The Great Wall of China. An iconic world renowned piece of history that brings people in their millions each year.
Well, yer, maybe that briefly explains why I chose to spend my 23rd birthday there then hey?
But see the issue with it being so iconic, so world renowned, is that everyone wants to see it. All at once it seems, altogether, in their masses. But you don’t want that. You don’t want to experience this magnificent wall surrounded by what feels like the entire world. You don’t want to struggle to get a single good great wall selfie, or be surrounded by a German family and a bus load of tourists.
Well I am here to tell you, with a relatively long introduction, why you don’t need to worry. Why this nightmare does not have to be a reality, and why you can experience this incredible piece of history in a whole different way.
See I’m not a typical tourist, I’m more of a budget backpacker. So usually, I tend to do my own thing, not go on the tours, find my own way there.
But this time was different. Each way I looked at it, the planning of the public transport, the language barrier, the fact that it was my birthday, it just seemed to be too much. So I relented when the hostel I was staying at advertised a secret great wall tour.
I stayed at Leo Hostel and took their scenic great wall tour. Costing around 280 CNY ($50) it definitely worked out as the perfect option.
We met at reception early in the morning and got onto a lovely air conditioned mini bus, there was around 16 of us. The journey took around 2 hours and takes you winding up through the mountains, past all the typical scenic spots such as Badaling and Mutianyu.
In all honesty I am not even sure exactly what the area we went to was called, but what I can say is, we were the only group there.
The experience itself was so worth it.
Having only our tiny group on this huge and vast wall was mind blowing. It really put the size into perspective, even when I looked back at people behind me they looked like ants.
The guide from our hostel took us to the first look out tower and then we were free to wander freely for the next 2 hours. The weather was beyond glorious, but with a much needed cool wind.
I’d recommend wearing shoes you are comfortable walking in. Some areas are steep, rocky, uneven. Definitely bring sunscreen, water and maybe some snacks to keep you going. Oh, and of course, your camera, because you will want something to remember this phenomenal experience by.
The 2 hours I spent wandering the Great Wall of China were the highlight of my trip to China. I am so so glad I booked with the tour, I met some great people who also made my trip so much better and it made the entire experience easy.
It got me thinking how long it would have taken to build, who had climbed this section before, and being able to gaze out and see absolutely no one else was priceless.
Once we had finished our hike up and down the wall we all met back up and had a huge traditional Chinese lunch, included in the price.
It was exactly what we all needed after the morning and there was plenty to eat. Finally we all piled back on to the bus and in a sleepy state got driven back to Beijing.
So, there it is, my Great Wall of China day, my unforgettable 23rd birthday.
I hope this makes planning your very own memorable day easier, or inspires you to go and book that trip you’ve always wanted to.
If you have any other questions or queries about the trip, let me know!
‘Til next time.