The Great Wall of China – LTL’s Ultimate Guide (2020-21)
The Great Wall Guide – Full Coverage with LTL Mandarin School
Welcome to the Great Wall Guide with LTL.
It goes without saying that most students who come to LTL ask us about the Great Wall within the first few days, sometimes hours, even minutes, of arriving at school!
It isn’t one of the Seven Wonders of the World for no reason after all.
With questions flying around we thought we’d provide you with a one-stop Great Wall Guide covering everything relating to the Great Wall of China including a unique opportunity that you will not find ANYWHERE ELSE… which we’ll introduce to you right now with this quick video.
Great Wall Guide – When to visit the Wall?
Great Wall Guide – Can I study Chinese on the Wall?
Great Wall Guide – Anything else?
BONUS – A Student’s Story
Before getting stuck into that, here’s some more things you need to know!
Great Wall Guide – 8 Great Wall Facts
Time for eight (it’s a lucky number after all) quick-fire facts you probably didn’t know about the Great Wall of China!
1 – 33% of the Great Wall has disappeared
Crazy right! There’s still plenty left but the parts of the wall in Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and Gansu are the areas under the most threat.
2 – Total Length – 21,196.18 km (13,170.70 miles)
Just to put that in perspective, that is roughly half the length of the equator!! You’d have to drive about 33 miles, everyday for a whole year to cover the Great Wall of China in its entirety.
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3 – Built to Keep Out Invaders
The Great Wall has been used as a military defence throughout most of its long history; during its peak in the Ming dynasty the wall was guarded by more than 1 million soldiers. Quite the opposite of its original purpose, today the Great Wall attracts tens of millions of visitors every year.
4 – Longest Cemetery on Earth
The Great Wall is sometimes referred to as this because so many people died during is construction, which spanned thousands of years.
5 – One of China’s first UNESCO Sites
The Great Wall of China was of the first six sites in China to be given the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage title in 1987. Today, China is host to a whopping total of 53 UNESCO sites.
6 – Its History is More Than 2500 Years Old
The wall was originally many smaller walls brought together to make 1 Great Wall by Qin Shi Huangdi, the Emperor who conquered and unified the Northern Chinese States to become the Qin dynasty (221 – 207BC). The original sections of wall were built several hundred years before this by smaller states to keep out.
7 – Popular Parts of the Wall are Much Younger
Although construction of the wall sections began thousands of years ago, most of the popular and intact parts of the wall date back to the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). Construction of the wall also ceased with the end of the Ming Dynasty.
8 – Great Wall Bricks Used in Cultural Revolution
During the Cultural Revolution era (1966 to 1976) people were encouraged to dismantle bricks from the Great Wall for construction purposes. The bricks were used in the building of houses, farms and even reservoirs.
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Great Wall Guide – The Weather
The weather will play a key factor in deciding when you should visit the Great Wall. AVOID THE SUMMER AT ALL COSTS! It’s HOT, it makes an already tough job, much harder!
Here’s a quick guide into the weather in and around Beijing typically all year round
Pick the time of year that suits you best but typically, living in Beijing myself, I’d advise March/April/October/November time.
Great Wall Guide – When should I visit the Great Wall?
Sometimes coming to this decision is best done by process of elimination. Firstly…
Avoid the peak Summer and Winter.
On the flipside, you can get some incredible shots with clear blue skies and Sun in the Summer, and if you are (un)lucky during the Winter, you might even be treated to a snowy Great Wall. Although this is incredible for pictures, navigating it safely is another issue, it can be done though!
Still though, I’d tread very carefully (excuse the pun) with going in peak seasonal times which leads us onto our next avoidance point…
Avoid Chinese Holidays AT ALL COSTS
Just trust us here. I dare you, Google “Busy Great Wall”
Do you want that? Thought not! This will generally take place during Chinese Holidays. If you can also, avoid weekends for the obvious reasons.
The perfect time to go would be Spring/Autumn in the middle of the week, with a mild and calm blue sky. Perfection.
Great Wall Guide – Can I Study Chinese on the Great Wall?
Sounds stupid right, beyond the realms of possibility… not so!
We aren’t just dreamers at LTL, we make things happen and that’s exactly what our Great Wall Program is all about.
So you’ve decided you want to learn Chinese in China. Great, you’ve made the right move.
Now how about if we said rather than study Chinese in the classroom or in the streets of China, you can study in a rural part of the Great Wall instead? An amazing, once in a lifetime experience!
Find out more – Study Chinese on the Great Wall or see our video above towards the top of the blog!
Great Wall Guide – What else can I discover about the Great Wall?
Visit our Beijing Blog as we cover the Great Wall in further detail.
We give you the full lowdown on the different areas of the Great Wall, where to go, where to avoid, the costs, the facts – everything you’d need to know.
- Great Wall of China – Facts and History : Our blogger Zoe covers a number of frequently asked questions in this blog including a brief history, how much the entrance fee will set you back and the different areas of the Wall.
- Where does the Great Wall of China end? It’s a big wall, we know that already but where on earth does it end. Time to put you out of your misery thanks to a great and informative post from Matea.
- The Top 10 sections of the Great Wall to visit : “Go to Badaling, it’s busy but the most popular with Chinese”. “Mutianyu is the best, it’s peaceful and much less touristy”. “You have to go to Simatai, there’s a great water town located there also”. So many options, but where is the best part of the Great Wall to visit? We filter out down to the top 10 and give you a rundown on where each section is suited to you, whether you are a hiker, or just someone desperate for that Instagram winner!
BONUS – A Student’s Story
It’s always comforting to hear what other’s thought about their experiences before you go. One of our students spent a weekend on the Great Wall with us and was happy to document her experience!
This story was contributed by LTL student Eleanor.
I really enjoyed the great wall trip.
It was one of the highlights of my trip to Beijing.
My favourite parts were exploring the wild wall the first day and eating the amazing dinner that night.
I really appreciated staying in a place far from tourists, and loved that after we started hiking up the mountain, we didn’t see any other tourists.
I had so much fun exploring the great wall, and was glad that we were able to take a different route down. I wish I had had even more time to explore the wall.
One suggestion: start out a little earlier in the day, ask the hotel people to pack a lunch, and then carry it up the mountain and eat on the great wall. Picnics are fun.
As for the food, I just loved the dinner we had (and the breakfast was simple but tasty).
I really liked that we were eating vegetables grown very close by.
I also liked how vegetable-heavy the meal was. The lunch on the first day was good, but didn’t stand out to me.
I did really enjoy getting to gut a fish, and watching the man butcher the rabbit was a unique and interesting experience. He, along with everyone we met on the trip, was friendly and accommodating.
Day Two on the Great Wall
While I didn’t enjoy the great wall the second day quite as much as I did the first day (mostly because of the tourists), I’m still very glad we went.
It was nice to see what the wall was like when it was whole. And, I went into the wild, non-tourist sections again so I got to explore the wild wall some more.
Ellen (our trip leader) was absolutely right about having to get up early to beat the crowds.
When I was coming down, I noticed how many people were around. I do wish I could have had an hour or two to take it all in though.
Ellen was a fantastic trip leader. She hiked up the mountain even though it was an arduous trip, and she was very patient when we wanted more time to explore.
She asked us our preferences and was flexible when we suggested a change of plans. The trip was very well planned and ran smoothly.
I would recommend this trip to anyone. I had a wonderful time and am so glad I got to experience the great wall in this way!
Great Wall of China Schedule
8:30AM – Receive a packed lunch and depart LTL school by car.
10AM – Arrive at Gubeikou, where we will meet our guide and begin hiking.
We will spend 5-6 hours (including lunch) hiking to Jinshanling.
5PM – At Jinshanling we will have dinner of traditional local Chinese food in a farm house.
We will spend the evening camping next to the Great Wall. Tents and sleeping bags will be provided and there will be washing facilities nearby. In the event of bad weather, we will stay at a nearby guest house (with air conditioning).
7:30AM – Breakfast and preparing for the day.
8:30AM – Hike to Simatai area of the Great Wall.
12:30PM – Return to Beijing by car.
Useful tips for Hiking on the Great Wall
- Please wear appropriate shoes and clothing
- Please bring a rain coat in case of bad weather
- Please also bring your fully charged mobile phone
Great Wall FAQ’s
Roughly half the length of the Equator! That measures in at 21,196.18 km (13,170.70 miles).
The weather should play a key factor in deciding when you come to visit the Great Wall.
AVOID THE SUMMER AT ALL COSTS! It’s HOT, it makes an already tough job, much harder! Stick to Spring and Autumn months for the best temperatures.
Chiefly, the Great Wall has been used as a military defence throughout most of its long history.
During its peak in the Ming dynasty the wall was guarded by more than 1 million soldiers.
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