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The Best 10 Sections/Parts of the Great Wall to Visit

The Best 10 Sections/Parts of the Great Wall to Visit

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Dec. 15, 2022

Though the Great Wall is over 6,000 kilometers long, the best 10 sections to visit are around Beijing's north and east: 1) the best-restored, Mutianyu, 2) the most beautiful, Jinshanling, 3) the wildest, Jiankou, 4) Simatai, 5) Huanghuacheng, 6) Gubeikou, 7) Juyongguan, 8) Huangyaguan, 9) Shanhaiguan, and by far the most crowded 10) Badaling.

(We list the top 10 below in order of recommendation, followed by a listing of Great Wall sections throughout China that are open for tourism.)

The most popular sections of the Great Wall near Beijing

1. Mutianyu - the most magnificent fully-restored Great Wall section

Mutianyu Section of the Great WallMutianyu Section of the Great Wall

The Mutianyu section is the most popular among international travelers. This is the most child-friendly section.

  • Location: 73 kilometers (45 miles) from Beijing, 1½ hours drive
  • Features: A superb example of Great Wall fortifications, Mutianyu is uniquely-designed with watchtowers and fortresses densely spaced along its length, and crenellations on both sides. First Lady Michelle Obama has visited it.
  • Activities: sightseeing, hiking
  • Tour Time: half a day
  • Facilities: cable cars or chairlifts up/down and toboggan down

See more on why Mutianyu is so popular with international travelers >>> 

Recommended Mutianyu Great Wall Tours:

2. Jinshanling - most popular Great Wall hiking route

Jinshanling Section of the Great WallJinshanling Section of the Great Wall

The Jinshanling section is part of a popular hiking route from Jinshanling to Simatai. The Great Wall at Jinshanling is half restored and half-wild. It is also the most beautiful section of the Great Wall.

  • Location: 154 kilometers (96 miles) from Beijing; 2–3 hours drive.
  • Features: half restored and half-wild, quiet with fabulous vistas of the wall snaking up and down
  • Activities: hiking, photography
  • Tour Time: a day
  • Facilities: cable car

Continue to read: the breathtaking vista of the Great Wall at Jinshanling >>>

Recommended Jinshanling Great Wall Tours:

3. Jiankou - totally wild; the most challenging/steep section

Jiankou Section of the Great WallJiankou Section of the Great Wall

The Jiankou section's broken wildness and perilous steepness make it the most dangerous section of the Great Wall.

  • Location: 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Beijing, about 3 hours' drive.
  • Features: Completely original, wild, and untouched, some sections are really steep and dangerous. It winds its way along mountain ridges in the shape of a "W".
  • Activities: photography, serious hiking
  • Tour Time: a day
  • Facilities: none

See how steep and dangerous Jiankou's Great Wall is >>>

Recommended Jiankou Great Wall Tours:

4. Simatai - great for a night tour

Simatai Section of the Great Wall at NightSimatai Section of the Great Wall at Night

The Simatai section incorporates different characteristics of each section of the Great Wall. And visitors can have a night tour of the Great Wall.

  • Location: 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Beijing, 2–3 hours' drive.
  • Features: Steep and inspiring, Simatai was acknowledged as a World Heritage Site in 1987. The red leaves there is a fine sight in fall.
  • Activities: hiking, photography
  • Facilities: cable cars; battery carts; boat ride

Continue to read: Incredible architectural features of the Simatai Great Wall section >>>

Recommended Simatai Great Wall Tours:

5. Huanghuacheng - unique wall and water scenery

Huanghuacheng Section of the Great Wall

Huanghuacheng's section of the Great Wall is noted for its perfect blend of lake scenery and ancient wall.

  • Location: 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Beijing, 1½ hours' drive.
  • Features: Some parts of the wall are immersed in water, and there is a 500-year-old Ming Dynasty chestnut orchard at the foot of the wall.
  • Activities: hiking, camping (May–September recommended)
  • Facilities: cruise boats

Read more on Huanghuacheng's Great Wall section >>>

Recommended Huanghuacheng Great Wall Tours:

6. Gubeikou - Wild Wall, Ancient Battle Site

Gubeikou Section of the Great WallGubeikou Section of the Great Wall
  • Location: 146 kilometers (90 miles) from Beijing, 2 hours' drive.
  • Features: Wild and unrestored, Gubeikou protected an important pass to Beijing from northern Mongol areas. Over 130 battles happened there.
  • Activities: hiking
  • Facilities: None

Find more on why Gubeikou was so important to defend ancient Beijing >>>

Recommended Gubeikou Great Wall Tours:

7. Juyongguan - one of the greatest Great Wall forts

Juyongguan Section of the Great WallJuyongguan Section of the Great Wall
  • Location: 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Beijing, 1½ hours' drive.
  • Features: The closest section to Beijing, it is wheelchair-friendly, so suitable for handicapped travelers. It is one of the greatest forts defending ancient Beijing. Genghis Khan once led his troops through Juyong Pass during his conquest of Chinese territory.
  • Activities: hiking
  • Typical tour time: 1½–2 hours

Continue to Read: Secrets to China's ancient military stronghold in Juyongguan Pass  >>>

8. Huangyaguan - an annual Great Wall marathon race site

Huangyaguan Section of the Great WallHuangyaguan Section of the Great Wall
  • Location: Ji Country, Tianjin, 3 hours' drive from Beijing.
  • Features: The Great Wall Marathon is held on Huangyaguan's Great Wall each May.
  • Typical tour time: 2–3 hours
  • Facilities: sightseeing buses to the mountain top

Continue to read: What makes Huangyaguan a Great Wall marathon site >>>

9. Shanhaiguan - where the Great Wall meets the sea

Laolongtou of Shanhai PassShanhai Pass of the Great Wall
  • Location: Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province, 3½ hours' drive from Beijing.
  • Features: Shanhaiguan was a very strategic pass in the Great Wall of China. It served as a frontier defense against the Manchus. It is the east end of the main Ming Dynasty Great Wall, where the Great Wall meets the sea.
  • Tour time: one day

Continue to find out about the military power of ancient China at Shanhaiguan >>>

10. Badaling - the most popular section among Chinese tourists

Badaling Section of the Great WallBadaling Section of the Great Wall
  • Location: 72 kilometers (45 miles) from Beijing, 2 hours' drive
  • Features: The most popular section among Chinese tourist groups, it is always very crowded.
  • Facilities: cable cars, Great Wall Museum, circular-screen cinema, and some wheelchair access.
  • Tour time: half a day

Continue to read: The big crowds and fabulous scenery of the Badaling Great Wall >>>

All Great Wall Sections

Great Wall Location MapGreat Wall Location Map

The Great Wall of China crosses 15 provinces and municipalities: Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, and Liaoning, etc.; over 2,000 km (1,300 mi) in distance, but the length of the Wall is many times longer, reaching to 21,196.18 km (13,170.7 mi).

Here's a list of the main sections of the Great Wall from West to East China:

In Gansu:

In Ningxia:

In Inner Mongolia:

In Shaanxi:

In Shanxi:

In Beijing Municipality:

In Hebei Province:

In Tianjin Municipality:

In Liaoning Province:

The Best Way to Explore China's Great Wall

Best Way to Visit the Great Wall

The best way to explore the Great Wall is to travel with a professional guide. Your guide will present the Wall's history, shows you the best photo spots, and generally makes your trip enjoyable.

China Highlights can provide you with a hassle-free private or small-group tour of the Great Wall of China. See below for our most popular Great Wall tours:

Great Wall of China Tours
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