A visit to the Great Wall of China is a dream for many people, but there are a few things that are important to know before you go on your trip to China. There are any number of scams, fake unlicensed tour guides, and “black taxis” (illegal taxis) that will promise you a trip to the Wall, but the old saying “you get what you best china tours pay for” is particularly appropriate when it comes to touring in China. Here are 3 tips to consider when planning a trip to see the Great Wall of China:
Tip 1: Do Your Internet Research – Which Section of the Great Wall to Visit?
There is no one single best place to visit the Great Wall of China – as you can imagine with something as massive as the Great Wall, there are hundreds of sections of the Wall that you can visit – some open to the public while others are not. The sections closest to Beijing that are open to the public are Juyongguan, Badaling, Shuiguan and Mutianyu. Badaling is usually extremely crowded while Shuiguan is too small of a section to be worth a visit. If you want to stay closer to Beijing, stick with Juyongguan or Mutianyu. There are also other fantastic sections of the Great Wall within a 2 – 3 hour drive of Beijing (Jinshanling, Simatai, Gubeikou, etc.) – check the internet for the pros and cons of visiting any of these sections. Badaling, Mutianyu and Simatai have cable cars to help you get up on the Great Wall, which are great to help those not physically able to do much hiking.
Tip 2: Hire a Reputable Tour Guide and Driver
You will find this advice valuable for any touring that you do in China – like most tourist destinations, there are countless people around that make their living from cheating unsuspecting tourists. Horror stories abound, from being taken to the wrong (and much closer) section of the Wall than what you paid for to being forced to hand over more money or get out of the vehicle halfway to the Wall. It doesn’t cost that much more to hire a licensed tour guide and driver from a reliable Beijing tour company, and it is well worth the peace of mind and overall better experience rather than taking a risk on a complete stranger and “black” (illegal) taxi. Tour guides are also valuable for fending off aggressive vendors who will try to sell you water, t-shirts, postcards, etc. at inflated prices.
Tip 3: Wear Comfortable Clothing, Especially Shoes
This would seem to be just common sense, but when you go to the Great Wall, take notice of how many people, especially women, who are wearing high-heeled or dress shoes for climbing up on the Wall. Don’t worry about fashion – dress comfortably for the season, and wear shoes that are good for hiking/climbing – the more comfortable you are, the higher you can go for even better views on any section of the Great Wall that you visit.
These are just a few ideas for you to consider when planning a Great Wall of China tour – good luck and have fun!