6 Best Places to See Great Wall of China

Known as one of the “7 Wonders in the World”, China’s iconic building and a UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Great Wall of China is really well worth a visit. However, the Great Wall is not just an isolated wall. More than that, it is a long series of fortifications consisting of wall, watchtowers, passes, etc. They are scattered in different regions across the northern China. So which part or section is the most splendid of the Great Wall? Here we offer the 6 best places to see Great Wall of China, including all the quintessential sections. Most of them are located in China’s capital Beijing, which are easy for you to access and some are situated in the remote northwest regions.

Beijing: Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu Great Wall
Located only 80 km (50 mi) from Beijing urban area, the short distance, easy access and well-preserved structure make Mutianyu Great Wall one of the best places to see Great Wall of China, also the most popular section for foreign visitors. It was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), stretching around 5,400 m (3.4 mi). At present, 2,250 m (1.4 mi) long section has been opened to the public. One highlight of Mutianyu is the No. 6 watch tower, also called Zhengguan Terrace, composed of three hollow watch towers, which is very rare. Besides, cable cars are available between the mountain foot and No.14 watch tower if you think the hiking is too challenging, and taking a toboggan at No.6 watch tower down the Great Wall is also very exciting.  

Recommended Tour:  Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from $130
Badaling Great Wall
As one of the best preserved sections, Badaling Great Wall, about 70 km (43 mi) from Beijing, is definitely one of the best places to see Great Wall of China for its magnificent structure and complete facilities. It’s also the most popular section for domestic visitors, making it more crowded than other sections. Do avoid any Chinese holidays or weekends and book tickets in advance if you want to pay a visit. Badaling Great Wall is comprised of North Part with 12 watch towers and South Part with 7 watch towers. North Part is more crowded with steep steps and South Part is less challenging with fewer tourists. The best location to overlook the whole Great Wall is the highest No.8 North watch tower and the cable cars can reach No.8 North watch tower and No.4 South watch tower.

 Recommended Tour:   One Day Badaling Great Wall Hiking from $102
Simatai Great Wall
Situated about 120 km (75 mi) northeast from Beijing City, Simatai Great Wall is not so crowded compared to Badaing and Mutianyu. It looks more rugged and primitive, offering rustic scenery of the original Great Wall, and a quaint water town was built under the Great Wall. In autumn, Simatai attracts more visitors for the intriguing picture depicting red leaves and broken Great Wall. In addition, Simatai Great Wall opens at night, making it one of the best places to see Great Wall of China at night.

 Recommended Tour:  1 Day Simatai & Gubei Water Town Hiking from $148

 Ultimate Guide to Visiting Simatai Great Wall at Night
Jinshanling Great Wall
Jinshanling Great Wall is even farther than Simatai, which is around 130 km (80 mi) northeast from Beijing city area. However, the Great Wall in the outskirts of Beijing draws visitors because of its magnificent structure and specular scenery. The winding Great Wall on the steep mountain ridges attracts a lot of photographers, especially the sunset and sunrise views. As the open part is about 5-6 km (3.5 mi) long, the full-length Jinshanling Great Wall hiking is also very popular among hikers. For regular visitors, a cable car can cut the hiking time effectively and it only takes 20 minutes to ascend. What’s more, there is a camp base under the Great Wall and you can have a once-a-lifetime Great Wall camping experience. 

Beijing: Jiankou Great Wall

Jiankou Great Wall
Jiankou Great Wall is a section of unrestored wild Great Wall and some sections even don’t have complete steps. But people are intrigued by its rugged and historical beauty and it stands out for its location on dangerous terrain and steep cliffs. That’s also why it has become one of the best places to see Great Wall of China, especially for experienced hikers. Its dangerous hiking route also reflects on its name, “arrow nock”, which is derived from its unique shape of “W”. The whole Jiankou Great Wall is about 20 km (12 mi) long comprised of three sections, the north part starting from the Nine-Eye Tower to Beijing Knot, the middle part from Beijing Knot to Jiankou Spot and the final section to Ox Horn Edge. Hikers who are interested in the wild Great Wall hiking can choose any section of them. However, it is necessary to join in a professional hiking team and make a full preparation ahead of time.   

 Further Reading: Best Great Wall Hike: Top 5 Wild Hiking Routes
Gansu: Jiayuguan Pass
Different from the Great Wall sections around Beijing which were built on the mountain ridges with stones and bricks, the Great Wall in Gansu Province was mostly constructed on the Gobi desert with sand and rammed earth, offering completely different scenery. Jiayuguan Pass was first built in the Ming Dynasty and considered as the west end of the Ming Great Wall. It occupied an extremely important strategic position and dubbed as the “No.1 Pass” of the Great Wall. Besides, the nearby Yumenguan Pass and Dunhuang Great Wall are well worth a visit as they are the rare remaining of the much more ancient Great Wall built in the Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220). Served as the must pass through the ancient Silk Road, Yumenguan Pass had witnessed the glorious past of the Han Dynasty. Though it's hard to recognize the original shape of the fort of the Great Wall, the historical charm will never fade away.

 See also:

9 Unusual Things to Do at the Great Wall of China

Best Time to Visit Great Wall of China 

6 Things to Do on Great Wall of China Badaling

6 Things to Do on Mutianyu Great Wall of China

- Last updated on Jun. 15, 2023 by Catherine He -