Hiking the Great Wall of China is not as hard as you may think. Some famous sections of the Great Wall have been well repaired, such as the Mutianyu, Simatai, Badaling, and Jinshanling sections. Toboggans, a cable car, and a slideway make your Great Wall trip easier and help save your time.
The main issues you need to be concerned with before visiting the Great Wall are the best sections to hike, the best hiking tours to join, and useful hiking tips.
This article has detailed all the information you need to know about how to hike the Great Wall in China.
Picking the Best Sections of the Great Wall to Visit
Can you walk the entire Great Wall of China? How long would it take you to walk the Great Wall of China? These two common questions are often asked by first-timers.
In fact, the first people to walk the entire length of the Great Wall – the self-proclaimed “Wallnuts” – did so between 2006 and 2007, and it took them several months to complete. Most travelers are unable to finish this difficult journey within a year.
Picking one of the best sections of the Great Wall to visit and spending half a day there (or a whole day if you have plenty of time) is enough to experience the historic and architectural highlights of this great man-made project.
Which part of the Great Wall of China is the best section to visit? Most visitors prefer to choose a section near Beijing. Below, we have provided some useful tips to help you make a decision.
- Easy to Climb In order of ease: the Great Wall at Mutianyu > Badaling > Jinshanling > Simatai > Juyongguan > Gubeikou > Jiankou
- Less Crowded In order of quietness: the Great Wall at Gubeikou > Jinshanling > Simatai > Juyongguan > Jiankou > Mutianyu > Badaling
- Wonderful Scenery In order of the best scenery: the Great Wall at Jiankou > Jinshanling > Simatai > Juyongguan > Mutianyu > Badaling > Gubeikou
- Close to Beijing In order of distance: the Great Wall at Juyongguan (about 56 kilometers) > Mutianyu (about 70 kilometers) > Jiankou (about 74 kilometers) > Badaling (about 75 kilometers) > Simatai (about 140 kilometers) > Gubeikou (about 144 kilometers) > Jinshanling (about 149 kilometers)
Book Our Mini Group Hiking Tours
- Limited time: Half-Day Great Wall at Mutianyu Hiking Tour
- Less crowded: One-Day Simatai West to Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking Tour
- Challenging: One-Day Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Hiking Tour
Preparation List and Hiking Tips
It’s better to join a local tour if you don’t want to explore the Great Wall alone without any previous experience. You should arrange your collection, drop off point, hotel, and transfers if you are going to visit this attraction on your own.
No matter which ways you decide to explore the Great Wall, a preparation list and the following hiking tips are helpful for you.
What to Bring
- Comfortable hiking boots: A pair of comfortable shoes helps you enjoy your hiking trip on the Great Wall, which lasts for at least half a day.
- Walking pole: A walking pole is helpful if you want to explore wild sections of the Great Wall or if you have bad knees.
- Pants and long sleeves: Wearing pants and long sleeves helps prevent scratches from bushes and branches if you are going to hike the Great Wall at the Jiankou, Jinshanling, or Gubeikou sections.
- Snacks and plenty to drink: It’s hard to find shops to buy water or food from along the Great Wall.
- Toilet paper and sanitizer: Not all of China’s public toilets offer toilet paper and sanitizer.
Best Times of Year
April, May, September, and October are the best months to visit the Great Wall due to the comfortable weather conditions and beautiful scenery.
Disabled or Slightly Injured People
Can disabled people climb the Great Wall? Of course they can. Some sections of the Great Wall offer a cable car, such as the Mutianyu, Juyongguan, and Simatai sections. After taking the cable car, you can try your best to hike the Great Wall.
The steps are uneven and you have to hold onto the wall on both sides, but it’s not important to hike for a long distance, as long as you get the chance to climb it.
Tips for Disabled People
- Do your best and don’t strive for perfection.
- Details about the cable car:
- The Great Wall at Mutianyu
- Return ticket: 100 yuan (about 15 USD)
- Details: from the cable car station to the foot of Tower 14
- The Great Wall at Simatai
- Return ticket: 120 yuan (about 18 USD)
- Details: Walk along the walkway to the eastern second floor to take the cable car.
- The Great Wall at Badaling
- Return ticket: 100 yuan (about 15 USD)
- Details: from the foot of the Great Wall to North Tower 8
- The Great Wall at Jinshanling
- Return ticket: 80 yuan (about 12 USD)
- Details: from the foot of the Great Wall to Dajinshan Tower
Seniors and Children
Seniors usually walk slowly while children like to run and jump if they can. They can conquer many sections of the Great Wall, especially well-repaired sections.
Tips for Seniors and Children
- Slow your pace and watch your step. The steps are different from each other — some places are steep while other sections are even.
- Pick a well-repaired section of the Great Wall, such as the Mutianyu and Badaling
Normal Physical Condition
For most people, hiking the Great Wall is a little tiring but tolerable. All your negative emotions will disappear when you see the splendid scenery from the Great Wall. Most people in a normal physical condition are just concerned about the scenery and having a good experience. How to escape from the crowds to enjoy a peaceful trip is also something you need to consider.
Tips for Those in a Normal Physical Condition
Hiking a less crowded section of the Great Wall gives you a better experience. The Jinshanling, Simatai, and Gubeikou sections are further away from Beijing, and they are more authentic and less crowded.
You can’t miss the Great Wall at Jiankou if you are an outdoor enthusiast and want to conquer a more challenging section. Jiankou is a totally wild and unrepaired section, which has been regarded as the most dangerous section of the Great Wall.
The “Sky Stairs” and “The Eagle Flies Facing Upward” are famous for their narrow walkways and having the steepest ridges. You have to hold onto the grass or stones to keep your balance.