You can’t visit Beijing without making a stop at the Great Wall of China. One of the Wonders of the World, the Wall is over 13,000 miles long and 2000 years old. There’s restored sections of the Wall where you can visit without getting dirty, but if you really want to experience the Great Wall of China, I recommend taking a hike!
Hiking out in the “wild” parts of the Wall means that there will be less tourists around and you can explore the beauty of the wall and its surrounding nature for yourself. Plus, you’ll be able to see the Wall in its natural form, completely unrestored. I recently went on my own hike of the Great Wall of China and was completely ill-prepared. Don’t make the same rookie mistakes that I did! Follow these tips to get the most out of your hike on the Great Wall of China.
1) Planning Your Hike
The best time to visit the Great Wall of China is in the spring or autumn, when it’s not too hot or too cold. While it is possible to hike to the Great Wall of China on your own, you’ll have a much easier time if you hire a guide. Your guide will arrange pickup and drop off from your hotel and a much-needed meal for you at the end of your hike. Plus, your guide will be able to provide you with all kinds of information about the history of the Great Wall which you otherwise might not learn. Book your tour through a reputable company. Make sure to read reviews!
2) What to Wear
Be sure to check the weather forecast before your trip. If it’s rained recently, the trails leading up to the wall can be quite slippery. You’ll want to wear hiking boots and bring a walking pole. The Wall is high in the mountains, so there’s typically more snow here than below in Beijing. Pants and long sleeves are recommended for the hike up the mountain to prevent scratches from bushes and branches. Dress in layers, as you may get warm once you get up on top of the Wall and into the sun. Moisture-wicking fabrics are also recommended as you’re likely to work up a sweat!
3) Be considerate
Preserve the natural beauty of the Wall. Don’t leave any trash behind, and don’t take any bricks or stones from the Wall!
4) What to Bring
- You’ll most likely be out on the Wall for hours. Bring high energy snacks like Cliff bars to keep you going.
- Bring water but keep in mind that there are very few restrooms available.
- A backpack to house your snacks, water, camera, and other supplies.
- The high altitude means the sun is much stronger. There is no shade on the Wall, so you’ll want a high SPF sunblock to protect your skin.
- There are no restrooms on the Wall except for the restored sections, so be prepared in case you need to go outdoors! The restrooms in the restored sections typically do not have toilet paper or hand soap – so bring TP and hand sanitizer!
- The view from the top of the Wall is pretty incredible. It may bring a tear to your eye! Best to bring some tissues, just in case.
5) Make it easier & more fun
If you visit Badaling or Mutianyu, use the toboggan ride to descend the Wall. You pay around 7 USD and ride a small toboggan down a steel track to the bottom of the mountain. It’s so much fun!
6) Don’t feel pushed
The more touristy sections of the Wall have many vendors who will try to sell you souvenirs. If you don’t want anything, firmly say “NO.”
7) Safety Tips
It’s important to be aware of your limitations. The Wall is located on a ridge of mountains, so the hike up to the Wall will require you to be in pretty decent physical shape. If you’re not able to hike up a mountain, there are plenty of other ways to visit The Great Wall of China. It’s also prudent to purchase travel insurance that covers hiking. Bring proof of your travel insurance with you – just in case!
The Wall is over 2000 years old, so naturally it’s falling apart in some places. Be careful with your footing and avoid edges as these areas become unstable first. Pay attention to where you’re walking and don’t run, since loose rocks and bricks can cause you to trip and fall.
Have you ever been to the Great Wall of China? What are your tips for hikers?
This is a guest post by Colleen Welsch.
Colleen Welsch is freelance writer, blogger, and photographer living in Los Angeles, California. She began her adventure in 2015 when she quit her desk job, sold all her possessions, and drove from Ohio to LA in search of endless summers. She’s always down for a spur of the moment trip, whether it be to San Diego or Shanghai. She spends her time exploring Southern California and beyond with her trusty camera and planning for her 2019 World Tour. Follow her adventure at http://colleenwelsch.com or on Instagram @colleencocobongo.