Mutianyu Area of the Great Wall of China

great wall of china, mutianyu

You simply can’t even think about visiting Beijing without making the trek out to the Great Wall. Now, there’s several different areas of the Great Wall that you can visit from Beijing. The most well known spots are Badaling (most well known and most grand; also the most busy), Huanghuacheng (on the water), Mutianyu (mountain scenery, less crowded), Jiankou (known for dangerousness and steepness), Gubeikou (most places are deserted and unrestored), Jinshanling (very primitive and majestic; only recommended to experienced hikers), and Simatai (very well intact but very difficult hike; known for Wanjing Tower and Stairway to Heaven). If you are planning on going, I would look at each, check the distance from Beijing and choose accordingly since each area offers something uniquely different from the next. The first, Badaling, is by far the most popular, the most grand and therefore the most crowded. The next choice on our list was the Mutianyu area of the Great Wall which was highly recommended by both guides and friends who had been there previously. It’s not as large but the Mutianyu area of the Great Wall is the less crowded and slightly more destitute area of the wall we were looking for.

great wall of chinaoutside great wall of chinamutianyu portion of great wall of china mutianyu great wall of china in winter couple photos great wall of china mountains at great wall of china great wall of china mutianyu

I’m not sure if it was the time of year, the early 5am wake up call (which put us out the door by 6 and at the wall at 8:30 am; a two hour trip by bus, subway and taxi) or the Mutianyu area that we picked but we could only see about a dozen people on the entire wall when we arrived. By the time we left however, around 10:30, the wall was a bit more busy with maybe 100 people or so. Regardless, we felt as if we had the entire wall to ourselves, not ever having to push through crowds, wait in line or worry about swarms of people in our photos. We were able to take our time, strolling along large portions of the wall, mesmerized by the vast size of it, sprawling as far as the eye could see. I’ll be honest though. While it was an amazing site, it was one of those that you show up and think ‘yup, it’s exactly how I thought it would be’. That doesn’t mean it was any less fantastic, just one of those sites that is more or less how you pictured it to be. Regardless, there are certain things that you just simply can’t go your lifetime without seeing and the Great Wall is one of them.


  • Michelle James

    I’ve never been to China so I have not really witnessed the beauty
    and majesty of the great wall in real life. Everytime, I read travel blogs like I have always
    hoped to get the chance to visit China and this article further fuels that
    desire. I’ve never imagined that the Great Wall extends like this. It is a good
    thing that they’ve not encouraged putting or building cottages along the sides because
    it would ruin the view. One thing I love about China is that they manage to
    preserve their culture. This seaside part of the wall would encourage other
    tourist to visit the place and see it for themselves.

  • Casey

    I was wondering if you guys had made it to the Great Wall!!!! So glad you did… it’s high up on our list to get there soon! :) Looks amazing!

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      heck yea! we couldn’t go to china without seeing it!

  • Bonnie Rose

    I had a dream last week Ryan and Inwere there. I know we need to travel soon as my dreams are now all wanderlust themed. Love that most of your photos are just of the wall without portraits, gives a very back in time feel. I had a question too. The last line on your post states that this post was originally posted on your blog, is that because you posted it before?

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      dreams justify any sort of traveling haha. which is why i pray each night for dreams where we’re in WARM weather! i don’t see where it says that? are you reading the post through another place like bloglovin’? maybe that’s why. but i have never talked about the great wall on here before

  • Amber English

    Thanks for this info lady! We will be there in 5 days! I think we will do the day-trek from Jiankou to Mutianyu. Jeremy did (as always) a fantastic job capturing the winter beauty of the Wall.

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      i cannot WAIT to see your photos! i wish that we spent more time there walking along it to the unkept area but it was just so dang cold! so glad that you’re going when the weather is a little bit warmer! and thanks friend, i’ll pass the compliment on to the camera man ; )

  • Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife

    I love that you said it was exactly like you said because that is how I felt when I went to Stonehenge and then felt bad but really giant stones on tv are just like giant stones in real life!

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      exactly. and it’s not like it makes it any less wonderful, it’s just that it looks exactly like i thought it would

  • Lauren Hughes

    wow I am planning on doing a charity trip to the great wall of china in November – I will be signing up asap and hoping for lots of sponsors to raise enough money!

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      that’s awesome! what charity are you going with?

  • Beanie (from Beanie’s Bakes)

    Never knew you could take a toboggan ride down – that certainly may make the experience more than what you expect?… *adds to list*

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      i never thought that they would have that there. i just wish that it was warm enough that we could have taken advantage!

      • Beanie (from Beanie’s Bakes)

        Definitely an excuse to go back! :)

  • Johlet

    Oooh I want to go do this! So cool!

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      it’s beautiful! i would love to go when there’s snow on the ground!

  • Chantal

    I cannot WAIT to go see this!!

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      when are you planning on going!?

      • Chantal

        Hopefully sometime this summer or fall!

        • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

          fall would be amazing! i would love to see the wall with all the changing colors of the leaves surrounding it!

  • Jamie | ink + adventure

    I think you made the right choice in picking a lass crowded area to go to… the pictures are amazing!

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      thanks! i’m pretty happy with the area that we chose. any place that you go along it is going to be amazing!

  • MyTravelingTroop

    China’s Great Wall is on my travel bucket list, so thanks for writing about your visit. I found it very helpful to know that there are different areas one can visit and that each offers a different experience. I had no idea! Great tip!

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      i just knew of two when we visited, it wasn’t until i did more research when we got back home that i found out how many there were! i would love to go see some other areas of it some day!

  • Katie Cook

    So so fun!! Thanks for the advice:) xoxo Katie

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      which now means that you have to go ; ) if you haven’t already that is

  • Carly @ Let Us Wanderlust

    Hi Chelsea! Gosh you have been to some of the most amazing places in this world! I’ve always wanted to go to the Great Wall of China, and China in general, for that matter! I adore your photographs and this post is so informative! I hope I can tick it off my bucket list soon too :) Carly xx

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      thanks so much carly! we are so thankful for all the places we’ve been able to travel!i hope that this info helps you when you make it there one day!

  • Nicole @ Treasure Tromp

    chelsea. I can’t believe that you went to the wall! I am so jealous!

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      heck yea! we just couldn’t leave asia without seeing it! i hope that you get to go someday too!

  • Z K

    This is such a great “wow” moment – one of those life-changing moments. I had no idea there were that many sections of the wall and how different their “personalities” were. Sounds incredible!

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      i really didn’t know the extent of it until i started researching after we got back. i wish that we had time to go to several!

  • Jamie pilgrim

    This is very high-up on travel to-do list! Thanks for the pointers, while you’d think it’d be obvious, I had no idea there were different areas of the wall with a varying levels of difficulty! Good to know for when I do finally get there 😉

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      i didn’t either until i looked more into it! i love that each one has it’s own unique personality along with it!

  • Kaelene Spence

    Bucket list item for me for sure! Love your photos, the views are amazing!

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      thanks so much! i loved how empty it was! it really gives it a different feel when no one is around!

  • sam

    We went to this area of the wall as well. I wished we had taken the cable car up because we wasted so much time hiking up to the wall. That’s so cool that no one was there! It was pretty busy when we were there last June. We did the same thing, talking the bus to the wall. I definitely think it was worth it to go further out. I wanted so bad to make it to the next stretch of wall, because it’s less well taken care of, but it was either that or miss our flight. Another time I guess.

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      i would have loved to make it to the next stretch as well! i think it would have given a completely different perspective but sadly by the time we left i couldn’t feel my toes ; )

  • Caroline L.

    I went to the Badaling one, and it for sure is very crowded! We took a cable car up and walked down, but I would totally toboggan down if it was warmer, ha. You are right – the Great Wall is how you’d imagine it to be. I think that’s why I enjoyed the Forbidden City more – there was just so much more to explore.

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      we went to the forbidden city as well and while it was beautiful, when it’s cold out i have a hard time enjoying a whole lot ; ) i would love to go back to the great wall when there is either snow or lots of greens

  • Anna

    These photos are amazing! My favourite is the one where you have positioned the camera so that it looks like you are leaning forward in a very unnatural way! I would love to visit the Great Wall one day. I can imagine that it is just like you expect but even so, it looks incredible.

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      haha the stretches are SO steep! and even though it’s what you imagined, still definitely worth the trip : )

  • Alex Fahey

    This is on our list- I think we’ll be there next January. But we will take a longer trip into China to visit the provinces my siblings were adopted from.

    • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      that would be so awesome! i’ve had people here in the states go to korea for the same reason. so awesome to be able to visit!