About Great Wall of China
Beijing is the best destination to admire the Great Wall of China. Most famous Beijing Great Wall sections are located in its suburban areas, including the well-preserved Badaling and Mutianyu, the renovated Juyonguan, Jinshanling and Simatai, and wild Jiankou and Gubeikou. They are all not far from downtown Beijing, 1-2 hours’ driving away. In Chinese history, Beijing was not only one of the ancient capitals, but also one of the most strategic cities in the north. To defend their territory, many rulers have actively ordered to build Great Wall here. The Great Wall of China in Beijing totals 573 kilometers (356 miles). Those from Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the last dynasty engaged in Great Wall construction, amount to 526 kilometers (327 miles). They are distributed in Pinggu, Miyun, Huairou, Yanqing, Changping, and Mentougou. Most Visited Sections These sections are equipped with sound tourism facilities, even suitable for kids and seniors. Among them, Badaling is the best-preserved, and famous for its deep-rooted culture, magnificent sights and complete military facilities. You may find many of its pictures in magazines and guide books and printed on stamps. However, during peak travel time like National Day Holiday or Chinese New Year, Mutianyu may be a better destination as Badaling is always flocked with visitors. Juyongguan is one of three most famous passes along Great wall. There, one can also visit some ancient buildings like towers and temples. Popular Sections with Fewer Tourists These sections have also been developed into scenic spots and are popular among visitors, but are less crowded and one can visit at a leisurely pace. Jinshanling and Simatai have been equipped with cableways. But to visit Simatai, you’d better make a reservation on its official website. Shuiguan, literally meaning water gate, is built over a river to defend against enemies coming from waterways. Although the river has disappeared, one can still learn the magnificence of this special defensive construction. In addition to visit the Great Wall near Beijing, Xiangshuihu is a site to learn some traditional Chinese health preserving knowledge. Wild Sections Wild Great Wall refers to those that have not been reconstructed and thus retain their original appearances. Although they are broken and dilapidated, the vicissitudes of history are fully revealed. They are hot destinations among hiking lovers and adventurous travelers. Among them, Jiankou is the most dangerous but a great site for photography. Huanghuacheng, partially submerged underwater due to the construction of a reservoir, is the only section by water in Beijing. However, it is not officially allowed to hike the wild sections for safety issues and protection work. So when going there, please be careful and do not do any harm to the precious historical relics. How to Get to the Great Wall from Beijing The downtown Beijing to Great Wall distance is about 60 – 130 km (35 - 80 mi), so you can get to most of them from Beijing by public transport, private car, or private tour. Public transport is a nice choice for budget travelers. For example, you can take bus line 877 or S2 train to Badaling directly; bus 916 Express to Mutianyu with a transfer at Huairou. They are relatively close to downtown, so you can make a day trip. If going further to Jinshanling or Simatai, you need to stay overnight there. Or, you can charter a private car and driver to the sites very easily. Usually, the car rental fee is around CNY 700-1,000 for a round-trip to Badaling and Mutianyu, and CNY 1,200 – 1,400 to further sections like Jinshanling and Simatai. Other than public transport and private cars, joining a private day tour is a perfect choice for first-time visitors and those who have limited time or worry about language barriers. Damages Brought about by Nature and Human Activities Compared with the sections in other regions, the Great Wall near Beijing is relatively well-preserved. However, its situation is not that good due to nature and human activities. Some bricks and stones are loose and fall down easily, and some even become piles of debris. The natural factors like erosion, rain, winds, and lightning strikes cause damages to the heritage day by day. The shrubs growing on the wall and in the watchtowers cause them to crack and collapse. What's more, the growing number of tourists crowd into the wild sections, which speeds up their disappearance. Though it is favored by film producers, the shooting work brings no good. On the contrary, they leave props here and there. Some people like to put graffiti on the Great Wall, and some even shove bricks and sell them for personal benefits. A Call for Urgent Protection To better protect this human treasure, government, tourists, and local residents should all work together. More laws and regulations should be carried out; tourists should be more careful and bind themselves during the visit; local residents should also stop making benefits from it and pay more attention to its protection in daily life.