For the 50+ Traveler

As travelers, we're likely all aware that the Great Wall of China is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Yet, the notion of a "world wonder" has a whole new meaning when it's actually standing there right before your eyes.

Visiting the Great Wall of China should unquestionably be on any traveler's bucket list, but visiting the wall can be a bit tricky and overwhelming.

Continue reading to find out all of the vital information you need to know before visiting the Great Wall of China, including its different sections, the best times to visit, how to get there, and some useful tips.

Sections of the Great Wall

1. Simatai

Simatai is situated two hours from Beijing, and is a great option for those trying to beat the crowds. This section of the Great Wall attracts fewer visitors, and its even open at night, a truly unique experience and site to see.

2. Jiankou

This is an unrestored section of the Great Wall, situated 48 mies from Beijing, approximately 2.5 hours with transportation. Jiankou has a wilder feel than other parts of the Wall, and is a popular hiking spot for travelers.

3. Mutianyu

Mutianyu is one of the most popular sections of the Great Wall, equipped with an abundance of tourism facilities, and is best suitable for children and seniors. This is one of the best-preserved and best-known sections of the Great Wall. The only downfall is that this area can be quite crowded during higher tourist seasons.

4. Badaling

Badaling is the Great Wall's most visited section and has been open to the public since 1958. Badaling is ideal for those who want to be closest to Beijing, with many surrounding hotels in the area. Badaling also offers an array of souvenir shops, restaurants, and even a cable car.

Mutianyu, Great Wall of China. Photo Credit: Alexandra Mahoney

Getting to the Great Wall

There are several ways to reach the Great Wall, the first being public transportation.

Public transportation to the Great Wall of China

There are several bus routes and trains that reach different sections of the Great Wall. For example, bus line 877 or the S2 train take travelers directly to Badaling. There's an express bus (916) that reaches Mutianyu with a transfer at Huairou.

Taking public transportation is a great option for budget travelers, though stops are announced only in Chinese. Travelers that decide to take public transportation to the Great Wall should familiarize themselves with the different bus routes beforehand.

Get more information on public transportation to reach Badaling here. And information on Mutianyu here.

Take a private tour

My own personal recommendation for reaching the Great Wall would be by taking a private tour. Private tours to the Great Wall, albeit a tad pricier, offer first-rate experiences that include a tailored itinerary, comfortable air-conditioned transportation, private tour guides, and sometimes even airport transfers (if you're visiting the Great Wall with limited time).

Viator's top Great Wall of China custom and private tours can be viewed here.

The best time to visit the Great Wall

The best times to visit the Great Wall of China, though this can vary depending on your taste, are spring and fall.

Spring and fall provide favorable temperatures for hiking and touring the Great Wall. Spring in China occurs from April to May, when Beijing's mountains can range from cool to warm, without extreme temperatures on either end. China's flowers and plants are also in bloom during this time, making for a stunning Great Wall experience.

In fall, hiking season is in the air, making it a great time to tour and walk the Great Wall. From September to November, overall clear weather allows visitors to gaze upon the massive Wall at great distances, with fall foliage surrounding the area in hues of red, green, yellow, and orange.

Summer may be the worst time to visit the Great Wall. China's summer months average with temperatures around 88ºF. Furthermore, summer is the nation's high tourism season, thus massive crowds flock to this top tourist attraction. Trust me when I say that a combination of large crowds and blistering heat is NOT the way you want to experience the Great Wall of China.

Though winter in China can be cold, I visited during this time and had a wonderful experience. I had to wear some hefty winter gear, but the Great Wall was practically empty, and I basically had the place to myself. It was amazing to see such a wonder without anyone around!

Tips for visiting the Great Wall

1. If you're visiting the Great Wall during the summer, be sure to bring a hat, plenty of water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and maybe even a fan. We promise you will want all of these things if you're visiting the Wall during summer months.

2. Make sure you choose a section that's best for you. Do some research. Some sections of the Great Wall are better for adventure seekers, while others are better for younger children and seniors.

3. Spend at least four hours at the Great Wall. It won't be worth your visit if you don't take your time exploring this remarkable world wonder.

4. If you want to avoid crowds, consider visiting the Great Wall in the early morning and during the weekdays, as opposed to weekends.

CNN has a great list of do's and don'ts for visiting the Great Wall of China. You can check that out here.