While studying abroad in Shanghai two years ago, I spent a weekend in Beijing with some of my friends and got to fulfill something that many people would love to cross off their bucket list. I got to hike along the Great Wall of China.
Our hostel helped organize the trip for us when we arrived and the next morning we got picked up by a van for our two-and-a-half hour ride to the starting point at Jinshanling. We picked the less touristy option compared to sections like Badaling and I think it was definitely the better choice. Since there were less people, I felt like I could better appreciate the incredible views and the experience of standing in such a historic site that has lasted for over two thousand years. The weather was nice and cool and thankfully, it didn’t start to rain until after we reached the end point at Simatai and started to make our way down back to the van.
The experience overall was naturally amazing. The section at Jinshanling seemed to be restored pretty well, but once you got closer to Simatai, you could see the terrain become more rugged and there were times when you had to exert a little more energy than you would think, including climbing up vertical sections of the wall just to keep going. It was a little scary to think that one bad step can cause you to plummet backwards down the steep steps, but all of us made it through unscathed.
One thing that did get just a tad annoying was that we would constantly be followed by women trying to sell souvenirs. Even saying “bu yao” (meaning “do not want”) several times would not completely get rid of them as there were more of these vendors scattered along the wall.
Some day, I hope to be able to hike along the Great Wall again. Supposedly, there is a zipline at Simatai, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations when we visited. Maybe next time.