When visiting China, taking a Great Wall of China tour should be on your list. But when you begin to research, it will become pretty apparent it’s not easy to get to the Great Wall on your own and maybe you should invest in a tour. Taking a Mutianyu Great Wall Tour will be one of the best experiences you can have when visiting Beijing — here is everything you need to know.

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5 Options for Hiking the Great Wall
Towers 6 through 14
Towers 14-20
Towers 19-20
Tower 20 and Beyond
Tips for Your Mutianyu Great Wall Tour
Lunch at the Mutianyu Great Wall
Our Guide to Mutianyu
Weather at the Great Wall of China

When traveling, I am not one to book tours — but rather, I like to venture out on my own and explore on my own time. But for the Great Wall of China, I knew I would need to book something in advance, because the Great Wall is not located within Beijing, and there are limited options to get there.


There are three locations on the Great Wall you can reach from Beijing, the first being Badaling. This is the most popular part, because it is not only the closest to the city but you can also reach it by train. However, it is also the busiest and most touristy. Although I have never been there, everything I heard when researching is that it is just too busy.


Visiting the Matianyu Great Wall of China - Beijing, China

So I decided I wanted to visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. It is second-furthest from the city, which means fewer people. I also chose this section because it has a toboggan (!!!) to get down from the wall.

Book this tour here

I knew I did not want a tour of the wall, but I did want transportation so I chose a tour from GetYourGuide and it ended up being the best choice I could have made. A bus picked us up in the morning at our hotel — although you can also choose the rally point where many people were picked up all at once outside a Starbucks.

One day in Xian, China: Muslim Quarter, Terracotta Warriors, Xian City Wall

We enjoyed being picked up from our hotel — however, this meant we were picked up first, around 6:30 a.m.

It took about an hour-and-a-half to get to the Great Wall. This gave our guide time to explain everything to us, including the different routes we could take once on the wall, depending on our fitness level and the amount of time each one would take us.

Here is what we learned – There are 4 (more more) options for hiking the Mutianyu Great Wall:

The easiest way to get up to the Great Wall of China is to take the cable car. When you do this, you will end up at Tower 14. Once you get to the top, you can either take a left or take a right.

Option 1:

Take the Cable Car up to Tower 14.

Go to the left to Tower 6.

Take the Toboggan down.

Option 2:

Take the Cable Car up to Tower 14.

Go to the right to Tower 20 (and beyond).

Walk back to Tower 14 and take the Cable Car back down.

Option 3:

Take the Open Air Gondola up to Tower 6.

Go to either the left or right and then walk back to Tower 6.

Take the Toboggan down.

Option 4:

Take the Open Air Gondola up to Tower 6.

Walk to Tower 14.

Take the Cable Car down.

Option 5:

You can also actually hike from the base up to Tower 14.

(We would not recommend this, because this route will easily take an hour up and an hour down, so you may not have much time to see the Great Wall itself)

You can then either take the Cable Car or Toboggan down.

Towers 6 through 14 (left)

Visiting the Matianyu Great Wall of China - Beijing, China

Towers 6 through 14 are the easier path to take. To get to Tower 6, you will take a left on the wall after reach the top with the cable car.

This section is fairly flat and will take a little over an hour to accomplish. Once you reach Tower 6, you can either walk back to 14 and take the Cable Car back down or you can take the Toboggan.

Taking the overnight Beijing to Xian train – the Deluxe Soft Sleeper on the Z19 train

There is another option to take an open-air cable car, which will bring you to Tower 6. You can then do whatever kind of round trip you’d like, and come back to Tower 6 to take the toboggan down.

Towers 14 through 20 (right) – Our Route

Visiting the Matianyu Great Wall of China - Beijing, China

If you want to take the route from Towers 14 to 20, it will take you around three hours for the round trip. When you arrive on the cable car, you will take a right.

The walk is slightly challenging, with many ups and downs on the way. However, Towers 14-19 seem like nothing compared to Towers 19 to 20, which is pretty difficult to get up (but manageable by people in all shapes, as long as you have the time).

Towers 19 through 20 (the last part of your Towers 14-20 journey)

Visiting the Matianyu Great Wall of China - Beijing, China

Michael was completely right in that 19 to 20 would be the most difficult part of our walk. The rest of the journey was an easy stroll, but 19-20 was probably at a 45% grade (or higher) up stairs. It is way worse than this picture might make it look! Although my boyfriend is more in shape than I am and had little problem with it, it took me about 25 minutes to get from 19-20.

We opted for the 14-20 section of the Great Wall. Although I was a little disappointed not to do the toboggan, it was obvious that the Tower 14-20 route would be the better route for us.

The entire journey had many stairs, and they are definitely not ADA compliant! The stairs are all different heights and pretty uneven throughout.

Towers 20 and Beyond

Visiting the Matianyu Great Wall of China - Beijing, China

When I reached the top of 20, I was done with my journey. I had a beer at the top (an amazing reward) and my boyfriend decided to keep going. I waited for about an hour for him, resting and people watching at the top (this is what makes a great relationship — the fact that he did it because he wanted to, and I didn’t feel pressured to go with him). He sent me amazing photos from beyond 20, where the wall starts to break up and few people venture.

If you are in the right shape and have the time, definitely go beyond the 20th tower. But if you choose not to, you will still have an amazing journey walking from Towers 14 to 20 on the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China.

Some Tips for the Mutianyu Great Wall

  1. Bring lots of water! But buy water at the bottom of the Great Wall, and on the bus if possible. We purchased two bottles of water on the bus for only a few dollars, when they were nearly 10 times that the closer we got to the Great Wall.
  2. That being said, buying a beer at the top of the wall for 40 yuen, a little expensive but completely worth it.
  3. Bring a change of clothes if you can, because you will sweat through what you are wearing. And for the 1.5 hour drive back to the city, it’s really nice not to be sitting in your own sweat.
  4. Definitely buy the lunch with your tour. You will meet some interesting people and eat an amazing and authentic Chinese lunch.
  5. Enjoy the natural beauty. When we went, flowers were blooming and the entire scene (besides the smog) was one to remember.

Lunch at the Great Wall of China

Visiting the Matianyu Great Wall of China - Beijing, China

After our walk, we met at the base of the Great Wall Mutianyu and had lunch with our group. This is something that came with our ticket, but not everyone on the bus purchased the same ticket.

There were many other options for food, including in a Chinese restaurant, Subway, and a few other locations.

Our Guide to Mutianyu

Visiting the Matianyu Great Wall of China - Beijing, China

Our Mubus guide Michael.

Our guide Michael was amazing — personable, proficient in English, and knowledgable in everything we needed to know. The bus was comfortable and air conditioned, and the perfect ride back into town when we were all exhausted.

If you have a chance to do this tour, I would very much recommend it. It was the only tour we purchased on our entire two-week trip to China, and worth every dollar.


Visiting the Matianyu Great Wall of China - Beijing, China

When booking your trip, make sure you check historical weather at the Great Wall of China. It will generally be slightly colder than Beijing, so take that into account.

Winter does come to China, so the Great Wall will be snowed over many months of the year. And during summer, the heat can become unbearable. Make sure you bring plenty of water during those months.

We were lucky to visit China during April, which is one of the most-recommended months to hike the Great Wall. It was a beautiful day — however, the smog from the city did follow us and so the sky and air were pretty brown during our trip.

Just remember how amazing the Great Wall of China is, and appreciate that you are able to see such an amazing site. The weather is never too bad to not want to see this amazing place.