Mutianyu Great Wall

Address: Mutianyu Road, Huairou District, Beijing, China

- Mid-range


This accessible stretch of Great Wall caters for all energy levels.

For first-timers, families and senior travellers, I always recommend Mutianyu Great Wall. Just an hour north of Beijing by road, this restored section offers the best balance of visual spectacle, infrastructure (cable cars, restaurants, gift stalls) and accessibility, while being much less crowded than Badaling.

Dating back to the early Ming dynasty, its 22 granite watchtowers are spaced out at 100 metre intervals (do the maths) featuring some dramatic dips and ascents, but you can tackle as much or as little as you like. The precipitous mountain setting was a strategic vantage point from which the Chinese guarded against the barbarian hordes to the north. That threat might be long silenced, but don’t be surprised if you get chased up the battlements by nimble hawkers brandishing Snickers bars and chilled bottles of beer.

Value for money

Price advice

Expect to pay around 300 RMB for a day trip here (travel included) if you book a tour through your hotel. Add 45 RMB on top if you resort to the cable car (each way), or 55 RMB if you opt to demount the battlements via the marvellously hair-raising toboggan run.

Expert tips

Feeling fit? From the northernmost limit of Mutianyu you can hop over the barriers and hike the wild Wall all the way to Jiankou. It should take an extra three hours at a moderate pace, so you should either arrange a pick-up from Jiankou village or stay in one of the (very) rustic guesthouses there.

Arrive early to beat the crowds and snap the best photographs.

Bring cash – hawkers up and down the Wall sell water, cold beers and even ice-creams, at a hefty mark-up, of course.

Many budget tours make pesky stops at ‘silk factories’ and jade stores on the way to and from the Wall. Check before booking.

Recommended for

  • Families with teenagers
  • First-time travellers
  • Mature travellers
  • Great views / scenery
  • History
  • Nature / wildlife