The first thing that comes to mind when folks consider a trip to China is The Great Wall. It is a poignant landmark, an ancient wonder of the world, a piece of earth visible from the moon. It is that significant. The Great Wall was the catalyst for my China trip desires. I couldn’t wait to see it and snap oodles of photographs. When I arrived at this majestic piece of Chinese history, I was speechless. You may ask, how can a writer possibly be speechless? I was rendered speechless, marvelling at this great architectural masterpiece that I had dreamed of visiting for years and I just couldn’t believe I was standing there. I had to pinch myself. And after seeing it for myself and following a dream, I learned quite a few tidbits to share with you. Here are some Great Wall of China interesting facts to get you planning your China trip.

The Great Wall of China Interesting Facts
The Great Wall of China Interesting Facts

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The Great Wall of China Interesting Facts:

  • The Great Wall is made with a combination of stone, brick, wood, sand and other materials. It was built across the northern borders of China to protect the ancient empires against enemy raids.
  • Sections of the mighty wall were built in the 7th century BC. These sections were attached to the currently standing wall that erected much earlier in 220–206 BCE.
  • Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China commissioned the wall to be built. Very little of the original wall remains and what is standing now are the results of numerous restoration efforts.
  • Most of the current wall standing was built during the Ming Dynasty which began in 1368.
  • The Great Wall has been used as a border hub to control trading goods along the Silk Road.
  • The Wall measures approximately 9.1 metres wide and spans 13,170 miles across China’s Northern borders.
  • The likes of Queen Elizabeth II, Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Stephen Harper (former Canadian PM) Vladimir Putin, and Shaquille O’Neal (to name a few) have visited the wall in the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • With a history spanning millennia and endless stories of its beauty, purpose, and existence, it is an essential stop on every traveller’s itinerary.

As you can see, The Great Wall has withstood the test of time, fame, conflict, and of natural erosion. It now brings thousands of locals and tourists worldwide every year to understand personally why it was chosen as a UNESCO Heritage site in 1987.

Now it’s time for YOU to see it up close and personal! Start planning! 

Great Wall of China Interesting Facts
Great Wall of China Interesting Facts

Book a Tour: Beijing Great Wall & Forbidden City Full-Day Group Tour

First and foremost, when planning your visit, be sure to book transport through your hotel or tour company. The Great Wall is approximately 1.5-2 hours from Beijing through the busy streets and congested traffic. The Chinese streets are somewhat chaotic with pedestrians, bicycles, and signage in Mandarin for the most part; it is highly recommended to take the safer route via hired transport.

Upon arrival, you will be provided a brief orientation. There are parts of the Wall that are open to the public, and there are sections that are preserved rugged terrain. Depending on your physical fitness, there are several options; however, ensure you wear comfortable shoes as there is quite a bit of walking involved no matter what option you choose.

On the Great Wall of China- Great Wall of China Interesting Facts
On the Great Wall of China – Great Wall of China Interesting Facts

The Great Wall has several paths for guests to explore. They are clearly marked, and local guides and/or brochures will advise the best options for all fitness levels. The most difficult path is a steep 400-stair ascent with no rest stops in between. This section would be best suited for the fittest and those who enjoy a challenge. For the less fit wishing to take a more leisurely stroll, there are easier paths with fewer steps. The views are at a lower eye level than the difficult section, but no less spectacular.

If you decide to save your energy for the top, there is a third option of a cable car. This was my choice- a relaxing ride with a bird’s eye view of the countryside and the Wall, avoiding the exerting 300-stair climb.

The Great Wall Cable Car - Great Wall of China Interesting Facts
The Great Wall Cable Car option – Great Wall of China Interesting Facts

The cable car was a great experience. The ride lasts about 15 minutes and takes you to the beginning of the public path. The cable car is not included in your admission, so be prepared to pay an extra fee for this service.

Then, My eyes welled up.

I could not believe I made it. It was a humbling moment where I looked at the clouds and thanked God for bringing me there. It was nothing short of epic, iconic, and stunning. For an ancient wonder of the world, China has definitely preserved it beautifully.

Moment of Reflection- Great Wall of China Interesting Facts
Moment of Reflection-Great Wall of China Interesting Facts

Based on this experience, I would recommend arriving in November. Crowds are minimal and the weather isn’t too hot or too cold. Considering you work up a sweat walking through the wall, it was a comfortable climate. The summer months can be humid and very busy. Your photos will be loaded with other people photo-bombing or getting in the way. My photos had few people in them, and I could spread out freely in my photos without fearing someone would mistakenly walk by. That being said, I did end up being part of a family’s photo. A Chinese family asked me to pose with them. Yep, I was adopted for the day, but I was advised beforehand that this may be a possibility…

Great Wall of China Interesting Facts
Great Wall of China Interesting Facts

More Great Wall of China Interesting Facts

Walking through the path, you will notice small castle-like openings. You can climb up and down these openings via step ladder. Be very careful as these sections did not undergo modernization and have been kept exactly as built back in history. Keep a firm grip on the railings as rocks can be slippery. Appropriate footwear is essential! Coming from a victim of several near-slipping incidents, take my humble advice and proceed with caution.

Furthermore,  in an effort to prevent graffiti and defacement, the city designated this area for visitors to write messages. Bring a sharpie with you and write your heartfelt message here. You have left your mark and your visit’s been documented without damaging this beautiful piece archaeological history.  A win-win for everyone.

Writing on the designated boards for visitors - Great Wall of China Interesting Facts
Writing on the designated boards for visitors

Since this landmark attracts thousands of visitors yearly, you cannot blame the locals for trying to capitalize on this. Around every corner you will find small booths with souvenirs, snacks and water for sale. Be careful if you engage with any of these booths. Keep your wits and practice your bartering skills – one skill I personally fail at miserably! The prices given for postcards, magnets and other popular items are extremely high compared to those given near the entrance. Take note of this as it would be a shame to pay triple the price unnecessarily, then find the same thing at the entry for much less.

When you are ready to descend, there are a few options. If you still have energy to muster up, you may enjoy walking down approx. 300 stairs. If you are not keen on this option, the cable car does take guests back for a nominal fee. Or, there is a third option- my favorite: the toboggan.

I HIGHLY recommend the toboggan ride. It costs 20 Yuan and is some of the best fun you will have in China. Be sure to take your photos before you take off as they do not allow photography while riding. Be extra careful around the bends…if you go too fast, you may flip over! Don’t be like some visitors who ride too fast, and narrowly miss a crash or flipping over. This causes avoidable “traffic jams” and the operator getting annoyed.

Pro-Tip: When you arrive at the bottom, REFUSE the photo opportunity with the Chinese warriors! They will happily take a photo and then expect a handout. Don’t learn the hard way as they will follow you until you give them some money.

Repeat this sentence to yourself: NOTHING is free!!!

 

On the Great Wall of China toboggan chute- Great Wall of China Interesting Facts
On the Great Wall of China toboggan chute

The Great Wall of China was one of the most exciting, breathtaking, memorable and picturesque excursions you will ever experience. It is definitely a magical place deserving of lengthy exploration and discovery. Take a full camera battery, comfortable shoes and have the experience of your life. Enjoy the landmark seen through the stars…

Heading To China? Check out our other guides on Shanghai, Yangshuo, and the best Panda encounter experience for inspiration!

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