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Great Wall of China

577 bytes added, 08:23, 20 February 2016
Beijing
In winter, expect to lose 5°C between Beijing and the Wall. This plus the wind from the mountain, you will cherish every layer of clothes you can have. The vendors will be here to sell everything you may have forgotten, although the price is not reasonable. For the good part : the crowd is then much lighter, and almost nobody go after the first peak. The winter sun and, if you're lucky, the snow will give you amazing views on the walls.
* '''Mutianyu''' (Chinese: 慕田峪; pinyin: Mùtiányù) is slightly further than Badaling, equally well restored, significantly less crowded, and has greener and more scenic surroundings. Historically, most tour groups did not go here, so this is a generally a better option than Badaling. Mutianyu has a cable car gondola to get onto and off the wall (though walking via stairs is also possible) and a toboggan ride down! Misplaced, but fun.
If, after exiting the cable car, one turns to the left and hikes up stairs for about an hour, one can reach the unrestored, "wild" wall. Signs will tell you that visitors are not admitted to this area of the wall. The terrain gets rougher, there's bushes growing in the way and some parts are so destroyed, one has to actually climb to go on. Please note that mobile phone reception drops off sharply here and there's only very few to no people around, so in case of an emergency, you'll be on your own. Good hiking gear advisable. Frozen and slippery in winter. Loose Rocks.
Because several English-language guidebooks now recommend Mutianyu over Badaling as less crowded and less overdeveloped, a few tour companies (notably G Adventures) have switched to Mutianyu as their preferred Great Wall segment for their China tours. If at all possible, try to book an escorted group tour with a Mutianyu visit as an integral component. That will provide the most convenient and seamless experience, since small tourist motorcoaches with the appropriate paperwork can take you directly from a Beijing hotel to a small parking lot very close to the cable car base station. The driver will wait with the motorcoach while your tour guide takes your group up to the Great Wall, then when you are all done, you get back on the motorcoach and go directly back to Beijing.
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