Visiting the Mutianyu Great Wall of China

The Great Wall Gingy

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.

Mutianyu Great Wall of China Map

  • 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.

Stairs to the great wall

  • The footpath to watch tower 8 is a steep flight of stairs. Small, level platforms provide a brief rest for climbers. We recommend bringing a bottle of water along for the climb.

Forest at the Footpaths to the Great Wall of China

  • Beyond the footpath is an endless blanket of trees swallowed by the smog. Over 90% of Mutianyu is covered in vegetation.

Walking along the Great Wall of China

  • 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, we step onto the Great Wall of China for the first time.

The Great Wall

Sweeper on the Great Wall of China

Rolling Hills at the Great wall of China

View Through the Watch Tower Window

up close great wall of china

  • 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.

through a watch tower window on the great wall

Watch tower at the Great Wall

Signing the Great Wall of China

  • 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.

us at watch tower 14

  • 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. 

Notches along the great wall of China

Great Wall WatchTowers

  • 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 sign and stairs

Watch Tower 14 platform

climb to tower 23 at the great wall

  • 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.
drinking ting tao on the great wall
As Mitch’s father did when he visited years ago, we also enjoys a Tsing Tao on the Great Wall of China.

tobogganing down from the great wall

tobogganing from the great wall

  • 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.

Mountains at the Great Wall

*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


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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