9 Unusual Things to Do at the Great Wall of China

What to do at the Great Wall of China? The most popular thing to do on the Great Wall is hiking. In fact, besides hiking, you can try many more offbeat things on this China's landmark. For instance, enjoy a night tour to Simatai Great Wall and nearby Gubei Water Town, ride a slideway at the Mutianyu or Badaling Great Wall. What's more, running a marathon at Huangyaguan or hiking on the wild Great Wall like Jiankou is also recommended. Here is a list of 9 unusual things to do at the Great Wall, which add more fun to your Great Wall tour.

Ride a Toboggan down the Great Wall

One of the top things to do on the Great Wall of China is trying a toboggan or slide down the Great Wall, available in both Mutianyu and Badaling Great Wall. Compared to a leisurely hiking or steady cablecar, a twisty toboggan ride is far more exciting with high speed, especially suitable for visitors who love challenges. Pay attention to that the old people are not recommended to try and little children should ride it with an adult. The toboggan in Badaling is located at the North Slope, and feasible to rise up and slide down. It takes CNY80 for one way and the round-trip ticket is CNY100 per person. Mutianyu’s slide only allows going down and it takes CNY100 for one way. The combo ticket for ascending by chairlift and going down by toboggan takes CNY120.  

Visiting Mutianyu Great Wall: Toboggan, Cable Car, or Chairlift?
Badaling Great Wall Cable Car vs. Slideway
 Further Reading: Badaling Great Wall Cable Car vs. Slideway

A Night Visit to Simatai Great Wall & Gubei Water Town

All the Great Wall sections are only open in the daytime except for the Simatai Great Wall. You cannot miss the Simatai Great Wall night tour if you want to try something unusual. As one of the most majestic sections, Simatai Great Wall is about 140 km (87 mi) northeast away from Beijing City, featuring primitive beauty and steep stairs. An antique Gubei Water Town with traditional buildings and narrow lanes is located under the Great Wall. As the sky goes dark and all the lights are turned on, you will see a gorgeous night view of the rugged Simatai Great Wall and delicate Gubei Water town, definitely a once-a-lifetime experience. Also, don’t forget to book tickets in advance.

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

 Ultimate Guide to Visiting Simatai Great Wall at Night

Overlook the Badaling Great Wall on Helicopter

Badaling Great Wall is the most famous Great Wall section in China but also the most crowded one. As hiking in crowds may not be a pleasant way to visit it, you can find a far more interesting way to explore the grandeur of Badaling from a different perspective, which is, overlooking it in the sky. A 15-minute flying on the helicopter cannot only help to avoid the crowds but also offer a panoramic view of the winding Great Wall. No wonder it is one of the 9 unusual things to do at the Great Wall.  

 See also 6 Things to Do on Great Wall of China Badaling

Watch the Train Running in “Peach Blossom Sea” on Juyongguan Great Wall

Referred to the top things to do on the Great Wall of China, watching peach blossom on Juyongguan should be added. Dubbed one of the 'Three Great Passes' of the Great Wall, Juyongguan Pass boasts the splendid structure and steep and dangerous terrain. Numerous peach trees scattered on the adjacent mountains are another highlight, offering a sea of flowers in spring. It is a photogenic place where you can enjoy the picturesque scenery that a train runs through the peach blossom sea. The train is hence also called the ‘Train to Spring’. The best time to visit is from late March to early April.
Hiking on Badaling or Mutianyu can be easily done by many visitors, but hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu is definitely an extraordinary and adventurous experience. Famed for its steep cliffs, dangerous terrain and ruggedness, the 15 km (9 mi) unrestored Jiankou Great Wall shaped like an arrow nock attracts numerous experienced hikers and the itinerary from Jiankou to Mutianyu is one of the most classic Great Wall hiking routes. However, it is suggested to join a team and make full preparation when hiking. In some parts, professional tools like alpenstocks and ropes are needed.  

 Further Reading: Best Great Wall Hike: Top 5 Wild Hiking Routes

Picnic on the Great Wall

A Great Wall hiking is energy-consuming and the food supplies are necessary. However, there is no shop or food stall on the Great Wall. So it is better for you to prepare some fast food and drinks ahead of time or buy some under the Great Wall to make sure you can renew your energy. It will be an unforgettable experience for you to have a picnic on the Great Wall, enjoying the delicious food while appreciating the winding, steep and magnificent Great Wall. Another thing to note is that take only cooked food or delicatessen as it is forbidden to make a fire on the Great Wall.

Camp at the Jinshanling Great Wall

Camping on Jinshanling Great Wall is definitely another top thing to do on the Great Wall of China. It’s officially not allowed to camp on any Great Wall sections like Badaling and Mutianyu. However, there is a legal camping base under the Jinshanling Great Wall. You can prepare the camping gear on your own or hire a camp and sleeping bag from the base. Also, camping on some wild Great Wall sections is possible but somehow dangerous. When you capture the beautiful sunrise/ sunset and gaze stars in the wildness, you will be surprised at how romantic and adventurous the once-a-lifetime Great Wall camping experience is.

Further Reading: How to Camp on the Great Wall of China

Graffiti on the Mutianyu Great Wall

I guess you have never thought about drawing on the Great Wall and you may doubt the availability. In the early stage, it is forbidden to draw or paint at any place of the Great Wall. Later, the managers of the Mutianyu Great Wall arranged a watchtower specially used for graffiti arts, and surely it has been covered by a large cloth to protect the ancient relic. The special graffiti art wall is located on the western side of the No.14 watchtower, where you can see a lot of drawings and signatures in different languages. It’s one of the most fun things to do at the Great Wall and try to leave some works of your own.

 Recommended Tour:  Beijing Day Trip to Mutianyu & Forbidden City from $149

 See also 6 Things to Do on Mutianyu Great Wall of China

Run a Marathon on Huangyaguan Great Wall

Another unusual thing to do on the Great Wall of China is running a marathon. Huangyaguan Great Wall Marathon has been titled one of the “10 Coolest and Most Challenging Marathons in the World” and it was created in 1999. The marathon is held on the third Saturday in May every year, attracting more than 3,000 runners. The match contains a full marathon, half marathon, and 8.5 km distance. A full marathon requires climbing the Huangyaguan Great Wall for 2 times, sum to 5,164 steps. If you think it’s too challenging, a half marathon or 8.5 km distance can be a better choice. Running on the Great Wall while enjoying beautiful rural scenery is a good chance to experience the unique charm of China.  

  Further Reading: Great Wall Marathon

 See also:

6 Best PLaces to See Great Wall of China

Best Time to Visit Great Wall of China

How to Visit the Great Wall of China - Plan a Perfect Day Trip

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