The Great Wall of China in Photos


Exploring the Great Wall of China was one of the very few things I actually enjoyed whilst travelling in China. 

After arriving in Beijing and performing extensive research, which consisted of asking the man next to me which section of the Wall he  climbed and whether it was totally awesome or not, I booked a tour of the Mutianyu section for the next day.

The Mutianyu part of the Great Wall is known as one of the best preserved sections. It is roughly two kilometres long and includes 22 watchtowers along the walk.

My alarm went off at 5 a.m and I promptly rolled over and groggily said “No thank you, Great Wall”. I eventually forced myself out of bed and headed outside to receive my complimentary egg sandwich from the tour guide.

great wall of china

It took roughly two hours to reach the Wall and upon arriving I was not excited to learn that we’d have to take a cable car up to the Wall, due to my fear of heights or anything that moves. My excitement levels grew, however, when I found out that we would be able to toboggan down at the end.

Our tour group was allotted four hours to spend on the wall – something that my friend and I were at first disappointed to hear, but were later grateful of when we realised just how much hard work it was.

The walk was surprisingly tough. 

I had this romantic notion that I would spend the entire tour skipping gracefully along the Wall with daisies in my hair whilst rose petals fell from the sky. That I would spend many hours performing ancient Chinese rituals before befriending strange old Chinese men who would plop a hat on my head and pose for a photo of me.

Only one of these things actually happened.

great wall of china

At the time, I was not yet accustomed to the constant 30 degree heat, so it was hard enough trying to walk anywhere without feeling like I was dying from severe fluid loss. When you then factor in the fact that there were no flat parts of the Wall – you were either walking upwards or downwards, I began to realise I might join the millions of people who died whilst building it.

Despite spending the past few months carrying backpack around and spending a substantial amount of my time walking around lost, I was surprised to realise that my fitness levels seemed to have actually worsened since leaving England.

I therefore spent 95% of my time on the wall sweating out every single millilitre of fluid in my body, and the remaining 5% was spent taking photos of the wall.

great wall of china photo

portrait great wall of china sunset

beautiful great wall of china

great wall of china hdr

great wall of china with blue skies

haze over great wall of china

great wall of china with blue skies

great wall of china

girl on great wall of china tour

Once I had recovered from my heat exhaustion and dehydration the next day, I was able to look back on my experience on the Great Wall and forget about all the pain and stressful times and remember it as being a truly amazing day, and something that I was so glad to have done.

I spent a lot of time on the Great Wall reflecting on my trip so far. I can’t believe how much my plans have already changed from my original itinerary and I can’t wait to see what the future will hold. The Great Wall of China made me realise just how much I am enjoying my time in Asia and made me really think about whether I even want to go to Australia anymore. We’ll see what happens.

I’d love to go back to China again at some point and explore a new section of the wall, especially during winter to see how it compares.


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44 Comments

  1. Gerard ~ GQ trippin
    November 28, 2011
    Reply

    That looks like one long wall to walk across.

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      Pretty much :D

  2. Amanda
    November 29, 2011
    Reply

    Makes you wonder how people actually PATROLLED this thing, doesn’t it? I climbed the Badaling section a few years ago in November, and I wound up sweating even then! Definitely not an easy hike, but SO totally worth it. Great photos!

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      I know, I wouldn’t be able to last more than a few hours… So much harder than it looks!

  3. Marky
    November 29, 2011
    Reply

    My late grandfather always talks about how we should visit this someday, hopefully by next year i get to fulfill his wish. Him being originally from mainland China before ending up in the Philippines :)

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      I hope you get to as well, Marky :) Definitely something everyone should see!

  4. Traveling Ted
    November 29, 2011
    Reply

    It sometimes cracks me up that we call it backpacking through Europe or Asia. Truth is the pack is actually on our shoulders only a few hours a week. Unless you make an effort to do fit activities, you can actually come back in worse shape especially if a lot of drinking is involved.

    Beautiful photos of the wall. Despite the struggle, you will always have great memories of it.

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      i KNOW! I was expecting to be SO fit within weeks of travel, but I’m so much worse than I used to be…. :)

  5. William
    November 29, 2011
    Reply

    A great a hiliarious write about an amazing thing to have done. Bravo!

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks, William!

  6. Sheryll
    November 29, 2011
    Reply

    Awesome photos! It’s always been a dream of mine to go to the Great Wall. The picture of you in the hat with the man is hilarious!

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      Hahahaha, that man was so creepy!!

  7. Cat
    November 29, 2011
    Reply

    I went in winter. Ridiculously cold and neatly impossible to keep your balance!

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      Maybe I won’t go in winter then?! Doesn’t sound like too much fun…

  8. Nisa
    November 29, 2011
    Reply

    Wow, really nice photos! Can’t wait to get to China again in December :)

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks, Nisa! Hope you enjoy your trip :)

  9. Matt
    November 29, 2011
    Reply

    Some great pictures there Lauren, reading your blog makes me so jealous stuck in my office. Oh, can I have the green Commi hat please, it’s clearly too big for you?

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      If I still had it I would totally mail it to you :)

  10. Sam
    November 30, 2011
    Reply

    The Great Wall looks amazing, really hope to get there one day. I can’t imagine what it would have been like back during the time of building

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      Hope you manage to get there, Sam, it was awesome!

  11. Nomadic Samuel
    November 30, 2011
    Reply

    Love the picture of you with the hat!

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      Hahahaha, thanks!

  12. Claire
    November 30, 2011
    Reply

    Amazing pictures! Definitely added to my ever growing list of places to go!

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks, Claire!

  13. paul | walkflypinoy
    November 30, 2011
    Reply

    hey. you also went to mutianyu. cool. people say it’s a boring part of the wall. but i say it’s still spectacular. :)

    • Lauren
      December 3, 2011
      Reply

      I really enjoyed it!

  14. Micamyx|Senyorita
    November 30, 2011
    Reply

    I want to go there while i’m still young and able to walk :D

    • Lauren
      December 7, 2011
      Reply

      Hahaha, definitely – couldn’t have done it as an old woman!

  15. James
    November 30, 2011
    Reply

    Beautiful pictures! I really wasn’t expecting the blue skies, especially not at this time of year.

    I’ve been to the Wall a couple of times, but never to Mutianyu. I would love to do the crazy thing and visit Simatai, one of the more rugged and ruined sections near Beijing. In fact I dream of following the entire wall from end to end – it would probably take a while though!

    • Lauren
      December 7, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks, James! This was actually in September, but I was still shocked by how clear the sky was!

      It would take years to do the whole wall, but how great would that be?

  16. Yvette
    November 30, 2011
    Reply

    I went to this section too but my pictures are nowhere near as good- alas it was one of those hazy Beijing days even 2 hours out. :(

    My brother and I are insane though and we actually climbed all the way to the end, and were only a half hour late. :) Oh and I changed my trousers to shorts in one of the guardtowers you could go up in while he stood at the bottom to make sure no one would come up. Good times!

    • Lauren
      December 7, 2011
      Reply

      That’s hilarious! It sucks that the weather wasn’t as great for you, but maybe that made it easier to walk? I was so dehydrated by the end of it as it was such a hot day!

  17. Globetrottergirls
    December 1, 2011
    Reply

    Awesome photos – can’t wait to go there one day!

    • Lauren
      December 7, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks, girls! It’s something that everyone should experience!

  18. Sarah
    December 1, 2011
    Reply

    Your research definitely sounds extensive!

    A free hat AND an egg sandwich? You’ve got it made, lady!

    • Lauren
      December 7, 2011
      Reply

      I know, couldn’t have asked for anything more!

  19. Scot
    December 1, 2011
    Reply

    Hey Lauren,

    I went to Jinshanglin – Simatai section of the wall in winter, on chinese new year. The place was almost deserted, also the wall was in varied states of wear which really helped with the feeling of history. highly recommend it

    Glad you are having a great time hun

    Scot

    • Lauren
      December 7, 2011
      Reply

      That sounds awesome, I’d love to go when it was emptier – it was far too crowded when I went!

  20. Kurt W
    December 2, 2011
    Reply

    Great photos! I wore the green commie hat on my travels through Vietnam…it got me some big smiles from the locals.

    • Lauren
      December 7, 2011
      Reply

      Hahahaha, that’s brilliant! I’m sad that I lost mine :(

  21. Runaway Brit
    December 11, 2011
    Reply

    Looks like you had good weather for it, great photos!

    • Lauren
      December 15, 2011
      Reply

      It was a lovely day! :)

  22. Didley
    September 10, 2012
    Reply

    i am about to trek the wall with 42 other Fundraisers all for macmillan , we will be doing a 6 day trek , camping along route so looking forward to it not sure how fit i am but it will be a challenge just like the cancer i have beaten , so here goes- A SURVIVOR!!!

  23. Jay
    February 6, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I’m in the planning stages of my trip to China but a bit concerned about the visa restrictions – is it very strict on having confirmed accommodation throughout your visit and also exit transport/date?

    We’re planning on getting a ferry from Shanghai to Osaka and then back again a week or so later to continue through China but I have a bad feeling the “visa police” won’t entertain this :-/

    Any advice on the visa process would be mucho appreciated… :-/

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