How to Camp on the Great Wall of China
Can you camp on the Great Wall of China?
It is prohibited to sleep on the Great Wall segments with built-up tourist infrastructures such as Badaling, Mutianyu, Juyongguan, Jinshanling, and Simatai. If you happen to read some travel reviews about camping on Mutianyu, it is definitely illegal.
Why not allowed? Two reasons:
On the one hand, the Great Wall is a precious historic and cultural relic. No toilet is set on. Staying overnight will bring a lot of garbage and excreta, which may pollute and destroy the ancient building.
On the other hand, it is for the safety of tourists. There is no light on the Great Wall, so it is not safe to stay alone in the dark at night. Some wild animals may also appear as the wild sections are far from the city. What’s more, it is vulnerable to suffer thunderstorms in the wilder places and some had been reported before.
Two Backup Options to Camp on the Great Wall:
1. Camping at the Foot of Jinshanling Great Wall
The Jinshanling Great Wall is a scenic area open to the public and it is not allowed to camp on the wall. But there is a special camping base for excursionists to camp at the foot. You can prepare camping gear on your own or hire it in the base.
There are many signs on Jinshanling watchtowers showing that “No camping on the Great Wall”. But guards hardly inspect on the wall if there is no fire signal. If you want to camp up there, it is recommended to camp on the East Five-Window Tower as it is a good place to shoot sunset and sunrise. You can see spectacular scenery and it is also near the main entrance of the scenic area. Sleeping under the starry sky is amazing and definitely lives up to your expectations. However, don’t make a fire on the wall as it is too dangerous and may also attract guards of the scenic area.
2. Camping on Wild Great Wall at Jiankou – Feasible, but NOT Recommended
Some wild segments such as Jiankou, Lupiguan, Zhuizishan and Badaling Remnant Great Wall (Shixiaguan) are not managed officially and you can enter at any time. Generally, no one will prevent you from camping in these sections unless you make fire. However, those wild Great Wall sections haven’t been repaired and the camping safety cannot be guaranteed so it is not recommended to camp there.
Among all the wild sections, Jiankou is a popular destination for hiking, camping and photographing. The splendid Great Wall winds along the steep mountain, which is like a curved bow. The broken walls and rubble just indicate a profound tragic history and primary beauty. The steep terrain makes it one of the hardest sections to hike and it is not recommended for those inexperienced hikers. If you want to camp on Jiankou, choose a safe watchtower with flat ground. The tower on the wall is not so large that it cannot accommodate more than 5 people. The safe choice is to stay overnight in the hotels of Xizhazi Village under the wall.
7 Things You Should Know before Camping on the Great Wall
1. No lights are equipped on the Great Wall. Covered by darkness, you can see nothing. If you want to enjoy the night views of the Great Wall, camping is not a good option. Instead, you can visit the Simatai Great Wall, which is the only section open at night. It features brilliant night views and the nearby water town is also worth a visit.
2. No toilet set is available on the Great Wall. This is also an important reason to forbid sleeping on the Great Wall. It is better to take an urodochium to avoid tarnishing the relics if you decide to camp.
3. Don’t camp on steep segments and try to choose a flat place or well preserved watchtower, which can keep out wind and rain.
4. Weather condition: Pay attention to keep warm and windproof when camping. The Great Wall is located in a suburb and the temperature is much lower than in the city area. Even in summer days, the temperature at night is only about 15C. What’s more, the mosquito repellent is very necessary. Another point is to avoid the rainy season in July and August when there are thunderstorms frequently. Keep an eye on the weather forecast before the trip.
See more: Great Wall of China Weather
5. Don't make a fire on the Great Wall. The Great Wall is surrounded by prosperous forests and it is easy to trigger a bushfire. Take enough packed food or fast food since you cannot cook on the wall.
6. No water can be purchased on the Great Wall. There is no shop up there and make sure to bring enough water.
7. Do remember to take all your trash back with you as there are no bins on the Great Wall.
Packing List for Camping on the Great Wall of China
Sleeping gear: tent, sleeping bag, moisture-proof pad
Warm clothes and comfortable footwear, raincoat
Alpenstock, climbing rope, head lamp, knife, map and GPS device
Smart phone, power bank, camera; bring a SLR camera and a tripod for night shots
Food & Water
Wash bag, tissues, first aid kit