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One of the highlights of my recent trip to Beijing was getting another chance to visit the Great Wall. This time I visited an older section further out from the city at Mutianyu (about 80km northeast from Beijing), generally regarded as one of the best preserved and most impressive sections of the whole wall. It’s also a good choice for those who want to avoid the hoards of tourists who plague Badaling most of the year.

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After an interesting bus trip riding along with a horde of migrant workers I arrived near the base of Mutianyu – there are probably easier ways to get there on organised trips but this seemed more interesting! For the intrepid you’ll want to look for bus no. 916 from Dongzhimen bus station. It’s about a 30 min climb to the wall which was built in the Qi Dynasty (550 – 557) and provides around 4km of rugged walking with watchtowers approximately every kilometer.

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Magnificent views are to be had in every direction although the best time of year to visit is probably in the spring/autumn when there is green foliage on the trees which cover the sounding mountains. The day I visited was a bit overcast but pleasant enough to enjoy the fresh breeze and a chance to stretch my legs. One part is particularly steep and potentially dangerous so the old and unfit be warned.

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Sadly once you reach the end of the maintained section the wall starts to dramatically crumble away and is overgrown with weeds. Although it’s tempting to continue along the wall into the looming mountains there is a guard to stop intrepid tourists – I saw him wittling a stick with a rather large knife so you’ll probably not want to cross him!

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