (916快）Fare: RMB 12
Bus Operation Time: 6:00-17:00 ( every 20 minutes )
Very Important Notice: Actually the Bus 980 Express stops at Miyun County ( 密云汽车站 ), and then you take a mini bus from the downtown Miyun to Jinshanling.
Bus Fare: RMB 15
Minibus Fare: about RMB 50 ( you have to share a mini-bus for Jinshanling Great Wall)
Beijing Simatai Great Wall: 140km – RMB 700
Beijing Juyongguan Great Wall: 60km – RMB 400
Beijing Jinshanling Great Wall: 160km RMB 800
Beijing Gubeikou Great Wall: 150km – RMB 750
Beijing Jiankou Great Wall: 85km – RMB 650
Beijing Huanghuacheng Great Wall 85km – RMB 600 Tip # 05: Book a Great Wall Bus Tour
Tip # 06 Stay near the Wall
On the Mutianyu Great Wall, wheelchair users may take a cable car up and then use the accessible lane leading to the platform below the 14th watch tower for a good view of Mutianyu Great Wall.
The accessible lane from the upper cable car station to the platform below the 14th watch tower on Mutianyu Great Wall.
The accessible platform for wheelchair users below the 14th watch tower on Mutianyu Great Wall.
Tip # 08 Tips for Experienced Travelers
you may choose half restored or wild sections of the Wall. But you have to be responsible for your own safety.
Travel Notes for wild great wall hiking:
1. Things to take: sports shoes or hiking boots, sticks, cap, sun-glasses, sunscreen, bottles of water, snacks, pocket knife, lip balm and first aid kit.
2. Using toilets at the entrance of the Wall. No toilets on the hiking route. Please always carry toilet paper by yourself.
3. Wearing pants and long-sleeves even in summer to hike through jungles and bushes.
4. You are responsible for your travel insurrance for your coverage of injury or accident.
5 Be a green and responsible hiker, taking nothing but photos and leaving nothing but footprint.
Any questions, just drop a line.