“What, you can’t be serious . . . surely there is a bus that goes to Jinshanling part of the Great Wall”
I was devastated; I was on a time frame with a mission to solo hike the Great Wall of China for the next 5 days. My goal to do this was rapidly diminishing right in front of my eyes and off into the unknown. And I say unknown because I still had no idea how to get to parts of the Great Wall that I wanted to, or, if I was able walk between certain sections and how hectic, mellow or impossible the climbing/hiking would be were in certain parts of the wall.
The Great Wall of China
Seeing the Great Wall of China was a bucket list item I had to tick off and 2014 was the year, however I thought if I am going there just for that, I may as well take my sweet ass time and see as much bad ass parts of the wall over a 5 day hike. However, little did I realise how audacious I was being when I was doing the initial planning for the hike.
Great Wall of China
I even got onto certain so called “experts” who knew more about the Great Wall than most and flicked them a few e-mails requesting info. They weren’t even so kind as to reply, but I didn’t really expect to hear back anyways; it was more like a cry for help. Like I don’t want to go somewhere and get stuck with no food, no water or any help for miles and miles. It didn’t help that I had been into watching mountaineering documentaries on people’s survival. But that could have been a good thing because it did give me a sense of caution to no go out and ignorantly conquer a hike/climb way out of my league.
But despite the little help or information I was still determined to do the hike (with caution). So upon my arrival in Beijing I asked around, with my nonexistent Chinese, speaking with tour companies who basically in broken English tried to sell me their package tours with lunch and blah, blah, blah. All the stuff (package tourist deals) that sent shivers down my spine and wouldn’t allow me to go out and entertain myself with some proper exercise for 5 days on the Great Wall.
Hiking the Great Wall of China
Oh yea, sorry I am complaining again, But c’mon it’s not my fault it’s human nature. Ha well that’s my silly excuse anyways. But for you, what you really need to know is that the Great Wall of China is amazing and it’s a must visit. However, you will soon find out that it can be quite hard to get to certain sections of the wall.
Of the most popular and touristic part of the wall is Badaling, which if you can avoid that place and go to another section then I do highly advise that. This section of the wall is swarming with noobs taking selfies every 30m across the wall. It is also the most reconstructed and visited part of the wall. The reason this part is so popular is because you can catch a train to Badaling from the North Beijing railway station, which itself, is directly accessible via the city metro.
Great Wall of China watch towerG
There are other alternatives though, which are much better, like going to see Mutianyu, Jinshanling and Simatai. It is possible and much easier to get to these sections of the wall on your own via, bus or private car if you can speak Chinese and work a deal to hire one.
If you are looking to camp overnight along the wall, let me tell now, it’s illegal on most parts of the wall. I nearly ended up in an Asian prison for trying to do so. You can read that the full story here. A section where apparently people can camp overnight is at Mutianyu, although I am uncertain of the other sections.
Sunsets over the Great Wall
Mutianyu is probably the nicest part of the wall (which I suggest) to visit and reasonably close to Beijing compared to Jinshanling and Simatai. The cheapest option to get to the Great Wall is via public transport, but it can take you a little longer and is almost impossible if you don’t speak the language. For rookies and tourists in China, such as myself, get yourself onto a day tour which will give you lunch and a ride back without the stresses of knowing where you are.
But beware, do not book before you go as you can always get better deals when you arrive, here is a detailed post on why.
For those of you thinking about getting to the Great Wall of China, stop thinking and GO!