Great Wall of China: 5 Unexpected Things

It’s an incredible experience visiting wonders of the world and famous sites. It’s as if, suddenly, you find yourself standing in front of something you’ve seen in photos, magazines and books for years. It’s a feeling that stays with you and one that you’ll always remember.

I remember how I felt the first time I saw the Colosseum. I also remember the excitement when I first caught a glimpse of the Empire State building on the Manhattan horizon. I remember standing in the cold wind on the River Thames as I looked over at Big Ben while it chimed the familiar Westminster tune out through the London streets.

The feeling of being there, in a foreign land, exploring famous structures and landscapes makes you tingle, gives you goose bumps and makes your hairs stand on end. However, there are always things that surprise you when you visit famous places. Maybe it’s bigger or smaller than you expected, perhaps it looks different in person, and most likely you’ll find that it’s simply far more incredible than you ever imagined.

I had these feelings when I visited the Great Wall of China. I visited the Mutianyu Section of the wall which is just over an hour out of Beijing. As usual, there were some strange things that I didn’t expect! So here’s 5 interesting things about visiting the Great Wall of China.

  1. The wall is not as wide as you would expect.

Most photos I had seen of the Great Wall were from a distance to take in the landscape and show how the wall spans such a great distance. Well I think they definitely went for length and not width! The wall is quite narrow and slants heavily in sections.

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2. You get up to the wall via chair lift.

Getting up and down from the wall is really fun. An open chair lift, similar to a ski lift, takes you from the market at the bottom to the top of the wall, giving you a great view of the mountains and real perspective of just how long the wall really is.

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3. To get back down, you ride a super fun toboggan!

When it comes time to leave, that doesn’t mean that the fun’s over. Built in to the mountain is a toboggan track that winds back down the mountain. You strap yourself in, and slide, twist and turn through the rocky landscape at speed!

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4. There’s a subway at the bottom

There’s a charismatic local market at the foot of the mountain where vendors sell traditional items and souvenirs. This is expected. However right next to this, there is a Subway… Can’t stop commercialisation! So, if you want, grab yourself a footlong before jumping on the chair lift!

The markets at the bottom of the mountain. It's not pictured but, there IS a Subway here! One footlong Great Wall please!
The markets at the bottom of the mountain. It’s not pictured but, there IS a Subway here! One footlong Great Wall please!

5. You can buy and drink beer at the top of the wall.

Local vendors set up stalls along the wall selling drinks, snacks and knickknacks. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to sit on the steps of the great wall, look out over the rugged mountains and sip on a cold Tsingtao beer.

Enjoying a Tsing Tao beer on the Great Wall of China
Enjoying a Tsingtao beer on the Great Wall of China

Visiting the Great Wall of China was an incredible experience and one that will always stay with me! Below is a gallery of photos from my day on the Wall.

Great Wall of China Gallery:


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