One of the biggest myths in the world is that the Great Wall is a huge dragon that meanders all along the vast territory of China, protecting its borders from ancient invaders…Actually there are several interconnected parts but at the same time very different on its essences.
The most beautiful and well preserved part (and with less tourists) is the Mutianyu part, with more than 2,5 kms on its extension, that one can go through in about one hour. It has 22 watchover points (one at each 100 mts), and the Zheng Guan Tai Gate- 3 connected main watchover points with a central tower in the middle, that was a kind of civil and military “meeting point” and also a reference of this part of the wall.
At only 60 km far from Beijing, 45 minutes, one can reach this place of spectacular beauty, that has on both sides of its walls of lush vegetation, that occupies more than 96% of the extension of the Mutianyu park- and for certain this is the main symbol of the archetype of the Great Wall.
During all the seasons we can have a glimpse of the natural beauties that are interconnected perfectly into the landscape inherent to this asleep dragon: blossoming flowers in the spring, green grass and refreshing air in the summer, trees with fruits and yellow and red leaves during autumn, gold coloring the top of the mountains and the white snow in the winter, making of this an idyllic, unequaled and impressive scenery.
To climb to the wall itself, the most used way is the cable car; but for those in the mood for adventure, there is a 40 minute hike. To come back down, there is the cabel car (that is most commonly used to go up only) and a speed slide car, with controllable speed (safe!), that meanders into the native vegetation and the typical pine trees of the place.
The villas around the Mutianyu park are also unmissable tours for those who desire to becaome a part of this microcosm of rural China: inhabitants that are real descendants of the builders of the Wall, on the remote time of the Ming Dynasty, farmers who still use millstone to produce flour. The people are friendly, nice, welcoming and mainly, proud of having by their side this huge mankind icon.
ENTRY FEE: 45 RMB/adults and 25 RMB/kids
TIME: 8 am- 4 pm
CABLE AND SLIDE CAR FEE: 65 RMB round trip
HOW TO GET THERE:
– bus number 867 departing from Dongzhimen/Beijing (Subway lines 2 or 13), and costs 16 RMB one way. It departs at 7 and 8:30 am and comes back to Beijing at 2 and 4 pm. BUT ATTENTION! This bus is only available during the high season– 15/march to 15/nov. According to travelchinaguide.com, there is also the bus number 936 departing from Dongzhimen to Mutianyu (direct).
– a day tour from Beijing, that costs in average 350 RMB p.p., but takes the whole day. The agencies take you to a lot of places before the Wall itself, and try to sell you as many things as possible in the souvenirs stores, and museums they take their tourists…so, in my oppinion, not a smart idea!
– have a driver to take you there, on a private tour! It’s cheaper than you think! We payed 700 RMB (3 persons- less than 250 for each). We dealed the price before, and set a time for the pick up at the hotel. The driver (Michael, a chinese guy who speaks good english) was really nice, taught us some facts about the Wall, and waited there at the parking lot until we wanted to come back (good advice: just in case, save half of the money, or all, for later! pay only when he drops you back on the hotel). If someone needs his phone, just send me a message on the blog email (ps- I’m not having any comission on this, just because he’s really professional and speaks english!).
There are people up there selling water, juices, snacks, even cold beer, but if you prefer, in front of the parking lot, there is a “facility area”, with a coffee shop, pizza store, a Subway, toilets (clean!) and crafts and souvenirs from the Great Wall.
Good tour, and au revoir!