Experience the Great Wall of China

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Great Wall China, day trip
The Great Wall, Beijing China. Taken in 2010
It’s no surprise that the Great Wall carries great significance in the Chinese culture. It’s a symbol of Chinese history and mythology. One of the wonders of the world, listed as a World Heritage UNESCO site.

The Great Wall stretches over five thousand miles through mountains and grasslands. What remains of the wall no though is no less majestic than what you might imagine it had been when it was built. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve hiked various stretches of remains of the Great Wall. But I do know that I visit the Great Wall every time I’m in China. It doesn’t matter if I’m embarrassingly out of shape, this is one of those when in Rome moments…

The closest stretch of the wall is about an hour drive outside of Beijing, that is if you get out before the traffic. I typically find a driver to take me out there for the day since the last stretches of road before you get to the Great Wall can be through rural towns and small villages. If you don’t speak the language, book a tour of the Great Wall ahead of time with a tour company you like. My preference is Urban Adventures - the tours are small, the company has a great mission of mindful travel, and the guides are informative, and speak English.

Great Wall China, day trip
The Great Wall of China, 2010
Great Wall China, day trip
Looking out to the mountains from the Great Wall, 2010
Great Wall China, day trip
Great Wall of China, 2014 - still magnificent
Great Wall China, day trip
The Great Wall of China, 2014
Great Wall China, day trip
The winding stretches of the Great Wall of China, 2014
Great Wall China, day trip
Onto the next watchtower, and the next. 

You haven’t experienced China until you have hiked the Great Wall. Start at one end of the ruins, stop often to take in the view and study the stretches of the wall in front of you, and behind you. When you think you’ve had enough, push yourself to go a little further, tell yourself you’ll stop when you get to the next watch-tower. You’ll never regret staying on the Great Wall a little longer.

Bring lots of water and comfortable shoes, you are going to hike up and down century old bricks and stones that have been morphed by the weather and wear of time. You’ll be sweaty, so consider taking a change of clothing also if you can help it. After the hike, resist the urge to eat at the installs immediately at the entrance or exit of the Wall. If you have a great tour guide, then they should be taking you to a village restaurant on your way back towards the city where you can enjoy some proper local cuisine.

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