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you are here: Home - China travel guide - Great Wall

Great Wall of China (Badaling, Mutianyu, Jinshanling and Simatai)

How long is the Great Wall of ChinaListed as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987, the Great Wall is not only the magnum opus of human being but also the soul of China!

Map of Beijing Great WallHow long is the Great Wall of China?

Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in north China, and stretches over approximately 6,400 km from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Lake Lop in the west.

The Wall was built from Qin dynasty (200 BC). At its peak, it was guarded by more than one million men.

Some parts of the Wall are gone because of the desert and people activities, the well-preserved and famous sections of the Great Wall are Shanhaiguan Pass, Jiayuguan Pass, Yumenguan Pass, Yangguan Pass, Badaling, Juyongguan Pass, Mutianyu, Jinshanling, Simatai...

[Click here for more Suggested Great Wall Itineraries...]

Shanhaiguan Pass

Shanhaiguan Pass of Great Wall

Badaling Great Wall

tour of great wall

Badaling Great Wall is located at Yanqing County, more than 70 kilometers northwest from the center of Beijing City. It is a mountain pass of the Jundu Mountain. Badaling is at the highest point of north end of the Guan'gou gorge, in which the Juyongguan Pass lies. In the history, the function of Badaling was to protect the Juyongguan Pass. Along with Guan'gou gorge, there are several interests and historic sites. Badaling is a rare ancient military defense project. The elevation of it is about 1,000 meters.

The wall of Badaling has a total length of 3, 741 meters with an average height of 8 meters The highest part is 15 meters. The total area for a tour is 19, 000 square meters. The top of the wall can permit five horses to be ridden abreast. There are arched doors at the inner side of the wall with very little distance between each two doors. The arched doors lead you to the top of the wall by stone stairs.

Badaling became a very important military strategic place since the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC - 476 BC) and the Warring States Period (476 BC - 221 BC). Many incomplete parts of the wall were proved to be built in the Warring States Period.

Badaling was the earliest section to be open to the tourists among all the parts of the whole Great Wall. 130 million tourists from China and abroad have visited Badaling; 370 foreign leaders and very important persons have come to climb Badaling successively.

This section of the Great Wall was made by huge bar stones. Some of the stones have a height of two meters with a weight of hundreds kilograms. Inside the Wall are made of mud and stone block. The top floor of the Great Wall is paved with square bricks which made the floor very orderly and smooth. On the highest place, signal fire platforms were set to send warning signals in the ancient China. One fire with one smoke means the enemy is about 100 men; two fires with two smoke means 500 men, and three fires with three smoke means more than 1,000 men...... By this way, the persons who were warned were able to know the state of the enemy.

Near Badaling, there is a large-scaled Great-Wall-of-China Museum as well as the Great Wall National Theater from which you can get a full and complete view of the Great Wall.

In 1961, the State Council decided that Badaling was a national key protected culture relic unit. In 1987, Badaling became "World Cultural heritage" by the United Nation.

badaling great wall tour Badaling Great Wall Tour...

Mutianyu Great Wall

mutianyu great wall tour

In the northern part of Huairou County some 70 kilometers north-east of Beijing City, this section of the Great Wall winds its way for over 2000 meters. This section is well preserved and is a good alternative for visitors who would like to avoid crowds along the highly popular Badaling section during holiday and peak seasons.

The construction of this section was started in the mid-6th century during China's Northern Dynasties (386 - 581) and what now remains is the main restoration made during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). It has served as a northern barrier of what is now Beijing through the ages. Connected with Juyongguan Pass in the west and Gubeikou Gateway in the east, this section was built along steep ridges and deep valleys. Differing from that part of the Great Wall more widely visited, this section is renowned for its unique fortifications.

Wall Features:

Solid wall and twenty-two blockhouses and watchtowers

The wall is seven-to-eight meters high and four-to-five meters wide at the top and five-to-six at the bottom. The brick wall is reinforced with a stone facing. Twenty-two watchtowers have been built at regular intervals along its 2250 meter span. They vary from being complex structures of more than one storey to simple beacons. Among these, the most famous is Zheng Bei Tai, a castle complex that consists of three inner-connected watchtowers. These combined three towers ensured the defending forces could control any attempt at an invasion.

Both the outer and inner parapets are crenelated with merlons.

Most parts of the Great Wall have outer defensive parapets to provide cover for the soldiers and a low parapet on the inner side (called Nu Qiang) to prevent soldiers or horses from falling. (See the photos of Badaling, to see the difference) However, in this section, both the outer and inner parapets have merlons, indicating its military importance. Also there is a 1000 meter long wall parallel to the main wall to enhance the defences.

You can mount steps to climb the wall but it is physically demanding, or you can take the cable for a single trip at RMB 35 or a round trip at 50.

The surrounding natural environment is most attractive. Here the mountains are densely covered by verdant plants and tall ancient trees. In autumn, the maple leaves with their bright shades are truly amazing. In recent years, a garden party is usually held in autumn. Tourists can enjoy the sights of festive bonfires, performances in ancient costumes and other entertaining programs.

mutianyu tour Mutianyu Great Wall Tours...

Jinshanling Great Wall

Jinshanling Great Wall

Jinshanling Great Wall about 150 kilometers away from Beijing lies in the mountainous area in Ruanping county of Hebei province - a key military stronghold. The structure was mainly built in 1570 of Ming dynasty. The 20-kilometer-long structure, although a bit smaller and narrower compared to Badaling and Mutianyu features complicated and well preserved fortifications systems and fantastic natural scenery.

The wall looks a bit old and ruinous but much more natural, 7.8 meters high, 5-6 meters thick at bottom. On the top, slab pavements were 4 meters wide with 2 meter-high parapets on each side. On the side facing the enemy stood 7-foot- (2-metre-) high crenels called duo-kou. On the upper part of the duo-kou were large openings used to watch and shoot at attackers, and on the lower part were small openings or loopholes, through which defenders could also shoot. Besides, "obstacle-walls" built perpendicular to the parapets. These "walls-within-walls" were used for continued defense against enemies who might have succeeded in scaling the wall.

Two-storeyed watchtowers were built on the wall in some strategic places. The ground floor was used for living, storing food and weapons and the top floor was used for defense. The watchtowers were in different shapes, some square, some oval and others in strange shapes. Their roofs are flat, sloped, thatched, or even octagonal. Pu-fang - simply structured huts were built to provide shelter for the guards during storms. Inside watchtowers, anfractuous walls and passages also reveal the wisdom and tenacity of ancient Chinese.

If you want to see the wall, but avoid the crowds of Badaling, this is the place to come, but be prepared for a walk from the car park up to the wall.

jinshanling tours Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking Trips...

Simatai Great Wall

Simatai Great Wall   Simatai Great Wall

To the east of the Jinshanling stretch of the Great Wall there lies the quiet and remote Simatai Great Wall. The ruinous state of this part of the Wall gives it an air of authenticity that has earned it the reputation of being the most beautiful section of the Great Wall. Unlike the sections to be seen at Badaling or Mutianyu that have undergone extensive restoration, the wall at Simatai has received very little attention. Here, the wall really looks as one would expect it to look some 500 years after it was built during the Ming Dynasty. The local people are proud of this monument and proclaim that it was as a consequence of visiting Simatai that UNESCO was convinced the wall should be listed as a World Heritage site. It towers over the nearby villages and farmland as it winds its way like the spiny back of a dragon over the sharply clipped peaks of the mountains.

Because Simatai Great Wall has retained much of its original 500 year old features it offers a quite hazardous passage to those who wish to walk along it. Needless to say, the inherent dangers offer a challenge that is quite inresistable to dedicated hikers in quest of adventure. An additional attraction is that as Simatai Great Wall is some 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the north-east of Beijing it is well beyond the reach of the huge crowds of tourists that throng the more popular and accessible parts of the Wall.

Enthusiasts, who like to study military architecture, find much to interest them along this 20 kilometer barrier as it appears to dance from east to west over the mountain ridges interrupted only by the presence of the Simatai reservoir that divides it in two. Here, those who are keenly interested can study and compare a wide range of watchtowers, blockhouses and platforms representative of the many styles to be found along the Great Wall.

Visitors have a choice of accessing the wall from either Jinshanling or Simatai. Most enter at Jinshanling for a fee of 30 Yuan and make their way to Simatai. It is at Simatai that the Wall takes the hiker upwards to the perilous Simatai ridge.

There are in total sixteen watchtowers set at intervals along this expanse and it will take about two hours to reach the twelfth watchtower. Beyond this point the condition of the stairs and walkways deteriorates and the passage becomes both steep and narrow which means that it is often safer to use the adjacent footpath rather than try to walk on the Wall itself. A lack of firm footholds creates quite a struggle and in places it may prove necessary to go on all fours in order to make any progress.

For 100 meters between the fourteenth and fifteenth watchtowers there is an incline at an 80 degree angle with only a single parapet wall. It is quite narrow compared with more substantial sections of the wall and in height it varies from two to four meters from its base. The terrain forms a natural barrier while the Wall gave the Chinese soldiery a combination of protection and an advantage of height from which to defend themselves against enemy attack. The defences are reinforced by rows of embrasured walls built vertically to the main body of the Wall so as to withstand any possible incursion by enemy soldiers. As this section of the Wall is so steep, it is known as the "Stairway to Heaven". The fifteenth tower has been named "The Fairy Tower" and is noted for its fine architectural features which include stone sculptures of twin lotus flowers on its arched doorways. Only the bravest hikers will climb the "Stairway to Heaven" but those who do and reach the sixteenth and highest tower will be rewarded with a breathtaking view. Known as 'Wang Jing Lou' [Watching Beijing Tower] the sixteenth watchtower with its elevation of 986 meters is the highest visitor attraction in the environs of Beijing. At night the lights of the city, when seen from the watchtower, are a wondrous sight to behold.

The descent can be made to the seventeenth watchtower and from there along the hill path to the exit gate.

Safety Advice: Remember that much of Simatai is in a state of ruin. Consequently, you will be embarking on an adventurous hike. In parts, the way is steep and hazardous and is not for the feint hearted! It is not really suitable for more elderly people who should always be accompanied. As with all dangerous exploits it is advisable to have an experienced guide or someone who has been before to go with you. Also, take particular care not to loose your footing when stopping to take photographs! Never take unnecessary risks and keep to the recognised paths.

Clothing: You will be visiting military fortifications that are built mainly along high, steep and exposed mountain ridges. You will need light, loose fitting, comfortable clothing that is waterproof, wind-resisting and air permeable. In autumn and winter, warm sweaters and gloves are recommended. Gloves should not be too thick as you will need to use your hands when climbing particularly steep sections of the route. Finally, footwear should be comfortable walking shoes or boots with soles that have a good grip. Avoid setting out with new and untried footwear so as to prevent discomfort and blisters.

Necessary Items: You should carry half a litre of w ater for each hour you intend to walk. Alkaline drinks may be substituted for part of your water ration. Do not take alcoholic drinks. A camera, films, a pocket flashlight, packed food and a garbage bag are other basics. When walking in a group, it is a good idea to take a length of nylon rope as a means of helping each other over difficult terrain.

simatai tours Simatai Great Wall Travel Packages...

China Great Wall Tours

Beijing Great Wall Hiking Tour   Jinshanling & Simatai Great Wall Hiking Tour
Duration: 2 days Available: daily
Visiting: Jinshanling Great Wall, Simatai Great Wall
Hike from Jinshanling to Simatai, experience the realy GREAT WALL - one of the "Seven Wonders of the World" and a symbol of Chinese civilization...

Jinshanling & Simatai Great Wall Hiking Tour details...

travel to the great wall and ming tomb   Beijing Highlights Tour
Duration: 4 days Available: daily
Visiting: Summer Palace, Badaling Great Wall, Ming Tomb, Spirit Way, Tian'anmen Square, Forbidden City, Hutongs
Tour PEKP001 contains most of Beijing's MUST SEEs and is designed for people who want to experience the ancient and modern capital city of Beijing and its magnificent Great Wall and other scenic spots...

Beijing Highlights Tour details...

Golden Triangle with Yangtze River Cruise   Golden Triangle with Yangtze River Cruise
Duration: 14 days Available: daily
Visiting:Shanghai, Yichang, Yangtze River Cruise, Chongqing, Xian, Beijing
You will touch the essence of China in the tour. Included a deluxe river cruising experience on the Yangtze river famed for spectacular natural sceneries and abundant historic and cultural relics, as well as the man-made marvel Three Gorges Dam, this journey will be truly valuable and memorable...

China yangtze river tours details...

more China Great Wall tours...


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