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China Travel Guide: 6 of the Best Locations on The Great Wall


  • Travel to China
  • China
  • China Tours

Our Expert



CTS Horizons is the UK's number one operator for China and beyond. We offer superb private journeys and tailor-made holidays to the world's most fascinating destinations!

This week we focus on some of the Best sections of the Great Wall, with some interesting news and how to reach them from the Capital. Why not include a hike on the Great Wall on your next tours of China?


The Great Wall is considered the eighth Wonder of the World. Throughout the centuries it has been expanded many times, and by visiting different segments is possible to appreciate a range of different natural sceneries (from forests to desert) and styles.



Not the whole wall though is accessible and each section's length varies quite a lot. Some sections have been restored to look pretty much how they would have looked in the past when they were first built. Some other instead are still falling into ruins.


Let's find out which are the best sections to enjoy the perfect hiking tour, a wonderful view and especially how to get there! Also, don't forget to bring food and water!


1. Mutianyu 慕田峪

45 miles from Beijing, 1½ hours drive
From Dongzhimen Bus Station, you can take bus line 916 Express or 916 to Huairou North Avenue (Huairou Beidajie) Station. Then, transfer to the bus to Mutianyu Roundabout. Afterwards, walk about 500 yards to the ticket office of the scenic area. Or, you may take a minivan to the scenic area from Huairou North Avenue at about CNY 50-60.


Mutianyu is one of the most popular section of the great wall for a number of reasons. It has a very well organised facility. At the base, after the ticket office, there are a few restaurants and shops. Then, you can either walk, take the chairlift or the cable car to reach the top. To come down instead there is the option of the long (and incredibly funny) slide Toboggan.


Mutianyu is the second best-preserved section after Badaling. Most of the time is less congested by tourists going on Beijing tours being farther from the city, but it is also steeper. It offers astonishing sceneries especially during spring and summer, but also in autumn, when leaves turn yellow and red is definitely worth seeing. Another unique trait is its concentration of watchtowers that are rarer in other section of the great wall.


Mutianyu even though already very popular represents one of the best trade-offs between the number of tourists, ease to hike and scenery's beauty.


2. Simatai 司马台

75 miles from Beijing, 2–3 hours’ drive.
Get to Dongzhimen Station first, and then take bus 980 or 980 Express from Dongzhimen Transit Hub. Get off at Miyun Bus Station and transfer to the bus to Simatai Village Station. Then walk to the entrance of Gubei Water Town where you will find the visitor centre to buy the ticket.


Simatai in 2012 was ranked by The Times amongst the 25 World's Best Scenic Spots. Besides not being completely restored, the renovation also was focused more on reinforcement and maintaining its original appearance so that tourists will feel its ancient historic atmosphere.


Same as Mutianyu, this section is provided with the cable car to facilitate the climb. Watchtowers vary in shape and size. In addition to its natural landscape, Simatai also includes the Mandarin Duck Lake, which is formed by two springs, one hot and one cold so that the lake never freezes even during the severest winter. Then visitors can enjoy both the view of nature and the water town.

By Jakub Hałun - Own work, GFDL,


Despite being a tough climb, Simatai offers a breathtaking view and a really rewarding experience.


3. Huanghuacheng 黄花城

47 miles from Beijing, 1½ hours’ drive.
Take bus n. 916 or 916 Express at Dongzhimen to Huairou Bus Station. Then board the bus H21 to the Small West Lake (Lakeside Great Wall) Station, and from there walk north to the scenic area.
Huanghuacheng is quite close to Beijing but considered special because it is also by a lake. Here people can enjoy a great mix of lake scenery and view of the wall that can even be reached by boat. Some parts of this section are immersed in water after a reservoir dam was built on Haoming Lake and the short boat trip allows amazing new angles for photographs.
Another feature that enriches Huanghuacheng surroundings, is the chestnut garden places at the mountain foot planted by soldiers of the Ming Dynasty who were assigned to stand guard in there. Last but not least, the highest point here the Dongliushi Watchtower is situated provides a fantastic bird's-eye view of the whole scenic area.
Huanghuacheng features some unique characteristics that make it one of the most interesting section to visit although is not fully restored and some older passes are closed.

4. Shanhaiguan 山海关

Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province, 3½ hours drive from Beijing.
Take high-speed trains from Beijing Railway Station or Beijing South Railway Station to Shanhaiguan Railway Station, and then walk north to the south gate of the scenic area.


Shanhaiguan was built during the Ming Dynasty, is also called the “First Pass under Heaven” because it is the first pass along the Great Wall of China in the East and presents a number of characteristics that make it very diverse.


What makes Shanhaiguan really special is its section called Laolongtou, translated as Old Dragon's Head, where the east end of the Great Wall meets the Bo Sea. This site is also close to a small Buddhist temple just along the coast from which you can have a great view of the Wall.


Secondly, there is the section Jiumenkou, built in a deep valley, and one of the few spots in the whole Great Wall that include a bridge. Here, where the wall is well restored, is possible to climb for almost 1 mile up from the bridge before reaching the higher section falling into disrepair.


5. Jinshanling 金山岭

96 miles from Beijing; 2–3 hours drive.
From Beijing's subway Wangjing West Station, take the tourist bus to the Jinshanling for CNY 32, or from the same station catch the coach to Luanping and after getting off at Jinshanling Service Area take the shuttle to the scenic area.


Jinshanling Great Wall is absolutely a special location. Thanks to its distance from the city it is often quite empty, definitely preferable for tourists who like a quiet atmosphere. It is also only half restored, meaning that some sections will still have their original look, making the experience even more meaningful.


It was built around 1368, during the Ming Dynasty and is located in the mountains of the Luanping County, in Hebei province. This section is connected with Simatai, that we mentioned before.

By Ekrem Canli - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Tourists have also the option of the cable-car, that will arrive directly to the highest point of the Wall. Here also travellers will find inscriptions in English describing the history of this section of the Wall on each watchtower.


6. Huangyaguan 黄崖关

Ji County, Tianjin, 3 hours’ drive from Beijing.
From Beijing Sihui Long-distance Bus Station take the bus to Jixian County, then a second one to the scenic area. Otherwise, by train from the East Railway Station is possible is possible to reach Jixian County as well.

Huangyaguan is a very old section of the Wall, built around 550 A.D. during the North Qi Dynasty and restored one thousand years later during the Ming Dynasty.


A unique feature of Huangyaguan is the so-called Eight Diagrams Street. It consists of a complex web of streets and junctions that make it difficult to choose a path, but also a funnier experience. At the centre of the Eight Diagrams Street also is located a Great Wall Museum.


Almost every year since 1999 in May, the Great Wall Marathon is held in Huangyaguan. It is becoming increasingly renowned internationally and every year many travellers on China tours gather there to participate. While is possible to enter a shorter track that runs for just 5 miles, the bravest hikers can participate in the full marathon that covers 26 miles! Good Luck marathoners! 


If you are passionate about hiking and you want to explore the Great Wall check out Discovering the Great Wall or contact our experts to ask for a different tailor-made tour!


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