Exploring the epic Mutianyu section of the Great Wall Of China, How to tick off this amazing experience from Beijing

To visit the Great wall of China must be on everybody’s bucket list and to actually get the chance to experience China’s greatest feat of engineering was a dream come true. We were initially a little confused about which section to do, going to the great wall isn’t just a case of going to “the” section, there are so many that offer so many different experiences. We wanted to see the wall both in its restored state and in a more authentic fashion, we were also conscious of time and cost. In the end we opted for Mutianyu and felt we got a perfect combination of both wilderness and accessibility, our visit to the Great Wall of China really did not disappoint! Here’s how to visit The Great wall of China Mutianyu Beijing, heading up on the cable car and flying back down it on the great wall of china Mutianyu toboggan!

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The many options we had

We had a few options to choose from regarding which section of the wall to visit, one of them being the most popular choice with tourists which was the Badaling section. This just seemed way too obvious and sounded like it would be overcrowded. There were also some wild (unrestored) only sections of the wall too which we considered, these being Gubeikou and Jinshanling. But after a lot of research we decided that the Mutianyu section gave us the perfect balance between beautifully restored watch towers and treacherous crumbling walkways. The Great wall of China Mutianyu Beijing seemed to be the best overall! And of course, the great wall of china Mutianyu toboggan and cable car kind of swung it for us anyway! 

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Finally making our way to the great wall

As we stepped off the bus and finally reached the entrance to Mutianyu we could see the great wall in the distance. Snaking its way across the mountainside, a band of grey in a forrest of amber. It felt almost like a lifetimes ambition was to finally come true. Sometimes I can hardly bring myself to believe we are going to do something we’ve dreamt of for so long until I know for definite it is going to happen. We knew The Great wall of China Mutianyu Beijing would offer us the ultimate experience of the great wall.  

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Standing here with just a short way to go we knew this bucket list item, probably one of the first any of us usually add to our list, was finally going to be ticked. Now the excitement levels really rose and reaching the top of the ropeway cablecar the sense of elation when stepping foot into this great and giant masterpiece was immense. Now it was time to explore… and we couldn’t wait for the great wall of china Mutianyu toboggan back down after the cool cable car ride up!

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Exploring the steep reconstructed section of Mutianyu

The first section of the wall we reached was the main hiking section for most of those who visit Mutianyu. Pretty much all of the other visitors headed up left, although I have to say that is was a lot quieter up here than those “dreams vs reality” memes lead you to believe. But then again we are in low season. So heading off right it was pretty quiet and at times we had sections all to ourselves right off the cable car. 

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Here the wall has been faithfully restored in the huge dark grey stones in which it once stood. However what it really nice about this section is that despite reconstructions to bring it up to the standard we see here today it is actually one of the best preserved sections of the wall. This means that even much of what appears to have been rebuilt is still very much untouched original Great Wall. Apart from the great wall of china Mutianyu toboggan back down the side and the cable car up there!! But we can let that one go!

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The Mutianyu section was first constructed during the 6th century, making it one of the oldest sections and much older than the popular Badaling section. The present wall was built on top of those earlier foundations during the Ming Dynasty around 1404 and was rebuilt again in 1569. Much of what you see here today is still preserved from those reconstructions as this area did not suffer the pillaging of other sections, nor the brunt of the battering weather. Many consider this section to be of the largest scale and best quality.

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The restored section for us was really quite amazing, to see the wall in all its intended glory was fantastic. The densely packed watchtowers and turrets with their steep and unrelenting steps gave us breathtaking views over the wall below us and the surrounding mountainside. It was also more of a hike than we even considered having almost walked up to the wall instead of taking the cable car , now we were glad we saved our energy.

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Crawling through a wall and onto the original abandoned section of the wall

Despite being totally in awe at the reconstructed section of the wall, as if truth be told if we had ended this trip there we would have been satisfied, we still longed to see the wilder section of the wall. We chose to visit this section of the wall as we knew either ends joined on to the last sections of both of the other wild sections we had considered visiting. This meant that with a swift shuffled and a slight dangle out of one of the tower windows of the reconstructed section we were in the wild!

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Stepping on to here the noise from the other visitors dimmed into silence and we could hear the wind whistling through the crumbling granite blocks of the wall. Here the Great Wall was almost consumed by overgrowth, nature attempting to reclaim this spot back from one of the worlds largest wonders. Along on the wall at long last we traversed this challenging section, areas literally falling away below our feet and to the ground below us. Once grand watch towers in ruins and trees twisted their way through the once elegant walls.

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But here there was another kind of beauty, a wild and exciting one. One which felt much more authentic and real, where we could imagine this untameable land all those thousands of years ago. Troops marching along these very stones, untouched for centuries we now followed in their footsteps. Here the sense of history is that much more intense and the isolation just dials every sensation up a notch. This really makes The Great wall of China Mutianyu Beijing the best spot possible to see the different sides of the wall. 

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Getting the best of both worlds at this section

By visiting the Mutianyu section of this immense structure we truly got to make our dreams a reality in the most amazing manner. It gave us the opportunity to see the wall in its various guises and states. To be able to see the full glory of such a majestic place as well as the wild abandonment that much of the ruined original wall still lies in. This really allowed us to tick off this major bucket list item in the fullest sense of the word! Plus the great wall of china Mutianyu toboggan and cable car was such a unique and fun experience! 

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Taking the great wall of china Mutianyu toboggan back down (and the cable car up) 

Now this is where it does admittedly get a bit touristy, but after hiking a long section of the abandoned wall we wanted to take the fun route back down to the bottom: the great wall of china Mutianyu toboggan! Hey why not!! Travel is all about fun as well as just seeking out unique experience, although, this is pretty unique! And the cable car route up has been right above the route, so we knew how epic it looked!

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Flying down the shimmering steel track we really picked up some speed, allowing those in front of us to get far enough ahead that we would have free rein down the course. Flying around tight bends and sweeping corners it just finished off what had been an immense day at the Great Wall of China…although we did get told off a few times for going too fast!! But how often can you say you are on the great wall of china Mutianyu toboggan? We even got a few waves from those on cable car above us!

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How toThe Great wall of China Mutianyu Beijing and how much is costs

1) Take the subway (blue line 2) to Dongzhimen and follow signs to bus transfer hall. (Around 3 yuan)
2) Take bus number 916 to Huairou Beidajie bus station. (12 yuan per person). It’s important to ignore “official looking” people in the bus station who try to drag you away onto other buses, these people are scammers and will actually take you to a random village where you’ll have no choice but to pay a lot of money to get back or to get to the wall.  Also don’t be fooled by “official looking” people who try to tell you to get off the bus before you reach the station, these will only charge more money to get there.
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3) Try to find other tourists to group up with before finding finding a minibus or taxi to get you the rest of the way. This will make it much cheaper. We managed to haggle a price of 40 yuan between 5 of us. But 50 yuan is still a good price, you should aim to spend 10 yuan per person
4) Once you arrive, only pay for shuttle bus tickets at the ticket counter (these cost 15 yuan per person for a return), as you can find cheaper prices for the cable car, rope way and toboggan where the shuttle bus drops you off.
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5) We paid 100 yuan per person for the rope way and toboggan plus 45 yuan per person for entry on to the wall. You could do it cheaper by hiking up to the wall but it’s much more fun using the rope way and toboggan.
So all together we paid 193 yuan per person for the whole experience. Much cheaper than paying for a tour, we worked out that we would have spent 350 each on the hostel tour (250 plus the ropeway and the great wall of china Mutianyu toboggan that wasn’t included). Amazing value really when you consider how amazing The Great wall of China Mutianyu Beijing really is!
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Beware of scammers!!

Going it on our own to the Great Wall is an awesome adventure which makes the experience even more fulfilling. But as we mentioned above there are so many scammers along the way. China is full of them and to be honest is does some what taint your impression of the country and the people when you see them around every corner preying on every tourists. My advice in general would be to be really v whilst in China as a whole, as much as it isn’t what travel is about here you have to be suspicious of those who speak good english and want to help. Being nice and polite will ultimately end up making you a victim here. The The Great wall of China Mutianyu Beijing is very popular with scammers!

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On the way to the wall so many people will try and drag you off on some other bus that takes you to the wrong place and leaves you stranded. Most often these people want you to have to end up taking an inflated mini bus or taxi to actually get to the wall. Often they even wear uniforms at the bus station or even jump on the bus and drag you off at an early stop. Read our directions and don’t be swayed by anyone telling you anything different, this is the way to The Great wall of China Mutianyu Beijing!

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Have you ever been to The Great wall of China Mutianyu Beijing 

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Nicola Hilditch-Short

Nic is one half of the Roaming Renegades, a passionate traveller, climber, adventurer, photographer and artist who has a B.A in Fine Art and M.A in Design & Art Direction.