Our short hike on the Great Wall of China

posted in: China, Tours | 60

One of the ‘new seven wonders of the world’ is located ninety minutes away (on a clear road) from the Chinese capital Beijing, known as the Great Wall of China. Now as everyone knows it is impossible to walk the whole length of the wall in one day as it spans over 8,000km (and some of it is in need of major repair or has fallen apart) but a lot of visitors in this area will head to Mutianyu and this is where we headed to.

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing
We made it! It’s the Great Wall

After an early start and the drive northwards whilst snow was falling down whilst the road was getting more icy in places (especially in the mountains as we were suppose to do part of the old wall where not many visitors go but we had to head to Mutianyu as the driver didn’t want to risk our safety). We arrived on the outskirts of the village to see a vast array of tourist shops, a huge ticket office (which we will explain) and lots of buses close by as well as a huge car park. Now, this area has lots of small mountains and a cable car to reach one of the watchtowers on the wall (known as Tower 14). To get to the cable car, it can be walked but there is a shuttle bus service to the cable car station. Hence a ticket office…..

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing
Cable Car which takes visitors to Tower 14

After the short journey on the cable car, we arrived at Tower 14 with our guide Chenny. We were lucky to have Cheny Wu on the day as we did this trip with Great Wall Hiking (more about the company below) and because of him and the conditions underfoot, he supplied us with crampons (which is a traction device that is attached to footwear to improve walking on ice). The Great Wall (especially on the downhill/uphill sections) had a layer of black ice and solid snow which made the going very hard. We were lucky with the weather conditions as the snowfall was coming down lightly, the temperature wasn’t too cold but there was a lot of cloud which made checking out the views of the surrounding area a bit limited.

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Heading westwards we checked out many amazing watch towers which meant time to drink tea (which Cheny brought along) and take in the views. There weren’t many people about on the day either (as it was winter) which meant there was plenty of space to walk along the top of the wall (we heard during the summer months the passageway has thousands of visitors so the enjoyment of visiting the Great Wall is not exactly high).

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Whilst here we were told about the history, the Ming Dynasty (and the reason why the wall was built the way it is), but also we found out how to know if we were on a rebuilt part of the wall or part of the old wall. A lot of restoration took place over the last few decades in this area and I have to admit, I didn’t even know at times if we were walking on a new part or old part of the wall. However what was crossing my mind, due to the location and being built on top of the summit of mountains, is how the locals lugged the stones up to these places and then built an amazing wall, which was solid, steady and probably weighed tonnes and lasted for thousands of years.

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

We turned around before Tower 20 as the conditions weren’t ideal and the hike between Tower 19 & 20 was a long (and very steep one). However the views (despite the cloud) was a fantastic one and one which we will carry home and long live in our memories for many years to come. Visitors to the wall can’t go beyond this tower as it becomes a non-tourist zone (as the government calls it) and we had to turn around back to the cable car station. This section of the wall is about two miles (3.2km) long and for us took a while to do due to the conditions and the amount of views we wanted to take in. This was a breathtaking experience and one which has to be on anyone’s list.

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing
Showing the love after our day on the Great Wall



The easiest way to visit the Great Wall when visiting China is with a tour company and we took on the offer from Great Wall Hiking, a company based in the capital which is run by Gary Lee and has been taking thousands of visitors to the Great Wall since 2009. Great Wall Hiking offers a number of various hikes from day trips up to nine days long and can be easily booked through their website here. When we used the company, they did a pick up/drop off from our accommodation in the city, included the cable car journey up to Tower 14 (but the journey down wasn’t included), the shuttle bus and even lunch. As we were English they provided Cheney Wu who is excellent at providing information in English and was very passionate about bringing people on hikes to this area. What we also liked about the company is that there is a non-commissioned shopping policy and we weren’t taken to any shops (which is a big plus!). We loved every aspect of this tour and would like to thank Gary and his amazing team for giving us a lifetime of memories from our short hike.

Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing
We first met Gary Lee and Fiona from Great Wall Hiking back in London (2016)


Please note that while we were working with Great Wall Hiking, the reviews and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. We value our readers too much to lie to you. Our blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!     


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Our hike along the Great Wall of China, Beijing

60 Responses

  1. I went hiking on the Great Wall from Jinshaling to Simatai during December 2006 and I had the best time of my life! There were no people around and I was able to take great photos without worrying if I am going to catch someones head or arm! It sound selfish but to fully appreciate the Great Wall of China I would recommend hiking and during the winter time!

  2. I think I need to revisit the Great Wall in winter. I went years ago as a kid during springtime and the hordes of people were ridiculous. I think we spent a total of 30 mins there before we bailed. The snow also adds an enchanting beauty to the scene!

  3. Your pictures are stunning! My mom recently hiked this~ what a great thing to check off her list in her late 50s. I love the idea of a guide- I tend to retain so much more historical information when I am learning about it in the actual place.

  4. Nice post, the conditions look amazing, I haven’t ever seen it in the snow, in fact I never even considered that it snowed there. I am hoping to get to Bejing in the next few year and the Wall will definitely be on my list of visits, I’ll check this company out.

  5. The Great Wall looks even more mystical in winter. Plus, it’s not that crowded.

  6. I am not much of a walker, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like to walk the Great Wall. Thanks for sharing, great post!

  7. I don’t think I have ever seen pictures of the Great Wall at Winter with the snow – how refreshing! I’m glad to see that it was quieter- what a change to the pictures you see of thousands of tourists. I’m glad you didn’t slip or fall on the hike, sounds treacherous, although well-worth the visit!

  8. It looks super magical with all that snow. I visited twice already and both times in summer. It’s a must do when in Beijing!

  9. I went to the wall 10 years ago on my honeymoon. I went in the autum and still remember how cold and windy it was up there. It looks really gorgeous with the snow but it must have been so cold. 😉
    Tammyonthemove recently posted…An adventurous weekend in San Gil (part 2)

  10. Your photos of the Great Wall looked like a scene in Narnia. I never thought of visiting the Great Wall during winter, but this post made me think otherwise.

  11. Some really cool photos of the wall here – the snow provides a great backdrop!

  12. Wowiee! The Great Wall looks so gorgeous in the winter! I have my sights on China in the near future and of course, the Wall is on the list!

  13. In the winter the wall is so different… More quiet i guess. This is really a place to go one one a life time.

  14. Wow the place looks magical on a blanket of snow. Looks like a great idea to visit the great wall of china during winter less tourist and great phot opportunity. .. some great shots here!

  15. I think this is the first post I have read of people visiting and climbing the wall when it is snowing. How beautiful and different it looks, you photos are amazing.

  16. Beautiful photos! And good on your guide for supplying you with crampons – I’d hate to try and walk up and down the slopes of the wall when they’re covered in ice! But the snow does make it look kinda magical 🙂
    Vicki Louise recently posted…#MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld January Instagram Round-Up

  17. Love the snowy photos of the Great Wall! I love visiting popular sights in the off-season. Visiting with hordes of other visitors in summer just doesn’t sound appealing. I’m with you that it’s hard to imagine how on earth marvels like this were built when stones had to be carried up mountains all by hand!
    Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie recently posted…13 Fantastic Frosty Destinations for People who Love Winter

  18. First, bravo to you for hiking the wall in the snow. I couldn’t have done it haha. Second, I always wondered that too -how the workers build extraordinary structures in those difficult landscapes and conditions in the past. That reflects innovation and badassery!

  19. I walked on a different part of the wall a couple years ago and really enjoyed the experience. I, too, went when the crowds were less, which I think is the only way to do it. It can get really super crowded. The part of the wall I went to was really steep though, so wouldn’t really be able to do it in the snow.

  20. Wow! The wall is particularly beautiful in the snow. Looks like it is a great time to get to see it from a different perspective. Neat to learn tips on how to tell the old wall from reconstructed parts. Will have to ask when I take a trip there.
    Megan recently posted…Wine Tasting on the California Coast with the Carmel Wine Walk

  21. I’ve seen so many shots of the Great Wall, but never once have I seen it in winter. I think it’s even more beautiful. I was pretty shocked to think you might need crampons! What a fun adventure and one I hope to copy someday. The tour company you used sounds perfect.

  22. It looks beautiful with the snow. I was there on national China day and it rained all the day!! It was a great experience, though I would like to go back and do a multi day hike of the wall 🙂

  23. Even a short walk should be satisfying after all it is great wall of China! I wonder if there is anybody who has walked the entire stretch! Great scenes along the way. Snow has added charm to the pics.

  24. What a great experience, this one is on our list for sure! Even though it was cold it sounds like a perfect time of year… quiet and not busy. I love the light dusting of snow on the wall.

  25. I haven’t seen too many pictures of it during the winter. It adds to the history though. I went during the summer and you’re right, it was PACKED. Thanks for the alternate experience!

  26. The Great Wall is precisely that, great, just by the sheer magnitude of how long it stretches. I loved reading your post and enjoyed the pictures. What is refreshingly different for me here is that the Great Wall is covered in a sheet of ice. Walking on the Great Wall covered in ice must indeed have been a different experience.

  27. Wow this looks amazing and so pretty in snow! This is on my bucket list!!

    Holly x

  28. Hiking the Great Wall in the winter looks like the ideal weather for me! We were in China this summer and man was it hot! Walking anywhere was miserable! We didn’t end up visiting the Great Wall due to some unforeseen circumstances, but I plan on going back one day! Maybe it will be in the winter!

  29. Wow! Amazing pics guys. I have never been seen China wall in winter season. I loved it & would definitely love to visit. Thanks for sharing.
    Amruta Telang recently posted…Explore the best of your Canada Travel on Budget

  30. Wow, beautiful pictures. I have never seen pictures of the wall with snow… 🙂

  31. I can’t imagine the Great Wall in Winter! I went in April and it was fairly hot but misty. It was challenging enough to walk let alone with snow and ice! Well done!

  32. Wow, Great Wall in the snow! Beautiful photos! I’m glad you enjoyed the hike. 🙂
    Katie Featherstone recently posted…France: a journey of three seasons and several lakes.

  33. robin Rue

    That sounds amazing. My son was there last year with his grandfather and talks about his experience all the time.

  34. I’ve always wanted to visit the great wall of China. I love how it was not overrun with tourists due to the winter weather. The photos are gorgeous. I would definitely have a guide to experience this once-in-a-lifetime visit.
    Alli Smith recently posted…Over 15 Ideas for Egg Decorating Plus Easter Party Decor

  35. What an amazing experience you had! As you pointed out, there are definitely advantages to visiting the Great Wall of China during the winter season. The photos are beautiful!

  36. I’ve always wanted to visit China, it’s on my travel bucket list. The wall looks like it’s not only impressive, but like it’s got some beautiful scenery.
    valmg @ Mom Knows It All recently posted…BLU-RAY REVIEW – Disney Pinocchio

  37. The Great Wall looks so mysterious in such cold weather. I think you are very brave to hike in such conditions, but the pictures are amazing!

  38. How spectacular is that in the snow? I don’t think that I’ve ever seen it in the snow? That is one place that I truly do want to visit in my life time. Thank you so much for sharing it.
    Kimberly recently posted…Heroes Don’t Always Wear Capes | #StreamTeam

  39. What an amazing adventure! This is something I’ve always wanted to do. I love that you hiked it when there weren’t so many people around. That’s the way to travel. I’m sure it is super crowded during peak season.
    Christy Maurer recently posted…One Up Your Health with Nature Made Energy B-12 Vitamins

  40. Our neighbor visited the Great Wall when she was in her 80’s. Something she always wanted to see. She brought back some beautiful photos and oh the stories she told.
    candy recently posted…Chocolate Chip Cookie Mug

  41. Fabulous pictures. I would love to visit the Great Wall one day.
    Heather @ Kraus House Mom recently posted…Guess Who Went Blind Again, and Didn’t Know It

  42. These pictures are breathtaking! I am in awe of how large the Great Wall is-length, height, all of it. It is just fantastic to see.

  43. We went to the Mutianyu section as well. I just loved it. I can’t imagine being there in all that snow though!

  44. The great wall of china is definitely one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I would love to visit this place. Your hike looked like so much fun.

  45. What an awesome experience that was! It would be thrilling to be there, in a very place that has so much significance to the Chinese culture. I’d love to visit someday too.

  46. What a great experience, this is something I have always wanted to do. I have never seen photos of the wall in the Winter.

  47. Ok, so I am a little bit obsessed with the Great Wall of China right now. I think it would be an amazing place to visit one day!

  48. This is one place I would love to visit one day. I love the snow everywhere. It looks beautiful!
    Stephanie Pass recently posted…DIY Dog Toy & Nature’s Recipe®

  49. I rarely see photos of people hiking in the Great Wall when it is snowing, I bet this is a better experience.
    Marky recently posted…Surfing in a Small Hideaway Town | Lanuza, Surigao del Sur

  50. Great pictures. I do hope to visit the wall of China in warmer and sunnier weather, but must admit that the snow gives some extra ambiance to the wall.

  51. I am honestly so jealous. I have always wanted to see the Great Wall. What a neat experience.

  52. Oh wow! I have always wanted to see the Great Wall up close. I am so jealous. And in the snow! How cool!

  53. Oh.. this is one of my bucket list. I am glad you were able to visit. I know its hard to hike because of the winter. Congratulations on that!

  54. Wow. Just really wow. I love visiting places especially on this very known spot where so many tourists came rushing to see. Now, you are giving me an idea on what time of the year should I visit great wall of china. Your photos are all stunning by the way, it captures my heart.

  55. This has always been at the top of my travel bucket list. Even though you did not get the best weather and had to slightly change your plans these photos of the Great Wall covered in snow are just fantastic and I bet it was a wonderful experience.

  56. Oooh I dont think Ive ever seen the Great Wall of China in snow before, it makes for some very pretty photos! I also didnt know you could get a cable car up there. It looks very peaceful compared to the photos Ive seen, sounds a great experience

  57. wow I have to say that I am a little amazed by your trip to the great wall of china… I have seen hundreds of pictures of it, but NEVER in snow and I never even asked the question how to get there… I don’t know what I was thinking, but I never expected that you could go there by cable car!

  58. It must be great to hike the Great Wall in winter. I had my tour in spring and it’s very memorable experience. It seems your tour was in different place because I didn’t see any cable car in place where I was. Your pictures are stunning. Thanks for sharing!
    Anita recently posted…Elena says:

  59. The Great Wall in winter is breathtaking! Although you don’t get faraway views, the wall disappearing into the clouds makes it look even more mystical. The snow just adds to the atmosphere. It’s very high up on my bucket list!
    Emily recently posted…A Journey into the Tropics: The Eden Project

  60. It’s really quite amazing that this wall was ever built! I can’t even imagine the man-hours of labor it took. The Great Wall of China really is something everyone has to see for themselves. I’m so glad you were able to go, even if the weather wasn’t ideal.
    Tami recently posted…How to Get Your Bearings in Hoi An

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