The Great Wall of China is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and an integral part of China's historical legacy. But rather than see it on a mere day trip, you'll spend a few days hiking various sections of the wall along with an expert guide. During the tour, you'll walk the ramparts along restored sections and gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture as you chat with villagers and sample local cuisine—you can even camp near the wall if weather permits.

Highlights

  • Spend an evening in Beijing and see the city
  • Hike along various sections of the Great Wall of China
  • Overnight in local villages and get to know the culture

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Beijing Beijing
Day 2 Great Wall Hike: Jinshanling & Wohushan Beijing
Day 3 Great Wall Hike: Gubeikou & Jinshanling - Transfer to Jiankou Beijing
Day 4 Great Wall Hike: Jiankou & Mutianyu Beijing
Day 5 Departure from Beijing  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Beijing

The Forbidden City, Beijing
The Forbidden City, Beijing

Welcome to China!

With a population of over 21 million people, Beijing is the most densely populated capital city in the world. As one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, this metropolis has been the seat of power in the country for eight centuries. It's home to expansive historic landmarks like the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven, which date back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Also here is the Summer Palace, a lakeside royal retreat and imperial garden during the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911).

However, Beijing is also a shining example of modernity. Some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world exist here. Also, new developments, high-rise apartments, and shopping malls all but engulf historic hutong alleyways and ancient courtyard houses. This city is a megalopolis hurtling towards the future while keeping one foot firmly in the past. 

Upon arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport, you'll meet your guide at the terminal and transfer to your hotel in downtown Beijing. After check-in, you'll have the remainder of the day free to head out and explore. Or, if you're a bit jet-lagged, you can stay in, relax, and enjoy the hotel amenities.

Day 2: Great Wall Hike: Jinshanling & Wohushan

Sunrise over the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall
Sunrise over the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall

Get ready for a brisk hike along the Great Wall of China. Ground first broke on this country's most famous landmark back in the 7th century BCE, and it was expanded over the centuries by various dynasties, most notably the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was a defensive fortification, as evidenced by the watchtowers, beacon towers, barracks, and garrison stations found along the wall at regular intervals. 

Because the Great Wall is so massive, it's separated into various sections, many of which have been restored and refurbished. All told, the wall collectively runs in an east-west arc, much of it north towards Mongolia, for 13,171 miles (21,196 km). The first section you'll visit today is Jinshanling, which is located about 80 miles (130 km) northeast of Beijing. It's a restored section of the wall that was originally built under the orders of General Xu Da in 1368.

In the morning, you'll meet your guide at the hotel and embark on a two-hour drive to Luanping County and the Jinshanling section. This portion of the days five-mile (eight km) hike starts at the east end of the section and continues for about three hours at an easy pace to ensure you enjoy the great vistas of the Jinshanling Mountains. Eventually, you'll stop at Wuyan Tower, a watchtower offering fantastic views of the adjacent Simatai section of the Great Wall.

After arriving at the end of the Jinshanling section you'll head down from the wall to the entrance. Here you'll break for lunch in a nearby restaurant. 

Then you'll take a short drive to the Wohushan section for another couple hours of hiking. This part was built on rocky Wohu Hill, which features two distinct peaks that look like a pair of tigers in repose. The section winds its way along the mountain for 8 miles (13 km) and features about 20 watchtowers. Wohushan is much less visited by tourists as it has not been renovated, which means you can see the natural effects time has had on these fortifications.

After the hike is complete, rather than return to Beijing you'll head to a homestay in nearby Gubeikou village, where you'll overnight. The experience is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.  a unique experience in China.

Day 3: Great Wall Hike: Gubeikou & Jinshanling - Transfer to Jiankou

The Gubeikou area of the Great Wall
The Gubeikou area of the Great Wall

After breakfast, you'll head back up the wall and continue hiking eastward from the Gubeikou area. All told, today's hike covers about 6 miles (10 km) and takes between 5-6 hours to complete. If it's spring/summer and a clear day, you'll be treated to views of green mountains and sharp peaks all the way to the horizon.

There's a portion of the route that passes a restricted military area where hiking on the wall is prohibited. You'll skip this area by walking down from the wall and cutting through a small village, then returning to the Jinshanling section for more hiking. Later you'll transfer by car to the Jiankou section, where you'll overnight at a local guesthouse.

Day 4: Great Wall Hike: Jiankou & Mutianyu

The Jiankou section of the Great  Wall
The Jiankou section of the Great Wall

Today you'll hike a total distance of about 6 miles (10 km), focusing on the Jiankou section. This is the most rugged portion of the wall because it's built on steep cliffside ridges and the wall itself is unrestored. Despite being the roughest area, Jiankou is considered one of the most beautiful sections due to its myriad viewpoints offering spectacular vistas of the surrounding landscapes. 

Note that this section is not officially open to tourists, and due to its aforementioned steep grades and rough state, you need to be particularly mindful when hiking. That said, you're in good hands with your guide, and the effort will pay off when you witness those great views. After about five total hours of hiking, you'll transfer to the base of the Mutianyu section where you'll have a late lunch at a local restaurant. 

After that, you'll return to Beijing by car. Your guide will drop you off at your hotel, and you'll have the evening free.

Day 5: Departure from Beijing

Farewell, China
Farewell, China

In the morning, a driver will pick you up at the hotel and transfer you to the airport in Beijing, where you'll catch your flight home. This concludes your unforgettable journey through China. Until next time!

Map

Map of Hike the Great Wall of China - 5 Days
Map of Hike the Great Wall of China - 5 Days
Max
Written by Max Yang, updated Feb 13, 2020