Dating back over two-thousand years, the Great Wall is an astonishing relic of China's colourful history, and it's a must for many travellers and tourists around the world. So dig out your passport and dust off your walking boots - hiking the Great Wall is no walk in the park.
The Great Wall of China is made up of a series of fortifications, with the first of these being built around the 7th century BC. By the time of the Ming Dynasty (between 1368-1644), the forts were joined together into the 'wall' that we know today, in an incredible effort to protect the Chinese Empire from foreign invasion. With a combined length of around 13,000 miles and walls that stretch through contrasting terrains of mountains, desert and grassy hills, the Great Wall of China truly is a sight to behold.
Today, around 10 million tourists visit the wall every year, which holds the title of the world's largest military structure. For those that want to enjoy the views, cable cars are available - but for the more outdoorsy types, it's all about doing it the old fashioned way and trekking along the ancient wall.
Each season brings its own beautiful charm to the Great Wall, but many consider springtime to be the best time of year to visit. Milder temperatures, sunny skies and lush vegetation make it ideal - not to mention the off-peak tourist rates. If you're looking to visit in autumn, you'll see some fantastic colours - great for aspiring photographers.
Before you plan your trip, it's worth knowing that summer months can get very busy, and prices of flights and accommodation tend to be higher. Winter is also best avoided unless you're willing to wrap up warm, with temperatures well below freezing along with biting Siberian winds. (If you are feeling adventurous, the winter months do offer you a chance to see this spectacular structure with next to no crowds. The stones can be slippery however, so do use caution if you are determined to do a snow angel on the Great Wall of China.
The Great Wall is made up of different sections, with a surprising amount of contrast. Consider your level of fitness and the type of trip you'd like when you choose which section to visit. These are the main, most popular sections:
Badaling is the wall's most popular section, and is only 45 miles outside of Beijing. As the most well preserved section, this 4.7 mile long stretch is a popular choice for tourists - and is certainly the most accessible for those less able to walk distances or with disabilities.
Mutianyu has been extensively redeveloped, and at 14 miles long, is the longest redeveloped stretch of the wall open to tourists. Here you'll find fewer crowds and stunning mountain scenery, around 45 miles from Beijing.
Having been closed for renovations for the last few years, the Simatai section of the wall reopened to tourists in 2014. It is one of the most original-looking parts of the wall, and so is much steeper and somewhat more hazardous.
Jinshanling is a much more remote part of the wall, and amazingly, hasn't been renovated for around 700 years. For a more peaceful experience, this is the place to go. However, with some rocky and rugged parts, it's recommended that you're in good physical condition.
Trekking along the Great Wall has long been popular. The hike from Gubeikou to Jinshanling takes around 5 hours and offers some stunning views across the land (as well as more than a few calories burned!). If 5 hours is a bit much, take a look at the other hiking routes available along the Great Wall .
To make your trip even more spectacular, you can see the Great Wall by helicopter for truly breathtaking views. This could set you back up to £300, but if you've got the cash to blow, it's a great way to take in the scenery.
If you're feeling fit, there are a number of cycling tours that following the snaking lines of the wall - it's not easy, but it's definitely one for lovers of the outdoors.
Whether you're speeding by on a mountain bike or taking a leisurely stroll along the wall, it's hard to believe what an amazing piece of history is under your feet. With the fresh country air and views that go for miles, the Great Wall of China is a true relic of times gone by.
Sarah lives in London but has a bucket list longer than her arm. She's spent time everywhere from Russia to Australia, and has more than a few trips planned for the future. In the meantime, she works in social media and writes for a number of publications. Follow her on Twitter.comments powered by Disqus