Discover the 6 Best Sections of the Great Wall of China to Visit

  • Zoe Wallace
  • |
  • July 10, 2024
  • |
  • 5 minute read
  • |
Discover the 6 Best Sections of the Great Wall of China to Visit

Visiting the Great Wall of China allows you to explore various sections, each with unique features and experiences.

Whether you prefer the scenic beauty of Mutianyu, the accessibility of Badaling, or the picturesque hiking trails of Jinshanling, there’s a perfect section for every traveler.

Key Takeaways
  • Mutianyu offers beautiful scenery and fewer crowds, making it ideal for families and photographers.
  • Badaling is the most famous and accessible section but can be very crowded.
  • Jinshanling provides a less crowded, picturesque experience perfect for hikers and photographers.

1. Mutianyu

Mutianyu is one of the most popular sections among foreign tourists due to its well-preserved state and beautiful surroundings.

This section of the Great Wall is enveloped by dense green forests, providing stunning scenery year-round. Mutianyu is also known for being less crowded than the Badaling section, making it a more pleasant experience for visitors.

  • Activities: At Mutianyu, visitors can engage in various activities such as hiking along the well-paved paths, photographing the panoramic views, riding the cable car to get a bird’ s-eye view of the wall, and enjoying a fun toboggan slide down the wall.
  • Facilities: The area boasts well-developed tourist facilities, including multiple restaurants, souvenir shops, and clean restrooms. Cable cars and a chair lift make the ascent easier.
  • How to Get There: Mutianyu is about 75 kilometers from Beijing, a 1.5-hour drive. You can reach this section by taking a direct bus from downtown Beijing, making it accessible for tourists staying in the city.

2. Jinshanling

Known for its breathtaking views and fewer tourists, Jinshanling is perfect for those looking for a more tranquil and challenging hiking experience.

This section is renowned for its steep stairs and densely packed watchtowers, offering sweeping vistas of the wall as it snakes through the rugged landscape.

  • Activities: Visitors to Jinshanling can enjoy hiking along the rugged terrain and taking in the incredible views. It is also an ideal spot for photographers seeking to capture the essence of the Great Wall.
  • Facilities: While facilities are more limited than in Mutianyu, some cable cars are available for those who prefer not to hike the entire distance.
  • How to Get There: Jinshanling is approximately 160 kilometers from Beijing, a 2.5—to 3-hour drive. During peak tourist seasons, direct buses from Beijing make travel to Jinshanling more convenient.

3. Simatai

Simatai is unique for its night tours and proximity to the charming Gubei Water Town.

This section features both restored and wild segments, providing a varied experience for visitors. It’s particularly noted for its dramatic night-time lighting.

  • Activities: Popular activities at Simatai include night tours, where the wall is beautifully illuminated, hiking, and photography. The nearby Gubei Water Town offers additional attractions and accommodations.
  • Facilities: Simatai has good facilities, including accommodations in Gubei Water Town, dining options, and night-time lighting that enhances the wall’s experience.
  • How to Get There: Located about 150 kilometers from Beijing, Simatai is roughly a 2.5 to 3-hour drive. It is often visited as part of a guided tour, which includes transportation and additional insights into the site’s history.

4. Jiankou

Jiankou is the wildest and steepest section of the Great Wall, known for its challenging terrain and stunning views.

This section remains unrestored, giving it a rugged, authentic feel. Due to its difficulty, it’s recommended only for experienced hikers.

  • Activities: The primary activities here are hiking and adventure photography, with the wall’s untouched state offering a unique and challenging hiking experience.
  • Facilities: There are no facilities at Jiankou; it’s an entirely wild section of the Great Wall.
  • How to Get There: Jiankou is approximately 80 kilometers from Beijing, about a 2.5-hour drive. Due to its challenging nature, it’s advisable to hike with a local guide to ensure safety and to navigate the best paths​​.

5. Badaling

Badaling is the most visited and commercialized section of the Great Wall.

The portion of the wall at Badaling has undergone restoration and provides a clear picture of its grandeur, but it is also the most crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons and holidays.

  • Activities: Visitors can enjoy hiking, taking photos, and exploring the Great Wall Museum. Badaling also has cable cars to help visitors reach the wall more easily.
  • Facilities: This section boasts excellent facilities, including restaurants, souvenir shops, restrooms, a museum, and wheelchair access.
  • How to Get There: Badaling is easily accessible by public bus, train, or car from Beijing. It is about 72 kilometers from the city and takes roughly 1.5 to 2 hours to reach by car​.

6. Huanghuacheng

Huanghuacheng stands out for its unique scenery, where parts of the wall are submerged in water, creating a picturesque lakeside view.

It offers a mix of restored and wild sections, providing diverse experiences for visitors.

  • Activities: Huanghuacheng offers hiking, boating, and picnicking. The lake and natural beauty make it a perfect spot for these leisure activities.
  • Facilities: The facilities here are limited but include boat rides and some camping spots for a more adventurous experience.
  • How to Get There: Huanghuacheng is about 75 kilometers from Beijing, around a 1.5-hour drive, making it relatively accessible from the city.

Best Time to Visit the Great Wall of China

The best times to visit the Great Wall are spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November).

During these periods, the weather is pleasant, and the surrounding scenery is breathtaking, with blooming flowers in spring and colorful foliage in autumn.

However, due to the large crowds, it’s best to avoid visiting during Chinese public holidays.​

Wear comfortable shoes and bring water, especially if you plan to hike sections like Jinshanling or Jiankou.

For a hassle-free experience, consider booking a guided tour, which often includes transportation and insightful information about the Great Wall.

Plan Your Great Wall of China Adventure Today!

Don’t miss the chance to experience the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China. Whether you choose the scenic beauty of Mutianyu, the historical significance of Badaling, or another remarkable section, each part of the wall guarantees a unique adventure.

Plan your trip thoughtfully to immerse yourself in the rich history and breathtaking views.

Make your visit to the Great Wall an unforgettable journey filled with lasting memories and stories to share!

Zoe Wallace

Zoe Wallace

Zoe is a contributing Travel Author of Culture.org. Her passion for exploration and commitment to responsible and sustainable travel inspires many to embark on their own adventures and appreciate the world's wonders.

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