The Great Wall Of China: Really A Must Visit Sight?
When only reading the headline, one might think we’re out of our mind for even posting this. Of course the Great Wall is worth a visit! Just continue reading and you’ll get where we’re coming from…
Forbidden City Or The Great Wall Of China?
Last August we managed to visit Beijing again and had to make a choice between the Forbidden City or the Great Wall. We didn’t have time to do both (plus we’ve visited both sights before), and since the Forbidden City had hundreds of people waiting in line, the Great Wall it was! It would be our second visit – and probably our last (at least the part near Beijing).
This famous landmark is found on several “must-do-lists”; must-do before you die; must-visit landmarks; must-visit in China … and so forth. So naturally the Great Wall really should be visited at least once in a lifetime. Or even twice.
Our first visit to the Great Wall turned out to become our worst nightmare because we landed on a package tour. We don’t like package tours at all, and we learned from our mistake. So to to avoid all that, we decided to take the public bus.
How To Get To The Great Wall Of China By Public Transport.
Get out of metro line Nr. 2 at the station Dongzhimen and continue to exit B (be careful not to mess it up with the airport line). From here you just go to the bus station to your left and look for bus Nr. 916 to Huairou. We can’t remember what the bus charged for the trip, but it was really cheap.
The ride takes about 1.5 hour. It’s best to tell the driver that you want to go to Mutianyu Great Wall. This part of the Wall is approximately 70km northeast of Beijing. Actually you’d assume that they know where where a tourist heads to, but just in case the driver is a bit absent, tell him anyway.
Once you get off, there’ll be minivans or cabs waiting for visitors. To save money, simply share one with fellow bus passengers who’re also on a self-guided tour. The cab price is negotiable, but it was around 15 US$. 20 minutes later and you’re at one of the most iconic landmarks of our planet.
Your next step is getting an entrance ticket. Unless you’re willing to crawl through thick bushes to avoid the ticket inspector, there’s no way around buying one. Still, you have a few options:
- A return cable car ticket (for the lazy ones)
- A single cable car ticket (walking one direction, or an alternate method of descent by single-rider personal wheeled toboggan)
- Walking both directions (which means avoiding the crowds lining up for the cable car ride)
We Finally Arrived At The Great Wall Of China.
It was a hot August morning and we were one of the first visitors, which was a nice change from busy Beijing. We’re pretty fit, so we decided to skip the cable car. Walking up all these stairs wears you out, so next time, we’d take a single-way ticket – though this also means that one should be there early, otherwise the waiting line is very very (very!) long. You can also buy a single ticket up at the Wall, but it’s more expensive, so make sure you know in advance what you want to do.
Walking along the Great Wall itself is pretty easy, only the crowds can be a bit annoying at times – especially if you want to take photos without people (which is almost impossible after 10.00 am).
Resume Of Our Visit To The Great Wall Of China.
Of course the Great Wall of China is a must visit! After all, it’s one if the most impressive structures ever build by humans. But next time we’d to travel to Jinshanling (approx. 130km northeast of Beijing) or Jiayu Pass (Western part), simply because you’ll come across less tourists. This is one of the things that really bother us about China: Mass-tourism. It makes even the most amazing area or sight overcrowded and un-charming…
A Few Fact Of The Great Wall Of China.
- Chinese Name: Wann Li Channg-Ch’ng (meaning: Long Wall of 10.000 Li)
- Length: The wall’s length – without its branches and other secondary sections – was thought to extend for some 6.690 km (4.160 miles)
- Built: Construction of the earliest sections began during in 770 – 476 B.C.
- Completed: By the time construction on most of the stone-and-brick Great Wall, with its turrets and watchtowers, was completed during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
- Visitors: Approximately 10 million each year
- Myth: It’s said that the Great Wall of China is the only human-built structure that can be seen from space. But it’s not true. The reality is that you can’t easily see the Great Wall from low Earth orbit with the naked eye – you need some serious equipment to do so…