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Best Sections of the Great Wall

With a total length of 21,196 kilometers, it’s estimated the Great Wall would take an average visitor 18 months to walk. But generally, no matter how interested you are in exploring the wall, it is unlikely for you to have 18 months spare to do this hike.

So which sections should you choose to see? This article lists general information about the best sections of the Great Wall to visit. Follow China Travel’s advice to make a well-organized plan according to your itinerary and your season of travel!

Mutianyu–Fully-Restored, Most Child-Friendly Section

mutianyu

Location: Huairou County, Beijing

Distance From Downtown Beijing: 72.4km (45 miles), 1½ hours' drive

Features:  The Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall (慕田峪长城) is in better restored shape, yet attracts fewer tourists, compared to the Badaling Section and Juyongguan Pass. The section runs for 2.25km (1.4 miles), with watchtowers and fortifications at intervals of only 500 meters. Parapets were built on the inner and outer sides as a way to protect from invaders coming from either side. 

This longest fully-restored section of the Great Wall was rebuilt with smooth and even steps, which are child-friendly.Former First Lady Michelle Obama visited, and talked about the Wall in glowing terms.

Standing on the Wall, you can take a closer look at the unique structural style of this section, or gaze down at Jundu Mountain (军都山) valley. Also, the cableway and slipway will make your journey more exciting and less laborious. 

Entrance Fees: 40 RMB/adults, 20 RMB/kids (1.2-1.5m tall), free for children less than 1.2m tall.

Facilities:

  • Cable car: adults, 100 RMB/one-way, 120 RMB/round-trip; children (1.2–1.3m tall), 50 RMB/one-way, 60 RMB/round-trip; free for children less than 1.2m tall
  • Tobogganing: adults, 100 RMB/one-way, 120 RMB/round-trip; children, 60 RMB/round-trip
  • Shuttle bus: 10 RMB/one-way, 15 RMB/round-trip
  • Opening Hours:

    Peak season (March 16th–November 15th): 7:30 am to 6:00 pm on weekdays; 7:30 am to 6:30 pm on weekends.
    Off-peak (November 16th–March 15th): 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, daily.

    Transportation: Take Bus No. 916 (13 stops, 163 minutes) at Dongzhimen (东直门) Bus Station to Huairou North Street Station, and transfer over to Bus h50 or h23 (8 stops, 47 minutes) to the destination. The cost is 16RMB.

    Recommended Touring Time: half a day to a whole day

    Tour Ideas: Enjoy an essential trip to the Mutianyu Great Wall with an English-speaking guide, who will explain everything: 1-Day Graceful Great Wall at Mutianyu Group Tour (No-Shopping)

    Badaling–Best-Preserved and Most-Visited Section

    badaling-section

    Location: Yanqing County, Beijing

    Distance From Downtown Beijing: 72.4km (45 miles), 1½ hours' drive

    Features: As the best-preserved and most-visited section, Badaling Great Wall (八达岭长城)  is an essential part of the Ming Great Wall, and an outpost of Junyongguan Pass.

    Snaking across the main peak of Jundu Mountain Range, the Wall was built in accordance with local topography. This section has 43 watchtowers on the mountain ridgeline, and moats situated on either side of the Wall.

    To ensure its defensive potential, some rocks were drilled out of the wall to make holes for shooting arrows. The Wall was designed to be wide enough for 5 horses to ride abreast. Thus this section of the Wall provided a reference for military defense projects in the following dynasties of ancient China.

    You may find yourself admiring the magnificent and unique structural style of this section that exhibits the ability of Chinese people of old. You can also visit the Great Wall Museum to learn more about the history of this great achievement. As Badaling’s reputation grows, however, this section is becoming more and more crowded.

    Entrance Fees: 45 RMB/person (1st April to 31st October); 40 RMB/person (1st November to 31st March); half price for children between 7 and 18 years old; free for children less than 1.2m tall.

    Facilities:

  • Cable cars: 60 RMB/one-way, 80 RMB/round-trip
  • Great Wall Museum: free
  • Opening Hours:

    Peak season (1st April to 31st October): 6:30 am–7:00 pm 
    Off-peak (1st November to 31st March): 7:00 am–6:00 pm 

    Transportation:

  • Take Bus 919 (17 stops, 2 hours and 30 minutes) at Dengshengmen (德胜门) Bus Station.
  • Go to Beijing North Train Station (北京北站), and take Urban Railway Line S2 (1 hour and 15 minutes).
  • Recommended Touring Time: half a day to a whole day

    Tour Ideas: Badaling Great Wall, & Changling (Ming Tomb) Seat-in-Coach Tour (Group)

    Jiankou–Steepest and Most Challenging Section

    jiankou-section

    Location: Huairou County, Xizhazi Village (西栅子村)

    Distance From Downtown Beijing: 98km (60.9 miles), 2½ hours' drive

    Features: This whole section zigzags up and down the mountain ridges in the shape of a "W", or like a bow drawn to its fullest, thus it was named Jiankou (箭扣长城, literally meaning Arrow Knot).

    The section owes its prominence to its great strategic and military location in ancient China. It meets the Mutianyu Section in the east and the Huanghuacheng Section in the west, forming a long fortified line repelling attack.

    The Jiankou section often remains unexplored. Most of it is completely original and without repair marks, so it is the steepest and most challenging section for world travelers. In actual fact, the majority of perfect photos of the Great Wall we see today originate from the Jiankou section’s rugged natural beauty, which makes it the most photogenic spot of the Great Wall.

    The Ox-Horn Edge Wall (牛犄角边), General Watchtower (将军守关), Beijing Knot (北京结), and Nine-Eyed Tower (九眼楼), are the most famous attractions of this section.

    Entrance Fees: Generally local villagers ask for 10 or 20 RMB

    Facilities: None

    Opening Hours: All day

    Transportation: Take Bus 916 (13 stops, 2 hours and 40 minutes) at Huairou North Street (怀柔北大街) Bus Station, then transfer to Bus h23 (12 stops, 48 minutes) to Mutianyu Huandao Station (慕田峪环岛). The cost is 16 RMB.

    Recommended Touring Time: one day

    Tips:

  • Camping is forbidden at the Great Wall, but you can stay overnight at farmhouses or hostels in Xizhazi Village.
  • No cable-cars or other transportation are available in this section, so climbing is the only way to visit.
  •  Make sure you bring suitable mountaineering equipment for climbing.
  • Tour Ideas: Do you want to climb the rugged wall? Come and follow China Travel to enjoy a well-arranged journey from the Original Jiankou to the Restored Mutianyu Great Wall, so that you can begin the difficult part of the trip with energy and slow down with the easy part at the end.  

    Simatai—‘Miniature’ and Most Precipitous Section

    simatai-section

    Location: Miyun County, Beijing

    Distance From Downtown Beijing: 120km (75 miles), 2 hours' drive

    Features: Winding along the lofty and steep ridges of a mountain-range, Simatai is said to be the wonderful Great Wall in miniature, because it is the most precipitous part. This 5-kilometer-long section sometimes rises to the crests of mountains, and sometimes descends into deep valleys.

    Hikers and adventurers will never be disappointed by this place. The hiking journey starts from Gubei Water Town, an ancient town at the foot of the wall itself, and ends with a panoramic view of the whole fortification stretching from east to west.

    Though Simatai boasts precipitous steps, it is much safer than Jiankou, the other steep section of the Great Wall. Since this section has undergone little conservation, its untamed beauty will easily remind travelers of the Ming Dynasty, when it was formerly built.

    Entrance Fees: 40 RMB/person, half price for children between 7 and 18 years old; free for children less than 1.2m tall.

    Facilities:

    Cable Car: 80 RMB/one-way, 120 RMB/round-trip

    It is recommended that you take battery carts from the booking office to the Simatai Section (about 2.5 kilometers, 10 RMB one-way)

    Opening Hours:

  • Day Time:
    Peak season (April to October): 8:00 am–7:00 pm
    Off-peak (November to March): 8:00 am–5:00 pm
  • Night Time:
    Peak season (April to October): 18:00–21:00 on weekdays; 18:00–21:30 on weekends
    Off-peak (November to March): 17:30–20:00 on weekdays; 17:30–21:30 on weekends
  • Transportation: Take bus 980 at Gongzhimen Bus Station to Miyun, then transfer to a minibus, which will take you directly to the Simatai Great Wall.

    Recommended Touring Time: one day

    Tour Ideas: Enjoy a trip to Simatai and explore the Great Wall in Beijing when you reach the peak. You may like our 1-Day Simatai Great Wall Hiking Tour (No Shopping).

    Huanghuacheng–the Only Lakeside Section in Beijing

    huanghuacheng

    Location: Huairou County, Beijing

    Distance From Downtown Beijing: 60 kilometers (37 miles), 1½ hours’ drive

    Features: Huanghuacheng is different from the other parts of the Great Wall. It meets the Huaijiu River (怀九河) at a point where a dam has been built. Thus, with the rising of the water level, the wall is partially submerged, creating a unique waterside scene.

    This section is also one of the few whose view is affected by seasonal change. It is strongly recommended to visit in spring, when the entire village is immersed in a sea of wild yellow flowers: huanghua in Chinese.

    In addition, this section is not yet too touristy, which means the splendid scenery is kept exclusively for a few visitors, and you can avoid viewing the Wall alongside thousands of other tourists. 

    Alongside its defensive function, this section also acted as a secure location for the mausoleum of Ming Emperors, which later became known as the Ming Tombs.

    Entrance Fees: 45 RMB/person, half price for children between 7 and 18 years old; free for children less than 1.2m tall.

    Facilities:

  • Yacht: 25 RMB/one-way, 40 RMB/round-trip
  • Sightseeing Boat: 20 RMB/one-way, 35 RMB/round-trip
  • Pedalo: 50 RMB/hour for four people; 60 RMB/hour for five people
  • Opening Hours:

    Peak Season (April–October): 8:30 am–5:00 pm on weekdays; 8:00 am–6:00 pm on weekends
    Off-peak (November–March): 8:30 am–4:30 pm

    Transportation: Take the 916 Express (9 stops, 153 minutes, 12 RMB) at Dongzhimen Junction Station (东直门枢纽站), to Huairou Town (怀柔汽车站), and then transfer to bus h21 (24 stops, 2 hours, 9 RMB) to Xishuiyu Station (西水峪站).

    Recommended Touring Time: one to two days

    Tour Ideas: China Travel can tailor-make a Huanghuacheng tour for you, based on your needs and requirements, which can save you time, money, and trouble. Please feel free to tell us your tour ideas!

    Juyongguan Pass–One of Three Most Important Passes

    juyongguan

    Location: Changping District, Beijing

    Distance From Downtown Beijing: 60 km (37 miles), 1½ hours’ drive

    Features: Historically, the Juyongguan Pass was regarded as one of the three most important passes of the whole Ming Great Wall, due to its strategic position in the midst of precipitous topography. With the passage of time, only the base of the section remained, so the renovated pass we see today is a replica of the design from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 AD). 

    The Juyongguan Pass is located in a deep valley, surrounded by mountains covered in verdant greenery. Various kinds of birds dwell here, flying and singing. High mountains, steep cliffs, plus rich flora and fauna, present a lively and natural setting to visitors.

    In the middle of this, there is a high platform called Cloud Platform, which is made from white marble. It is worth noting that the stone carvings on Cloud Platform enjoy a strong reputation as a rare achievement.

    Vivid Buddha images and their sutras were carved in six different languages, including Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese and Basiba, and became priceless resources for later Buddhist and historical studies.

    Entrance Fees: 45 RMB/person (April to October); 40 RMB/person (November to March).

    Facilities: Wheelchair access

    Opening Hours:

    April–October: 8:00 am–5:00 pm 
    November–March: 8:30 am–4:00 pm

    Transportation:

  • Take Metro Line 13 to Longze Station (龙泽站) and transfer to line Chang 21 or 58 (9 stops, 24 minutes) for Shahe Station. Next, take Bus 919 (8 stops, 81 minutes) to Juyongguan Pass.
  • After arriving at Deshengmen Bus Station (德胜门站), take Bus 919 (12 stops, 2 hours and 34 minutes, 12 RMB) to the destination.
  • Recommended Touring Time: 2 hours

    Tour Ideas: We can create a trip to Juyongguan Pass for you designed to accommodate your preferences; save time and money, and use our free advice.

    Huangyaguan–the Longest Restored Section

    huangyaguan

    Location: Jizhou County (蓟县), Tianjin

    Distance From Downtown Beijing: about 120 kilometers (75 miles); more than 2 hours’ drive

    Features:  Built on an abrupt mountain ridge, Huangyaguan Great Wall was named after its best-known site–Huangyaguan Pass. This is an important pass with 52 watch towers and 14 beacon towers neatly arranged along its fortified lines.

    Within the pass rests Bagua Castle, which incorporates over 40 crisscrossing streets based on the idea of Eight Diagrams, namely Bagua in Chinese. This Chinese philosophy is so profound, that even if the enemy could break into the pass, they were most likely to get lost in the maze.

    Furthermore, in the center of this dizzying maze lies the Great Wall Museum, where you are able to view weapons and daily necessities used by soldiers of the Ming dynasty.

    Though this is just a small section of the Great Wall, the fortified line along the Huangyaguan Pass reaches 890 meters long, helping it serve as an annual marathon venue. Every year, many runners full of passion and competitive spirit convene at this place.

    If you happen to come across a marathon here, why not join in the cheering and encourage the competitors?

    Entrance Fees: 70 RMB/person (insurance included); free for children less than 1.2m tall.

    Facilities: Sightseeing Bus: 30 RMB/one-way, 50 RMB/round-trip

    Opening Hours: 8:30 am–5:00 pm

    Transportation:

  • From Beijing: Take a bus from Sihui Bus Station (四惠汽车站) to Jixian County. The bus runs from 6:30 to 19:30, about every 15 minutes. After your arrival at Jixian County, get a taxi to the destination.
  • From Tianjin: Take a bus from Hebei Bus Station in Tianjin to Jixian County. After you arrive at Jixian County, catch a taxi to the Wall. This journey takes one hour.
  • Recommended Touring Time: one day

    Tour Ideas: China Travel can tailor-make a Huangyaguan tour for you, based on your needs and requirements, which will save you time, money, and trouble. Please feel free to tell us your tour ideas! 

    Gubeikou–a Historical Battle Field

    gubeikou

    Location: Miyun County, Beijing

    Distance From Downtown Beijing: 146 kilometers (90 miles); 2 hours’ drive.

    Features:  Gubeikou is regarded as the most comprehensive section of the Great Wall, also incorporating the Wohushan, Panlongshan, Jinshanling, and Simatai sections. It gained a name which in Chinese means “ancient northern fortress”, from its function as a key pass that prevented northern Mongols/Manchu peoples from breaking in.

    Thanks to its strategic position, this place served as a battle field for over 130 wars between Chinese royal families and marauding Mongol tribesmen, witnessing the vicissitudes of history. Anyone who climbs up this wall will be affected by its strong historical atmosphere.

    As a completely unrepaired section, Gubeikou retains its original composition and natural beauty, which may be a nice change if you have already visited the Jinshaning or Mutianyu sections on a previous trip.

    Remember to find an experienced local guide when you visit this section of the Wall, because without knowing the stories of battles that happened here, the site won’t really come alive to you.

    Entrance Fees: 25 RMB

    Facilities: None

    Opening Hours: all day

    Transportation: Take the 980 Express (5 stops, 200 minutes, 15 RMB) at Dongzhimen Bus Station (东直门站), to get to Miyun Children Palace Station (密云少年宫站). Walk 388 meters to find Miyun Education Bureau Station (密云教育局站), then take the Mi25 (密25, 50 stops, 195 minutes, 13 RMB,) with destination Wulituo (五里坨), at the Great Wall.

    Recommended Touring Time: one day

    Tour Ideas: 1-Day Gubeikou Great Wall Hiking Tour

    Jinshanling–Most Popular Section for Hiking

    jinshanling

    Location: Chengde, Hebei

    Distance From Downtown Beijing: 130 km (80 miles), about 2½ hours' drive

    Features:  As one of the best preserved parts of the Great Wall, Jinshanling retains a pristine and majestic look, with 67 well-preserved watchtowers along its length. It’s a section of the Wall guaranteed to satisfy your curiosity about this magnificent fortification.

    Stretching for 10km over precipitous mountain ridges, Jinshanling offers breathtaking scenery which could fill your camera’s SD card. Its comprehensive defense systems include barrier walls, watchtowers, gun emplacements, shooting holes, horse blocking walls, and branch cities. Different characters are also carved on the bricks of the wall, recording ancient Chinese history.

    This section is favored by hikers, mainly because of a popular route from Jingshanling to Simatai, which takes about 4 hours, requiring the crossing of 30 guard towers and quite dangerous cliffs. Since this is a less crowded section, travelers can avoid confronting a sea of people.

    Entrance Fees: 65 RMB/person (March 15th to November 15th); 55 RMB/person (November 16th to March 15th)

    Facilities:

    Cable car: 40 RMB for a single trip.
    The cableway is available from 8:30 am to 16:30 pm

    Opening Hours:

    April–October: 4:00 am–6:30 pm 
    November–March: 6:30 am–4:00 pm

    Transportation: Take the 980 Express from Beijing Dongzhimen Long Distance Bus Station to Miyun County for 17 RMB, before hiring a private cab to get to the Jinshanling Great Wall. The cab fee will vary, ranging from 100 to 200 RMB.  

    Recommended Touring Time: one day

    Tour Ideas:This section is a good option for photography enthusiasts. Join a Follow China Travel tour to take photographs of beautiful sunsets and star orbits on the Jinshanling Great Wall.

    Tailor-make a Great Wall tour for you

    Do you want to take a trip to China and see the magnificent Great Wall? China Travel can tailor-make a Great Wall tour for you based on your needs and requirements which can save your time, money, and trouble. Please feel free to tell us your tour ideas! >> Tailor-make Now!