One of the greatest wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China was listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO back in 1987. This unique landmark winds its way up and down a variety of different areas of the country, covering terrains such as deserts, mountains, plateaus and grasslands. From end to end, the Great Wall stretches just over 13,100 miles across China and holds history that dates back more than 2,000 years.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


What To See

Most of the Great Wall that is still visible today is sections that were built during the Ming Dynasty back in 1368 through 1644. The wall stretches from Hushan westward to Jiayuguan Pass. Sections of the Great Wall include those in Badaling, Mutianyu, Juyongguan, Simatai, Jinshanling, Huanghuacheng, Shanhaiguan, Yammenguan and Jiayuguan. All of these sections are worth seeing and will offer you breathtaking views of China. However, it is near impossible to visit all of the sections in a single visit. Some of the most popular sections are Badaling, Mutianyu, Simatai and Jinshanling.

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Tips

Views of the scenery from the Great Wall varies with the different seasons. The best times to visit are during spring and fall. The months of May, September and early October offer you sunny skies and brisk temperatures that are perfect for hiking and exploring. Temperatures heat up in the month of June, July and August and this is when most of the tourists from around the world come to visit. The months from November through April are very cold and bring very few tourists to the area.

Make plans to take the first tours and buses to the Great Wall in the morning. This will give you plenty of time to explore and still allow time to go out at night after touring. Plus, getting up early will help you avoid large crowds at the wall.

Fun Facts

There are many different fun facts about the Great Wall of China. Here are just some of the most interesting ones:

  • Contrary to a popular myth, it cannot be seen by the naked eye once out of the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Glutinous rice flour was used to make a mortar to bind the bricks back as early as the Qin Dynasty.
  • Many human remains have been found buried under parts of the Wall. It is believed that over a million people died in the building of this wall, which is why it has been called the longest cemetery in the world.
  • Though the official Wall length is just under 8852 kilometers, over the entire course of its creation, the wall is just over 21,196 kilometers in length.
  • Some sections of the wall are wide enough to drive a car on it.
  • The wall is one of the oldest still existing man-made structure and is over more than 2,000 years old.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Things To Do

There are many places of the Great Wall to explore. Because of the distance and multiple sections, there are plenty of things to see and do while there. Some activities at the Great Wall include overnight camping trips, guided tours, hiking, paragliding, helicopter tours and dining. Do not forget to visit the Great Wall museum and see the 360-degree Circle Vision Theater film or ride the Mutianyu Cable Car.

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Places To Stay

In addition to enjoying a camping tour at the Great Wall of China, you can also find plenty of places to stay during your getaway to China. Popular places to stay in the area include the Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall, Commune by the Great Wall and The Great Wall Courtyard Hostel. There are a variety of other options for accommodations, including staying at a farm house or in a guest house.

Places To Eat

China is home to many unique restaurants offering an insight into what local Chinese cuisine is truly about. Popular restaurants near the Great Wall at Mutianyu include Xianghua Village Seafood Restaurant, HongLian Roast Duck, Bake GongShe, Jade Restaurant and Tailianting Laozunyu Restaurant and Bar. These are just a few of the must-visit restaurants in the area. With the Wall being so long and covering so many regions of the country, there are many more places you have to try. Take the time to step away from the wall and experience the local culture and cuisine.

Getting Around

There are many ways to get to the Great Wall of China. Depending upon where in China you are staying, you will have access to bus, train and taxi transportation. If you are looking to travel from Beijing you can take the Beijing North Railway Station. Just be prepared for heavy crowds during high tourist seasons. There are several guided tours and buses that offer transportation to and from major areas surrounding the Great Wall. Other transportation options include taking a taxi, hiring a driver or renting a car.

Though some sections of the Great Wall have turned into ruins or have completely disappeared, this world wonder is still worth the visit. There are still plenty of things to see along the Great Wall, and the architectural and historical significance is worth putting this destination on your travel bucket list.

Heather Landon (Heather Leigh Carroll) is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.

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