The Great Wall at Mutianyu was fully restored in the 1980s as an alternative to the increasingly popular Badaling section of the Great Wall of China. The Mutianyu section is farther away from Beijing (about an hour and a half by car) than more popular sections, but it's also significantly less busy and features some fun, modern amusements, such as a cable car, chairlift, and toboggan. The long, flat segment—the longest fully restored section open to travelers—winds along heavily forested hilltops with 23 ancient watchtowers dotting the landscape.
The Great Wall at Mutianyu is a good option for visitors with a full day to devote to the wall, as well as families looking for not-too-strenuous hiking away from the crowds. Travelers can choose to climb to the top via restored steps equipped with handrails, or opt for a leisurely cable car ride to the highest restored section. From the top of the cable car, visitors can explore the area before hopping back on for a return trip, taking one of the trails leading back down, or continuing east along the wall to the toboggan ride for a slide back to the bottom. The site is often visited with a guide who can help navigate the steeper portions of the wall and offer historical insight, and a trip can be combined with visits to other Beijing attractions, such as the Ming Tombs, the Olympic facilities, or the China Aviation Museum.
Things to Know Before You Go
This portion of the Great Wall is ideal for families with kids.
Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes, especially if you plan to climb up to the wall.
Mutianyu tours from Beijing can last between five and 14 hours.
There's little shade on the wall, so be sure to wear sun protection and keep hydrated.
How to Get There
Mutianyu is situated 40 miles (65 km) north of Beijing. Due to a lack of convenient public transportation from the city to Mutianyu Great Wall, it's much easier to visit as part of a guided private tour or small-group tour. Those who wish to visit independently must first get to Dongzhimen, then transfer to Bus 867 to Mutianyu or Bus 916 to Huairou (then take a local minibus to the wall).
When to Get There
The area is open to tourists from 7:30am to 5:30pm daily. Spring and autumn offer mild weather and sparser crowds on the wall than summer, when the Mutianyu section of the wall can get quite hot and crowded. National holidays, particularly National Day in early October and Labor Day in early May, can be especially crowded.
Hiking the Great Wall of China
Adventurous travelers looking for a more in-depth Great Wall experience can opt to hike between Mutianyu and Jiankou. The most popular route starts at the Jiankou section with an hourlong climb up to the wall, followed by about four hours of leisurely walking from the rugged, wild portion of the wall to the well-restored section at Mutianyu. Hike independently or as part of a guided hiking tour.