Unique Things to do on the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall can be considered as the cultural symbol of China, which embodies the characteristics of Chinese people: persistence and endurance. Undoubtedly it becomes one of the most attractive places of interest for most international travelers. You may choose to visit the man-made wonder like many other tourists, or try yourself the top unique things to do on the Great Wall of China -- experience the architectural feat of human beings in a different way.

Hiking, hiking, hiking!

As a man-made wonder, the Great Wall winds its way from west to east, across deserts, over mountains, through valleys till at last it reaches the sea. For those active travelers, the Great Wall hiking is one of the top things to do on the Great Wall.

hiking is one of the top things to do on the Great Wall of China

Challenge yourself the wild sections of the Great Wall of China. Usually they still remain its original appearance without any renovation. With much less tourists, you can see and feel a real Great Wall, woven with stunning natural landscape, half collapsed beacon towers, rugged paths on or off the broken wall, and countless stories history forgot. During the hiking trip near Beijing, it is much more than walk. You can lean on hundred-year-old wall and enjoy a great picnic with the breeze flowing by, snap the memorable moments and stay overnight at a family run guest house or camp on the wall, taste the local organic foods. It is absolutely a special experience of life time. >> Check out 6 Best Great Wall Hiking Routes

>> Recommended Great Wall of China hiking tours:

7-day Huangyaguan to Mutianyu Great Wall Hiking Tour

3-day Great Wall Trekking with Camping Tour

Toboggan slide down the Great Wall

A Toboggan ride is one of the unique things to do at the Great Wall of China. The current Mutianyu Great Wall was built in 1368 and renovated in recent years. Since ancient times, it has been an important military stronghold for the protection of the national capital - Beijing. The scenic area is equipped with the cable car and toboggan. The cable car can take you to Tower 14 and the chairlift to Tower 6. For family travelers, kids would love to try the toboggan ride down the mountain. This is great fun, and a special memory of the Great Wall.

Mutianyu Great Wall is the most popular section in Beijing among international travelers. Former British Prime Minister Sir John Major, former US President Bill Clinton and many other foreign celebrities have visited here in the past years.

Appreciate the night view of Simatai Great Wall

Simatai night tour with Gubeikou Water Town exploration is one of the unique things to do on the Great Wall in China.

130km northeast of Beijing, the Simatai Great Wall starts from Wangjing Tower in the east and ends at Houchuankou in the west, with a total length of 5.7 kilometers. The Yuanyang Lake Reservoir divides the Great Wall into two sections. There are 16 towers in the east section and 19 towers in the west section, a total of 35 (including one destroyed in the water).

Simatai Great Wall night tour is a unique thing to do at the Great Wall

In 1987, the Simatai Great Wall was included in the World Heritage List. It strongly retains the original appearance of the Ming Dynasty. Currently Simatai Great Wall is the only section of the wall you can visit at night in Beijing.

The best practice is that you arrive at Simatai before the sunset. You are required to take the round-way cable car up and down for the night tour. If the weather is fine, you will see the last ray of drowning sun over the wall and mountain. That is a fantastic experience! After that, it is recommended to stay overnight at Gubei Water Town. Though it was newly built town catering to the needs of tourists, it has a typical atmosphere of an ancient Chinese town. There are quite a few character hotels of Chinese style.

Experience the Water Great Wall of Huanghuacheng Section

Located 75km north of Beijing downtown, Huanghuacheng Great Wall is rather unique compared with other sections. It erects near a lake and a crescent-shaped reservoir. You will see three parts of the walls in the valley here are submerged in water due to the completion of the water project. The Great Wall was built during the reign of Yongle Emperor of Ming Dynasty (1404) with a history of more than 600 years. It boasts a strategic location, and was designed not only to guard the north gate of the capital, but also an important gateway to the mausoleums of Ming emperors. This section of the Great Wall is made up of sizable stone slabs, which is prominent among all sections of the Ming Great Wall.

You will find much less tourists here compared with other popular sections like Badaling. What is more, you can take a boat to see the Great Wall on the mountains, as well as the parts in water. This is definitely an amazing feel of the Great Wall. It is also a good place to hike the wild walls, which has not been renovated by the government. If you’re looking for Great Wall of China activities for students, there is an outward bound base in the scenic area, which can offer some interesting outdoor activities for school students and corporate/MICE travelers.

Hover over the Great Wall

What to do at the Great Wall of China? It is an exciting travel experience by viewing the Great Wall in the air. You can choose to take a Great Wall helicopter ride either at Mutianyu Great Wall (helipad only) or Badaling Great Wall (a small airport). Passengers have options for the flights of 15mins and 30mins, or take a custom flight (chartered). Hop into the helicopter and have a bird’s eye view of the Great Wall built on the mountains. It is absolutely an amazing adventure for you. Please note that the actual flight time is little less than what they proclaimed if the time of embarkation and disembarkation is included. Generally speaking, the view is better at Mutianyu Section.

helicopter ride is an interesting thing to do at the Great Wall

The west end of the Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty – Jiayuguan

Jiayuguan, known as "No. 1 Pass Under Heaven", is located in the middle of the narrowest valley 5 kilometers west of Jiayuguan City, Gansu Province. It is the westernmost pass of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty. It was once called the Throat of Hexi Corridor in history. Jiayuguan is one of the most influential fortresses of the ancient "Silk Road". Jiayuguan Fortress was built in Ming Dynasty (1372 AD), which is composed of inner city, outer city, barbican entrance, city moats and the Great Wall on the north and south wings, with a total length of about 60 kilometers. The watch towers, turrets, and forts are dotted around, consisting of three defense lines: the inner city, the outer city, and the moat, forming an effective defense system.

What to do at the Great Wall? You can hire a camel to ride in the Gobi desert, appreciating the spectacular view of the Great Wall and fortress with the snow capped Qilian Mountain as the backdrop. The best time to take the photos of Jiayuguan Fortress is around the sunset when the reddish sunlight is casted on land and buildings. It is also possible to cycle around the area, you will be rewarded with a unique experience of the ancient outpost and Great Wall. If you want to have a bird’s eye view of the area, you can try paragliding here as Jiayuguan Gliding Base is located nearby.

Taking photos at Jinshanling Great Wall

Photography is one of the top things to do on the Great Wall. About 700 meters above sea level, the Jinshanling Great Wall has a history of more than four hundred years. It starts at the famous historical pass - Gubeikou in the west, and reaches the towering Wangjing Tower in the east. Being built over the lofty mountains, the section is 10.5 kilometers in length featured with 5 fortresses, 67 turrets, and 3 beacon towers. During different weather conditions, you may see the views of sea of clouds, sunrise/sunset and snowy landscape, which are themes of the Great Wall photography and attracts numerous photographers from all over the world. Here is known as "Paradise of the Great Wall Photography". Jinshanling is also a popular site for wild wall hiking.

what to do at the Great Wall - Jinshanling photography

The Great Wall Marathon at Huangyaguan

If you’re a marathon enthusiast, running a marathon on Huangyaguan is definitely a unique thing to do at the Great Wall of China.

Located in Jizhou District of Tianjin, Huangyaguan Great Wall is famous for the annual marathon. First launched in 1999, the Great Wall Marathon is widely accepted as one of the world’s most challenging marathons. Just like what they say on the official site, you will “run the most demanding marathon of your life along one of mankind’s greatest monument”. This is definitely special for the avid marathon runners. It features three distances: full marathon (42.195km/26.2mi), half marathon (21.1km/13.1mi) and fun run (8.5km/5.5mi, a non- competitive run also on the Great Wall).

The Great Wall Marathon takes place on the third Saturday in May every year, but in 2021 the race has been moved to September due to Covid-19.

Wish to explore the Great Wall in your preferred way, get inpired by our Great Wall of China tours, and contact us to customize your own trip.

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