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The Traveller's Magazine
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Chinese authorities have said that two new sections of the Great Wall will open this year, making the Great Wall of China that much greater! The wall is some 21,000 km long but tourists have only been able to see 30 km of it, something that’s about to change.

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The decision to open more sections of the Great Wall of China to the public only comes from Chinese authorities now in order to accommodate the growing number of tourists visiting the area. They hope this will also stop damage caused by tourists climbing to see closed sections of the wall.

Currently there are four sections of the wall open to the public:

  • Badaling
  • Juyongguan
  • Simatai
  • Mutianyu

Two additional sections, Hefangduan and Huanghuacheng, will open gradually but authorities have yet to release an exact date when they’ll be fully opened. For now though, the wall remains intensely crowded by groups on over-priced tours, making it exceedingly difficult to really admire the greatness of the wall.

Visiting the Wall

What many don’t realize is that there are four distinct sections of the wall, built by four different emperors. Each adding to it what was needed at the time to protect China. The wall stretches through mountain ranges, grassland, semi-arid deserts, plateaus and even the sand dunes of Mongolia’s Tengger desert. While most will visit the parts of the wall closest to Beijing, if you really want to skip the crowds and the over-priced tours, it’s recommended to travel a little further.

Mutianyu – Just after Badaling, Mutianyu is far less crowded, you’ll be happy you made the extra hike for the photographs without hundreds of people in your frame. You can reach it via ski lift, stairs or taxi.

Huanghuacheng – By far the best built part of the wall, something that cost the head builder his head. Apparently the emperor was after quantity rather than quality.

Simatai – Although closed, it is possible to camp on sections of this part of the wall, a great option for the more adventurous. By day, trek from Simatai to Jinshanling, roughly 10 km.

Jiankou – Most of the famous photos of the Great Wall are taken in this area. The “Nine-Eye Tower” was a very important post during the ancient wars. The “Beijing Knot” is where three parts of the wall come together from all different directions.

Quick tips

  • Bus scams are everywhere. When getting on an “organized” shuttle buss to the Great Wall, insist on only paying upon arrival at the Wall and vice versa when getting back to the city. Otherwise, you could find yourself being dropped off in the middle of nowhere.
  • Great Wall tours that cost 100-150 Yuan are a rip-off, you’ll often see them advertised in Beijing’s Forbidden City. Avoid them at all costs. A regular bus fare to/from the Wall should only cost around 20 Yuan.

Have you ever visited the Great Wall of China? What was the most impressive part of the experience?

 Imgs: matt512, grumpy.editor / Flickr cc.

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2 responses to “China’s Great Wall is getting greater by the minute

  1. I went there with friends car (can’t remember the section), but the amount of Chinese tourists on the wall near to the entrance is just mind numbing. However, if you then walk 20-30minutes on the wall, the amount tourists drops to close to zero and you can enjoy it by yourself. For some reason most of the Chinese tourists don’t seem to wander too far from the entrance point.

    1. Hey Jarmo, thanks for the comment, always appreciated!
      Good to hear that you don’t even have to walk that far to get away from the crowds. I’ve had similar experiences with Chinese tourists in other places too, have the impression it’s more about arriving, looking for a few moments and then back on the bus.

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