Visiting the Great Wall of China is a delightful must for the first-time visitors to Beijing China.
The Great Wall was built in different times and dynasties, largely constructed in the three dynasties – Qin Dynasty (221 B.C to 206 B.C); Han Dynasty (206 B.C.– 220 A.D ) and Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D – 1644 A.D). The most powerful Yuan Dynasty (1271 A.D – 1368 A.D) and the last Qing Dynasty (1644 A.D – 1911 A.D) did nothing about the building of the Great Wall since they were “barbarians” against whom the Great Wall of China had been built.
For historical and geographical reasons, the Great Wall of China doesn’t form a continuous line and in fact exits in different sections. The official survey shows the Great Wall now totals 21196 km long with the Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty ( 1368A.D – 1644 A.D ) as long as 8851 km.
Currently there are 8 official locations of the Great Wall around Beijing open to visitors. These 8 sections of the Great Wall is tamed, renovated or half restored, and some parts are still left wild and original. Safety measures have been taken on these official sections of the Great Wall with guardrails if necessary, security guards, restaurants, toilets and parking lots.
The 8 chunks of the Great Wall include Juyongguan Pass Great Wall, Badaling Great Wall, Shixiaguan Great Wall, Huanghuacheng Great Wall, Mutianyu Great Wall, Gubeikou Great Wall, Jinshanling Great Wall and Simatai Great Wall. Each section of the Great Wall has its own geographic and construction features.
Jiankou Great Wall is not an official location for Great Wall hiking, but favored by wild Great Wall trekkers. The 4-hour scenic walk from the unrestored Jiankou Great Wall to the restored Mutianyu Great Wall, in particular, entices a consistent flow of visitors. Hikers should take great care while hiking Jiankou Great Wall.
About 400km west of Beijing, Datong Great Wall is the epitome of the tamped earth wall in the northern China. Hebei Great Wall ( namely the Wall east of Beijing to the Sea) including the Wall near Beijing are the most luxuary sections of the Great Wall in China’s history, which are made of majestic bricks and stones with a length of over 1000km.
If you visit the Great Wall for the first time, basically you need to plan ahead to know when to visit, which section to visit and how to visit. You can either travel independently doing all the researching on your own or turn to a local travel agency such as Tour Beijing for arranging time-saving and hassle-free day trips to the Great Wall.