The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is located in Beijing’s Huairou District between watch towers 4 and 23. It is one of the best preserved areas 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 stops at tourist markets and souvenir shops.
Accessing the Mutiyanu Great Wall
Visitors first pass through the small village of Mutianyu at the bottom of a hill to reach the South Ticket Adjustment. Restaurants, shops, and stands sell local food, drinks, hats, t-shirts, statues, and souvenirs.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: If grabbing lunch at one of the restaurants after exploring the Great Wall, be advised the food is made fresh to order and takes time to prepare. Ordering dumplings to go, we may have underestimated the cooking time and held up our tour bus at the end of day.
- After passing through the South Ticket Check, the Great Wall can be accessed by footpaths to watch towers 6, 8, and 10 or a cable car can be taken to tower 14.
- The footpath to watch tower 8 is more of a steep of an endless, steep flight of stairs. Small, level platforms provide a brief rest for climbers. We strongly recommend bringing a bottle of water along for the climb.
- Beyond the footpath is an endless blanket of trees swallowed by the smog. Over 90% of Mutianyu is covered in vegetation.
- The steep stairs reach a narrow, dirt footpath as 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. Climbing the stone stairs, visitors step onto the Great Wall of China for the first time.
The Great Wall
- Arriving early in the morning to the Great Wall of China we are the only visitors, except for a worker quietly sweeping the stones. Our vision of a gently rolling wall is quickly proved inaccurate by the many unevenly sized and spaced stones. 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.
- Inside, the stone watch towers are a cool escape from the heat. The Great Wall was built mostly with granite. A maze of archways separate small window lined corridors once allowing guards 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 for launching arrows from both sides at the enemies below.
- Watch Tower 11 (pictured left) 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.
- Watch tower 14 is accessed by a narrow staircase. The platform is filled with vendors selling drinks and passengers arriving by cable cars. There is great view of the steep, 45 degree staircase to tower 23.
- At watch tower 6, Zhengguang Terrace, visitors have the option to toboggan down from the wall. Tickets can be purchased for 80 Yuan. As the sign states ,Tobogganing is so simple! Riders pull back on the level to brake and push forward to accelerate. There is no seat belt or harness. Guards are stationed along the way to encourage riders to maintain the suggested distance of 80 feet between toboggans. Ride at your own risk.
*For more information on our tour check out: G Adventures China Express.
- Day 1: Fly into Beijing
- Day 2: Beijing: Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
- Day 3: Great Wall Mutianyu and travel to Xi’an
- Day 4: Xian: Terracotta Warriors Guided Tour and travel to Suzhou
- Day 5: Suzhou: Master of the Nets Garden Tour and overnight train to Shanghai
- Day 6: Shanghai: Orientation Walk of the Bund
- Day 7: Shanghai: Carte Blanche
- Day 8: Fly out of Shanghai