Walking on the Great Wall of China

Walking on the Great Wall of China was on my ‘bucket list’ and I crossed it off yesterday!

walking on the great walll of china

The Great Wall of China is thousands of miles long and I visited a small part of it. We went to one of the highest parking lots in the area so we could get to a high spot with great views. It was the JuYong Pass Ticket Office.

great wall of china walk ticket office

Once you buy tickets the entrance has bathrooms and a few shops.

shops at the great wall of china


They even have iced coffee if you need a boost before tackling the wall.

great wall of china cafe

Let’s do this!

walking along the great wall of china

walking along the great wall of china

locks on the fence at the great wall of china

walking along the great wall of china

There are five towers from this entrance. It’s not a very long climb, about .75 miles. But it’s very steep in most areas, mostly stairs…

stairs on the great wall of china

with some short areas that are not stairs, just inclines.

flat area on the great wall of china climb

Most visitors climb to the first or second tower. There were much fewer people once you went past the second and third tower.

I made it to the fifth tower where it dead ends and celebrated!

“You are not a hero until you climb the Great Wall’” – Mao

top of the great wall of china

At the top there is a very steep staircase to get to the top of the tower.

stairs at the top tower of the great wall of china

top of the great wall of china

The views are awesome and it’s such a historic place I took some time just to take it all in and remember this moment.

view from the great wall of chinaview from the great wall of china

Unfortunately, you can’t climb across the whole Great Wall because it’s no longer continuous. There are areas that aren’t up any longer and it’s hard or dangerous to cross on foot. Supposedly only two people have went across the whole Great Wall (on foot and bike and car combined) and they are both American. Maybe I should be #3?!?!

 how to climb the great wall of china how to climb the great wall of china

 walking on the great wall of china post

great wall of china shop with hero certificate

sign at the great wall of china walk

Then, it was time to go back down…

walk dont run on the great wall of china


It’s January and seems to be low season for tourism so the Great Wall wasn’t crowded. I’ve heard stories about it being pretty packed, but we were lucky to have the top all to ourselves = the six people from our group that made it all the way up.

The whole climb up and down took about 1.5 hours (including a lot of stops for pictures on the way) and was 1.4 miles. 1.4 miles on the great walk of china walk

One of the best days ever!

climbing the great wall of china bucket list done

Tips for visiting the Great Wall of China:

  1. As with most places in Beijing, bring your own toilet paper. Use the restrooms at the base, there are none going up.
  2. Check the weather and dress in layers. It was very cold on the day we visited, but since I was climbing stairs it got hot fast and took off some layers.
  3. The stairs toward the hand rails are very worn and some are extremely ‘dented’ from millions on foot steps. Watch your step!
  4. Take your time if you’re not in shape. The first steps from the bottom were the most steep.
  5. Enjoy every single second.

(Yes, I would love to run the Great Wall Marathon, but that’s not realistic right now or maybe ever. I am very very grateful I had this opportunity.)

Question: What’s on your bucket list?


  1. says

    Wow! That is such a cool experience! I would love to do that one day. I just want to travel. Anywhere! When I get in the best shape of my life (hopefully that’s not now haha) I want to go to Greece and do the Athens Marathon.

  2. says

    Amazing. I happen to be reading Wild Swans by Jung Chang at the moment, all about China in the 21 century (highly recommended), so this is so evocative.

    I ticked off a major goal four years ago when I walked the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu. I’m off travelling again soon and really hope to see China and Japan if our funds stretch that far but I’ll be happy to get to Patagonia in South America and see me some glaciers at the bottom of the world. I expect that will be chilly, too!

  3. says

    The great wall marathon would be awesome!

    I wonder if this is the part of the GW that is always shown in pictures? That one steep climb up to the tower look like a lot of other pictures I’ve seen. Now that you say that about other parts being closed, not connected, etc., that makes a little more sense.

    And thanks for the TP tip. That would be most unfortunate to learn the hard way.

  4. says

    I don’t officially have a bucket list, but I really want to go to New Zealand. And when I get there I want to go on this really amazing zip line tour they have through a canyon. They suspend you on your stomach so you get to feel like you’re flying. It looks awesome.

  5. says

    When we hiked Diamond Head, we just went up and down as fast as we could, took 2 pictures at the top and went back down. We should have taken more time to enjoy ourselves. We were just in a hurry to see everything we could. Good job taking time to observe and enjoy.

  6. says

    Wow! A-mazing pictures. Thanks so much for sharing. My Dad in law ran the Great Wall Marathon as a part of his journey to being part of the seven continents club. This gives me an even deeper appreciation for that run! Have a wonderful trip!!!!


  7. april says

    i visited china in late november/early december and was able to climb the great wall, as well. it was an amazing and completely surreal “bucket list” experience, but my calves were definitely sore the next day! =)

  8. says

    I got to climb the Great Wall in the summer of 2012, and it was such an amazing experience. The only bad part – it was scorching hot, and those stairs are a workout! So our pictures are very sweaty :). Glad you enjoyed it!

  9. says

    It’s so surreal, I’m sure… to actually be on the Great Wall of China!

    My bucket list? I’d love to climb Mount Whitney (I know, not exactly Everest), taking a cooking course in Italy, go to Fiji, and publish a novel.

  10. says

    Ahhh I’m so glad you got to walk the Great Wall! I walked about 10k along it in 2010 and it was amazing, I would definitely go back. Beijing is one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited, hope you had an amazing time there. Jo x

  11. says

    I visited the Great Wall a few years ago and this brought back some memories! I remember being surprised at how steep the stairs were and happy that I was fit enough to climb them!

  12. says

    Ah you’re lucky! I went in November to the Great Wall and it was ridiculously crowded! Although I did go to a different section of the wall than you did.

    I love travel bucket lists! Two years ago: Great Wall. Last year: Machu picchu. Next… Maybe Ankor Wat? What’s next on your travel bucketlist?

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