The term ‘iconic’ tends to be overused in today’s world, but for some landmarks, it is wholly fitting. The 21,000 kilometres of stone and wood-made fortifications that line the northern borders of China certainly fit into that category.
Tens of thousands of visitors descend on the Great Wall of China each year to traverse varying lengths of its course – many of whom chose to do so as part of an organised tour. We’ve picked out five of the best great wall tours currently available.
From $25 per person
The Great Wall is a treasure of Chinese civilization, and one of the world’s most important cultural heritage sites. TourTravelChina run a wide number of excursions from Beijing to various sections of the Great Wall, each offering a unique experience for visitors. Among the wall sections visited are the magnificently preserved Badaling, the ancient battleground of Mutianyu, and Simatai, the only section to retain the original appearance of the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty. Visitors will get to marvel at watchtowers and hike along scenic mountain passes while learning about the history behind this miracle of humankind. Trips range from 1-3 days and can be enjoyed as a private or group tour, and with hotel pick-ups, transport each way and expert guides included if you wish.
From $70 per person
Taking you past mountains, canyons, lakes, rivers and ancient villages, this 4-hour group tour invites visitors to explore the Longquanyu section of the Great Wall, some of which remains untouched since its construction. Suitable for more experienced hikers (not to mention those who don’t mind heights) the tour features steep hillsides, including a special spot where the wall meets a cliff that forms a natural barrier, the steps of the wall leading up to a sheer cliff. Other highlights include the chance to see 10 ancient towers dating back some 500 years, and panoramic views of mountains, water canyons and other natural wonders. Guests are advised to bring snacks, sun protection, warm clothes in case it gets chilly, and good hiking boots.
From $665 per person
Featuring overnight camping under the stars, this 4-day tour is popular with intrepid lovers of the great outdoors keen to visit one of the world’s great man-made wonders. The tour begins with a morning pick-up by your guide in Beijing and a 2-3 hour drive to the Great Wall at Gubeikou. Over the following four days you’ll hike along some of the wall’s majestic stretches, visit a well-preserved beacon tower, enjoy a picnic lunch on the wall, visit the village of Tou Liang and ascend the famous Wang Jing tower. Your campsites will have a twin-share tent, separate dining tent and a toilet tent with hand washing facilities. On your final day you’ll get to enjoy a traditional Chinese lunch before being transferred back to Beijing.
From $75 per person
With its rich history, magnificent views and well preserved military facilities, the Badaling Great Wall is one of the most famous sections of the iconic site. This tour begins with an early morning pick up by your guide and driver before embarking on the 70-mile journey to Badaling. During the morning you’ll hike its expanse before moving on to try out jade carving at a local factory in the afternoon. Next, you’ll visit the Summer Palace, nestled in the largest royal park in China. The trip also includes a Chinese lunch at a local restaurant. The tour finishes late afternoon when you’ll be dropped off back at your hotel.
From $74 per person
This full-day tour from Beijing takes you to the remarkable Mutianyu section of China’s Great Wall, where you can choose to hike or ride a cable car (extra charge) up to its elevated position. Here you’ll get to walk along the restored battlements, enjoying spectacular vistas of surroundings hills, watchtowers, and crenelated parapets. Afterward, you’ll descend by foot or cable car before being driven to a popular local restaurant for a traditional Chinese lunch. The trip then concludes with a drop-off at your Beijing hotel.