One of China’s most scenic attractions that calls for repeated visits, the Great Wall ’s lengthy span passes through diverse landscapes and geographical terrains. The easternmost section at Hushan in Liaoning juts right into the Bohai Sea (Pacific Ocean), then it winds up and down mountains, through grasslands and deserts, passing through Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia, before ending at Jiayu Pass in Gansu.
Each wall section is fortified with a series of double- or triple-lined walls and military structures, including watchtowers, beacon towers, fortresses, garrison towns and blockhouses. Some of the sections are merged with natural defensive barriers, such as rivers and hills.
Highlights and Features
- Badaling: The best-preserved – and most-visited section – situated 73km north of Beijing (accessible by bus or taxi).
- Shanhaiguan: The easternmost section (Ming), with one of the most heavily fortified and best preserved passes (The First Pass under Heaven).
- Simatai: Famous for its steep, ragged and intact appearance. The Simatai section features an attractive lake (Mandarin Duck Lake) and the famous Fairy Tower.
- Jinshanling: Connects with Simatai to the east (110km northeast of Beijing, accessible by bus), the Jinshanling section (Hebei Province) also has a steep, ragged appearance.
- Mutianyu: Winding through verdant mountains and pine forests, the Mutianyu (72km from Beijing, accessible by bus) section is renowned for its spectacular scenery.
Good to Know and What Not to Miss
Depending on the sections you visit, the Great Wall can sometimes be dangerous as it is built into steep mountain slopes and ridges. The less maintained sections can have loose bricks and stone steps. Wear comfortable shoes and sporty clothes, as the Great Wall is more of a trek than a walk on level ground.
- Opening Hours: Each section of the wall has its own opening hours and admission fees. Most sections close earlier in winter/spring.
- How to get there: When visiting the remoter sections, it’s best to hire a taxi or private driver. The more touristic sections, such as Shanhaiguan, are accessible by public bus.