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The Great Wall of China has spectacular views at all times of the year, but the weather and crowding levels will affect your experience. As most people visit Great Wall sections near Beijing, we have concentrated on that area, where the best time to visit is Autumn (September–November), with less rain and more clear days for you to enjoy the hiking and photography.
Weather: The weather in spring in Beijing is delightful. March is still quite chilly to hike on the Great Wall. April and May is the recommended time to visit the Great Wall near Beijing in spring, when the daytime temperature is on average 11°C–24°C (52°F–75°F). However, it can be windy and there are sometimes dust storms in the city.
Scenery: The plants on the mountains turn green, and the blossoming flowers make the fresh spring Great Wall vistas even more beautiful.
Pack a warm jacket as the mountains are cooler than in the city, especially in the mornings and evenings.
Avoid the first week of May (especially May 1–3, the Labor Day holiday), one of the China's "golden" travel weeks.
Weather: Summer in Beijing is usually hot with sizzling temperatures at noon in the city. However the Great Wall is cooler as it's higher up, away from all the concrete, and gets more rain. The average high temperature is 30°C (86°F). July and August are the months when most of the year's rain falls, so expect some downpours. Beware of thunderstorms.
Scenery: Blooming flowers dot the mountains and leaves turn dark green. The Great Wall snakes its way like a silver necklace, standing out clearly in the strong mountain sunlight. Everything looks better in the bright sun, but it may be too bright/hazy for the best photography.
Pack for sun and rain: bring sunglasses, sun cream, and a hat to protect you from the strong sunlight. Bring waterproofs in case of rain. Umbrellas can be ungainly on steep, wild, Great Wall sections, otherwise they're ideal.
Summer is peak Tourist season, when hotels typically raise their rates and the Great Wall (at Badaling) nearly collapses under the weight of marching tourists. You are suggested to book tours and hotels in advanced, or visit a less popular section: Jiankou, Simatai, Jinshanling, etc.
Weather: Fall is often recommended as the best season to visit the Great Wall. The weather is generally comfortable, though changeable. The sky is often deep blue and clear, offering the best chance to see the Great Wall snaking off into the distance. The average temperature range is 8°C–18°C (46°F–64°F).
Scenery: When fall comes, the mountains are blanketed by colors of red, golden, yellow and brown, creating an amazing view, which complements the grays and paler colors of the Great Wall well.
Pack a warm jacket, as it can be quite cool in the mountains, especially in the mornings and evenings.
Avoid the first week of October, National Day Holiday, when traffic jams, over-crowding, transport stress, and high prices will affect your experience.
Weather: Beijing is cold and dry with occasional snow in winter. The temperature is usually well below freezing.
Scenery: The mountains and the wall itself are often covered with snow in winter, offering awesome snowy scenes.
Pack for winter mountain trekking: Prepare down jackets, thick windproof pants and long johns, sweaters, hats and gloves. You might also need a mask/scarf to protect your nose on windy days, snow glasses to protect your eyes, and snow boots or crampons.
Avoid the Chinese New Year period (a week or so in late January or February) if going to the Badaling section, as it's typically crowded with Chinese tourists. Choose another section to visit in this period.