Climbing the Great Wall of China... Tobogganing down!

The Great Wall of China, one of the 7 Wonders of the World, is the longest man-made structure ever constructed. It snakes through 4,000 miles across the mountains of northern China.

Great Wall of China at Mutianyu Great Wall of China at Mutianyu Great Wall of China at Mutianyu

It was built more than 2,000 years ago to guard from the enemy tribes from the north, the Huns.

The wall was built of stone, wood, earth and rubble, all held together with a mortar of lime and glutinous rice.

It was built and re-built over a 200 year period during the Ming Dynasty (14th - 17th Centuries) when watchtowers and cannons were added.

The average width of the wall is roughly 6 meters wide and 8 meters high. The watchtowers add another 4 meters to the height.

Before it starts sounding too much like Wikipedia, let's just take a look!

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We visited the Mutianyu section of the wall. You can see it is fully restored and although steep at points, it is not too rough to climb. Not all sections are like that. You might prefer a section that is more "natural" for a more authentic experience.

Here's a list of the segments that are opened for tourists. Follow the links as there are particulars to each section, some are easier to climb, others offer cable cars, trolleys, zip lines, toboggans!

And here is a Great Wall Map indicating the locations of the different sections.

  • Badaling ...the most popular due to proximity to the city but also most crowded section. Most tourist buses come here.

  • Mutianyu ...a little further out but less crowded. This section is also fully restored with guard rails on the steep sections and overall a less commercial experience than Badaling. Recommended for small children and grandparents.

  • Simatai and Jinshanling ...more remote and in a more "natural" state. Rougher conditions than the previous ones. You can hike from Simatai to Jinshanling or viceversa in about 4 hours. Recommended for older kids, teenagers and adults in good shape.

  • Huanghua ...used to be the closest you could get to the "genuine" experience, within a short distance from Beijing. This section is undergoing some restoration work and could be off-limits to hikers. Check before you head out here.

  • Juyongguan ...This is the closest section to Beijing and is the most recently opened portion. It is still not too crowded since tour buses are still packing it to Badaling. This might change in the future. Recommended if you're in a hurry.

Whichever section of the wall you choose to see:

  • wear comfortable shoes or hiking boots if you will be attempting some of the more challenging hikes
  • bring drinks along, specially on hot days
  • be specially careful if it's raining or it's wet.
  • really absorb and enjoy!

And don't forget to take a look at our Great Wall of China Pictures

What's your favorite section of the Great Wall?

Have you been to the Great Wall recently? Which section did you visit? Share YOUR pictures and stories here!

Other Visitors Great Wall Stories and Reviews

Trekking from Jinshanling to Simatai - a video...

The Simatai Zipline - a video

Trekking from Jinshanling to Simatai - A few clips of me hiking on the Jinshanling and Simatai sections of the Great Wall. I hope it gives you an idea of how tough the climb is...

Maxi, Nis, Lily, Cashew and Max's Hike and Picnic at the Mutianyu Great Wall - We went up the cable car and hiked to "our" private tower towards the hundreds of steps and had a nice "Great wall" picnic consisting of Nis, my husband's Great Wall sandwiches and a nice bottle of wine...

Great Wall at Badaling on our Graduation Trip to China One of the most memorable stops on my senior class trip to China was the Badaling section of the Great Wall. I chose to climb the left side (easier climb) because I have some knee problems and I was accompanied by my elderly english teacher and her daughter..

About the Mutianyu Great Wall Mutianyu Great Wall works as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. It is a green section of the great wall in Beijing with vegetation, green pines and cypresses covering 90 per cent of the section...

Share Your Great Wall Story here!!

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Great reads for kids about the Great Wall...

Reading Level: Ages 4-8. This book is not only about the Great Wall, but an excellent and fun way to illustrate life in Ancient China. It has been used in classrooms as support material. The book is packed with facts and graphics making it a fun learning experience for the kids.

Reading Level: Grade 4 and up. Tells the story of the events leading up to the building of the Great Wall, from the battles and conflict between the Han Chinese and the Nomadic Mongols and throughout the various Chinese dynasties. The abundant graphics, map and timeline add much to the story and keep the youngsters interested.

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