12 Tips for visiting the Great Wall of China

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

The Great Wall of China, one of the seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO Heritage Site, is on many a bucket list (raises hand and waves). The Great Wall (actually in sections, so walls) is incredibly long (over 13,000 miles!), and averages a height of 20 feet, width of 21 feet. It is said that the Great Wall was built by over a million people; it reaches across 15 regions of China, and is the country's most visited site (for ease and a knowledgeable guide, take The Great Wall of China tour).  
It’s on your bucket list, too? Of course!

12 Tips for visiting the Great Wall of China

Here are a dozen tips for visiting the Great Wall of China…


Yes! There are so many sections of the Great Wall to visit. Do your research and find which area suits you best. You could visit based on your abilities, geography, attractions (Cable car! Slide!), accommodations, handicap accessibility (more on that below), the availability of night tours, who is going with (young kids?), and where you’re also exploring in China.

12 Tips for visiting the Great Wall of China

Wear the right things

Flip flops? No, thank you. Wearing the right things will make this a much better experience. Wear walking or hiking shoes, loose pants, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and layers of clothing. Carry a backpack to evenly balance your stuff (pack as lightly as possible), and bring walking poles for sure. Winter time? You know the drill.

Always bring a bottle of water with you (and, if you’re like me, snacks). If you have allergies or asthma, bring a mask, in case of pollen or haze.

12 Tips for visiting the Great Wall of China

Be a responsible traveler

Do not remove anything, litter, or deface the Great Wall. Follow the age-old adage, 'leave only footsteps, take only memories (and photos!).'

When to go

For optimal weather, visit during the spring. An extra bonus? You’ll have all kinds of flowering trees and foliage to visually enhance your journey. Fall is also a good time to visit. If you absolutely love winter, go then!

Pro tip: avoid visiting in the summer, both for the heat and the crowds.

As always, check the local calendar and avoid weekends and holidays, if at all possible, if you are worried about crowds, etc.

12 Tips for visiting the Great Wall of China

Need accessible accommodations?

Some sections of the Great Wall are accessible, either by ramps or even an elevator or cable car at times! Ask your tour company for information before you book.

12 Tips for visiting the Great Wall of China

Watch your step! 

This is an ancient structure. Pay attention to where you’re walking (or climbing). Some of the sections and stairs are REALLY steep. Some of the watchtowers may not be maintained. 

12 Tips for visiting the Great Wall of China

Read up

Of course, discover as much as you can before visiting. The culture, history, poetry, and stories are fascinating, and will help you understand more about the area, people, culture, etc. Did you know the history of the marks on some of the bricks? Or where there be bones? Or that the Great Wall took over 2,000 (!) years to build?


Of course, you’ll want to capture this extraordinary experience! While you can’t quite get there at sunrise (check opening times), go as early as you can for glorious morning light.

12 Tips for visiting the Great Wall of China

Things you wanted to ask…

There are no bathrooms on the Great Wall. Be sure to use the bathrooms near the entrances to the Wall. Bring your own toilet paper and soap.

Souvenirs? Remember that whatever you purchase up there, you’ll have to haul.

Entrance Fees? Yes! There are entrance fees (if you’re on a tour, these will be included). Be sure to bring enough cash.

Fear of heights is real, my friend. If this is you, research which areas of the Great Wall are less steep, and focus on exploring there.

Yes, there are opening and closing hours for much of the Great Wall. Be sure to know before you go.