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Mutianyu Great Wall — Fully-Restored, Family-Friendly

Mutianyu Great Wall — Fully-Restored, Family-Friendly

Written by Kelly PangUpdated Nov. 16, 2023

Mutianyu Great Wall is in Huairou Country, 73 km (45 miles) north of central Beijing, connecting the Jiankou Great Wall in the west and the Gubeikou Great Wall in the east. It is a masterpiece of restoration with 23 original-style watchtowers.

  • Chinese: 慕田峪 /moo-tyen-yoo/ 'Admire Fields Valley'
  • Time from Beijing: about 1½–2 hours' drive.
  • Open: All the year-round, 7:30 am–5:30 pm
  • Facilities: Cable cars or chair lifts up/down, and Toboggan down
  • Activities: Sightseeing, Jainkou to Mutianyu hiking
  • Suit to: All, especially family-friendly.
Mutianyu Great Wall Location Map

Why Visit the Mutianyu Great Wall?

Visit the Mutianyu Great Wall
  • The Mutianyu Great Wall is the longest and best fully-restored Great Wall section open to tourists.
  • You can see a rare triangular formation of three interlinked watchtowers at Mutianyu.
  • With the greens of pines and cypresses covering over 90% of the surrounding area, the scenery there is beautiful all the year-round.
  • The Great Wall at Mutianyu is less crowded and has more densely spaced watchtowers than at Badaling. More on Mutianyu Vs Badaling >>>
  • Mutianyu is the favorite section for exploring with (young) kids, with good and safe access. Cable cars, chairlifts, and the toboggan are of your choice, making it more family-friendly and easy to visit. More on Visiting the Great Wall with Kids - What Should you Do >>>
  • Touring the Great Wall could be said to be showing loyalty to Chairman Mao. Under the westernmost towers, on the side of a grassy ridge, is the 200-meter-long phrase 忠于毛主席 — 'loyalty to Chairman Mao' (zhōng yú Máo Zhǔxí /jong yoo maoww joo-sshee/). Chairman Mao once wrote: 'If you don't get to the Great Wall you're not a good man.' (不到长城非好汉).
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Mutianyu's History: Who Built It, When and How Long?

Mutianyu Great Wall was first built over 1400 years ago.Mutianyu Great Wall was first built over 1400 years ago.

The Mutianyu Great Wall was first built in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550–577), over 1,400 years ago.

Around 650 years ago, on the foundation of the Northern Qi Wall, it was rebuilt and strengthened under the supervision of the famous General Xu Da during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was by that time, the longest among all sections of the Ming Dynasty, stretching 5,400 meters (3.4 miles).

In 1986, a 2½-kilometer section was fully restored.

Structure of the Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu Great Wall structureMutianyu Great Wall structure
  • Dimensions: 2½ km (1½ miles) long, 7 or 8 meters high, and 4 or 5 meters wide
  • Densely spaced watchtowers: 23 watchtowers, about one every hundred meters on an ascending mountain ridge.
  • Rebuilt according to the Ming design with slabs of granite, with the largest construction scale and best quality among other sections.
  • Both sides of the wall have a crenelated parapet so that soldiers could fire arrows at the enemy on both sides. This is very rare on other sections of the wall.

Best Times to Visit the Mutianyu Great Wall

The best times to visit Mutianyu's Great Wall are spring (April to May) and autumn (September to November) for the most pleasant weather. But try to avoid the public holidays when the wall is packed with Chinese tourists:

  • Labor Day Holiday — 5 days in/around the first week of May
  • National Day Holiday — 7 days in/around the first week of October

In summer, it is hot and there is full exposure to the sun on the wall. In winter, it is chilly in the wind and could be quite slippery on the wall when it snows. More on Great Wall Weather: What to Expect and Pack >>>

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Getting to Mutianyu from Downtown Beijing

Get to Mutianyu from Beijing Distance and Time

Mutianyu is about a 1½ to 2 hours' drive from downtown Beijing. There is no convenient public transportation from Beijing to this part of the Great Wall.

Going Independently — public transport is full of hassles, be patient!

Traveling on your own you may meet a lot of hassles and trouble such as the language barrier, lining up for tickets, and figuring out the best travel routes.

China's public buses (that go out to the countryside) are always packed, so if you do plan to take a public bus, be prepared for trouble getting a seat. No English is spoken.

Group Tour — cheaper, but less flexibility

Many companies provide one-day group tours to Mutianyu, though there are fewer group tours to Mutianyu than to Badaling. These tours usually include a visit to the Ming Tombs afterward, in the afternoon. There are souvenir factory visits during the tour for commissions.

A group tour will get you there in a coach full of Chinese tourists. You may have to go to a designated hotel to catch the coach, and then walk at the slow pace of a noisy crowd on the wall.

Private Tour — free of hassles, more flexibility

Tour Mutianyu Free of Hassles

The most pleasant way is, of course, to take a private tour. Our guide and driver will wait for you at your hotel lobby and transfer you to the wall by air-conditioned car.

A private tour means more flexibility, and you will be taken care of by your private guide and driver. Though better than Badaling, the wall is crowded in some places some of the time, and traffic jams can happen on the way. But our guide knows how to escape the crowds and the traffic jams!

  • Your guide will arrange your entry tickets (in advance), saving you a lot of time and trouble lining up.
  • The wall is crowded in the morning so our one-day Mutianyu Great Wall tours go in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and traffic jams.

Our experienced guide will help you discover more of the history and culture of the Great Wall, making the most of your visit. See our One Day VIP Beijing Essential Tour with Great Wall Hiking at Mutianyu.

Ascent and Descent of the Mutianyu Great Wall

Slide Way down from the Mutianyu Great WallToboggan Down from the Mutianyu Great Wall
  • Hike (up and down): Allow around one hour to climb the 4,000+ steps. The paths, wall top, and steps of Mutianyu are well-paved with granite slabs, and walking conditions pose no significant risks.
  • Chairlift/cable car (up and down): There are two-rider chairlifts and four-rider cable cars for travelers to choose from to ascend or descend.
  • Toboggan (slideway down): For those who really want to trek miles more for the experience, single-rider toboggans descend (at a safe speed) from the east end of the wall to the valley.
Mutianyu Great Wall Tourist Map

We suggest our customers take a cable car or chairlift up and down because the cable car station is in the middle of the wall close to tower 14.

Walking west from tower 14 to tower 23, you will see the most beautiful scenery. The path up goes to tower 8 or 10, which means you will need to walk an extra kilometer (half-mile) on the wall with comparatively plain scenery to get to the best part.

Wheelchair Access at Mutianyu

Wheelchair Pathway on MutianyuWheelchair Pathway on Mutianyu

Mutianyu is a "wheelchair-friendly" section of the Great Wall. Your wheelchair can travel unimpeded to the cable car station by a smooth uphill path. Or you can hire a rickshaw at Mutianyu to help you get to the cable car station.

After the cable car journey, you will reach a platform below the 14th watchtower. You can appreciate the beautiful scenery of the Great Wall from there. You can also ascend another path with barrier-free access to touch the Great Wall at the watchtower.

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Jiankou–Mutianyu Great Wall Hiking

  • Duration: 5-6 hours, 10 km (6 miles)

The Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall hike may be the best Great Wall hiking route for you for several reasons.

Walk from the wild, rugged wall to the restored wall; beginning with the difficult part when you are energetic and fresh, and finishing with the easy part. The Great Wall at Jiankou is in ruins with steep slopes and uneven underfoot, while the Mutianyu section is rebuilt with proper steps, and quite smooth underfoot.

From quiet to more-visited, you can enjoy the best natural conditions while you are fresh. The Jiankou Great Wall section sees far fewer travelers than the Mutianyu part. By arriving at Mutianyu in the afternoon, you'll also find most of the morning tour groups have gone.

Our hikes go from Jiankou to Mutianyu. Why not Mutianyu to Jiankou? Easy walking! One hour up to Jiankou, and then 4 hours down to Mutianyu (instead of 4 hours up and 1 down!).

Mutianyu Hotels

There are many local guesthouses and mid-level hotels concentrated in and around Mutianyu Village at the foot of the Great Wall. Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall and Home of the Great Wall are good hotels to choose from.

Eating at Mutianyu

There are many restaurants around the parking lot where you can try local dishes. Food quality and atmosphere may not meet the standards of those in downtown Beijing, but our guide will try to arrange the best available for you.

Xinshuangquan (鑫双泉/sshin-shwung-chwen/) is a garden-style restaurant serving "Westernized" Chinese food at the foot of the Great Wall. Recommended dishes are sweet and sour pork, broccoli with garlic, and BBQ Fish.

Tell your China Highlights travel advisor and guide your food preferences.

Packing for a Mutianyu Great Wall Visit

What to Wear

Dress for hiking and dress for the weather. Choose comfortable footwear with a good grip and support for the feet. Layers of clothes that can be taken on and off allow for greater comfort and temperature control.

Wear/bring sun protection in the summer and dress for sub-zero temperatures in the winter. It can feel much colder on the wall than down in the valleys because of altitude and exposure.

What to Bring

Bring breathable waterproofs for protection from rain and wind. Umbrellas may be used at Mutianyu, as the ascents and descents are not difficult, but may be inconvenient in strong winds.

Bring a camera and money for souvenirs and refreshments.

Bring snacks and water if you want to walk along a portion of the wall. You could have lunch in a local restaurant at Mutianyu or prepare a packed lunch before departure from Beijing.

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