THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA
There are several sections of the Great Wall of China that you can visit. Some sections attract a lot of tourists, while other sections are less visited. Parts of the Wall are in a state of disrepair, so tourists mostly visit the ones that have been repaired (and these attract a lot of tourists). You will need to decide how you are going to get to the Great Wall; bear in mind that some parts of the Wall are a lot closer to Beijing than others. You can book a tour, or you might try to find a public bus that goes there (we did, without success). Although a chauffeur-driven car sounds like a luxury, it is an excellent option if you'd rather avoid an organised tour. It is a lovely way to travel and if you agree a price beforehand it is not too expensive. Ask at the hotel where you are staying and they should be able to organise something for you. We paid about 700 Yuan (£70) for a car from the North of Beijing to the section of the Wall in Mutianyu. The driver was lovely, the car was air conditioned: it was a great way to travel. Make sure that you take a photo of the car number plate, so that you can find your driver again when you've finished visiting the Wall!
We chose to go to the section of the Wall at Mutianyu because it was (a) reasonably close to Beijing (b) apparently not as busy as the better known section at Badaling and (c) we had read that there was a cable car and a toboggan run there and we couldn't quite believe it. Amazingly, there is a cable car (actually two) and a toboggan run there! The cable car/toboggan combo added a surreal but fun element to the whole amazing experience of visiting the Great Wall of China. You can buy a ticket that allows you to go up on one of the cable cars, and then back down in either a cable car or on the toboggan run. Our whole family highly recommends that you choose the toboggan run for the way back down. NB: if there is even a spot of rain, they will close the toboggan run - it is made of metal and is slippery when wet (this made for a great story in Road School).
The Wall and the views to the mountains beyond are amazing. The Wall itself is very steep in parts - at times it feels as though it is almost vertical. On a sunny day, it gets very hot up on the Wall, but you can sit down to rest in the Guard Towers. Remember to take a hat and lots of drinks with you. There are drink and souvenir sellers dotted along the Wall if you don't want to carry your own water. Apart from that, it's not complicated. It's an incredible experience. Just remember to brake in your toboggan, on the way back down.
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