The highlight of my trip has now arrived, scaling the Great Wall of China. I will be honest and admit that I did not complete the entire stretch of Mutianyu that day. Nevertheless, it might have been the most adventurous thing I have done thus far, and I’ve fulfiled a life goal! Hooray to killing two birds with one stone! For anyone travelling to Beijing, keep in mind that Mutianyu is about an hour away from central Beijing and it is advisable to book a day tour to Mutianyu for the convenience of transport to this section.
Mutianyu is renowned for the stunning views of the Great Wall, and to get an aerial view, there is the option of either the cable car or the chairlift or the cable car. Not to mention the added fun of taking a toboggan ride down from the Great Wall which is undoubtedly a big plus for travellers with kids ( or even adults looking to relive their youth).Half a day would be a good amount of time to allocate towards this trip once you factor in the hike and the time taken to get there (especially with the notoriously bad traffic in Beijing.)Additionally, it is the longest and the most fully restored section of the Great Wall which lends weight to the authenticity of the place and emphasises the amazing architecture.
Built in the Ming Dyansty, Mutianyu was meant to serve as a northern protective screen which guarded the capital and the imperial mausoleums. Home to 23 watchtowers with short intervals in between them, a strategic hideout for the warriors thousands of years ago. Presently, most of the wall has been rebuilt and restored to accommodate for the large influx of tourists and retain the authenticity of the wall.
Prior to getting to the entrance, there’s a hike up the hill which leads to the starting point, if you will be going during the winter, be sure to stay warm because the journey there is going to be ice-cold even though the sun is out. However, once you get to the top, you will feel comparatively warmer compared to the starting point (It is the opposite during the summertime, unfortunately I currently do not have a scientific explanation as to why this is so).
It is worth mentioning that the Great Wall is not a very easy climb, and for anyone with new year’s resolutions to get fit, maybe this could give you a shot of motivation! A reasonable amount of fitness is required if you want to scale a larger portion of Mutianyu considering that the whole stretch covers 5.4 km. Might not seem that long initially, but coupled with the steep steps between the watch towers, it makes this climb challenging even though it is not as steep as Baidaling or Jiankou, of which the latter is considered to be the steepest section of the Great Wall. Furthermore, Mutianyu is one of the more child friendly sections of the Great Wall which would be suitable for families with young kids looking for an adventure. Once you get to the top, you will be greeted with breathtaking views of the sheer intricacy and elaborate nature of the wall. With the woods covering most of the scenic area, the view is magnificent.
View of the Great Wall from the watchtower
The Mongols are coming and we’re still chatting away!
As an additional heads up, once you exit the Great Wall, there’s a few fast food restaurants for you to indulge in if you feel like giving yourself a bit of a reward for completing the hike. Aside from the food, you have the option to make yourself a “certificate” with your name engraved on it, as a form of “proof” that you have climbed the Great Wall. The tea house is a great place for tea enthusiasts out there who intend to get a taste of authentic Chinese tea and the variations of tea which they offer which range from Pu’Er Tea to Milk Oolong Tea. If going to the tea house is not necessarily your cup of tea, feel free to skip that section and explore the rest of Beijing if you have time throughout your day.
Climbing the Great Wall was most definitely an eye opening experience, and one which I hope to relive someday. I hope that this blog post has been interesting and helpful to those intending to travel to Beijing. Till then, happy travelling!