Visiting the Great Wall of China was high on our bucket list, but we never got a chance to be there. Last December, we got that chance. We had planned our new year in Japan and managed to squeeze in a couple of extra days to do a stopover at Beijing just to see the Great Wall of China. The best part was, the journey was almost free. The stopover route Mumbai – Beijing – Tokyo – Mumbai, turned out to be cheaper than Mumbai – Tokyo – Mumbai! And so we jumped on this opportunity. I will be writing a separate blog post to cover this hack. Also if you qualify for the China 72 hour transit visa, it’s a great advantage.
So on Christmas day, we took a flight for the first leg of our tour, from Mumbai to Beijing . Beijing was brutally cold on arrival. Not the best time to visit this city. There was heavy smog and hardly anyone was outdoors. We stayed at this fantastic 5 star property (ranked 10th best in Beijing) New World hotel Beijing at Chongwenmen district. Check my review here. They even upgraded us to a suite. The location was just perfect. Easily accessible to all the major sightseeing locations in Beijing including Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, and the Summer Palace.
Image of our Suite at New World Beijing Hotel
Despite the harsh climate, we were focussed on our trip, to the Great Wall of China next morning and we hoped that the weather would be better
Since we had just a day to visit the Great Wall of China, we had done extensive research, and carried notes to ensure we don’t lose much time and lose our way. And this blog intends to share all that information, so that it makes your journey hassle free and more enjoyable.
I would like to mention that the details presented in this blog, are for the trip we undertook in December 2015, so there could be a possibility of changes when you travel. Do check for latest updates on other websites too.
Now there are three main areas to access the Great Wall of China
1/ Mutianyu (90km,north of Beijing), the most popular I guess and easiest because you can take a cable car to go on the wall.
2/ Ba Da Ling (70km north west), less crowded but very beautiful. More, more physical.
3/ Sima Tai (110km north east),
After a lot of research we decided to visit the Mutianyu Section which was more scenic than the other options. So if it’s the first time you visit the Great Wall of China start with Mutianyu
Now there are three ways you can reach the Mutianyu Great Wall section.
Do check if you hotel has a tour arranged for Great Wall of China. This is most convenient option, though you may have to go in groups and adhere to their timings.
The most comfortable way to reach Mutianyu Great Wall section is by hiring a car. You can hire a car for a day and they can pick you up right from the hotel and drop you at the entrance. For us, it was a 75 mins, ride to the Mutianyu section. It is the most comfortable but also the most expensive way to travel. The charges would be anywhere from 550 -800 RMB depending on season and your location. This fee does not include entrance ticket to the Great Wall.
If you are adventurous and want to save money, try the bus option. This would cost you around 50 RMB each way. Since there are no direct buses to Mutianyu Great Wall, it’s a bit tricky to reach.
Firstly, use the metro to get to Dongzhimen station and follow the signs to the Bus Transfer Hall, which is linked by underground passageways
Find the queue for 916 Express. The Express seems to have fewer stops en-route, don’t take the 916. You need to catch this bus from inside the bus station. Since if you board the bus from the street station, it will take double the time, since express has fewer stops. The buses depart frequently, every 15 minutes or so. The cost per person is 12 Yuan, paid as you enter the bus in a cash box (have the right amount ready). The journey time is around 75 minutes depending on Beijing traffic . The bus terminates at Hairou town – Huai Rou Bei Da Jie bus stop
You need to get down here, and then, transfer to bus line h23, h24, h35, or h36 to Mutianyu Roundabout. Beware ,there will be lot of scamsters trying to persuade you that buses are not working to take you to Mutianyu Roundabout and, to hire their car instead. It’s best to make some friends in the bus and negotiate as a group. That way you will not be fooled or overpowered.
In case of any difficulty getting a bus you can also hire a minivan, which can charge you 25-40 RMB for taking you to the entrance of the ticket office.
The return is also the same way, take the minivan or the hbus to 916 Express stop . And from there 916 express to Dongzhimen Bus Stand.
Once you reach the entrance you need to buy your tickets for accessing the Mutianyu Great Wall. There is a shuttle bus which takes you to the foot of the wall and then a cable car on top. Both tickets need to be purchased here. Some details about the Mutianyu Wall Section and rates.
|Opening Hours||March 16 to November 14: 07:00 – 18:00
November 15 to next March 15: 07:30 – 17:00
|Admission Fee||Adults: CNY45;
|Cable Car Fee (Optional)||Adults: CNY80 for a single trip, CNY100 for a round trip;
Children: CNY40 for a single trip and CNY50 for a round trip
|Slideway Fee (Optional)||Adults: CNY80 for a single trip, CNY100 for a round trip (Cable car up, slideway down);
Children: CNY60 for a round trip (Cable car up, slideway down)
|♦ Notice: Children below 3.9 feet (1.2m) can visit or take cable car/slideway for free while children between 3.9 feet (1.2m) to 4.9 feet (1.5m) enjoy children ticket price.|
|Shuttle Bus||CNY 15 for a return ticket; CNY 10 for a single ticket.
The shuttle bus takes visitors to the foot of the wall, which is 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) to the ticket office.
From the base there, are three ways to reach the wall
Cable Car, Chair Lift or Foot
Cable car takes you to watch tower 14, chair lift takes you to Watchtower No. 6. Go by foot only if you are extremely fit. The platform below the 14th tower is wheelchair user friendly
If your tour guide is doing your booking, please check if he is buying the right cable car tickets. If you want to use the chair lift inform him so.
Going down: You have an additional option of taking the Toboggan down from Watchtower 6.Taking the slide down is quite interesting. Go only if you really want high thrills. See someone do it, before you decide.
Some Tips for the Hike
We had the most amazing experience at the wall. The weather was just perfect. Sunny yet cool breeze flowing. We trekked for almost 2.5 hours. The views were breathtaking and the whole place was simply majestic. You really cant explain the sheer joy of being present at this great wall. There was hardly any crowd, and we had whole sections to ourselves.
We would only advice travellers, to take it easy here, not to be in a rush to cover more distance. After some point the views are not really any different. So spend time at each watchtower. Click Pictures. Sit down have a chat, drink water. Enjoy the surroundings. This would be easily one of the best things you would have done in your life!
Hope you found this blog about reaching Mutianyu Section of Great Wall of China useful. If you have been here and would like to share more tips to help fellow travellers please do comment. Until my next trip report…
I leave you here with some images of our trip. the Airport, Our Hotel and the magnificent Great Wall of China – Mutianyu section.
At the beijing Airport
We took the Airport Express to our Hotel
Weather was not good. That Smog!
Our Fantastic Hotel
Our Rooms though were brilliant. We were upgraded to a suite
It snowed the day we left
Christmas Tree @ New World Beijing
The entrance to the Wall: It was a beautiful day
The Shuttle Bus
Cable Car or Chair Lift
The Magnificent Great Wall – mutianyu Section
And Finally Our helpful tour guide Mrs YU. I must highly recommend her boss as he was very helpful and professional. In case you need a car in Beijing you could contact +86 13717861403. I hope they can give you good rates.