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“If there is only a 6th star rating”
Review of Travel Great Wall

Travel Great Wall
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All Inclusive Self-Guided Private Day Trip to...
Ranked #16 of 143 Outdoor Activities in Beijing
Certificate of Excellence
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Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: works mainly in Mutianyu Great Wall small group tour, Great Wall car rental service, Beijing airport layover tour. Jinshanling Great Wall hiking towards to Simatai was amazing !"Not been on the Great Wall, not a great man."—Chinese proverb.The least spoiled part of the Great Wall.The hike from the west Jinshanling to the east Simatai is the most challenging Great Wall hike in Beijing.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed March 30, 2015

The day started rather early and cold. But nothing can deter me and my friend to venture the none restored area of the grand Great Wall. Climbing from the small town below, on the side of the mountain ( not at all the most common touristy way), I was warned by John (Hereisbeijing.com) the awesomest tour guide ever, that there is no going back for the next 2 hours of climbing.

I smirked and said he underestimate me. The moutainside was slippery from the ice (it snowed the night before), and all you can grab on to are tiny sprouts from the ground. It is every bit exhilirating! Thrilling and yes, life threatening. Such an adveture and adrenaline to navigate through the mountain and down to the more touristy side of the wall.
The entire hike and climb down covered 5 hours but with that view and the feeling of wonder, it is unforgettable. Immersing myslef in such rich history, I am so blessed to have survived AND enjoyed the climb.

Contact John at here is beijing, he is a superstar! and enjoy/explore! Don't stick to just the restored area! :)

Thank AileenSy_1984
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 3, 2015

I imagine this is the way the wall was. On this stretch it wasn't fixed up, there were people selling to tourists every 50 ft. Many times we looked forward and backward and could only see people in the far distant. It's tough trekking. We encountered one family from Sweden who brought their grandmother along. She must have been over 70 and struggled. The view is breathtaking and it's mainly away from the city smog, so you can actually see some distance away. We hired a guide who drove us to one spot in the wall and then he waited for us at another spot. We hiked for about 4 hours and loved it. We were all very tired in the end, but all felt it was worth it.

1  Thank Sbueb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2015

To see my full review, with pictures, please take a look at my blog post: http://theopinionatedwanderlust.com/2015/02/02/a-year-ago-this-week-great-wall-of-china/

But here is my review for TA:

January 20 2014.

A year ago, my brother and I celebrated our 32nd and 22nd birthdays together by hiking the Great Wall of China. Visiting the Great Wall was always on the list of things to see and do but there was never a concrete plan on when and how. So being there was absolutely surreal. Neither pictures I’ve seen of the Great Wall nor my imagination ever conjured up visuals that would be comparable to seeing its raw beauty in person.

Although we had consciously decided not to visit the Badaling part of the wall (most photographed and visited), we weren’t sure what to expect of the site we were headed towards. We wondered if we would feel like we had missed out by not going to the most visited portion. I assure you, we had not. We didn’t miss being surrounded by hundreds of tourists trying to take a picture without getting someone else in it. No, we were secluded. The Great Wall of China, at least for the purpose of this day, was going to be our own.

We booked the hike through our hostel, Beijing Downtown Backpackers Accommodation and I would highly recommend going to the Great Wall with them. They take you to Jinshaling (best preserved) part of the wall where we hiked 6KM (which included 22 ancient towers) towards Simatai, where the wall starts to deteriorate to its natural state. Can’t vouch for how crowded it gets in the summer time, but that cold January morning, our cozy group of 12 were the only ones. Imagine having something as grand as the Great Wall all to yourself. That kind of peacefulness is hard to come by and surreal when you experience it.

Our guide was a super sweet, I wish I had remembered her name. She, while informative, was never overbearing or pushy. She would share tidbits here and there, ensure we kept pace to meet the time frame and suggest we take breaks whenever she thought we were getting tired, but mostly she let us enjoy the journey.

When we arrived at the site, a few locals tried to sell us some items, but as soon as we said we weren’t interested, neither were they. And as we embarked on the journey towards the wall, it was very clear, very quickly, that this was going to be a challenging hike. Not to make excuses for our lack of keeping up with the group, but in our defense, we had both just landed the night before, him from Kunming (just a 3.5 hour flight but he waited all day at the airport for me to arrive) and me from the States, a 21+ hour travel day.

We had just walked up to the base where we would begin hiking the wall. This uphill path was strenuous enough for my brother and I. We looked at each other with nervousness, both wondering if we had just made a big mistake. But we’re troopers, so we weren’t going to let it get to us…or try not to!

I felt a rush of anxiety after the first tower hike, thinking there was no way I could make the 6KM distance, and there was really no way of backtracking if I suddenly wanted to give up half way. How would I even know which tower to descent down on? What if I hold up the group significantly?

But when I looked around me I was instantly reminded that there was absolutely nothing that was going to stop me from experiencing this. I just had to get my wits about me. I also had to remember that I wasn’t going to abandon my brother, who I had traveled half way around the world to see.

During the 4 hour hike, I reflected on many things about life, but I made sure to think about the time period(s) these walls were built during. I tried to tap into the high school history memory that I hoped was still somewhere in the back burner of my brain. It helped that I had done some reading on the plane, thanks Lonely Planet!

Did you know?

-The Great Wall can be visited from many North China provinces, not just Beijing

-The wall is not one continuous structure. Where there is natural defenses (mountains), there was no need for a wall barrier

- Wall began over 2000 years ago during the Qin dynasty (221-207 BC)

-Many of the hundreds of thousands of workers were political prisoners under General Meng Tiang

-The wall didn’t actually serve its purpose:

-Mongol armies imposed foreign rules from 1279-1368

-Manchu armies established two and half centuries of non-Chinese rule on the Middle Kingdom

-European invaders arrived by sea in the 19th century

-Japan invaded by the use of airplanes

Keeping these tidbits in mind, I marched on until I stopped to see Mongolia and China meet.

But I didn’t spend too much time alone with my thoughts as it was not meant to be a solo journey. Much to my brother’s dismay, I took constant pictures of us and had constant pictures of us taken. I've included some within this post.

Climbing the towers were sometimes a daunting task. There are signs that say you shouldn’t go up the side walls like you see me doing below, but honestly, it was so much easier than trying to take the steps down the middle.

We stopped for lunch half way through, about 11 towers into the hike. We brought packed lunches from our hostel restaurant, and although it was just a cold sandwich, no cold sandwich ever tasted that good! Between the chilly weather, the breathtaking views, the tiring hike and my favorite companion, it was one of the best lunches I had ever had.

It was such a gorgeous day. Brisk. Sunny. Cold. Breezy. It was the kind of cold you needed to prevent from getting too warm while hiking. It also helps that we are winter babies, so perhaps our outlook on it was a bit biased.

As we were getting closer to the end, I would find myself looking back and feeling quite accomplished. We had just hiked ALL of that!

I was so grateful that we were the only group up there, we have so many pictures of just us and the wall — no photobombs! It’s not always easy to get opportunities like that at one of the wonders of the world.

We knew we were nearing the end of the hike when we walked through long stretches of uneven rubble instead of paved paths.

This was followed by a vast space of wall without boundary, nothing to lean up against, just the edge. The wind had a field day with nothing to block its strength. My brother and I spent a little too much time here and fell significantly behind the rest of the group. That was something we were really trying to avoid! What made matters worse was the part that lay ahead. Do not be deceived by the picture below, you have no idea how steep that hike is about to get, and at the time, neither did we! We were so spent from this last leg of climbing that we didn’t take any pictures until we reached the end point.

Although it was nearly impossible at times to climb those towers (we were quite literally on all fours at the end, as the gaps between the already deteriorating steps were steep and unstable), and a couple of times I found myself wondering if I had overestimated my capabilities, I know that we wouldn’t trade our experience for anything in the world. Those moments of momentary regrets were just that, momentary. It was truly awe-inspiring. The beauty is so raw that there were times I stood and look out for miles into the distance at peace with my thoughts. I wanted to take it all in so that I would remember every moment vividly (and I do, I really do). Here’s a trip I wish I had a fitbit for!

I felt a strangeness leaving the Great Wall. It was this feeling of knowing that I may never see it again, as though it could feel the same way about me. It was extremely bittersweet and emotional, feelings I didn’t consider feeling.

If you ever get a chance to go to the Great Wall of China, please go. The walls won’t be there forever, the portions that can be visited are already limited and as time goes on, it will become so deteriorated that it’ll be impossible to visit. So, if it’s not on your list, add it. If it’s on your list, push it up. May you have a journey of a lifetime making your own memories.

Happy Travels!

5  Thank Anjani6898
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 5, 2015

China's best kept secret. We loved our day trip to Mutianyu. Took about 2 1/4 hours by private car with own guide from Beijing. Lots of traffic. Good decision not to do a bus tour. Because we had a private tour we were not rushed and stayed on the actual wall for about 2 hours. Learnt a lot. Our guide took lots of photos of us in many different locations on the wall. We will treasure this forever. We walked 2 1/2 kms and enjoyed the whole experience. Lots of stairs, climbing, instant crowd and funny photos. Best part was going up by chair lift and back by toboggan. Great souvenirs, hats and set of 3 large landscape photo prints of Great Wall in different seasons rolled up in sturdy boxes. Authentic Asian lunch near wall. WONDERFUL DAY !

2  Thank Jenny S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 10, 2014

I've been to a few different sections of the Great Wall near Beijing, and this is by far the most picturesque, and least ruined by tourists. I went in the winter too, which helps. It was not too cold to stand. It is possible to take a bus to near the Hebei border and then take a taxi from there. If I recall the bus leaves from one of the Beijing bus stations and is a tourist bus. Bathrooms were overflowing with waste, I recommend you use the bathroom elsewhere.

Thank rmcmullen9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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