Mutianyu Great Wall (慕田峪)
The Great Wall of China is considered the first of the seven wonders of the modern world. The length of the same is a source of discussion.
In the north of Beijing there are many sections that you can visit, starting from the most popular Badiling arriving at the difficult but wonderful Jankou. But which one to choose?
Why we suggest you to visit the Mutianyu Great Wall
Go to the Mutianyu Great Wall because:
1. it is not so crowded, especially in comparison with Badaling. Obviously it is better to avoid weekends and Chinese holidays.
2. it offers many services for tourists, including shops, restaurants, cable car, chairlift.
3. it has the longest stretch of restored wall (over 2km).
4. from there you can easily reach many sections of the original wall, still not restored.
5. it is unique and it is perhaps the best preserved section. The walls are made of granite, high 6-7 meters and wide 4-5. The section has battlements both outside and inside, something almost unique in the Chinese Wall.
How to reach Mutianyu Great Wall
Getting to Mutianyu, which is an hour and a half from Beijing, is relatively simple: just take bus 916 or 916 快 express (12 RMB. be careful it is the official bus that leaves every 15 minutes) from Dongzhimen bus station (subway 2 and 13). Of course 916 快 express takes less time than 916.
Get off at Huairou Beidajie (柔 北 大街). There you will find many minibuses and several private cars waiting to give you a ride to the Mutianyu Great Wall.
These minibus and “taxis” are unofficial, but they are the only way to reach the Mutianyu Great Wall (data November 2014).
4 people in a car should pay no more than 60 RMB, 15 each person. Make group with other tourists and be inflexible on the price, starting from 10 RMB per head and arriving to a maximum of 15.
Beware! During your 916 or 916 Express trip you will see people getting on the bus, even with the blue uniforms of the bus drivers, telling you that you have arrived in Huairou Beidajie and that you have to get off. Don’t trust them! They are minibus drivers who want you to get off before Huairou Beidajie to ask you more money. So count the bus stops and get off at Huairou Beidajie.
If you have any doubt ask the driver, showing a paper with Huairou Beidajie written in Chinese 柔 北 大街. To come back do the same route at reverse.
For more specific information on the bus routes:
The Mutianyu Great Wall of China: ticket options
At the entrance you will have various options to choose before buying the ticket (prices updated in November 2014):
Simple Ticket RMB 45
One cable car trip: RMB 80 / Children under 12 years: RMB 40
Two cable car trips: RMB 100 / Children under 12 years: RMB 50
Toboggan: RMB 80 / Children under 12 years: RMB 60
Toboggan two trips: RMB 100 / Children under 12 years: RMB 80
Chairlift one trip: RMB 80 / Children under 12 years: RMB 60
Chairlift two trips: RMB 100 / Children under 12 years: RMB 80
Remember that there are two separate companies: one for the cable car and one for the chairlift & toboggan. So you cannot change your cable car ticket for the chairlift or toboggan. But if you buy the chairlift / toboggan ticket you can decide which one to take to come back!
Our choice: Cable car and Toboggan!
We chose to go up by cable car and come back with the toboggan for a total of 145 RMB each. Believe me it is worth the price!
The cable car offers a unique view and it allows to avoid more than 1,000 stairs to get on the great wall. We are not lazy but the Mutianyu Great Wall is significantly sloping in various parts and quite tiring to climb. Thus avoiding the 1,000 stairs is not a bad idea at all.
The toboggan is very very fun. The track is 1580 meters long, and it is characterised by different curves and zig-zags. Driving the sled is very easy and you can adjust the speed with a simple lever. We advise you to wait before launching in order to have space between you and whoever is in front. The latter, particularly if slow, could totally ruin your experience. Below you can see a short video of our descent!
Where to go on the Mutianyu Great Wall
When you are on the Mutianyu Great Wall, do not follow the Chinese tourist mass but head east (toward the tower 1) where you can enjoy the wonderful restored wall and in 20 minutes get to the not restored section.
The restored part is absolutely incredible, but the silence and peace surrounding the not restored part is unique. There it will be just you and the original ruins of a defensive wall that has seen for centuries the attacks of the Mongol hordes from the cold north.
Obviously be careful as you will walk between large shrubs, steep trails and crumbling towers.
Other useful informations
Opening hours: 07:30 to 17:30 (November 2014).
It is possible to sign a special wall installed inside tower 14.
Remember that toilette services are scarce on the wall.
There are numerous shops and restaurants located at the entrance, even for vegetarians.
We thing there is going to be a big tourism growth in this section in the next months. The services offered are unique and we are convinced that much of the mass tourism will move from the famous Badiling to Mutianyu. So hurry up!
The famous section of Jankou is located after Tower 15, which is on the opposite side of where we have suggested you to go. If you have time we absolutely recommend you going there during your visit at Mutianyu.
Have fun on the Mutianyu Great Wall!