How to get The Great Wall of China to yourself (on a budget) | Jinshanling edition


The Great Wall of China is known as one of the most famous Seven Wonders of the World. This iconic landmark is probably on every travelers' bucket list, and I don't blame them. The Great Wall has a reputation for bringing you back in time, leaving you in awe, and be overly crowded. 
I have seen multiple photos of hundreds of people packed like sardines next to each other at the Great Wall. Luckily, there are parts of the wall that are not as crowded. 

When I was looking for ways to get to The Great Wall, I got overwhelmed with choices. A lot of the options that I was looking into looked good, but after some research I stumbled across the Jinshanling section of the wall. Jinshanling is known to be one of harder sections to hike, but it is totally worth is since it is also one of the the prettier sections of the wall and the least crowded. 
I was with a group of friends and we decided to not book a tour, but go by ourselves. Some tours are quite expensive and time intensive, as the students we are, that was not for us. Maybe not the smartest move, but we got there in the end after an adventure. If you want to play it safe (what I recommend): there are loads of tours on the internet that will go to the Jinshanling part, but we decided to take a bus.


STORYTIME: HOW I GOT THERE

We got told to take bus 980 from Beijing station to Miyun station, and take a different bus from there. The bus drive was around 30/45 minutes and when we arrived... we arrived in the middle of no where. No other bus in sight that would take us to the wall or back to Beijing, and no other people around apart from very aggressive taxi drivers. Since we did not had much of a choice, we decided to take a risk and made a deal with one of the taxis to bring us to the Wall for 30 yuen per person.
It was a scary ride, since the taxi was pretty much illegal and the driver did not spoke any English. Luckily, it was all good and the taxi drove us there and waited five hours till we were done, to bring us back to the bus station again.

THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA

When we reached the wall it was quiet, calm and pristine. We had the option to go for a long walk, or for a slightly shorter walk (around 2 hours shorter). We decided to go for the last option. We took a gondola (40 yuen) to the top of The Great Wall and hiked the wall from there.

When I got to the top, I was blown away. I didn't really know what to expect of the Great Wall (I honestly thought you would go up the Wall, take some photos and go down again), but this... this was amazing. It was gorgeous. The way the mountain held the wall and the sun hugged the landscape; it was perfect. And we had it all to ourselves, which was probably the best thing. 



The hike on the Jinshanling area is challenging, so keep that in mind when going. There was a few times where I thought that I was going to fall of the wall and my knees still burn when I think about the stairs and the hills. But it was fun. 
We went on a very hot day too, it was 37 degrees and there is a little to no shadow on the wall. Our taxi driver asked us before if we had enough water, but I thought that one bottle would be enough and ended up buying water at on of the stalls one the wall. I recommend bringing your own water, we got told later that the water on the wall is probably just tap water in a used bottle and a few of us got really sick after.  

COSTS

The hike took about 4 hours and it was so hard to leave. At the end of it you're exhausted and invigorated. The total we paid for the trip was 155 yuen, which is around 17 pounds (20 euro's). 
- The bus - 20 yuen
- Taxi - 30 yuen p/p
- Entree fee into Janshanling area - 65 entree 
Gondola to go up the Wall and cut off 2 hours of walking -  40 yuen
When I was looking at tours, most tours asked around 80 pounds. With most tours, you will get a tour guide too and you have a bit of assured safety, but if you want to save a little over 60 pounds, I recommend to take a bus and hire one of the taxis. Of course, keep in mind, safety first and do not trust all taxis. 
We spend the 60 pounds later that night by having a big dinner, since we were absolutely starving after the walk. It was honestly a perfect day.





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