The View from the Ming Pass
Great Wall of China
Stretching a staggering 21,196km across China and dubbed one of the ‘new’ 7 wonders of the world (constructed as it was from the C.7th BCE Qin Dynasty onwards), the Great Wall has perhaps inevitably paid the price for its iconic status, with certain sections like Badaling and Juyongguan becoming tourist-infested and over-developed. But it is still possible to experience the real majesty of the wall by making your way instead to the restored (and therefore one of the best-preserved) section at Mutianyu, which weaves over 2,250 meters, encompassing 22 watchtowers and boasting 360-degree jaw-dropping views.
Located roughly 90 minutes to the north of town, Mutianyu features a ski-lift style cable car to whisk you up top, while a toboggan ride is both the quickest and most fun way to reach the bottom. Or, if you’d prefer to walk the wall in near-solitude (for the time being, at least), consider taking a day trip to Huanghuacheng or Hefangkou, two newly-opened sections of the Great Wall, both located approximately 2 hours drive north of the city, and both exquisitely atmospheric. Huanghuacheng, in particular, is located on a part of wall that stretches over a mountain and through a lake, making for an unparalleled view. A post-hike wander through the surrounding villages provides a glimpse at a lifestyle much preserved over the centuries, too.