How to Plan a Perfect Great Wall Tour

Written by Matteo Updated Jul. 18, 2023

The Great Wall of China is undoubtedly a must-visit for all travelers to China. This magnificent wall, built along mountain ridges, offers breathtaking natural scenery and a glimpse into ancient Chinese culture. Below are our suggestions on how to plan a personalized Great Wall tour according to your interests.

The Great Wall
The Great Wall

Choose the most suitable Great Wall sections to visit

Near Beijing, there are several sections of the Great Wall, each with its own unique features. To curate the best Great Wall experience possible, it's important to choose a section that matches your specific needs and interests.

So, choose the section that best suits your interests and enjoy your memorable trip to The Great Wall of China.

The Best Time to Visit the Great Wall

Visiting the Great Wall is possible all year round. Identifying the 'best' time isn't straightforward, as your satisfaction largely depends on well-made arrangements. Even with great weather and stunning scenery, a poorly planned itinerary could detract from your experience. So, consider the following factors when planning your visit:

For weather and scenery:

If weather and scenery are your priorities, the best time for you to visit the Great Wall is from April to June, and from October to November. During these periods, the weather is most comfortable and the scenery is the most beautiful.

In spring, the surrounding mountains turn a lush green, providing a refreshing backdrop for the wall. Wildflowers in bloom further enhance this vibrant landscape.

In October and November, the mountains become draped in red and golden hues, offering a visually striking contrast to the Great Wall.

The Great Wall in autumn
The Great Wall in autumn

For a quieter experience and lower travel costs

If you want a calm and affordable trip, consider visiting in winter (from late November to March). As it's the low travel season, the travel price will be lower, and you'll encounter fewer tourists on the wall.

However, be prepared: it can get bitterly cold with strong winds. It may snow, but Great Wall is extraordinarily beautiful under a blanket of snow. The paths may become slippery when it snows, so be cautious.

The Great Wall in Snow
The Great Wall in Snow

Visiting the Great Wall during Summer Holidays (July and August)

This is the busiest travel time. Certain sections of the wall like the Badaling and Juyonguan can be extremely crowded with Chinese tourist groups. This is also the hottest time in China. The scorching sun could potentially diminish your experience. If you're visiting during these months, thoroughly preparing in advance is crucial.

Ask an experienced local travel agency to optimize your itinerary. They know the best Great Wall sections to visit and how to avoid bustling crowds. Otherwise, your holiday could be hampered by hot weather and overcrowded conditions.

No matter when you plan to visit the Great Wall, good preparation is essential. Our guides, with their extensive experience from spending more than 300 days a year on the wall, will ensure you have an enjoyable tour regardless of the weather. Contact us to create a perfect Great Wall Trip.

Don’t Miss the Special Experiences on the Wall

While most visitors spend a few hours walking and taking photos on the wall, we recommend considering these unique experiences:

Simatai Great Wall at night
Simatai Great Wall at night

1. Spend an evening on the Great Wall

Spend an evening at the Simatai section of the Great Wall. You'll witness an extraordinary view as the wall's ridges get illuminated against the backdrop of a clear sky twinkling with stars. It's truly an unforgettable experience.

2. See the sunset on the Mutianyu Great Wall

The sunset paints the Mutianyu Great Wall in mesmerizing hues. Enjoying this peaceful moment on the wall with your loved ones. What a memorable experience!  As most other visitors will have left by this time, you can enjoy the wall all to yourself.

3. Take a Tobago ride from the Mutianyu Great Wall

This is a must-do if you're traveling with children. The thrilling toboggan ride down from the wall will definitely be a highlight for your kids.

Dive Deeper: Explore the Great Wall With a Hike

For a deeper exploration of the wall, take a hike on the wall. You will get to the more untouched sections, and see the scenery that most travelers won’t see.

The best section for hiking is the Jinshanling Great Wall.

The route from Jinshanling to Simatai has become the most popular Great Wall hiking route. Along this route, you'll traverse both restored and original parts of the wall, discover authentic towers, and soak in breathtaking natural beauty.

The hike is of moderate difficulty, making it suitable for most travelers.

Jinshanling Great Wall hiking
Jinshanling Great Wall hiking

Hiking on the Unrestored Wall

If you're looking to explore the more rugged parts of the wall, consider these options based on your hiking proficiency:

For Experienced Hikers: Embark on the trail from Jiankou to Mutianyu. This section of the wall remains mostly unrestored and offers a steep route, making it a challenging but rewarding journey. Be ready for approximately 4-5 hours of strenuous hiking over steep, ruined walls.

For Casual Hiking or Family Trips: Choose the Gubeikou section of the wall for an easier hiking trip. This part of the wall is relatively untouched, but the slope is gentle enough for even children to complete the hike. It provides the intrigue of experiencing the "wild" wall without the intense physical demands. 

The Best Hotels at the Great Wall

Located about 2 hours from downtown Beijing, the Great Wall is most conveniently explored by people who choose to stay nearby. Doing so not only allows you to avoid an early morning start but also presents a unique opportunity to experience idyllic tranquility at the foot of the Great Wall. You'll also get the chance to enjoy the wall early in the morning when it's less crowded.

Gubei watertown
Gubei watertown

Simatai Great Wall: We recommend staying at Gubei Water Town, situated directly at the foot of this part of the wall. The town offers various accommodations, ranging from 5-star hotels to boutique variants and local inns. Choosing rooms with Great Wall views if possible.

Mutianyu Great Wall: Consider the Brickyard Retreat. This boutique hotel, transformed from an old tile factory, features green gardens, original brick rooms, and a view of the Great Wall Remember that accommodations can be in high demand, especially during the high travel season, so booking in advance is recommended – ideally, a month ahead.

if you travel with us, we will book the best hotel and the most suitable rooms for you.

Best Places to Eat at the Great Wall

There are simple restaurants at the restored sections of the Great Wall such as Mutianyu, Simatai, and Jinshanling. However, the food may be very simple and is not the standard of that in downtown Beijing.

When you travel with us, we'll arrange visits to the best available restaurants in the area, ensuring not only a great meal but also an opportunity for you to take a brief rest during your journey.

How to Visit the Great Wall: On Your Own, Private Tour, or Group Tour

While you have several options to visit the Great Wall, each has its own pros and cons:

On Your Own: Traveling independently to the Great Wall is not recommended. As finding your way can be a hassle and local taxi drivers may not understand English well, you could face difficulties navigating to the appropriate locations or finding public buses to the Great Wall.

Group Tour: Opting for a group tour can be a reasonable choice if you don't mind spending additional time waiting for fellow travelers.

Private Tour: The most recommended option is, undoubtedly, a private tour. In addition to enjoying the convenience of a private car, you'll also have the benefit of a personal guide. Our guide will be with you at all times, helping you take memorable photos, showing you the most photogenic spots, and ensuring you have the best Great Wall touring experience.

Take a private tour to visit the Great Wall of China
Take a private tour to visit the Great Wall of China

Contact China Travel to take a private tour to visit the Great Wall

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