I took advantage of the nice days this weekend for my second trip to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. I find this part convenient because it is about an hour (or two) from Beijing, and it is less touristy than other parts, like Badaling. Also, in the spring time you can take cable cars and toboggans. I visited this same part in January and had a completely different experience, seeing the wall covered in snow, and very few people visiting. This time, the weather was nicer, and there were lots of people about. Still, I felt like it was a really nice day, and not as crowded as it will be in June!
After buying our entry tickets, my friends and I took the cable cars up to the watch towers, where we could then walk down the great wall. If you don’t want to splurge for the 60 RMB ticket, you can hike your way up, but it’s quite a ways! When I went there in January, we only went to Watch Tower 8 because we had to walk, but today I think we went up to Watch Tower 20-something.
Once we were on the wall, it was really nice to look out and see how far it stretched. Luckily, the air quality was pretty nice today (although I’m sure it still qualified as “unhealthy”).
I really enjoyed walking along the wall today because I got to see the area full of vegetation. I feel like we didn’t have much of a spring in Beijing- it went from winter cold to summer hot in the span of a couple weeks. Still, I’m glad the weather has changed, because this means the tobaggans are ready to go! Basically, after walking along the wall for about an hour, we got to ride sleds all the way down.
It was a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it! I wish our group had waited a little bit longer, because we were behind another group that was choosing to go quite slow. We would have liked to go faster! Still, we sort of turned it into toboggan bumper cars and had a great time. It probably took about 5 minutes, maybe a little more, to go all the way down on the track.
After all the hiking and our mini adrenaline rush, we had worked up quite the appetite, and headed to the Schoolhouse, which is a neat little restaurant right by the Great Wall. They specialize in sustainable meals, and grow a good portion of the produce they sell. Everything was really fresh and delicious, so if you find yourself looking for a meal at Mutianyu, I recommend it! It’s best to make a reservation though, especially if you go in high season (July and August), since it probably fills up with tour groups. They had crayons to draw on their menus, and I couldn’t help but share my artistic representation of my trip to the Great Wall. In this photo, you can even see the Wall (the real one) in the background!
Overall it was an awesome way to spend the day, and I am glad that I live in quick (depending on traffic) driving distance to such a neat historical site!
I’ve uploaded the video of my toboggan ride (thanks to my GoPro camera strapped to my head), which you can view here: