The Great Wall of China may be the most impressive structure on the planet. Nothing could have prepared me for how impressive the Great Wall is in real life. There is no way to imagine how tall and long it is in real life.
Luckily, my wife and I were there in the offseason (beginning of March) so there were not too many crowds to speak of. If you are willing to walk 15-20 minutes in either direction you will find yourself alone and be able to enjoy the scenery in peace.
After we got to an isolated spot we found a bench and spent an hour just taking it all in. That afternoon was definitely one that we will never forget.
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It's That Great
Visiting one of the Seven Wonders of the World makes for a good day. Head to the Mutianyu Wall location, known for fewer crowds. We unintentionally went on a horrifically polluted day in March, but that made for zero crowds and some moody photos. We only stopped roaming and climbing when we could no longer see the wall as it steeply ascended into the "clouds."
Be sure to take the toboggan down this UNESCO World Heritage site, and stop at the School House on your way out of town for some delish food and an on-site glassblowing studio. http://www.theschoolhouseatmutianyu.com
Patching up the Wall, Simatai, The Great Wall of China, Miyun County, China.
There are a few boxes every traveler wants to tick off their bucket list. I got a chance to tick off the Great Wall a few years back, and my experience couldn't have been more thrilling.
I'm sure it had plenty to do with the section of the wall we explored; Simatai, a 5.5km section of the East Wall, was quiet by tourist standards, beautiful in its ancient way, and characterized by the immense grandeur of the rolling countryside. I thought the fact that we got to ride a zipline off the wall - and over a massive lake - was pretty neat.
This section of the wall was closed in 2010 for repairs, but could reopen anytime. If you'd like to speed things along, I'm sure my friend here would be happy to hire you.