Welcome to The Great Wall of China ♥
Never in my wildest dream that it crossed my mind that one day I’ll be able to walked the Great Wall of China, but it happened and it was an amazing experience. That is what I am going to share with you today. Walk with me as I show you my Great Wall of China Adventure.
How to kill the time for long layover in China
My trip to Great Wall of China was not really part of my vacation plan until my friend suggested it to me. I had a layover of 13 hours in Beijing and I was wondering how to kill the long hours of wait. Beijing Airport is huge, but staying inside for 13 hours just siting and basically doing nothing but waiting was not my idea of how to kill the time. After doing my research about what layover I can do in China, I found some interesting attractions to visit like Mutianyu Great Wall Layover, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Heaven temple and more. I decided I’d give the Great Wall a go since I’m an outdoor person and I like walking and hiking, Great Wall seems to be the perfect fit for me to spend my short time in Beijing.
Beijing Airport Tour Company
I booked my Mutinyang Great Wall Tour with Beijing Airport Tour, and I’m telling if you are looking for a tour company for a short layover, I highly recommend this company. I did my research and found how happy and satisfied the people who availed their services, and having experience it myself I can now understand why people are giving this company a good review. From the time I sent my inquiry until the end of my actual tour, everything was smooth sailing. The owner (Tony) was very responsive to every inquiries I sent him, he answered every question promptly, and he never pressure me to book immediately. He gave me the time to think but he was always there when I need to clarify something. I arrived 1 hour earlier than schedule, I called Tony and he immediately sent my guide and the driver to meet me at the meeting place. The car was spacious and clean, and the driver was very cautious and so the trip went smoothly without any mishap. My guide Jessica was adorable! She was very professional, welcoming and she really knows her stuff. She talked a little about everything, the Chinese culture, the history of the wall, other attractions and more. She went up with me and walked and then she gave me time to explore the place by myself. She even gave me a souvenir a refrigerator magnet which I find so sweet of her. They dropped me off at the airport and she even walked me up to the departure entrance to make sure I don’t get lost. So if you are looking for a travel company for a short layover in China, check Beijing Airport Tour. Here is a Trip Advisor link if you want to check what other people have to say but this tour company.
The Tour Booking Process
The Mutinyang tour is a 5 hours private tour with a personal driver and tour guide assigned to me. If you are available as early as 7:00am, then you can join the group tour which is much cheaper. Payment was installment, I paid 100USD via pay pal and the remaining 90 USD was paid in cash on the day of the tour. Gondola fee was 120 Yuan which was not included in the tour. I gave the money to Jessica (tour guide) and she bought the ticket for us. They don’t accept USD, only Yuan. I was provided a complete instructions that was sent after I paid the first payment. The owner sent me an email with the instructions on how to apply for the 24-144 hour visa complete with directions what counter to go and a photo of what form to fill-up, what train to take going to luggage carousel and where to wait for my tourist guide.
What to do when you arrive at Beijing International Airport
Beijing Airport is a huge airport, but it was not as difficult to navigate as there were translated signs almost everywhere, there were some staff that understand English. After getting off the plane, here’s what you need to do.
- Follow the signs that says baggage claim, exit, transfer. You will pass the body temperature gate and you will end up in the huge area where you can see immigration counters with sign “Foreigners“, and at the far end, is the gate for passengers connecting to another flight, the sign say “International Transfer” (for people who have connecting flight and doesn’t want to leave the airport).
- Before you reach the International Transfer gate, you will see a standing board sign that says “24-144 hour International Transfer (Apply for Leaving Airport)”, pass through that sign and walk past another temperature gate. At the end you will see a counter for visa application for people leaving the airport.
- Fill up the yellow “Arrival Form” only and line up to get your visa. Give your passport, arrival form and departure boarding pass to the officer. It did not take long for me since there was no line up that time, about 15 minutes. Fill-up the departure form but keep it with you for later when you return to the airport for your departure.
- Walk back to the immigration counter that says “Foreigners“. Line up and give your passport, “Arrival Card for Temporary Entry Foreigners” form and departure boarding pass.
- Exit and walk pass the customs. If you only have a personal bag/purse, you don’t need to line up to have your purse checked. Just walk to the exit. People with luggage will need to put their luggage for scanning.
- Take the elevator down, you will end up to the train platform. Take the “T-C3 Train” to the luggage claim area. That will only be 1 station away.
- Follow the sign that says baggage claim, If you don’t know your carousel no, there’s a board showing where you can get your luggage. I suggest to confirm with the airlines BEFORE your flight if they will transfer your luggage or you will need to take it out. If you don’t know, there’s a luggage lost and found at the far right of the airport, they will be able to confirm for you. It will also be noted in your luggage tag, so you can check that. I did no have to take out mine as my connecting flight is also Air China, they transferred it automatically.
- After getting the luggage, follow the exit sign. There will be quite a lot of tour company outside, and they will normally have the passengers name written on a paper. I met my guide in front in “Maan Coffee Shop“, it’s hard to miss it because it is a huge cafe. I arrived earlier than scheduled, so I called the owner to let them know I’m already there. You can go to the information desk, they will allow you to use their phone to make local call. I did not wait long, Tony sent Jessica my tour guide to pick me up at the meeting place, and from there the tour begins. Let me show you what happened to this exciting tour and let’s get out of the airport now! Are you ready, let’s go and walk the Great Wall of China.
I Walked to the Great Wall of China
- From Airport to Great Wall: About 1 hour drive
- Hours of Operation: Depends on the Season. Click HERE
- Fee: Click HERE
- Website: http://www.mutianyugreatwall.com/en/home
The drive from Great Wall was about 1 hour, there was no traffic at all because it was Sunday and it was away from the city center. The weather was hot, about 27C so I would say it was better than cold when walking the wall. When we reached there, I gave Jessica the money for the ticket and she bought the ticket for us while I waited in the shaded area. At this time of the year (March) the Gondola closes at 4:40pm but I was told that it gets extended up to 6:00pm during May because there are more tourist visiting the area. The gondola ride was only about 5 minutes, not that long. There is also an option to do the chair lift and go down via Tobogonan, if this is your preference you have to tell the tour company ahead of time since the entrance is in different area. The fee is also a lot cheaper. However exciting it looked like when I googled it, it is not my cup of tea so I opted for the closed cable car instead. Pay close attention to scenery around while the cable car ascend, seeing the Great Wall up high in this angle definitely is definitely something that you cannot see when you are walking the wall itself. I took some photos and she some video while chatting with Jessica my guide, and before I knew it we were already at the top, that fast!
You have 20 Towers to explore
There were few steps before you get to the entrance of the wall, and I cannot helped myself but say “Wow” when I first laid my eyes on it. It was magnificent, the view was spectacular to say the least! I cannot believed that I was actually there, walking the Great Wall of China. Since I do not have enough time to pass through the entire 20 towers, I just made the most of the time that I had and visited couple of them, I did not even paid attention to what tower I was in. I just kept on walking and walking heading towards any towers along the path, and the view leading to each towers never failed to impress me. I sat down quite a lot on times, just quietly enjoying the beauty of the view before my eyes. The cobble steps were made of bricks, some were old and some were restored. The paths were uneven on most areas.
Watch out for steep steps
There were a lot of up hill walk, and in quite a lot of area there were steep steps going up and down. The spacing of the steps are also not consistent, some were too close to each other which I find more challenging, and some where to far apart. When I was thinking of Great Wall, I thought I would be like an easy smooth walk, but I was wrong. It was not actually the walk that I find challenging, it was the height and the steepness of the stairs leading to the tower. Most of the steps that goes up to the tower have very small spacing, so from time to time I had to walk sideways so my feet will fit the stairs. On top of that, I have a fear of heights. My knees and my legs were so tense when I was climbing up and down, it was indeed a memorable walk in the Great Wall of China.
You can walk going down instead of taking the gondola
I took the gondola up and down because we don’t have much time, but given the chance I would choose to go up in gondola and go down on foot. The pathways were very well maintained and cemented and it looks like it would be an easy walk down. I wished I did, but aside from the time, I barely slept and I was too tired. I woke up 2:00 am for my 6:00 am flight and hadn’t any sleep since then, and no decent meal as well.
Tips on Walking the Great Wall of China
- Research the location or the entry point of your visit because the difficulty of the walk depends on the location of your entry. I did the Mutinyang, there’s also a Badading and other entry point.
- Check the temperature before you go. I had my winter jacket ready because I was told it could get cold on March, luckily I was not able to use it. It was 27C when I was up there, it was hot and I was sweating a lot while hiking the wall.
- Wear comfortable shoes. There were rough steep ascend from time to time and wearing comfortable shoes can make or break your walking experience.
- Make sure you phone or camera is fully charge, or you have spare battery as you will not be able to stop taking photos. It was just so beautiful.
- Bring bottle water you will definitely need it specially if you are going on a hot season.
- If possible, travel light and don’t carry heavy bags with you. Again, there were steep stairs which will also make your going down risky if you are carrying heavy bag. You may need both your hands as some point when going down and up
- Last but not the least, do only what you can and don’t push it. If you find the walk to the tower to steep for you, then don’t risk it. If you feel it steep going up, it will be more difficult going down. No great view is worth risking your life. Have fun and be safe.
It was truly and amazing experience that I will never forget. I am really glad that I did it, it was all worth the trip! What a day! Until my next travel adventures, this is SweetNSpicyLiving, your travel buddy.
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