Why Jinshanling Great Wall of China will be Your Best Choice

 

Jinshanling Great Wall, China.

Jinshanling Great Wall

Most tourists wanting to see the Great Wall of China visit Badaling, the part of the wall which is located not far from Beijing. If you want to just look at the wall and take your photo with it behind you, Badaling will be the right decision. However, note that about 30,000 visitors go through this section of the wall daily. Sure enough, a couple of thousand of them will be on your photo along with you.

This is a big problem for us because we always want not only to see, but to feel any ancient construction. So we started to seek unreconstructed parts of the Great Wall. For us, two of them were appropriate: Jiankou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall.

Jinshanling Great Wall, China.

Jiankou is the dream of every brave explorer with a camera, but this explorer must be in very good physical shape because some parts of the wall will demand from you the capability to pull yourself up. Officially, this part of the Great Wall is closed for visiting, so all the responsibility is on you.

The length of the Jiankou Great Wall is 20 km, and this is a real obstacle course with several collapsed sections. Since my wife Irina is only learning to pull herself up, we were forced to choose the Jinshanling Great Wall. This part is the most distant and unreconstructed. The Ming dynasty started to build it, and since those times, its 67 watchtowers guard Beijing from the northeast.

Jinshanling Great Wall, China.

The emperor, Cynn Scī Huang, saw color dreams. One night he dreamed that he flew to the moon and looked at Earth from there. His empire seemed too tiny to him, and his heart sank. In the morning, he decided to erect the wall around his lands to defend them from enemies.

The Great Wall of China is a coeval of the Egyptian pyramids. It is almost 5,000 years old, and it is the biggest defensive construction in the world, stretching from the Yellow Sea to the sands of the Gobi Desert.

Early in the morning, together with five Europeans and our Chinese guide Tao, we left Beijing for the Jinshanling Great Wall. But we didn’t get far. Our minivan stopped near an jade factory. I must admit, there were many unreal, beautiful works of art there, but we were interested in the Great Wall, not in an jade sailboat or horse of my height.

Jade Museum, Beijing, China.

Jade Museum, Beijing, China.

Jade Museum, Beijing, China.

Jade Museum, Beijing, China.

Jade Museum, Beijing, China.

As a result, when we arrived at the wall, there was an enormous line for the tickets. However, our guide, Tao, disappeared and after five minutes returned with tickets. The Jinshanling Great Wall has not been reconstructed in about 300 years, and we thought it would be a real adventure. Unfortunately, Tao gave us only three hours for exploring (later, we knew why), then a dinner and the long way back to Beijing.

There are few places in the world where you can appreciate the breathtaking grandeur of an architectural structure. The wall twists bizarrely on the crests of the hills and climbs up almost vertically in some places. Numerous plaques persistently warn of the danger of collapse, but the landscapes are stunning. The length of the Jinshanling Great Wall is almost 11 kilometers; it is impossible to conquer this distance in three hours. We could only enjoy the views and did not forget to glance at the clock.

Jinshanling Great Wall, China.

Jinshanling Great Wall, China.

Jinshanling Great Wall, China.

We are on the top of the wall, tired, but pleased, sitting on a stone. Suddenly, I note that Irina turned pale and stopped talking. Yes, I understand it was a long and hard way up. But the reason was different—a snake within a meter from her. In the blink of an eye, I pulled out my Templar one-and-a-half-meter sword—which I bought in Spanish Toledo and have carried with me ever since—and with one blow chopped the snake in two parts, and along… Oh, sorry, seems like I got carried away. Actually, the snake just hissed and crawled behind a stone. Be careful there.

Three hours passed in a moment, and at the appointed time, our whole company gathered near the minivan. During lunch, we learned an unpleasant detail. It turns out that we were in such a hurry just because we must visit a silk factory and a tea factory on the way back. In that moment, I wanted to pull out my Templar sword again and kill Tao where he stood.

Jinshanling Great Wall, China.

Jinshanling Great Wall, China.

Jinshanling Great Wall, China.

After all the factories, Tao pleased us with a “gift from the company”—a foot massage. Having immersed our tired feet in the vats with a warm infusion of some herbs, we listened to one more lecture about the benefits of cleansing the body with the help of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The apotheosis of the program was the appearance of a Tibetan doctor with his students. He diagnosed the state of health of the people by feeling their pulse.

For us, it was not the first time, so we dutifully listened to the diagnosis and politely refused to buy the healing herbs and ointments. The doctor did not believe us and once again outlined all the power and effectiveness of his elixirs. We refused again. Glancing at us like we were complete idiots, he went to treat a couple of young Finnish guys.

Take-home message: If you want to visit and explore in China precisely what you want to visit and explore, hire an individual guide. Yes, it is more expensive, but aren’t your comfort and time worth it?

The Great Wall of China is worth visiting, if you will follow some guidelines which allow you not to spoil the impression of this beautiful construction.

1. I don’t advise you to use local buses on the way to the wall. Deliberately or accidentally, conductors will help you to leave a bus on a stop from which it is impossible to reach the wall on foot. You will be forced to take a taxi for a price as high as if you would have driven from Beijing. A wise choice is a tourist bus to the Badaling Great Wall or Mutianyu Great Wall.

2. Your shoes should have non-slip soles. Shoes with ankle support would be ideal. A jacket will not be superfluous, because a strong wind is not uncommon in the mountains.

3. The reconstructed sections of the Great Wall have all the conveniences, but if you are going to conquer the remote sections of the wall, at least take water with you. Protein bars can be a very convenient meal replacement.

4. On the wall, don’t take risks for unique pictures. You can fall from a height of three to five storeys on the rocky slope.

5. Beware of snakes.

6. Haggle, and you will always drop the price at least by half, and everyone will be satisfied.

7. Check the calendar and try not to come to China during national holidays, otherwise there will be unimaginable crowds of local tourists.

Badaling Great Wall, China.

Badaling Great Wall, China.

More about China:
If You are Going to Die, Visit Hainan Island in China
Lessons of Survival While Traveling to China

45 Responses to “Why Jinshanling Great Wall of China will be Your Best Choice”

  1. sophierose233 Says:

    Great advice! Badaling is definitely not a good place to see the wall!

    Like

  2. AndreaOnVacation Says:

    I hate the mandatory factory tours! So annoying, especially when they are sprung on you after the fact.

    Like

  3. UnrestingSea Says:

    Hey Victor. I loved reading this. Your photos are fantastic. It reminded me a lot of my time visiting the Great Wall, but for the life of me, I can’t remember which section we visited. Though I could have used your warning… we definitely took a local bus, were left at a stop FAR away and had to hire a taxi the rest of the journey. Live & learn, right?

    Your blog is awesome.

    Like

  4. lauramacky Says:

    Wonderful advice! I’m forwarding to my husband. We were thinking of traveling there.

    Like

  5. Amy Says:

    Thank you for the advice, Victor! We visited Badaling last year. Hope to see this part in the near future! Great photos, Wow.
    These jade collections are exquisite.

    Like

  6. Robin S. Kent Says:

    Excellent post. Great images and very useful information.

    Like

  7. wordsfromanneli Says:

    Wonderful post, Victor. I love the photos of the wall, but then I saw the last one! Shudders! It’s still a great photo, but it’s a scene that I would hate. All those people! I would rather have the wall all to myself. (Not going to happen, I know.)

    Like

  8. Rajiv Says:

    I have been to four sections of The Wall, including Jinshanling

    Like

  9. RDoug Says:

    Looks as if you and I visited different sections of the Great Wall, but we were also just a short way out of Beijing when we went back in February. As for jade, we made the expensive mistake of visiting the government owned jade factory and store rather than a museum. You can’t buy museum pieces. 😉

    Like

  10. Dennis Wagoner Says:

    We have been to these locations and enjoyed it all. Three hours your guide limited you to is hardly enough!

    Like

  11. Helene Kwong Says:

    I love visiting China but really hate the factory tours. Real turn off and you spend more time there than at the attraction itself.

    Like

  12. Andrew Petcher Says:

    Great story. Does anyone maintain the wall here or is it just crumbling away? I’m with you on those horrid factory visits, it happened to us recently in Turkey. We could have an extra two hours at Ephesus but we had to go to a ceramics factory and a Turkish Delight shop – such a wasted opportunity!

    Like

  13. thebritishberliner Says:

    Great advice. I can’t wait to see the Great Wall myself. It looks amazing, but snakes? Shudder!
    I know what you mean by diversions. How many times have I said to hired drivers in a developing country – no shops or stalls? Only to be taken to a shop! In India, I wanted to buy books written by local Indian writers but my rikshaw driver took me to a jewellery shop instead. I was so fed up that I refused to get out!
    Lovely adventure Victor.

    Like

  14. Sue Slaght Says:

    Oh my goodness Victor what an extraordinary post! Fabulous photos and I LOVED the snake story! I completely believed you! As far as the rushing through the tour to get to silk or tea, hand me the sword. Good grief. 🙂

    Like

  15. Pam Says:

    The jade museum is stunning!

    Like

  16. Victor Tribunsky Says:

    Without any doubts, Pam. Thanks a lot for the visit.

    Like

  17. Garden Walk Garden Talk Says:

    Your photos are better than any I have seen, even in the movies. I will forward this post to my friend for your travel advice about the bus and where to see the wall. The snake would stop me from talking too.

    Like

  18. Adam @ Round the World we go Says:

    Thank you for your advice, and what a sword! Glad the snake got away.. for a moment I couldn’t believe what I had read 😉

    Like


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