Being Great Wall Flowers

We made it to the Great Wall! And our journey to Mutianyu.

The Great Wall of China was built mainly to protect the Chinese Empire from invasions from the North. It was built in sections made of stone, brick, wood and other material as early as the 7th century BC. Later it was joined together into the Great Wall we know today.

Obviously I left out centuries of in between juicy details, but hey, you don’t have to be a history buff to be struck speechless by the Wall.

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We opted to visit Mutianyu over Badaling mainly to avoid tourists. And maybe it was timing, or maybe it is in fact, less touristy, but we had the Wall practically to ourselves.

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The wall is not for the faint of heart. Towards tall tower #20 is where it gets steep with large steps. I struggled to make it to the top, crawling at times. Quit twice actually but eventually made it.

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But the view at the top was well worth the leg work out.

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For the most part, it’s a steady slope with minor up and down and a few towers along the way. The easiest route is from #15 where the cable car drops you off to #6 where the Toboggan is located.

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I felt transported back in time as I walk alone along the wall. With each uneven step, I took in the uninterrupted surrounding forested mountainside and the slopes of the wall. It was one of those moments where I just had to sit down, breathe and take it all in. To read it, hear about it is nothing like seeing the real thing in person. Gerard felt the same.

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And while I was in absolutely awe at the sheer fact that I was sitting on the Great Wall of China, at the same time, I couldn’t help myself from throwing karate chops whilst singing..

Let’s get down to business.. to defeat.. the Huns!

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Having less traffic than Badaling, Mutianyu is a hot spot for wedding photography. We ran into two photo sessions on our way down.

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The best part, other than climbing the Wall itself, is literally the ride down. Mutianyu has the Toboggan – a luge at marker #6 where you can ride all the way down to base.

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It’s not hard to see why The Great Wall of China makes it to most people’s bucket list of must have experiences. A truly incredible piece of history and one of man’s greatest creation. This along with visiting the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an far exceeded any expectations I previous had. Definitely worth our short trip to China.

Things You Should Know

  • Take the Tourism Bus No. 867 at Dongzhimen. Here is a helpful guide with directions on how to get to the bus station which is located down the street outside of Subway Line 2.
    • The ride cost 16 RMB and takes approximately 2.5 hours.
    • You can either take the same bus back or opt to split a shared van to take you down to bus stop in Huairou to catch Bus No. 916 – the Express Bus back to Dongzhimen. A little more than an hour ride and we only paid an extra 30 RMB for the shared van with 3 other tourists we met on the wall (you might be able to bargain down to 10 RMB/person). Not including the bus fare itself which is 12 RMB.
  • The entrance fee cost 45 RMB. Cable car and toboggan are separate – 60 RMB each.
  • There is a Subway if you wish to grab a sandwich before heading up the Wall.
  • Buy your water and snacks before entering for cheaper prices. Bargain for water – At the base they say 5 RMB, you say 3 RMB. It’ll cost more on the Wall.

In more exciting news, a new and forgotten section of the wall was just discovered earlier this year deep in the Gobi desert and outside of China! Excited to see how that story unfolds.

How about you? What do you find ‘great’ about the Wall?

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  • http://debbzie.blogspot.com/ DebbZie

    Riding toboggan looks fun. I’d like to try that next time 😀

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      It was so much fun! I waited until there was no one in front of me so I can go really fast! Lol

  • http://www.debbzie.com DebbZie Leksono

    Riding toboggan looks fun. I’d like to try that next time 😀

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      It was so much fun! I waited until there was no one in front of me so I can go really fast! Lol

  • http://memographer.com/ memographer

    I have never seen a toboggan. Seems like fun :) Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I’m starting to see them pop up – must be a new thing. A great and fun alternative to the cable car. :)

      • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

        They’ve been around at least five years, if not more :)

  • http://memographer.com/ memographer

    I have never seen a toboggan. Seems like fun :) Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I’m starting to see them pop up – must be a new thing. A great and fun alternative to the cable car. :)

      • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

        They’ve been around at least five years, if not more :)

  • http://www.travelrinserepeat.com/ John

    Awesome photos – i love the one of you with the bride.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Haha thanks! I caught her on a break and went for it. She was happy to take one with me. 😀

  • http://www.travelrinserepeat.com/ John

    Awesome photos – i love the one of you with the bride.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Haha thanks! I caught her on a break and went for it. She was happy to take one with me. 😀

  • http://profiles.google.com/reclaimingmyfuture Toni White

    Your photos are stunning and, as you say, worth all the pain! I had a similar struggle climbing up Dune 45 in Namibia…almost threw up but it was well worth it in the end…the best things always are right?!
    And I have ALWAYS wondered about the toboggan – where it goes from etc so thanks for answering it and taking the photos…another thing to add to my bucket list :)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I thought the Great Wall was hard but just finished trekking Sapa in Vietnam I was literally want to throw up. Haha

      But the view was well worth the pain. Plus, great calves to show for. Lol

  • Toni White

    Your photos are stunning and, as you say, worth all the pain! I had a similar struggle climbing up Dune 45 in Namibia…almost threw up but it was well worth it in the end…the best things always are right?!
    And I have ALWAYS wondered about the toboggan – where it goes from etc so thanks for answering it and taking the photos…another thing to add to my bucket list :)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I thought the Great Wall was hard but just finished trekking Sapa in Vietnam I was literally want to throw up. Haha

      But the view was well worth the pain. Plus, great calves to show for. Lol

  • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

    Love it! I always go to a “secret” section of the wall that is pretty run down and probably should be closed off haha, and it’s a hell of a hike (but well worth it for the lack of tourists). This looks like you got the best of all worlds — a lack of tourists, decent (not crumbling) steps, AND the toboggan at the end!

  • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

    Love it! I always go to a “secret” section of the wall that is pretty run down and probably should be closed off haha, and it’s a hell of a hike (but well worth it for the lack of tourists). This looks like you got the best of all worlds — a lack of tourists, decent (not crumbling) steps, AND the toboggan at the end!

  • http://twitter.com/houseofannie Nate L

    I’ve been to the Great Wall twice. It is literally breath-taking! But I didn’t go to the section with the luge :-(

    Definitely a reason to go back! 😀

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      The le is well worth a return visit.mthe wall too of course!

  • Gophur

    I’ve been to the Great Wall twice. It is literally breath-taking! But I didn’t go to the section with the luge :-(

    Definitely a reason to go back! 😀

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      The luge is well worth a return visit.. the wall too of course. :)

  • http://www.20yearshence.com/ Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Unsurprisingly, the Great Wall is on my list of things I must see while in China, but I was a bit overwhelmed by all the potential sites to see it so this post has been REALLY useful as it looks like Mutianyu is a much cooler way to see the Wall than at Badaling. I mean, the lack of raging hoards of tourists is nice, but I think that toboggan at the end really seals the deal! Thanks for including details on how to get to this section of the Wall… I’m sure I’ll be referring back!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I was concern Mutianyu would be touristy because It came highly recommended by many but was surprised myself at how little traffic we got. And I’ll admit, the luge sealed the deal for us too. 😉

  • http://www.20yearshence.com/ Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Unsurprisingly, the Great Wall is on my list of things I must see while in China, but I was a bit overwhelmed by all the potential sites to see it so this post has been REALLY useful as it looks like Mutianyu is a much cooler way to see the Wall than at Badaling. I mean, the lack of raging hoards of tourists is nice, but I think that toboggan at the end really seals the deal! Thanks for including details on how to get to this section of the Wall… I’m sure I’ll be referring back!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I was concern Mutianyu would be touristy because It came highly recommended by many but was surprised myself at how little traffic we got. And I’ll admit, the luge sealed the deal for us too. 😉

  • Cele928

    What a great experience and fabulous photos (as we have come to expect). I hope to one day be able to cross this off my bucket list. I continue to live vicariously through you two.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      You definitely will, Celeste! 😉

  • Cele928

    What a great experience and fabulous photos (as we have come to expect). I hope to one day be able to cross this off my bucket list. I continue to live vicariously through you two.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      You definitely will, Celeste! 😉

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    1. MULAN!!!
    2. A luge to get down? So badass.
    3. I really want to visit the Great Wall – it’s like in my top five “bucket list” things to see. Lovely photos!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      It really was pretty badass. You guys heading back to Asia any time soon?

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    1. MULAN!!!
    2. A luge to get down? So badass.
    3. I really want to visit the Great Wall – it’s like in my top five “bucket list” things to see. Lovely photos!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      It really was pretty badass. You guys heading back to Asia any time soon?

  • http://www.tammyandchrisonthemove.blogspot.com/ TammyOnTheMove

    Still looks as beautiful as it did when I went there for my honeymoon 6 years ago. That luge you can take down must be new. I wish it was there when I went. Looks like so much fun!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea not sure when they put it in but did look pretty new. Good thing because I didn’t want to hike back down, nor walk back towards the cable car. :)

  • http://www.tammyandchrisonthemove.blogspot.com/ TammyOnTheMove

    Still looks as beautiful as it did when I went there for my honeymoon 6 years ago. That luge you can take down must be new. I wish it was there when I went. Looks like so much fun!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea not sure when they put it in but did look pretty new. Good thing because I didn’t want to hike back down, nor walk back towards the cable car. :)

  • Heathers Harmony

    I love this post and your blog! How fun to take pictures with the bride! I can hardly wait until I get to visit!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks Heather! Isn’t it a great place for wedding photos?! Unreal..

  • Heathers Harmony

    I love this post and your blog! How fun to take pictures with the bride! I can hardly wait until I get to visit!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks Heather! Isn’t it a great place for wedding photos?! Unreal..

  • http://www.amberrisme.com Amberr Meadows

    The sheer magnitude and effort it took to create such a wall simply amazes me. Awesome photos! Thanks for the vicarious travel!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      You are most welcome! The history behind the Wall always amazes me.

  • http://www.amberrisme.com Amberr Meadows

    The sheer magnitude and effort it took to create such a wall simply amazes me. Awesome photos! Thanks for the vicarious travel!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      You are most welcome! The history behind the Wall always amazes me.

  • http://www.unbravegirl.com/ Sally

    Oh man, I’m so jealous you got to toboggan down from the Wall. I could have really used a toboggan to get down from the Wall when I did the 10K on the Wall… running down wasn’t nearly as fun. Or fast!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      You had to run down the Wall too?! Ah man, they should have let you luge down. Way more fun and rewarding I think. 😉

  • http://www.unbravegirl.com/ Sally

    Oh man, I’m so jealous you got to toboggan down from the Wall. I could have really used a toboggan to get down from the Wall when I did the 10K on the Wall… running down wasn’t nearly as fun. Or fast!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      You had to run down the Wall too?! Ah man, they should have let you luge down. Way more fun and rewarding I think. 😉

  • http://little-victories.net CeCe

    I did the same section of the wall except at the end of winter so we could have easily made our own toboggan ride on the wall itself due to all the snow.

    FYI…totally sang to Mulan as I read the quote.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ooo.. sledding down the Great Wall – now that would have been cool.

      LOL.. I was glad we were the only ones there because I got carried away with my Mulan and karate chopping. Haha

  • http://little-victories.net CeCe

    I did the same section of the wall except at the end of winter so we could have easily made our own toboggan ride on the wall itself due to all the snow.

    FYI…totally sang to Mulan as I read the quote.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ooo.. sledding down the Great Wall – now that would have been cool.

      LOL.. I was glad we were the only ones there because I got carried away with my Mulan and karate chopping. Haha

  • Anonymous

    I already wanted to go to China! After reading this it went on top of my list!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yay! It’s a whole other world over there. The Great Wall has been high on my list for a while. :)

  • http://lifethruamoka.com/ Barbylucedistelle

    I already wanted to go to China! After reading this it went on top of my list!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yay! It’s a whole other world over there. The Great Wall has been high on my list for a while. :)

  • http://twitter.com/thatbackpacker Audrey Bergner

    I thought my friend was joking when she told me she rode a toboggan down the Great Wall of China, haha! Clearly not! 😀

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      No joke… It’s seriously fun!

  • Audrey

    I thought my friend was joking when she told me she rode a toboggan down the Great Wall of China, haha! Clearly not! 😀

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      No joke… It’s seriously fun!

  • Jessie

    I just got back from 3 weeks all over China, and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thought of Mulan! We looked at every hostel we stayed in for a copy and no one had it! Glad you had good weather, both days we went to the Wall it was foggy and rainy, couldn’t see more the 15 feet in front of you.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Lol, me too! Our Internet was too slow to download the movie. Wow, can’t believe you guys were fogged in. Did you get any great misty shots?

  • Jessie

    I just got back from 3 weeks all over China, and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thought of Mulan! We looked at every hostel we stayed in for a copy and no one had it! Glad you had good weather, both days we went to the Wall it was foggy and rainy, couldn’t see more the 15 feet in front of you.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Lol, me too! Our Internet was too slow to download the movie. Wow, can’t believe you guys were fogged in. Did you get any great misty shots?

  • http://twitter.com/DocWends Journeys and Travels

    I just loved the Great Wall! I felt unfortunate to go to the Badaling instead of this and your photos are just awesomely inspiring! I will get to this part of the wall when I go back to Beijing in the future.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I would have love to see Badaling too but just the thought of all those tourists in my pictures.. ugh. Next time though. :)

  • Journeys & Travels

    I just loved the Great Wall! I felt unfortunate to go to the Badaling instead of this and your photos are just awesomely inspiring! I will get to this part of the wall when I go back to Beijing in the future.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I would have love to see Badaling too but just the thought of all those tourists in my pictures.. ugh. Next time though. :)

  • James

    Hi GQ, nice to see there’s not much tourists in your photos – mostly just the two of you. What time did you visit?

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      We were there from 10am-2pm. The key is to avoid the weekend. We visited on a Thursday. It’s also about timing.. And the Mutianyu section is less visited Badaling.

  • James

    Hi GQ, nice to see there’s not much tourists in your photos – mostly just the two of you. What time did you visit?

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      We were there from 10am-2pm. The key is to avoid the weekend. We visited on a Thursday. It’s also about timing.. And the Mutianyu section is less visited Badaling.

  • Pingback: Grappling with Greatness at the Great Wall | 20 Years Hence

  • Cherlene Bauzon DeGuzman

    I can’t wait to visit this next month. We will be visiting Mutianyu and hopefully, lucky like you guys, we will avoid all the photo bombers.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Should be a good time.. I can’t wait to see your pics! Only reason I’d let you two miss our wedding.. LOL

  • Cherlene Bauzon DeGuzman

    I can’t wait to visit this next month. We will be visiting Mutianyu and hopefully, lucky like you guys, we will avoid all the photo bombers.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Should be a good time.. I can’t wait to see your pics! Only reason I’d let you two miss our wedding.. LOL

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