The most challenging part of the wall hike was coming back down. It seemed dangerous, and the slightest slip could send you tumbling down what looked like an endless decent.
The view from atop the great wall was absolutely alluring and made it worth the risk and effort. We took in the blue sky, the mountains in the distance, trees, and nature surrounding us. The wall took advantage of the natural terrain of the hillside, meaning that wherever you stood on the wall, you got the best view in the area.
The best view of all: the snaking back and forth of the wall itself through the mountainous distance. Even the birds chirping in the breezy trees above us were probably singing the praises of the panoramic views offered by the Great Wall of China. As a bird landed on the wall’s stone edge, I imagined their calls to one another from one watchtower to another — a love song spreading for thousands of miles.
How to Reach the Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is huge, but it’s easy to invade China and take a leisurely stroll along it. The most popular section of the wall for visitors is the Juyong Pass area, about 37 miles from Beijing. The easiest way to get there is by tour bus, and if you book your trip to China through a package deal or a company specializing in China tours, you’ll most certainly be offered one.
If you prefer to “rough it,” you can also make it to Juyong Pass by public bus or train. Take the Beijing subway line 13 to Longze Station. From there, hop on bus line Chang 19, 21, or 58 or Zhuan 53, 519, or 878 to Shahe Station. Or you can depart from the Deshengmen West Station by bus to Shahe Station.
From Shahe Station, take bus Chang 68 to Juyong Pass.
If you prefer to travel by train, take the Beijing subway line 2, 4, or 13 to Beijing North Railway Station. From the train station, take train S2 to Badaling Railway Station. From Badaling, you can take a free shuttle bus to the Badaling Bus Station and catch bus 879 to Juyong Pass.
It’s easier than it sounds, but you can see why many westerners opt to get a group or private tour, which you can do for as little as $30 with a group, $50 for a private half-day tour, or $100 for a full day tour. In these cases, your bus will pick you up at your hotel or an easily accessible place, and drop you off there at the end of the adventure.
Be sure to bring snacks as there aren’t many food options on site, and bring a few water bottles to stay hydrated. The stairs can be steep and narrow, so watch your step while you’re watching the view.
Author Bio: Eric D. Goodman enjoys traveling as much as he loves writing. His fiction and travel stories have been published in many periodicals, including Go Nomad, InTravel Magazine, Travel Mag, The Washington Post, and The Baltimore Sun. Eric’s the author of the award-winning Tracks: A Novel in Stories about travelers who connect on a train, Flightless Goose, a storybook for children, and the forthcoming Womb: a novel in utero. Learn more about Eric and his work at www.EricDGoodman.com and connect with him at www.Facebook.com/EricDGoodman.