The Great Wall of China

The Mutianyu Great Wall is located between watch towers 4 and 23. It is one of the best preserved sections of the great wall and the least crowded. 

Badaling Vs. Mutianyu 

Badaling, located just outside of Beijing, is the most popular and most crowded section of the Great Wall. Unlike the Badaling Great Wall, Mutianyu has steep, difficult stairs to climb with no handrails, and it is not easily accessible by public transportation. Another factor deterring visitors from Mutianyu is the 60 minute drive to from Beijing lacking tourist markets and souvenir shops.

The Great Wall

Visitors first encounter the small village of Mutianyu at the bottom of a hill. Restaurants, shops, and stands sell local food, drinks, hats, t-shirts, statues, and other souvenirs. Passing through the village, the ticket adjustment is reached.

There are several routes to access the Great Wall. After passing through the South Ticket Check, there are footpaths accessing watch towers 6, 8, and 10 or a cable car can be taken to tower 14.

The Great Wall
The footpath to Watch Tower 8, Mutianyu Great Wall

We follow the footpath to watch tower 8 consisting of a steep flight of stairs with end in sight. Small, level platforms provide a brief rest for climbers.

The Great Wall
The footpath to Watch Tower 8 and our first view of the Great Wall, Mutianyu Great Wall

Below the stairs is an endless blanket of trees swallowed by the smog. Over 90% of Mutianyu is covered in vegetation.

The Great Wall
The footpath to the Stairs of Watch Tower 8 (left) and the view from a Watch Tower window (right), Mutianyu Great Wall

The Great Wall

The Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall of China

Emerging onto a narrow, dirt path, the Great Wall of China comes into view. The relatively flat path continues along the outside of the wall to a set of stairs accessing watch tower 8. At the top of the stairs, we step onto the Great Wall of China. We are the only visitors this morning except for a worker quietly sweeping the stones. 

The Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall of China

We begin the walk towards watch tower 9. The vision of a gently rolling stone wall is quickly proved incorrect as we climb the unevenly sized and spaced stairs. In some areas the stairs are so far apart I can barely reach the next step and others, my size 6 shoe is wider than the closely built stairs.

The Great Wall
A Watch Tower at Mutianyu Great Wall of China

Inside, the stone watch towers are cool and a welcome escape from the heat. The Great Wall was built mostly with granite. A maze of archways separate small corridors filled with windows allowing guards many views of approaching enemies.

Mutianyu has more watch towers than other areas of the Great Wall. There is only about 350 feet between every tower. This area also has notches along each side of the wall permitting the launching of arrows from both sides. 

The Great Wall
Watch Tower 14 Overlook at Mutianyu Great Wall of China

At watch tower 14, we climb down a narrow staircase to a busy platform with vendors selling drinks and passengers arriving on the cable cars. From here, we can see the steep, 45 degree staircase to tower 23.

The Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall of China

Short on time, we decide against a hike to tower 23 and chose a leisurely descend towards tower 6, Zhengguang Terrace. Here visitors have the option to toboggan down from the wall.

The Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall of China

We follow the perpendicular path to tower 11. This tower provides a view of the outside of the wall and has more corridors than the other watch towers. Here guards were able to attack enemies before they reached the wall. Every watch tower has a different number of windows on each side and a unique shape to prevent enemies from being able to predict the layout.

The Great Wall
Tobogganing Down From the Mutianyu Great Wall at Watch Tower Six

Tickets to toboggan down from the Great Wall can be purchased at tower 6 for 80 Yuan. The only control riders have is a small joystick attached to the middle of the seat, moved forward to speed up and backward to brake. There is no seat belt or harness. Guards are stationed along the way to encourage riders to slow down.


*For more information on our tour check out: G Adventures China Express.

  1. Day 1: Fly into Beijing
  2. Day 2: Beijing: Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
  3. Day 3: Great Wall Mutianyu and travel to Xi’an
  4. Day 4: Xian: Terracotta Warriors Guided Tour and travel to Suzhou
  5. Day 5: Suzhou: Master of the Nets Garden Tour and overnight train to Shanghai
  6. Day 6: Shanghai: Orientation Walk of the Bund
  7. Day 7: Shanghai: Carte Blanche
  8. Day 8: Fly out of Shanghai

September 2017

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Author: The Traveling Gingerbread

My fiancé, Mitch, and I have been traveling together over four years. Living and working full-time in Pittsburgh, PA, we travel as much as our vacation days and finances allow. We cram each adventure with activities, tours, and experiences to maximize our time. Any time we travel, we try to visit to a local brewery and can't walk by an Irish pub without stopping in for a pint of Guinness. 
 In Tokyo, we laughed every time we saw someone talking on their large, animated phone case. We had to buy one. Having an obsolete IPhone 5, the selection was limited. We purchased a gingerbread off a neglected rack in Shinjuku, Tokyo and The Traveling Gingerbread was born. You can purchase your own adorable gingerbread friend here! The Traveling Gingerbread is an entertaining account of our travels, fun facts, and tips we learned along the way.

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