Trekking the Great Wall of China

You aren’t a real man until you’ve seen the Great Wall, so goes a Chinese saying.

The Great Wall of China is considered one of the most impressive, man-made structures built during the medieval era. Successive dynasties built, re-built, and expanded the wall structure for over thousands of years. Stretching about 3,950 miles, this mega-structure is unrivaled.

Its impressive engineering, rich history and panoramic landscape are just a few reasons why you have to visit this Chinese cultural treasure. While many parts of the wall have deteriorated and are relatively unsafe, there are few sections that are well maintained and are open for guided walking tours – a must if you are to visit China.

Where to start?

You can choose which section of the wall to start. Some areas where you can find guided walking tours include Juyong Guan, Badaling, Jinshaling, Mutianyu and Simatai. Many tourists flock Badaling, where a 15-minute clip features the rich history of the Great Wall. You can also try the Great Wall Museum. Being the most accessible and popular section of the Great Wall, it is easily the most crowded.

If you want to see how the Great Wall originally looked like, then trek the Simatai section. Acknowledged as a World Heritage Site, Simatai is displays some peculiar features not found at other sections.

Things to Remember

Before you book a flight and plan your trek, know that climbing the Great Wall is not for everyone. If you are out of shape, have problems with balance and coordination, or have trouble walking, you may reconsider joining a walking tour. If you have some back ailments, a back support brace would surely be needed. You might need to visit this link first before you even dream of conquering the wall.

Except for the well-maintained and touristy sections of Badaling, majority of the Great Wall’s stairs are considerably worn down. In some parts, stairs are hardly recognizable and look more like slides than staircases. There are also no handrails or other safety precautions installed. However, if you think you’re not physically able for the trek, you can still try staying at a watchtower and enjoy the scenery.

Make sure to wear comfortable shoes with strong grips. Expect smooth stones that can sometimes get slippery, especially if it’s damp out. Dress in layers so you can remove and re-place clothing depending on the temperature. You’ll feel warmer as you walk more.

Schedule your walking tour of the Great Wall between the months of March and May or September and November. It is best if you catch a day without rain so the stairs are not slippery. Avoid trips during the summer months (June to August), as the stairs can easily become overheated, especially with a huge crowd. Meanwhile, the winter months (November to February) are not usually friendly for walking tours; aside from the freezing temperature the snow can make the stairs slippery and the surrounding less pleasant.

Plan your trip well and conquer the Great Wall of China! And finally you can say, you’re a man!

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