Even if you’re only in Beijing for one day or a couple of days, it is totally possible (and highly recommended!) to go on a half day trip of The Great Wall of China – whether you want to go on an organised tour or on your own with a taxi.
Walking along The Great Wall is high on many people’s bucket list of places to visit in Asia, and the great thing is that sections of The Great Wall are very close to Beijing.
This makes it very easy to visit in a half-day, and then you have the rest of the day to enjoy some of the other sights in Beijing such as The Temple Of Heaven, The Forbidden City and the Beijing hutongs, or Tiananmen Square.
The Great Wall is truly a breath taking and impressive place to visit. It is, after all – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, so it’s an absolute must-do when in Beijing!
Here’s all you need to know for a great half day tour of The Great Wall of China from Beijing.
Great Wall of China Half Day Tour From Beijing
Which section of The Great Wall should you visit?
There are many different sections of The Great Wall close to Beijing that you can walk along, such as Badaling, Mutianyu and Jinshaling.
The Mutianyu section of The Great Wall is the most popular section to visit on a half day trip from Beijing, due to its close proximity, as well as its really well-preserved condition.
It’s also the most authentic part of The Great Wall with over 70% original wall – plus the views are just incredible!
Mutianyu is also popular to visit as there are several fun options to get up and down the wall that you can’t find at other locations!
Therefore, this is the section of The Great Wall that most people visit if they’re coming from Beijing.
How To Get To The Great Wall Mutianyu Section From Beijing
Bus: Opt for a direct bus from Dongzhimen Transportation Hub to Mutianyu. The journey takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. The bus fare typically ranges from 16 to 20 RMB one way.
Organised Tour: The tours usually include round-trip transportation, a guide, and entrance fees. Here is one I recommend that leaves your hotel at 7am and drops you back by midday!
Hire A Driver: The quickest and most convenient way to get to The Great Wall is to hire a driver. That way you’ll spend less time on the road, have more flexibility, and you can leave at whatever time is convenient for you.
It’s not advisable to just get a taxi one way, as it can be very difficult to get a taxi back, so it’s always best to hire a driver who will wait for you.
It will take almost 1.5 hours to reach Mutianyu from Beijing (around 65 km). The airport is closer to The Great Wall than the centre of Beijing is and it will save you a lot of time in traffic if you stay at an airport hotel.
Best Time to Visit Mutianyu Great Wall:
As this section of The Great Wall of China is so close to Beijing, it is actually the number one thing travellers want to see when they are visiting Beijing – which means of course it does get busy!
For that reason I 100% recommend arriving as early as possible in the morning. That way, you can avoid the crowds, Beijing’s horrendous traffic, and get the best photos without people in – not to mind escape the heat in the summer!
Mutianyu is open from 8am-5pm. By midday it will be absolutely full of people, so try to arrive around opening time if you want a more peaceful experience.
Best Way To Experience The Great Wall Of China Mutianyu Section
- Cable Car Or Chair Lift Up
When you arrive at Mutianyu, you need to get up to the wall from the car park, as the wall is located up in the mountains! As mentioned earlier – there are some fun ways to get up and down the wall.
Opt for the cable car or chair lift to reach The Great Wall – as opposed to climbing up the 1,000 steps to reach the wall!
This will save time and energy, as well as give you a chance to enjoy the scenic views.
Then when you reach the Wall, you can walk for a couple of kilometres along the wall, stopping at the watchtowers to enjoy the views.
It is definitely advisable to take the cable car or slide rail up though, as even when you do get off at The Great Wall there is still a lot of stairs to climb as you walk along the wall and it can be quite strenuous!
A single cable car or chair lift ride costs 100CNY (£11) and a return costs 120CNY (£13.60). My advice is to buy a return for the slide rail.
2. Toboggan Down!
When you’re ready to come back down you can either go by cable car or chair lift again, or the option I definitely recommend if you’re up for it – a toboggan ride!
The toboggan slide takes you all the way down to the car park (1580 metres down) super fast in about 5 minutes and is so fun! Here’s the selfie I got going down the toboggan:
It goes in a zig-zag pattern, is quite steep and it actually goes quite fast too (top speeds can reach 30 km/h)!
It is not recommended for young children or elderly people, in which case the cable car may be more suitable.
It costs 60 CNY (£6.80) for the ride down, but if you bought a return for the slide rail you can use that to go down the toboggan!
3. Wear Appropriate Footwear And Clothing:
Wear comfortable shoes you’re happy walking in. I visited in the summer and often go hiking in my sandals, so I was happy walking in them, but you may want to bring more appropriate footwear as there is a lot of climbing and the stairs can often be uneven.
In the summer months it gets very hot so bring layers, suncream, and a hat. It can still get windy sometimes, so bring a light jacket.
If you’ll be visiting in the cooler months of October to May when it gets bitterly cold, make sure to wear appropriate shoes and clothes – especially if it is snowing!
It often snows here in the winter which can sometimes lead to sections of the wall closing, so if you are visiting during this time make sure to check the wall is not closed before you set off.
Overall, a half day trip to The Great Wall of China from Beijing is very doable, and it’s a must visit when you are in the city!
Prices for Mutianyu Great Wall:
Mutianyu Great Wall admission: 40 CNY
Mutianyu Cable Car: 100 CNY single, 120 CNY return.
Mutianyu Chair Lift: 100 CNY single, 120 CNY return (can use it on toboggan down).
Mutianyu Toboggan: 60 CNY single.
If you buy a return ticket for the chair lift, you can go up on the chair lift and use the same ticket to go down on the toboggan. If you go up on the cable car, you will have to buy a separate ticket for the toboggan.
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!