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Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Great Wall: Few tips that it would be certainly important to know before to plan your trip - the China Project #2

I haven't visited the most secluded, quiet, inspirational section of the biggest and longest wall in the world, but still I was able to feel all wilderness and the imposing architecture of this militar marvel.


After having visited the wonderful Forbidden City in Beijing is time to visit one of the most iconic places in china: the Great Wall. 

The most famous sections are easy to be visited in a day trip from Beijing,

There are hundreds of things that can be said and maybe should be said about the Great Wall.

The main facts are that is long 8.850 Km and that it has been built between the 3rd and the 8th Century BC to protect the borders of the Chinese Empire from the Barbarians coming from the North (Although the famous Mongolian leader Genghis Khan passed the Great Wall no problem just bribing the guards at the gate! :-)).

The great wall I saw is a very unusual one.


I haven't visited the most secluded, quiet, inspirational section of the biggest and longest wall in the world, but still I was able to feel all wilderness and the imposing architecture of this militar marvel.


I took a bus to Badaling  maybe the most touristy section of the entire walls.


But I did so in a day of torrential rain.


Not much of the famous Badaling  Disneyland style stalls was luckily left after the torrential deluge.


Only the sad brown bears looking terribly restless were waiting me in Badaling.


What make the wall so special, other that its lenght, is the way  the walls are perched on the mountain ridge.

The walls look as if they are in a precarious equilibrium from an indefinite time, fighting against the wind and the rain not to fall in the abyss just in front.




Today the main fact is that the most popular sections of the Great Wall are overcrowded and visiting the Great Wall of China is a challenge for the tourist who want to avoide scams and to be ripped off, this is why below in this post we published some useful tips for visiting the Great Wall of China.

Although not legal many tourists pass the night on the Great Wall.


Not all the Great Wall is possible to walk on, as huge part of the Wall is in ruin and it has crumbled making the passage impossible.


OK, now some info to visit the Great Wall of China.

At the end of the post you will find more interesting facts about the Great Wall. 

But let's start from some useful tips to plan your visit to the Great Wall:



Where to visit the Great Wall?

I. Not all the Great Wall is open to the public.

II. Not all the Great Wall is possible to walk on, as huge part of the Wall is in ruin and it has crumbled making the passage impossible.

III. Some sections of the Great Wall are particularly steep and they become particularly slippery when wet.

IV. Because not all the Great Wall is open to the public, the sections open are usually amazingly crowded, so much that sometimes is difficult to walk.

What make the wall so special, other that its lenght, is the way  the walls are perched on the mountain ridge.


V. The most popular sections of the Great Wall are near Beijing. These sections are the easiest to get to, but also the most touristy and busy.


How to get to see the Great Wall avoiding scams?

VI. Organized day trips from Beijing are most of the time are a scam. You pay a cheap ticket for a bus trip to the Walls, but most of the time you will be obliged to spend a lot of the day (and a lot of your money) in cheap souvenir places and just maybe an hour or two to the Walls. If you really want an organized trip ask your hostel / hotel for a reliable tour company (some of them are), but also consider visiting with public transport (read below).

VII. The most popular and most touristy section of the Wall is in Badaling. It is the easiest place to reach and it is also the most crowded. The photos you see in this post are taken in Badaling and as you can see it is quiet and nearly deserted. Which leads to advise number VIII...

VIII. Visit Badaling in a misty / rainy day. It is particularly scenic to see the Great Wall appearing and disappearing to the clouds and most of the Chinese would not visit in a rainy day, so it will be as a quiet and enjoyable as you see in the photos!


The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China 


Can I sleep on the Great Wall?

IX. Although not legal many tourists pass the night on the Great Wall.

It is certainly a great experience but you would need to ask locally which areas are left open at night and not patrolled as fines can be high if police decide to enforce them (some local "tour companies" also organize this kind of trip, but you do the trip at your own risk knowing is not legal to camp on the walls or enter the area open to tourists).

Alternatively you can sleep in a B&B near the Wall, wake up early and visit the Walls before the horde of tourists arrives as the Great Wall open usually at sunrise. Be aware that B&B /hostels prices near the Wall are extortionate and cleanness is a faded memory there.

What's the best way to visit the Great Wall in China?

X. (That's my humble opinion:) The Great Wall is a wonderful and unmissable part of China, but if you are based in Beijing don't allow more than one day and a reasonable budget to the Wall and spend your time and money to explore the hidden treasures of the Chinese Capital instead!

Read more about posts about China to plan your travel.


Although not legal many tourists pass the night on the Great Wall.


Some history of the Chinese Great Wall from Wikipedia:

"The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC. 

Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced; the majority of the existing wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty.


Other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road.


The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi).This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi)"




Read more about posts about China to plan your travel.



Are you planning to travel to China?




Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.

 


Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.



 

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