Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter in China: Exploring Beijing - The Great Wall at Mutianyu


There are three popular spots to visit the Great Wall from Beijing. Badaling would be the closest but it is supposedly the most touristy. Simatai is the furthest away but the less restored which is good for those who want to see the wall as close to it's original state. We ended up choosing to go the wall at Mutianyu since it was a good in between option - less than an hour drive from Beijing and less touristy and packed if compared to Badaling. 

To get to Mutianyu, one needs to rent a car and driver that will take you there and wait for you when you explore the wall. There are probably public trains & buses but we didn't think it was worth the hassle. There are many driver recommendations on tripadvisor and flyertalk and we picked one that ended up being good. Send me an email if you want the contact for the driver we used. 

We set off for Mutianyu even before the sun was up at 6.30 in the morning. We got to Mutianyu right as the sun was coming up and it made for some stunning views. There are 3 ways up to the wall - a cable car, a ski lift type ride or you could hike/walk up. We chose the ski lift ride as for a couple of reminbi more, it includes a ride down on the toboggan slide (more on that later). 

The lift to the top
Since we were there early, there were only a couple of other tourists around. The tour buses haven't arrived yet. At certain parts of the wall, we were the only ones around which made the experience so much more enjoyable and peaceful. Pictures that we took earlier in the morning also turned out better as there was no haze. 

We spent the next couple of hours just walking (more like hiking) a long the wall. One some parts, it did get pretty steep and it was challenging especially in the cold. Lydia and I gave up when we reached the cable car stop where as my bro and sis in laws continued to the end.

For the ride down, we had to try the toboggan slide. Some recommendations - 1) Try the ride, it's fun! 2) Make sure you don't go after people who you think are going to go slow. 3) Ignore the go slow signs. There are way too many of them. 

In conclusion, we enjoyed the trip to Mutianyu. It can be some what touristy and we should have seen that knowing there had cable cars and slides to go up and down. Find a good driver and head over early - the view and being up there without hoards of people will be worth it. If we do come back to Beijing, we look forward to visiting a less touristy part of the wall like Simatai.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos, thanks for sharing. Mutianyu Great Wall is a good alternative for Badaling, often quiet, with less tour buses and stops. Badaling gets more tourists than Mutianyu. If I could visit only one, and want to enjoy a better views with less crowds, Mutianyu is right for me.