Walking The Wild Great Wall

Great wall of China hiking- wild part

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.

Unrestored Wild Wall China

Beijing Hikers Great Wall

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.

Beijing Hikers Wild Great Wall

Unrestored part of Great Wall China

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.

Flowers Hiking the Wild Wall China

Pink blossoms Great Wall China

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.

Unrestored section of The Great Wall of China

Jumping Great Wall

Pin It For later

Wild Great Wall China

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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21 thoughts on “Walking The Wild Great Wall

  1. The Great Wall is truely great!
    Just like you, I’ve climbed it multiple times. Mostly on the wild parts. I need to go back 2 more times as I’d love to spend a night at the wall as well as see it after it has been snowing <3

  2. I hope to finally be able to visit Beijing during this upcoming year. As the Great Wall has been on my wish list for a while now, I’m actually glad to see a certain peacefulness in the photos you’ve shared because that’s what I may be looking for 🙂

  3. Never been to the Great Wall but in case I go someday I will most likely prefer to visit the “wild” parts. I just don’t like when some place is full of tourists and in your pictures it looks rather quiet there 🙂

  4. Thanks for the info. Having lived in Beijing for the last year and a half, I’ve also visited several sections of the wall. If you have the time, it’s definitely worth hiking and camping on the wild sections, as well as visiting the more touristy parts. The contrast between the two is incredible.

  5. I always picture myself visiting the Great Wall, but I had NO idea that 1) there are rundown parts that look this rundown, and 2) that you can actually hike to them! Now I want to go more than ever because this looks absolutely amazing. (Also, your Pin photo looks so cool.)

  6. This is such a great post, Joella. Which parts of the Great Wall did you visit and on which part did you take the photos in this post?

    I truly love the Great Wall and I was lucky to visit both, restored and unrestored parts of it. I have been to Mutianyu twice but I also hiked along the unrestored Gubeikou Great Wall together with my friend who works as a hiking guide for the Beijing Hikers. I also did Zhuangdaokou with them which is half restored and half unrestored. Furthermore I visited the westernmost section of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan which is completely unrestored and absolutely deserted.

    1. Thank you so much, Vanessa! Like you- I loved the great wall so much. You know, I can’t actually remember which section of the wall this is. We hiked on a few different sections of the wild wall over the two years there and I’m not sure which they were now. I never went to the most western part though- that’s so great that you got to do that! I would have liked to do that and also go to the eastern part- apparently it ends in the sea!

  7. This is so cool. I didn’t even think you could walk along the un-restored parts of the wall (shows how little I know!). I still have to make plans to for a longer trip to China than just one night layovers while I’m living in Asia. One day … 🙂

    1. A lot of people don’t realise that you can go to the unrestored parts- it’s definitely easiest to go with a hiking group though. I’d definitely recommend it. I’m sure you’ll stop by Beijing at some point- but there are so many places to go in Asia it’s hard to get everywhere. I think I need to move there again sometime (for the 4th time haha!) as there are still whole countries I haven’t been to at all that i really want to see.

  8. Hi Joella! My name is Roy Macaraig and I write for Smile Magazine, the inflight magazine of Cebu Pacific Airlines based in the Philippines. Every month, I am responsible for finding contributors who can say a few things about our destinations. I wanted to check if you would be interested to provide some information for Beijing. I am sure that answering our short survey will be a breeze. If you are interested, please write me back and we can coordinate via email. Thanks in advance and more success to your blog. 🙂

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