Great Wall of China – An Insider’s Guide

The Great Wall of China is one of the world’s most impressive engineering marvels.

Chinese history is rich with amazing stories and legends surrounding the massive creation.  At over 21,196 kilometres long with at least 43,721 special heritage sites, the Great Wall of China holds the honour of being the largest man-made structure known in history, dating back to at least the 7th Century BC. It’s no wonder that the Great Wall of China is one of the most popular holiday spots in the far East.

The Great Wall of China’s Place in History

Located along China’s northern border, the Great Wall is also known as the “Long Wall of 10,000 Li”.  It was constructed to stave off hoards of raiding nomadic tribes.

Although many smaller walls were originally constructed separately, they were all eventually joined to form the mind-boggling creation we know today.

Throughout history, the Great Wall of China has been instrumental is keeping the country’s northern border safe from raiders and foreign powers.  The Great Wall of China also closely guarded the Silk Road, a critical trade and immigration route, using thousands of Chinese warriors stationed in the watch towers and barracks scattered throughout the Wall. These same warriors were among the first to experiment with gun powder weapons and other ground-breaking military skills.  Without the critical aid and protection the Great Wall offered, China would have been over-run by the fierce Mogul tribes during the Ming Dynasty of the 15th Century.

Travel and Hotel Accommodations

Due to the Great Wall’s proximity to Beijing, many visitors choose to arrive and stay in various hotels throughout the city.  For cheaper alternatives, consider staying outside of the city or in nearby towns and villages. In terms of daily travel, renting a car or taking a bus or taxi is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to explore the Great Wall of China over the course of several days.

However, some visitors wish to save travel time and choose unique accommodations near the Wall itself. Locals have transformed their houses and land into intimate guest lodges and private guest housing.  These exquisite accommodations are highly-sought after for their breath-taking views of the Great Wall and easy accessibility.  However, guests should be advised that these private guest lodgings often come with a price tag.  Still, the unforgettable views of the Great Wall of China are often well worth the extra cost.

Packing Your Bags

Before arriving, double-check your bags for several key items. Each one is a necessity for visitors that wish to get the most out of their visit. These must-have items include:

  • Sun protection (sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses)
  • Plenty of water
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Casual, weather-appropriate clothing (dress in “layers” you can take off or put on depending on comfort)
  • Camera or fully-charged camera phone
  • Light snacks or a picnic lunch
  • An official guide book with maps and visitor rules
  • Sturdy backpack

When To Visit

Although the Great Wall of China is open year-round, most agree that spring and autumn are the best times to plan a visit.  Mild weather and fewer crowds make the Great Wall of China visitor-friendly during these seasons.  Also, avoid planning your trip near any major holidays.  Visiting during the “off” season cuts back on seasonal costs and allows you to get the most out of your visit without the stress and bustle of holiday festivities.

Planning Your Holiday Budget

Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to plan and enjoy an amazing holiday without going into debt.  As you plan your budget, consider these simple key points for cutting back on holiday expenses:

  • Avoid lingering in large, “touristy” cities. Smaller towns often offer cheaper accommodations and food.
  • Use cash not credit to reduce bank fees.
  • Don’t exchange currency at the airport.  Save yourself from heavy exchange fees by using ATMs instead.
  • Use inexpensive, non-traditional travel methods (i.e. trains, bicycles, walking, etc.).
  • Double-check the prices of Great Wall of China tours and research the best deals.

Key Spots to Visit

The Great Wall’s amazing size and history offers nearly unlimited sights and experiences. Planning just the right stops and sight-seeing can feel overwhelming to first-time visitors.  Rather than trying to see and experience everything, only plan a handful of specific destinations to cut-back on stress and prevent exhaustion.

Each hiking destination along the Wall varies in terms of accessibility and skill level. Some locations are better suited to visitors with less hiking experience. If you’re relatively new to long-distance hikes or have any health concerns, consider sticking to developed, “tourist-friendly” sections of the Wall and avoid the rural, less-maintained sections.  Always double-check guest reviews and destination details before planning your hike.  Some of the best spots to visit include:

Its ancient history and rich peek into traditional Chinese culture make the Great Wall of China a definite must-see for any world-traveller. This holiday offers unforgettable memories and unique physical challenges. Turn your next holiday into an authentic Chinese pilgrimage through the ruins of this might fortress.

Now you’ve got some great ideas for your trip to the Great Wall of China, don’t forget to arrange travel insurance as soon as you’ve made a booking. Get a quote today or call one of our friendly team on 1300 819 888 to discuss your requirements.

 

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