the great wall of china
It truly is, as Richard Nixon famously (and rather fatuously) said, a great wall built by a great people. But not all parts of the walls are equal. Badaling, the most popular spot, is a shocking example of how to let a tourist gem be destroyed by over-commercialization, unnecessary building and sheer greed. Making a trek to the Wall at this spot can be hard work; at times it seems the entire population, together with a small army of hawkers, has gathered there. Opt instead for the slightly less crowded Mutianyu, which has a cable-car ride to the top, or even farther away, at Huanghuacheng. Many hotels offer a car and driver so you can find your own spot along the wall for a picnic—it’s expensive but worthwhile. If time prevents anything more than a quick trip to Badaling, be sure to walk as far along the Wall as possible, away from the crowds, to get a real flavor of its grandeur. The Wall itself was pretty useless as a deterrent—Genghis Khan and his marauding troops conquered it with ease. Tour operators often include the on-the-way Ming Tombs as part of the day out; they are a rather dull collection of imperial tombs and statues and can easily be dispensed with.
Tip: One of the most fascinating ways to visit the Wall is with one of Indagare’s preferred guide. We can arrange for day visits with special picnics, hikes with historians, even an overnight with the foremost authority on the Great Wall at his remote farmhouse with access to isolated sections of the Wall. Members can contact the Bookings Team to arrange for a guided visit.
Written by Mark Graham