Climbing The Great Wall Of China: An Amazing Experience

When I found out I got selected for a conference in Hong Kong, I was so excited: I was totally going to climb the Great Wall! Turns out the Great Wall of China isn’t anywhere near Hong Kong. *facepalm* Anyhow, my mind was set and you know, at least I was close.. relatively seen. So I took the 3 hours plane flight north to Beijing, climbed the Great Wall and it was AMAZING!

About the Great Wall

First of all, the name THE Great Wall of China suggests that there is only one Great Wall of China. In reality however, the Great Wall of China is made up out of a series of walls and other kinds of fortifications. Some were built as early as the 7th century BC! They are located in the North East of China and were used to protect what is nowadays considered China, against nomadic groups or militants from the north. Because of this defensive purpose, you can also find many watchtowers, barracks and garrison stations along the way. The total length of all the walls combined is 21.196 km (13.171 mi). Although this is ridiculously long, it is a myth that it is visible from space. If you want to visit the Wall from Beijing, you can access various parts such as: Badaling (closest, most touristic), Mutianyu (little farther, less touristic), Jinshanling (farther but in original state).

Great Wall of China

Bus Ride

Across Beijing and in many hostels/hotels, (group) tours to the Wall are offered. You will usually be picked up and dropped off at a certain section of the wall and be driven back a couple of hours later. These tours are however unnecessary expensive! You often get charged some $60 dollars. Instead, why not just take the bus? Almost every section is accessible by public bus, which usually only sets you back a few dollars. Read more about getting to the Great Wall of China by bus.

Great Wall of China

Cable Car

I went to the Mutianyu section of the Wall, which is built (like most sections of the Wall) on top of hills. Because of this, you need to get up there by cable car. At the foot of the hill there are some small shops where you can buy souvenirs and something to eat/drink before going up. The cable car ride itself is long and… I doubt it really meets Western safety standards. However I was rather worried about dropping my flip flops as it’s also pretty high.

Great Wall of China Great Wall of China

View

Although the cable car seems like a rather risky part of the adventure, it’s totally worth it. Especially at Mutianyu, which is known for its beautiful forest scenery, the views are just amazing and very spectacular. As far as you can see, you see strings of wall crossing through the woods. Every hilltop, near or far, is covered with a piece of wall and the idea that people have manually built this, is just unbelievable. Every now and then the wall is interrupted by a watch tower. When you stand in one of these yourself, and see how far away the others are, it really gives you an idea of how the wall was used and how warning signs were efficiently communicated across the enormous area covered by the wall. Very impressive.

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

Climbing

After getting up to the wall, the guys I had met at the hostel and I decided to go left and take a nice stroll across the wall. Well, looking back, I can assure you, there’s no such thing as ‘strolling’ or ‘walking’ on the Great Wall of China! It can be super steep at certain point, especially when you get closer to a watchtower. In the souvenir shops I had already seen shirts stating ‘I climbed the Great Wall of China’, and now this climbing aspect started to make total sense to me. And I don’t consider myself lazy or out of shape, but this was quite a challenge. Sometimes we even had to climb using both hands. Next to that, it’s often very hot, so make sure to bring lots and lots of water! This can also be bought on the wall by vendors. Other than that, it gives a super satisfying feeling and you can be truly proud of yourself! Later on I learned that there is even a marathon organized on the wall. It’s beyond my comprehension how this is possible.

Great Wall of China Climbing the Great Wall

Tobogan Ride

You can practically climb the wall as far as you would like, but we stopped after we had had a nice long climb and reached a toboggan (bobsled) ride down the hill. This seemed hilarious and it definitely was! I had done several toboggan rides before, but this one was by far the best. Again, just as with the cable car: precautions are taken, but it still didn’t seem super safe to me, but hey, who cares. I mean.. bobsledding down the Great Wall of China… hellooo, of course you go for it! It’s a really long slide and you can go super fast if you don’t have someone slow in front of you. It’s really hilarious and it is definitely the perfect way to end your visit to the Great Wall of China! We even considered going back up again so we could slide down another time. This is a video gives a good impression of what it’s like:

Have you been to the Great Wall of China or are you planning to go? I would love to hear about your experiences, so feel free to comment below! If you liked this article, please share! Thanks!

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10 Responses to Climbing The Great Wall Of China: An Amazing Experience

  1. RealGunners says:

    No! Stop telling people to go Mutianyu! It’s going to become all touristy in no time! :D
    That tobogan ride alone will entice everyone to ditch Badaling..

    • Flying Dutchgirl says:

      Haha thanks for the faith, but I doubt my blog will have an influence that big ;) But indeed, the toboggan ride in itself is enough reason to visit Mutianyu!

  2. Jamie says:

    Hah! Today I learned: you can take a cable car up to The Great Wall of China and ride on a tobogan on your way down. Nice post. :)

  3. Nice post Hester! I am traveling to China in November, and I am totally going to do the Toboggan ride.

  4. it’s on my list! i must see/do this also

  5. Sofie says:

    The slide looks like so much fun! I wouldn’t dare to go on that cable ride though. I have a terrible fear of heights and just looking at your pictures makes me dizzy!