I couldn’t visit China without visiting The Great Wall. It must be the planet’s longest wall at over 13,000 miles long. Unless you walk along the wall you aren’t going to get the scale from a visit lasting a few hours. You do get some idea of the scale as you can see it running from horizon to horizon and use your imagination.
Like most of the best places to visit, the wall is listed by UNESCO. Some sections are over 2000 years old and in poor state of repair. Fortunately there are some restored sections near to Beijing. If you didn’t know they had been restored you might have thought it was remarkably well preserved.
One of these sections is at a place called Mutianyu. The airport is about midway between Mutianyu and the city centre. Rather than driving an hour into the city and out again, we decided to go directly to Mutianyu after our flight to China. I think that was a good idea.
We chose to visit the section at Mutianyu as it is supposed to be less busy than other sections. We found most tourist sites to be busy during the week and much too busy at weekends. The key for an enjoyable visit it to visit early. Staying in the village and going straight after breakfast was a very good option.
The town at Mutianyu isn’t much to speak of. Most tourists visit the Wall on a day trip by coach from Beijing and by pass the village. If you arrive before the first coaches you have the wall pretty much to yourself. I was surprised to discover that there is a cable car up to the wall. The ticket office for the cable car is surrounded by a commercial area with restaurants and cafes.
After the cable car ride you understand that it is long walk up. If you are on a day trip you don’t have a lot of time and will be pleased of the ride. A day trip from. Eijing must be a rush as it’s a two hour drive out of Beijing and another two hours back.
The Wall is certainly photogenic and looks very pretty with the haze of pollution from Beijing giving it an atmospheric look. At least the pollution is good for one thing.
After walking along the wall you have three options to return to the town. The first is to walk, the second to take the cable car and the third is to use a slide! The slide is actually great fun even if a bit busy to go very fast. I’m glad to say that the slide doesn’t detract from the view of the wall. I was encouraged that the commercialism has been well controlled. It is not like Disney does the Great Wall.
Is it worth a visit? Well everyone is going to ask if you visited the Great Wall and you can’t show off if you didn’t. It is one of the sites which has not been destroyed in the turbulence of the last century. If you really want to appreciate The Wall, I think you would have to spend a few days walking along it with a guide to explain the significance. As a day trip, well it’s a pretty wall that makes for nice photographs.