Friday, October 9, 2015

Visiting the Great Wall of China: Mutianyu

As I mentioned in my last post, we went to China last year. We were actually there right around this time of year. We had several highlights on the trip (including the obvious draw of meeting our son) and visiting the Great Wall was definitely one of them.

There are several different portions of the wall that are open for visitors. Some portions, like Balading, are more popular than others. Each part has different views. I’d read up on the various portions beforehand. I really wanted to hike the wall at Huanghuacheng but with two kids (then ages 4 and 5) and my mom and dad, it didn’t seem like our best option. We opted instead to visit the Mutianyu portion of the wall. You walk up, explore a good bit and then you toboggan down. If you don’t want to toboggan, you have the option of a ski lift down too.

You can go to the wall unaccompanied, by tour bus or with a private guide. We hired a guide I found on Tripadvisor. He was wonderful. He was a former history teacher and provided a lot of information both at the Great Wall and during the ride to and from. For seven of us, he charged 1000 rmb (about $157). This included transportation and his services.

We elected to go to the Temple of Heaven after the Great Wall, which was an additional 100 rmb. There was also a small fee for toll roads, but it was minimal. The tickets were separate but he got a tour guide discount, which got passed on to us.

When we were in Beijing, the smog was terrible. They hadn’t had any rain in quite some time, so the smog was trapped. The air was clearer at the wall because it’s more removed from the city and at a higher altitude, but it was only marginally better.

It rained the day we left Beijing. A friend visited the Wall just a week after we did and when I saw her pictures, it looked like we had gone to two different places. You could actually see without a haze in her pictures. I was immensely envious!

Even with poor visibility though, this trip was phenomenal.
The Great Wall of China 2
The Great Wall of China 3
The wall is the width of five horses. This portion of the wall was made for double-sided fighting.
The Great Wall of China 4
All of the stones were hand carried up the mountain.
The Great Wall of China 1
The ski lift option.
The Great Wall of China 5
The store rooms, a great place for playing hide-and-seek.
The Great Wall of China 6
There was a Subway and Baskin Robbins near the parking lot. Our guide also offered us the option of some kind of westernized Chinese. We passed on all these options and asked him to take us somewhere more authentic.

He took us about 20 minutes away to a non-descript place on the side of the road. The food was wonderful, and fresh. Their pond was stocked with golden trout and they let my son catch one while we waited for our meal.

Which part of the Great Wall have you visited or hope to visit? While some spots are more crowded than others, I don’t think you can chose wrong!

No comments:

Post a Comment