Wonder of the World – Great Wall of China

Written by Donovan May 7, 2015 Category: Asia, China Tags: , Comments
What’s a visit to Beijing without seeing the Great Wall of China? There is a Chinese saying that 不到长城非好汉 which means those who have not been to the great wall are not good guys. So today I fulfilled this saying by visiting and climbing the many steps of the Great Wall. The wall is so big such that there are many sections to choose from. You can go to Badaling 八达岭 which is the closest section from Beijing city or Mutianyu 慕田欲 which is further away and less touristy. We chose the latter as we do not like to jostle with the tourist crowds.
How to get to Mutianyu?
From Dongzhimen 东直门 subway station, take bus 916 express to Huairou 怀柔车站 station which is about 1.5h away depending on traffic. From Huairou, you have to change to a minibus or shared car to the entrance of Mutianyu. There are touts along the way who tell you to get off the bus and change to their car to go to the great wall. It is possible to do that and not take the public bus all the way to the terminus as it is further away. Note that the ride to the Great Wall by taxi or shared car once you’re in Huairou municipality should cost no more than 15Y per person.
Just remember to bargain and don’t let them guilt trip you about the distance and the oil price.
Once you reach Mutianyu, you need to purchase the entrance ticket (45Y) and choose your mode of transport to go up to the Great Wall. You can either go up by cable car or chair lift and come down by cable car and toboggan respectively. 80Y for one-way ticket and 100Y for a return ticket. It is better to take the chairlift and toboggan option as it is more exciting. The cable car is operated by a different company, thus you have to pay a more expensive ticket if you want to combine cable car and toboggan (160Y).
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Upon reaching the top of the Great Wall, we were taken aback by its immense size and how long it stretches into the distance, over several mountain passes. It is an impregnable fortress indeed and makes us wonder how the ancient Chinese managed to build such a magnificent structure without much technology during those days. Climbing the wall can be challenging for old people and those with knee problems, but we still saw many who braved the elements to conquer a section of the wall. There were tour groups of elderly people and those with walking sticks to aid them in walking. We started at watchtower 6 and walked to number 14 before turning back. I wanted to walk to number 1 but it was getting late, so we took the toboggan down. The great wall of China is indeed and wonder of the world, yet another one off the list for me!

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