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One of the world's most mythical and alluring attractions, the Great Wall of China is an imposing series of fortifications, over 30,000 miles in total. Work began on the great wall, whose purpose was to protect China from raids by the barbaric nomadic tribes of the north. Though construction started as far back as 220 BC. most of what remains today was built during the Ming dynasty in the late 15th century. Perhaps most astonishing of all is the terrain over which the wall climbs, cutting over and down often precipitous mountainsides. It is a long time since it fulfilled its original purpose, but the wall remains a powerful and enduring symbol of Chinese strength and a striking representation of its past adverseness to outside influences. 

For the most authentic experience and to explore a quieter stretch of the wall, it is worth travelling a little further to hike along a wild section, then returning to Beijing in the late afternoon. One of the best hikes starts at the remote Zhenbeikou watchtower, reached by a 30-45 minute climb up a forested hill path. Once you get to the watchtower, you will climb up a bamboo ladder and begin the 5 mile hike towards Mutianyu, a restored and popular part of the wall. From here you can either climb down the steps (over 1,000) or take the cable car to the bottom.

An easier option is to access the Great Wall at Gubeikou, which does not require an initial climb and you can choose how long to walk for. 80 miles north of Beijing, Jinshanling also offers excellent hiking opportunities and is perhaps the most photogenic part, surrounded by breathtaking mountains and with some older dilapidated walls.

Browse our selection of tours below to plan your visit to the Great Wall as part of a tailor-made China holiday, tailored to your interests.

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