The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu (慕田峪)
A little further from Beijing (90km to the north-west) than Badaling, but relatively accessible compared to Simatai and Jinshanling, the Great Wall at Mutianyu offers a less crowded but also less visually impressive experience. The real feature of this area is the surrounding forests – if you come in autumn the colors of the leaves can be spectacular. First built in the 6th Century AD, the present granite construction dates from 1569. The wall averages 7-8 meters in height and is well restored. If you’re up for a good trek, head left once you reach the top. Eventually you’ll come to a very steep incline, the top of which affords fantastic views and marks the end of this section of the wall.
Admission: ¥40 entrance and ¥50 return on the cable car. Open: 7am-5pm.
Tel: +86 (010) 6162 6894. Website: www.mutianyugreatwall.net
Directions: On weekends, Tourist Bus #6 runs from the South Cathedral (right next to Xuanwumen subway station) to Mutianyu between 6:30am and 8:30am. It costs ¥50 return. The rest of the time you should take bus 916 or 936 to Huairou (怀柔) from Dongzhimen bus station and then take a minivan from there for the set price of ¥25 one way. Note that touts will board the bus at the first few stops in Huairou and try to make you go with them for a higher price. The drivers and bus attendants seem to encourage this practice. Ignore them and don’t get off the bus until you reach the stop that has a large parking lot with surplus mini-vans in front of a McDonalds.