Visiting the Great Wall of China is a must for anyone travelling to Beijing. But for me, it wasn’t just about seeing the wall, it was about walking on the Wild Great Wall, also known as the unrestored part of the wall.
Most people (due to time constraints) opt to visit the restored parts of The Great Wall of China (Mutianyu or Badaling). Those parts are great too. In fact, they are often much more picturesque than the wild parts. But hiking on the unrestored sections of the wall were some of my favourite day trips in China. I’ll explain why later on in the post but first, let’s play a little game of true or false.
True or False: The Great Wall of China is the only manmade object that can be seen from space.
False! The Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space- at least, not with the naked eye.
True or False: Locals have “stolen” parts of the wall.
True (in some regions)! In some of the poorer, rural areas, locals take the bricks and repurpose them for their own use- such as building a house. I find that quite interesting. To us tourists it’s this amazing historical sight, but to some people it’s just a crumbling old wall and the bricks could be put to better use.
True or False: The Great Wall is one continuous wall.
False! It’s actually a series of sections of wall.
Why the Wild Great Wall?
We visited the wall 4 or 5 times during our two years in Beijing. We walked on both restored and unrestored sections. I really loved visiting the wild parts because you are walking on the original bricks, there are fewer people and it’s an excellent work out. It made it all feel like much more of an adventure. The wild part is also quite literally wild! Parts of it have been taken back by nature and you’ll see trees growing up through the bricks.
Even though I personally loved the wild parts of the wall, it’s not for everyone. The restored parts are also worth visiting- especially if you are not up for a long hike or scrambling over broken bricks. Mutianyu is beautifully restored and the steps are quite dramatic. Restoration also means the wall will last a lot longer and visitors of all ages can enjoy it.
How To Hike The Wild Wall
The easiest way for most people to hike the Wild Great Wall is to use a hiking group. We hiked with Beijing Hikers multiple times but there are other groups too. China Hiking is another company that gets recommended a lot. Anyone can hike with these groups. You just pay a fee and turn up at the designated meeting point in Beijing, they will bus you out to the wall. Lunch is often included but you should definitely brink snacks and drinks.
Using a hiking group is well worth it as they will take you out to parts of the wild wall that are difficult to get to. The one problem I found is that they do move quite fast, although they will always have someone at the back with the slowest walkers.
Alternatively, you can look up some of the recommended sections of wild wall in guide books, such as Lonely Planet. They are difficult to get to on public transport but you can hire a taxi or a private driver for the day.
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What do you think? Have you ever been to any parts of the Great Wall? How did you do with the True or False game?
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