The Great Wall of China, top tour activity in China

Great Wall of China - Best Tours & Trips 2019

A visit to the Great Wall is an essential part of any comprehensive China tour. First built as a fortification more than 2,000 years ago, much of the wall is now in ruins, but at some locations you can both view and walk out on this massive monument, which snakes its way through northern China for some 5,500 miles from the east coast to the Gobi Desert. The most accessible areas are in the region around Beijing; the closest and most photogenic is at Badaling, 42 miles from the capital. These sections primarily date from the Ming Dynasty, 400 to 700 years ago.

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Top Great Wall of China Experiences and Attractions


Top Great Wall of China Experiences

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Top Great Wall of China Attractions

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Great Wall of China Trip Reviews


122
Great Wall of China Tour Reviews - Summary
99% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 87 Great 34 Average 1 Disappointing 0 Terrible 0
Value
4.7 Guide
4.7 Activities
4.7 Lodging
4.7 Transportation
4.7 Meals
4.7

Blg

Recommends

Fantastic November 2018

5.0

China Sampler

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
They took very good care of me as I was a woman traveling alone, never once did I worry about a thing. It was extraordinary. I am using them again to go to Japan.

Operator Alexander + Roberts

R

Recommends

Outstanding private group tour November 2018

5.0

China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We were a group of 34 seniors departing from JFK on 12 Oct 2017. The itinerary was the same as the standard 17-day tour and it was well-paced for our group. Mark Ma was our Tour Director, and he was very helpful, friendly and made sure that everyone was safe and enjoying the trip. My group has been on several guided international tours, and this was one of the best. smarTours helped us set up the tour, get our visas and got us first-class hotels throughout the trip. I recommend that you consider them for your travel group. Ms. Suzanne Anderson at their NYC office was specially helpful. Thanks to everyone at smarTours for this excellent experience. Read more

Operator SmarTours

M

Recommends

18 Amazing Days in China November 2018

5.0

China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Julian and I are still talking and telling everyone we meet about the surprisingly wonderful trip we recently took. Our guide, Mr. Li Bo, Oscar, was our mother, father, savior, historian, bathroom locator and best friend throughout the entire trip. He seemed to have a second sense and was there when we needed him, either for a pharmacy, help with our luggage or credit cards and the ATM's. The local guides, especially Allie, in Shanghai were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. The hotels and Yangtze River rooms were excellent. All the shows, parks and extras and river cruises were wonderful. The food was pretty good but the hot pots and dim sum that we had when we ventured out on our own was sensational. It's an amazing country with beautiful and unusual sites. I look forward to more trips with SmarTours and I can only hope that they are as great as this trip was for us. Thank you Oscar. Read more

Operator SmarTours

N

Does Not Recommend

Will not recommend this company, will not use it anymore September 2018

3.0

The Golden Triangle

  • Value 3.0
  • Guide 3.0
  • Activities 3.0
  • Lodging 3.0
  • Transportation 3.0
  • Meals 3.0
will not recommend this company, will not use it anymore. Bad service.

Operator China Highlights

M

Recommends

The China & Yangtze River Cruise w/ Hong Kong was truly amazing! June 2018

5.0

China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
The China & Yangtze River Cruise w/ Hong Kong was truly amazing! Smartours had all arrangements down to a science, with all tours and transfers running like clockwork. Our tour director, Jason Hu, was a wonderful, caring young man who went the extra mile to take care of our group of 19....always with a smile. Our tour guides, Jennifer, Tom, Alun, Kenny, Linda and Kelly were very knowledgeable and smoothed the way for some interesting tours, as well as being very attentive. The Yangtze River cruise was wonderful and the scenery magnificent. We could not have asked for better accommodations or meals in China....all places were truly the best, as was the Hong Kong hotel. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone seeking a top notch tour to see the highlights of China! Read more

Operator SmarTours

Great Wall of China Tours and Travel Guide


Great Wall of China Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Where to Visit the Great Wall

A visit to the Great Wall is an essential part of any comprehensive China tour. First built as a fortification more than 2,000 years ago, much of the wall is now in ruins, but at some locations you can both view and walk out on this massive monument, which snakes its way through northern China for some 5,500 miles from the east coast to the Gobi Desert.

As a result, there are multiple places to see the Great Wall. The most accessible areas are in the region around Beijing; the closest and most photogenic is at Badaling, 42 miles from the capital. These sections primarily date from the Ming Dynasty, 400 to 700 years ago.

Throughout its existence, The Great Wall (Chángchéng /channg-chnng/ 'Long Wall') withstood attacks from enemy lines and parts of it were destroyed during Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). By 1987, the wall made the World Heritage List by UNESCO.

If you are visiting Northern China for the first time, The Great Wall is an absolute must see, and there are 10 different sections of the wall that caters to different travelers:

Badaling

Badaling is 45 miles north of Beijing and is the most popular section of the wall for Chinese travelers to visit. Touring time usually takes about half a day and amenities include cable car rides, a museum, and wheelchair access. This section is perhaps the most consistently crowded.

Simatai

75 miles from Beijing, Simatai is the section of the wall that became a World Heritage Site in 1987. Showcasing different characteristics, with the exemplary display of architecture juxtaposed with ruins that show the wall’s battle scars, the Simatai sections is a favorite among history buffs.

There are cable car services available in this stretch of the wall, and for more adventurous travelers, zip – lines, and boat services as well. Set aside a full day, If you plan to hike this section of the wall.

Mutianyu

Mutianyu is 45 miles from Beijing and is the the most fully restored section of the wall. This makes it the most popular among foreign travelers (as this is also the most child friendly section). As the watchtowers have been fully restored at this section of the wall, sightseeing from varying heights is a favorite activity amongst visitors. Hiking along this section of the wall generally takes about half a day.

Jinshanling

Jinshanling is 96 miles from Beijing and is the most popular hiking route. This section is of particular interest to many hikers because it is half restored and half in ruins, paving the way for a mix of terrain. For those who opt out of the hiking, there is cable car service. If you are planning to hike this section, plan for a full day’s trek.

Jiankou

Jiankou is about 65 miles from Beijing and is known to be the most steep and challenging section of the wall, a destination for avid hikers. This section of the wall has not been restored and hikers are warned to take extreme caution. If you are up for this challenge, plan for a whole day to conquer this stretch.

Gubeikou

Gubeikou is 90 miles from Beijing and is most well known for being the pass that protected the city of Beijing from Northern Mongol invasions. It is said that over 130 battles occurred right at this pass which today lies mostly in ruins. This is also a popular trek for avid hikers. Be forwarned that no amenities, such as wheelchair access or cable car rides, are offered here.

Huanghuacheng

Huanhuacheng is about 48 miles from Beijing and offers travelers a scenic view of the wall against the backdrop of a lake. At this juncture, parts of the wall are immersed in the water, and at the foot of the wall lay an ancient Ming Dynasty chestnut orchard. Cruise boats take travelers around the lake here and hikers can choose to set up camp (best months being May through September for the climate).

What to Do on the Great Wall of China

One of the simplest things to do at the Great Wall is to leave your mark by placing a padlock along the wall. The Chinese view the Great Wall as as symbol of eternity, and so leaving a love lock along the wall is believed to guarantee lifelong success for the couple.

At the Mutianyu section of the wall, generally the most touristy one, tourists can cable car up to the top of the wall. This is great on particularly hot summer days, and makes the wall accessible to older and physically handicapped travelers who otherwise might struggle to view the iconic structure. For the more adventurous, you can even take a toboggan ride down, which we highly recommend!  

Hiking the Great Wall -- whether as a part of a longer multi day trek, or as a day long activity of your comprehensive tour of China -- is also a classic activity to do on the Wall. Steep slopes and stairs will leave you having gotten a good workout, and your reward will be incredible views away from the main tourist throngs.

Visitors to the Great Wall who seek a little more adventure might also be interested in paragliding over the structure to get a unique aerial view. Not only will get a much better sense of the incredible length of the Wall, you will also get to see the beautiful Northern Chinese countryside.

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