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Benson

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Camped on the Great Wall 3 times between '16 - '18

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Asia > China > Beijing > The Great Wall of China > Useful Info
Submitted on Feb 06, 2019 Useful Info

How to avoid crowds at the Great Wall of China

  • Two factors determine how much crowd you'll encounter at the Great Wall: which section to visit and when to visit
  • When to visit:
  • Avoid late September through end of October. This period includes the Golden Week when it seems like the entire China is travelling. Rest of October is also quite crowded because it's when the hills around the Great Wall turn yellow and red and is the most scenic time of the year
  • Of course, weekends and public holidays are also more crowded than usual. Visit from Monday-Friday if you can
  • Other than that, usually the earlier to go in a day the smaller the crowds are. Most people start arriving after 9-10am
  • Which sections to visit and which sections to avoid:
  • Extremely crowded: Badaling (八达岭). Avoid this section at all costs. Badaling is the single most popular section of the Great Wall, and it's 95% domestic tourists. It's famous and very easy to get to from Beijing, and many Chinese people don't even think about visiting other sections of the Great Wall. It's basically crowded 365 days a year
  • Can be crowded:
  • Juyongguan (居庸关): located between Beijing and Badaling, easily accessible from Beijing
  • Mutianyu (慕田峪): popular with foreign visitors. You'll see plenty of other visitors here but you'll get your personal space. Depending on when you go you might get some empty stretches
  • Shanhaiguan (山海关): not close to Beijing but in the city of Qinhuangdao so it's never as bad as Badaling. But Shanhaiguan is pretty famous in China so expect crowds
  • Mostly uncrowded:
  • Jinshanling (金山岭): a very scenic stretch pretty far from Beijing but there's a direct shuttle to get there from spring to fall
  • Simatai (司马台): hikeable from Jinshanling, it gets pretty steep here
  • Huanghuacheng (黄花城): also called Water Great Wall because a section of it is submerged underwater after a dam was built in the area
  • Basically no other visitors:
  • Jiankou (箭扣): very steep and large parts of it is unrestored
  • Gubeikou (古北口): one of the "wild walls", meaning completely unrestored. Great for camping
  • Chenjiapu (陈家堡): another wild wall
  • Longquanyu (龙泉峪): wild wall