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72 Hours in China to visit the Great Wall

Updated: May 4

72 Hours to visit the Great Wall of China in Winter

… That’s all you get… just 72 hours, that should normally be under the visa limit, but if you’re travelling to a second city, the resources online state a transit visa is needed. So, transit visa it is!

At the Chinese Visa Processing Center in Toronto a clerk will advise that a transit and tourist visa cost the same, but the transit visa only allows a one time entry whereas the tourist visa allows multiple entry and expires when your passport does (so hopefully you have a relatively new passport!) Best decision is getting the tourist visa because you never know what future travels are in store.

When arriving in China there is an airport train that can take you into the city. Note that right before getting on you have to go through security (each subway and attraction entrance has a bag scanner and people with metal detectors) so be prepared for that before getting on.

Usually the taxi from the airport into the city should be approximately RMB80-120, so be sure to pay attention to what they’re charging so your driver doesn’t try to be cheeky and charge more! Remember you can always bargain with them (always start lower than what you want to actually pay), especially when they don’t have the taxi meter turned on.

Check out Tips for Traveling to the Great Wall of China in Winter

When heading to the Great Wall first keep in mind the main touristy part is the Badaling section of the wall, so if you’re looking for something a little less trafficked try to avoid that area. Another thing to keep in mind is when trying to get yourself to the Great Wall there is limited transportation during the winter to certain parts of the Wall. So although a subway may get you to your first transfer spot, there may not be any buses running to the area you’re interested in visiting.

Usually if you head into a cafe you can find someone who speaks some English who can direct you to where you’d like to go. There is the cutest cafe ever called Momoa, which has a picture of a cat in a coffee cup for a logo. It gives off the impression of a cat cafe (which means that you could go and pet cats while you sip on your tea or coffee, and even adopt them), but unfortunately that isn’t the case with this place; however it was still the cutest cafe with a well lit upstairs area with hanging plants and scenery murals.

A bus from this area to the Great Wall is between RMB1-2 ($0.20-$0.40CAD). After about an hour bus ride you will arrive at another bus station where there are people directing you to where you want to go. The most popular being the Badaling bus which costs RMB12 ($2.40CAD) each way that takes about an hour and a half before you arrive at the Great Wall.

Once hiking you may come across an area where you are able to purchase a train ticket for RMB200 that will take you down the mountain. If you keep hiking you will come across food tents and a paved road to another ticket booth that has washrooms you are able to use before entering (although there are lots of washrooms all along this area of the Great Wall.

There is both the North Wall and South Wall. It’s recommended to start with the South Wall as it has picturesque views. (If you do decide to take the train down the mountain, you will want to start on the South Wall because the train leaves from the North part of the wall.)

As you make the trek up and down the winding wall be very careful as you step. In the winter months it is covered in ice and snow making it quite slippery in some spots. Once you reach the end of the South Wall (it is fenced off and you can not go any further), turn around and head up the North Wall! Though it is all paved with stones, the steps can vary in height and it can be very steep in some parts, this can make it quite tiring. So, if you go in summer, make sure you have lots of water and in the winter warm clothing as the winds can get very strong and chilly!

For unseasoned hikers plan about 5 or 6 hours for the Great Wall if you want to hike the whole thing. You will have to stop for breaks, catch your breath, drink some water in order to keep going.

Check out the trek along the way below!

Happy Adventuring!
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