Visiting the Mutianyu Great Wall Posted by sasha on Jul 18, 2018 in architecture, Culture, Leisure, sightseeing, travel
Pretty much everyone who comes to China hopes to see the Great Wall on their trip. Chairman Mao himself once famously said “You aren’t a real man until you’ve climbed the Great Wall” (不到长城非好汉 – bù dào cháng chéng fēi hǎo hàn). From Beijing, there are many different options for walking along one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Today we’ll take a closer look at one of those options and see what it’s like visiting the Mutianyu Great Wall.
An Intro to Mutianyu
About 65 km outside of Beijing lies the Mutianyu (慕田峪 – mù tián yù) section of the Great Wall (长城 – cháng chéng). Representing just one of the many sections of the 6,000+ km long wall, this area is easily accessible from China’s capital city, is not quite as full of tourists as other sites and is restored enough to make the climb up convenient enough while at the same time retaining some of its ancient history. It’s a perfect day-trip out of the city, and a great Chinese history lesson at the same time.
Next to the Badaling Great Wall, Mutianyu is probably #2 in terms of its development for tourism. There’s both a cable car and a toboggan to take visitors up and down, which are great if you’re feeling lazy or just want to have some fun sledding down the Great Wall.
You’ll find plenty of touts both outside of and on the Wall, trying to sell you all sorts of stuff. There’s even a Subway right near the entrance. So yeah, it’s pretty developed (and not necessarily in a good way, if you ask me). That being said, it is still a great hike along the Wall with stunning views of the surrounding hills (on a clear day, of course).
The path has been restored here, so it’s not too adventurous – just a lot of up and down stairs. Slick Willy Clinton even visited the Mutianyu Great Wall, which he apparently said was “very beautiful, very grand, more beautiful and grander than what I imagined.”
The Brickyard Retreat
I’m a big fan of the Mutianyu Great Wall for many reasons. For starters, it’s the first section of the Wall I ever went to. In just my 2nd week in Beijing, I went to Mutianyu with the other teachers in my group and we had a great time hiking, taking silly photos, and of course riding the toboggan down.
When I came back to China a few years later, I surprised my girlfriend with an anniversary trip out to Mutianyu to stay in the amazing Brickyard (瓦厂 – wǎ chǎng). That trip to the Mutianyu Great Wall was one of the first videos I ever put on the YouTube channel. Travel back in time with me and check it out:
This eco-retreat is a prime example of sustainable development in rural China. The rooms use solar heating and have floor to ceiling windows that maximize sunlight and limit the use of electricity. In building this retreat, they re-used materials where possible, employed local builders and craftsmen, and they also adopted local materials for the construction. On site, you’ll find a small plot of land where vegetables are grown that are used right next door in the kitchens of both the Brickyard and Schoolhouse. For more information on green development practices here, check out their website.
We loved our first stay there so much that we went back for our anniversary again a few years later. This time around, they even upgraded us to the Chairman Suite! I’ve done a lot of traveling over the years, and this remains one of my favorite places I’ve ever stayed. You can see more of the Brickyard in this short video I put together:
Getting to Mutianyu
It’s pretty easy to get here from Beijing via public bus. Just take bus #867 from Dongzhimen at either 7 AM or 8:30 AM. If you miss those, just jump on bus #916, take it to Huairou county, and change to either a mini-bus or cab. Those who don’t want to bother figuring out public transportation can easily sign up for a tour or just pay for a cab all the way out there. An entrance ticket is 45 RMB for adults and 25 for children. The cable car and slide both cost extra, and you can buy one-way or round trip tickets.