Travel Report: The Great Wall of China, Mutianyu.
June 2014. Located just seventy kilometres northeast of Beijing, The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu is a fully restored section of the wall that’s ideal for those looking to strike a balance between convenience and authenticity. Having already hiked the stunning and somewhat wild Jinshanling to Simatai section four years earlier, this was my second Great Wall experience. Naturally, I was keen to see how Mutianyu measured up.
The original section of wall at Mutianyu dates back over 1400 years to the days of the northern Qi Dynasty. Today, just a fraction of its original length remains. In fact, a hike along Mutianyu is a compact and manageable two and a half kilometres. Nevertheless, this is still a fine section of the world’s most famous wall, with several Chinese historians calling it “a masterpiece of restoration”.
As with most restored sections around the country, the route features a number of dramatic watchtowers and Mutianyu has twenty-two of them! Keep an eye out for Watchtower 6 where, if you’re so inclined, you can take a toboggan ride back down to Mutianyu basecamp!
My travel buddy that day was Anthony Ragucci, my Beijing neighbour, teaching colleague, fellow horror buff and all round trusted mucker. Anthony was the guy who designed, hand built and photographed the logo to Leighton Literature, the name of my original blog. It was Anthony’s maiden Great Wall experience that day and like me, he enjoyed it very much. Especially with the sweeping mountain views and the general lack of foot traffic.
However, I should point out that Mutianyu’s cool scenery doesn’t quite rival that of the Jinshanling to Simatai hike. I also felt that it lacks the edgy charm of Jinshanling, with its rubbly, plant-infested staircases.
The Great Wall of China, Mutianyu.
Moreover, it was a bit of an anticlimax when, having reached the end of the route, the path comes to a sudden end. Literally, you come face to face with an impassable brick wall. Thus, we had no choice but to turn around and retrace our steps back to the start. Still, these are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things and for many Mutianyu will tick all the boxes for a solid Great Wall experience.
To reach Mutianyu, the fastest public bus is the 916 from Beijing’s Dongzhimen Bus Station. It’s about an hour and forty minutes to Huairou and tickets are 30RMB (£3.40/€3.80/$4.30). From Huairou you’ll need to hop in a taxi for the fifteen minute drive to Mutianyu’s entrance.
Entrance tickets go for 45RMB (£5/€5.60/$6.50). Opening hours are roughly 07:30-18:00 (April to October) & 08:00-17:00 (November to March). But always check ahead as these times can vary.
If you don’t fancy hiking, the cable car works out at 120RMB (£13.40/€15/$17.30) for a return ticket. Overall, I’d say Mutianyu was a worthy addition to my Great Wall collection. But not the ideal spot for thrill seekers who might only get one shot at hiking the wall. In that sense, Jinshanling to Simatai is a much better option and worth the extra travel time.
Like this? Read about more of my adventures from The Great Wall of China.
For a more personalised slant of my experiences on The Great Wall, have a read of my short story Goodness Gracious Great Wall of China!
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