Great Wall of China at Mutianyu

Admission:

RMB 45; cable car RMB 60 one way/RMB 80 round trip/toboggan RMB 80

Hours:

8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily

How to get there:

From Dongzhimen Long-Distance Bus Station (Dōngzhímén Chángtúqìchēzhàn, 东直门长途汽车站) take Bus 916 to Huairou, followed by a 17 km (11 mi) taxi to the site (approx. RMB 45). The 916 and 867 from Dongzhimen also drop off at Mingzhu Square (Míngzhū Guǎngchǎng, 明珠广场) with minibus departures. Alternately, hotels and booking agencies can arrange transport and Mutianyu tours.

Running along a Jundu Shan (Jūndū Shān, 军都山) ridge, this section of the Great Wall is particularly scenic, with its renovated watchtowers looking out over wooded hills that change with the seasons. Spring sees blossoming trees set against dark hills and budding green leaves; summer gives way to a lusher green carpeting the slopes and ridges; snow dusts the hilltops in winter; and autumn at Mutianyu (Mùtiányù, 慕田峪) is especially well-known for its colorful foliage.

Located in Huairou Rural District (Huáiróu Qū, 怀柔区), about 70 km (44 mi) from Beijing, the Mutianyu segment of the Great Wall connects with the Juyong Pass to the west and Gubeikou to the east—two of the wall's key strategic points. With a length of 2,250 m (2,460 yd), the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall has 22 watchtowers—the highest at an altitude of 540 m (1,772 ft). You can ascend via the ancient roadway running through Mutianyu Pass, or there's a cable car if you'd like to skip the strenuous hike up. To head back down, there's also a toboggan which makes for an eventful decent.

The granite wall and towers here are largely renovated and there are signficant numbers of hawkers and peddlers, but the theme-park annoyances pale in comparison to those of Badaling, making Mutianyu a nice choice for a wall expedition that's not too terribly crowded but also fairly accessible and easy on the knees (if you opt for a cable car ascent).

Perfect for a day trip, there are also a number of pleasant small inns and restaurants in the area, making an overnight expedition an excellent option, especially considering the hiking to be had in the hills surrounding the site.

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