A Visit to The Great Wall of China

A huge bucket list location for me has always been the Great Wall of China. Like so many places in China you feel that you see more people than the wonder you are visiting. When I did my own research it was clear to me that I wanted to visit the Great Wall in Jinshsanling. It was described in many blogs as the most beautiful place to see the wall with very few crowds. This in fact turned out to be true. Amazingly there was barely anyone there in October! Incredible as October is said to be one of the most popular times to visit due to the beauty and color of the changing leaves.  

Getting There

We took the train to Bejing and then hired a taxi to get to Gubei Water Town, another true gem in the area. The most picturesque water town I have seen yet. And in October brilliant red leaves drape the buildings making it incredibly gorgeous. The town itself is a recreation, and not that old but it is so well done you might not know it. There are quite a few inns and hotels in the Water town and If there is availability in the water town I would recommend staying there. 

To get to the Jinshsanling section of the wall we hired a taxi from our hotel outside Gubei Water Town and were dropped off at the parking area. It is a short walk to the ticket information center. There you can purchase tickets up to enter the park as well as tickets for the shuttle that takes you to the entrance. With a four and five year old this was worth its weight in gold. Once we got to the entrance to our flight there was no line, and barely anyone. We took a gondola up to the top. They move at a slow speed, are two seaters and but have a certain charm about them. 

When to Go

We went in Autumn and it didn’t disappoint. Everywhere you looked was golden. The distant mountains dotted in color. We couldnt ask for more.

As for time of day, if I could do it again I wouldn’t have gone earlier in the day but would have taken the cable car up around 3:30 and stayed for sunset. Then walked down on the easy, lit and well built path. The gondola stops running around 4-4:30 so the only way to get down is to walk. And this path makes it very easy.  As the day went on the few people who were around disappeared and I think yet sunset you could have the place almost all to yourself. Not an easy feat in China.  

Pro Tip 

From Gubei Water town you can go up to the Simatai part of the Great Wall. It is the steepest part of the wall.  It is the only part of the wall that is lit at night and accepts visitors after sunset. We took the gondola up after dark and were truly disappointed. Only a small portion of the wall is open and it is certainly not enough for the amount of visitors. I felt like cattle and found it tough to move amongst the sea of people. Knowing this now I would have skipped it all together and just spent more time walking in the water town.  We were able to see a few light shows that happen in the evening in the water town. We watched 50 lanterns take flight by drones set to music and it was truly spectacular, a sight not to be missed. 

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