How to Visit the Great Wall of China in 2024 

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Contrary to popular myth, the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space with the naked eye. But, it can easily be seen if you are visiting Beijing! As the longest wall in the world, spanning  21,196 kilometers (13,170 miles), the Great Wall has many sections, which, as a whole see over 10 million visitors a year. So which section of the wall should you visit to dodge the crowds and what can you do there? Read on for our recommendations.  

For the layover “we-can-fit-it-all-in” people (quickest, but not the best) 

The Badaling section of the Great Wall is the closest to Beijing at an hour’s drive. Upon arriving at the parking lot, visitors need to take a shuttle bus, and then queue for a security check, before starting their hike up the Wall.  WildChina’s official recommendation is to avoid the Badaling section of the Wall where possible. Being the closest to Beijing, it’s often crowded, and you may end up queuing for a long time. 

How to Visit the Great Wall of China in 2024 
The Badaling section of the Great Wall is often highly crowdedPhoto by Melissa on Unsplash

For the thrill-seeker 

About an hour and a half outside Beijing proper is the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. In addition to the scenic view of the snaking stone structure over distant mountain ridges, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is the only part that currently offers a toboggan ride down from the top! If you want to skip the whole climb, you can opt for the gondola ride up to the top, followed by a 1.6-kilometer toboggan ride along a metal track all the way down! Plus, you’ll be in good company with famous visitors to Beijing, like the Obamas, being past riders of this very same toboggan!

How to Visit the Great Wall of China in 2024 
The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is best known for its toboggan ride down

For the authentic immersion traveler 

For those who appreciate rugged terrain, stunning views, and a more authentic experience away from the crowds, Jinshanling never disappoints. It is no surprise that this section is the preferred spot of professional photographers, hiking enthusiasts, and WildChina travel designers. 

How to Visit the Great Wall of China in 2024 
The serene and tranquil Jinshanling section of the Great Wall 

The drive takes at least two hours from Beijing, so we recommend you allocate a full day for this trip. We will arrange for parking right outside the entrance, so you can walk in and begin your hike without having to take a shuttle or waiting in line. For those looking for a knee-friendly way up, we recommend the cable car, which provides a panoramic eyeful of the lush surroundings. Or, for those with stiff legs from the drive, there is some nice squishy tarmac leading up to the wall, which gives walkers an alternative approach from the cable car. 

One of our favorite experiences to arrange here for WildChina travelers is a rejuvenating tai chi lesson with a WildChina tai chi master, harmonizing mind, body, and spirit against the backdrop of Jinshanling’s sublime beauty.  

A morning session of tai chi at Jinshanling led by WildChina’s tai chi master

For hiking enthusiasts both serious and casual, this section of the wall provides proper hiking routes which can be extended to fill up an entire day. Or, for those looking for a more relaxed experience, it’s also possible to take the cable car up, stroll around a bit, and then take it back down. And, for those travelers looking to elevate their Great Wall memory even further, WildChina has a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience to offer. We can arrange for a white-glove, private pop-up dinner, set up on the Great Wall by our team, just for you.  

How to Visit the Great Wall of China in 2024 
A private WildChina dining experience on the Great Wall