When I was planning my trip to Thailand I realized I had the option to add a stop for only $50 – $80 more. There were several cities to choose from and amongst them was Beijing, China. As a child, I remember hearing about the seven wonders of the world, The Great Wall being one of them, which is located in Beijing. For some reason “seven wonders of the world” sounded so fascinating and intriguing. I wanted nothing more than to visit every single one of them. So I added an eight-hour layover to my itinerary, which gave me more than enough time to hire a driver, leave the airport, explore the wall for about two hours, and return to the airport before my next flight.
Some might say The Great Wall of China isn’t so great, but I find beauty in everything. We arrived to the site around 6am so we got to see the sun rise through the horizon of the surrounding mountains. We were there before any other tourists had arrived, before there was any noise pollution. It was calm, quiet, and peaceful. It was exactly what I had envisioned based on the movie, The Karate Kid (2010).
- If you want to purchase a ticket to ride the gondola and/or for a tour guide, make sure you go inside the facility located at either entrance and pay there. There are men outside the building or across the street offering to take you to the great wall by car (otherwise, your ticket includes a bus ride) but they fail to mention that they charge WAY more than the original price.
- Wear comfortable shoes. The wall has A TON of steep steps!
- Download Google Translate or the iTranslate app. Basically, this is how my travel buddy and I survived in Beijing.