LE DESTINAZIONI

Le Guide su Paesi, Città e Destinazioni

Guide pratiche e dettagliatissime su Paesi, città e destinazioni. Cosa vedere, quanto stare, in quale quartiere prenotare l'albergo, come spostarsi, che tempo fa. I miei suggerimenti su come organizzarti e tanti links utili dove cercare info aggiornate. Da stampare e portare in viaggio.

I VIAGGI

I Grandi Viaggi

Veri e propri programmi di viaggio spiegati in dettaglio, giorno per giorno, con tutte le informazioni ed i links che occorrono per poter prenotare, da solo e sul web, alberghi, trasferimenti e voli interni.

IL CLIMA

Il Clima

Il tempo che potresti trovare, Paese per Paese, regione per regione, quasi mese per mese. Quando è meglio andare e quando è più saggio starsene a casa. I links dove controllare forecasts ed averages di temperatura e piovosità.

LA SALUTE IN VIAGGIO

La salute e le malattie in viaggio.

Sei in partenza per un viaggio? Sei preoccupato per malaria, febbre gialla e dengue e cerchi informazioni su vaccinazioni e profilassi? L’attenzione sulla malattie e sulla salute in viaggio e di conseguenza l’informazione aggiornata sulla situazione sanitaria nel Paese che si intende visitare è un vero e proprio must per qualsiasi viaggiatore.

I TUOI RACCONTI DI VIAGGIO

I TUOI RACCONTI DI VIAGGIO

Sei un viaggiatore? Ti piace scrivere? Vuoi pubblicare il tuo racconto di viaggio su questo blog? Mandaci il tuo resoconto di viaggio, lo pubblicheremo volentieri, potrà essere utile a tutti i lettori.

PASSAPORTI E VISTI

Passaporti e visti

Le informazioni su passaporti e visti, formalità valutarie e doganali, ambasciate e consolati, l'ESTA, il Timatic Web e gli ultimi avvisi per il viaggiatore

The Best Great Wall Guided Day-Trips from Beijing

The Best Great Wall Guided Day-Trips from Beijing

Your super detailed guide to the very best guided tours to the Great Wall of China from Beijing with my reviews and all the pros and cons of each tour. What are the best guided day-trips to the Great Wall? Are you looking for an excursion by private car and a personal guide or do you wish to join a small group tour? And which section of the Great Wall would you like to go to? Is it better to visit the Mutianyu Great Wall, the Wall at Badaling or go on an extraordinary one-way hike from Jinshanling to Simatai? A comparison and detailed description of the 4 best private and group guided day-trips to the Great Wall from Beijing with my considerations and direct links to check prices and easily book online by credit card.

Guided Day-Trip to Mutianyu, the Great Wall of China

Guided Day-Trip to Mutianyu Great Wall from Beijing, China

Photo Credit: Rob Deutscher

What Are the Best Guided Day-Trips to the Great Wall of China from Beijing?

Are you in Beijing and would like to visit the Great Wall of China? Are you looking for a tour to the Great Wall including both transportation and guide? Would you like to go to the Great Wall by private car with a guide on an exclusively private basis or are you travelling alone and want to join a cheaper group tour? Do you need a transfer only because you want to hike along the Wall on your own?

  • I have selected tens of guided tours to the Great Wall organised by Beijing based travel suppliers and sold online, and have chosen 4 different tours. These are not the only ones you can book but in my opinion they are among the best and most complete guided day-trips to the Great Wall available on the market. 
  • All tours are described below, in a very detailed way, with full descriptions, my considerations, some suggestions, all the pros and all the cons and all the important things you need to know before choosing.  Have a look and see if there is a tour you like.
  • You can book all these tours easily by credit card through Get Your Guide and Viator, the two biggest travel companies specialising in selling tours and activities online. Viator is part of the TripAdvisor family and Get Your Guide gives you the benefit of a customer service reachable by phone 24/7 in all the main western languages. For the great majority of tours you get instant confirmation, while for some, tour confirmation is subject to availability and will be given within 48 hours of your booking.
  • I have written a technical review of the best guided tours to visit Beijing too, both private and cheaper group tours. You can read the detailed descriptions and my comments of the best and more valid excursions to see the greatest attractions of the capital of China in the post The Best Guided Tours in Beijing.  It may help if you want a guided visit to the Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace or if you want to take a walk with your guide through fascinating Hutong, the old charming districts of Beijing.
Jinshanling to Simatai Great Wall Day Hike from Beijing, China

Jinshanling to Simatai Great Wall Day Hike from Beijing, China

Photo Credit: Ronnie Macdonald

Important Things to Know

Aspects to Consider Before Booking a Tour to the Great Wall of China

Before examining in detail several tour options that take you from Beijing to the Great Wall I advise you to take a few important things into consideration.

  • The great majority of guided tours to the Great Wall from Beijing are full day tours.
  • Despite this, many of the tours organised by Beijing travel agencies provide a stay on the Great Wall that does not exceeding one and half hours. Sometimes a few minutes more, sometimes less.
  • This applies in particular to all excursions combining the Great Wall with another visit, such as to the Forbidden City or to the Summer Palace. The vastness of the Forbidden City complex and the Summer Palace gardens require hours to be visited, plus the distance of the Great Wall from Beijing, not to mention the obligatory stops to jewelry and souvenir shops, unfortunately included in many cheap group tours, mean that you end up spending very little time on the Great Wall. Far too little time. These kinds of tours are ok only if your stay in Beijing is limited to 2 or 3 days and you do not like walking.
  • If you want an authentic and complete experience on the Great Wall and really want to enjoy it, book a tour which is 100% fully-dedicated to the Great Wall, without any deviations.
  • But only do that if you like walking and are prepared to go up and down hundreds, thousands of steps. That’s because the Great Wall is in the mountains, expanding along the crest line, continuously rising and falling. If you don’t like hiking, or if you have difficulty walking up and down steps, at times steep steps, well in this case a fully-dedicated tour to the Great Wall would be a waste of time.
Hiking Great Wall of China at Mutianyu, a Day-Trip from Beijing

Hiking Great Wall at Mutianyu, a Day-Trip from Beijing, China

Photo Credit: Colin Capelle

Group Tour to the Forbidden City and Mutianyu Great Wall

This is the classical group excursion of Beijing. In one single day you see Tian’anmen Square, visit the Forbidden City and reach the Great Wall of Mutianyu, which is particularly evocative, without too many tourists and with a great panorama around you. This tour includes lunch and two very shopping-oriented stops at a tea factory and a jade store. Do not expect an in-depth visit, given the distances, your time spent at both the Forbidden City and the Great Wall will be very brief. I recommend this tour only if you have very limited time.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: at your hotel in central Beijing, the only important thing is that the hotel must be located in one of the two (very big) districts of Dongcheng and Xicheng, which is more than likely as most hotels booked by tourists in Beijing are there.
  • Duration: about 8 hours, departure between 7am and 8:30am.
  • Guide: English.
  • Features: shared tour with other participants. I know that a tour in a 40/50 seater bus is not that great but this helps keep costs down, in fact this tour is great value for money.
  • Price: is per person, includes transportation, guide, lunch, entrance ticket to the Forbidden City and entrance ticket to the Great Wall; the cableway to the top of the Great Wall is not included and is to be paid on arrival.
  • Pros: the price is exceptionally cheap considering that it includes entrance tickets and pick-up services. It’s very hard to spend less.
  • Cons: on a tour super full of things to see the time reserved for lunch (frugal to say the least) and the two “obligatory” shopping stops at Jade and Tea factories take up further time from the real visits. Do NOT expect more then 1 hour at the Great Wall (sometimes less, sometimes a little more if you are lucky not to encounter too much traffic), that is to say time for a short walk and some photos. It’s better to know in advance in order to avoid disappointment.
  • Good to know: the Forbidden City is usually open from Tuesday to Sunday; it is closed on Monday except on national holidays and except on Monday in July and August.
  • To take into consideration: if you want “to experience” the Great Wall by calmly walking along the length of the Wall, well this is not the kind of tour to book.
  • Recommended: if you have only one single day in Beijing at your disposal and want to see the two biggest attractions in all of China.
  • Do you want a private tour? This excursion is offered by Viator with 2 hours at the Forbidden City and 2 hours at Mutianyu Great Wall. Price includes transportation from/to the hotel by private car with a private guide, lunch, entrance tickets to both attractions and return cable car ride to the top of the Great Wall (with the option of cable car up/toboggan down), click here to get all the info and book Viator | Private Day Tour: Beijing Highlights And Mutianyu Great Wall With Village Lunch Inclusive
  • Group option with Badaling: is a similar group excursion to visit the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, the difference is you will visit the Great Wall at Badaling instead of Mutianyu, you can book at this link GetYourGuide | Beijing Great Wall & Forbidden City Full-Day Group Tour. There are pros and cons to the previous excursion: the pro is Badaling is in the immediate vicinity of Beijing that means less driving time to go and come back; the con is Badaling is a lot more crowded than Mutianyu, the numerous tourists can ruin the whole experience, especially during the week-ends and Summer.
Day-Trip to Great Wall of China at Badaling, North-west of Beijing, China

Guided Day-Trip to Badaling Great Wall from Beijing, China

Photo Credit: Roman Boed

Private Tour to Mutianyu Great Wall and Summer Palace

This is quite an interesting tour and reasonably well balanced. In one single day it combines the visit to two of the biggest attractions outside the center of Beijing: the Mutianyu Great Wall and the Summer Palace, both located north of the center of the capital of China. In contrast with the previous excursion this tour is strictly on a private basis, this means you can travel about faster so that you can focus on what you are more interested in. Note the option to extend the tour by one or two hours, to spend more time on the Great Wall or to visit the Bird’s Nest (the scenic Beijing Olympic Stadium), paying only a small supplement directly to your driver/guide.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: at your hotel in the center of Beijing.
  • Duration: approx 9 hours, leave at about 8:30am, back around 5pm.
  • Guide: English and Spanish speaking driver/guide.
  • Features: private tour with car and guide reserved only for you.
  • Price: the real cost depends on the number of participants, select the date and insert the number of adults and children to get the correct price; it includes private transportation, entrance ticket to Mutianyu plus return cable car ticket (or cable car up/toboggan down), the entrance to the Summer Palace and lunch.
  • Pros: the comfort of a private car; no shopping stops, you can focus on things to see.
  • Cons: none, to tell the truth, and considering that this is a private tour already full of inclusions, the price is not excessive, and if you travel with a family or with a group of friends the price is really advantageous.
  • To take into consideration: as per previous tour even this excursion is not the right one if you want a complete experience of the Wall; if you want to walk on the Wall for hours you need to book a tour that focuses 100% on the visit of the Great Wall, without any other attractions included in the same tour.
  • Recommended: if you would like a private one-day tour to see the two most important attractions outside Beijing which require a lot of time to get there and instead dedicate another day to visit what there is to see inside the city center, from the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven to the hutong. You can visit these places on your own without any difficulty, spending very little money by using the efficient, super cheap subway. In other words, you invest money where it’s worth it and wherever possible do the easier things better on your own.
Mutianyu Great Wall Guided Tour from Beijing, China

Full Day Trip to Mutianyu Great Wall from Beijing, China

Photo Credit: Colin Capelle

Full Day Tour to Mutianyu Great Wall

Would you like to concentrate just on the Great Wall? If you see the Forbidden City and Summer Palace on another day and would like to visit the Great Wall properly, well there is another solution. And it’s a very interesting and well-studied tour at a catchy price. Transportation is by shared van or bus from Beijing to the Great Wall with the assistance of a guide and you have at least 3 full hours at your disposal to visit the Great Wall of Mutianyu, on your own and at your own pace. During the journey from Beijing and on arrival at Mutianyu the guide gives explanations and assistance, after that you are completely free to enjoy your time on the Great Wall, without being hurried. It’s impossible to get lost on the Wall, you can decide where to go, where to stop and take pictures, how far to walk. Please note: no shopping stops on this tour!

  • Pick-up and drop-off: included for all centrally located hotels.
  • Duration: about 8 hours, departure between 6am and 7:30am and return to Beijing around 6pm and 7:30pm, depending on traffic.
  • Guide: driver plus English speaking guide.
  • Features: shared tour with other participants, by minivan or by bus according to the size of the group.
  • Price: includes transportation from and to your hotel, entrance ticket to Mutianyu Great Wall, the guide’s assistance and lunch; cable car to the top of the Wall is not included, the guide will help you buy tickets, you can choose a return cable car ticket or go up by cable car and down by toboggan.
  • Pros: pick-up service, 3 full hours on the Wall (sometimes a little more), value for money and no shopping stops at all.
  • Cons: if we consider the cost I would say there are none; actually there is one con: as per all group tours on departure and arrival the bus stops at a lot of hotels to collect passengers, this means wasting time, especially in Beijing; in addition, on some particularly popular days, the bus that picks you up at your hotel may not be the same bus that takes you to the Great Wall.  Don’t get mad, instead use that time to admire the big avenues of the capital.
  • Recommended: if you are travelling alone or with a partner and are looking for transport to the Great Wall without spending too much money, and on arriving at the Wall want to explore it on your own and plan the time you spend there yourself.
  • A small group option: this is a shorter tour, leaving Beijing mid-morning, perfect if you do not want to get up early, this is the link to investigate GetYourGuide | Small Group: Half-Day Great Wall at Mutianyu Hiking Tour, maximum 6 people per group, no delays and no shopping, the local supplier is the well-known and highly appreciated China Highlights.
  • Private option with a driver only: this is not a tour, but a pure transfer with private car and a driver from any hotel in the center of Beijing to Mutianyu and back, with 8 hours car at your disposal, your driver will wait for you while you visit the Wall on your own. Check the price and book at this link Viator | Private Round-Trip transfer: Beijing hotels to Mutianyu Great Wall; you get instant confirmation at the time of booking, starting from 3 people the price becomes extremely advantageous, keep in mind that your driver will not speak English but undoubtably knows exactly where to take you and where to pick you up at the end of your visit. If necessary, in a flash he’ll take out his mobile, call his office and hand over his phone so you can speak to somebody in English. This has often happened to me in taxis in China.
  • Group option with the transfer only: I think it is impossible to spend less to go to Mutianyu, this service offers just the transfer to and from a fixed point in Beijing (you must reach it on your own by subway, see the meeting place in the official tour page below and check it again in the email you receive immediately after booking) plus full 4 hours (great!) of free time at the Mutianyu Great Wall, transportation is by bus, no intermediate stops and no shopping stops, you can book only the transfer or decide to add the Great Wall ticket entrance in order not to queue at the ticket counter, aboard the bus and again at the entrance there is a guide to help you buy cable car tickets. The price is unbelievably low, this is the link to book GetYourGuide | Mutianyu Great Wall Bus Transfer with Options
  • Video: images giving a detailed, didactic and educational description of a day at Mutianyu Great Wall, with ascent by cable car to the Wall and descent by toboggan ride in this video courtesy of Nicky Eng:

The Grand Crossing: Simatai West to Jinshanling Hiking Tour

An extraordinary tour, the great crossing from Simatai to Jinshanling is an exceptional one-way hike, without ever retracing your steps, along two of the most spectacular sections of all the Great Wall of China. You start in Simatai and end up in Jinshanling walking for miles on both restored and unrestored sections of the Wall passing tens of guard towers. The distance from Beijing to reach the start of the hike means this is a very long tour, recommended for active and sport-oriented families or groups of friends in order to reduce costs per person. This a private tour for those seeking a full immersion and who wish not only to see but to literally experience the very best of the Great Wall of China.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: at your hotel in Beijing.
  • Duration: approx 9 or 10 hours.
  • Guide: totally private tour with car and driver plus an English speaking guide who stays with you all day and accompanies you along the entire Great Wall itinerary.
  • Features: it’s a 150 km drive from your hotel in Beijing to the reach the starting point in Simatai, then you start a 6/7 km hike on the Great Wall to Jinshanling where you find your car for the return journey to Beijing.
  • Price: the real cost depends on the number of participants, select the date and insert the number of adults and children to get the correct price; it includes transportation, guide assisting and walking with you, Great Wall entrance tickets, lunch, light snack and bottle of water; the tour price becomes really advantageous when 3 or more people book together.
  • Pros: the beauty and vastness of the panorama along all the itinerary walking on the Great Wall; the great comfort of having a private car that picks you up and drops you off directly at your hotel along a route that takes between 2 and half and 3 hours per way according to traffic.
  • Cons: only one, the price.
  • Good to know: wear suitable walking shoes, there are thousands of steps… up and down the hills, considering all the stops to admire the panorama and take hundreds of pictures this hike takes 3 or 4 hours on foot; sometimes the itinerary is reversed starting in Jinshanling and ending in Simatai.
  • Recommended: if you are fit and like walking, if you want to see one of the greatest, less visited and less crowded sections of the Great Wall of China with your own eyes.
  • The softer and cheaper option with only Jinshanling: the great crossing is not included and the hike is shorter but if you only want to see the Great Wall of Jinshanling this group tour from Beijing is not that bad, especially if you are travelling alone and want to keep costs down, the price is more affordable than the previous tour, here is the link for info and booking GetYourGuide | From Beijing: Jinshanling Great Wall Hike, the tour includes transportation and entrance ticket to the Great Wall.
Hiking Great Wall of China at Jinshanling, a Guided Day-Tour from Beijing

Hiking Jinshanling Great Wall, a Guided Day-Trip from Beijing, China

Photo Credit: ryan hurril

Important!

  • I am not the organizer of these tours, I do not arrange any of the excursions and day trips you can read about in this blog. And I have never even taken part in them. To write all the guides published in the blog I travel independently arranging all transfers and all visits on my own.
  • But not everybody likes or has the time to study and prepare where to go, what to visit, how to organise things and transportation in advance. So, I have researched and compared tens of guided tours to the Great Wall sold by the two main online travel companies and have described the tours which I think are the best and the most complete. The results are the tours presented in this article.
  • Before booking read the full description of the tour you like in the official page of Viator and GetYourGuide carefully, please check what is included and what is not, meeting points, times of departure and cancellation policies. After booking, if you have any queries or doubts, immediately contact Viator Customer Care or GetYourGuide Customer Service in order to receive assistance.
  • And, most importantly, the day before the tour, please reconfirm the pick-up time with the local supplier. You receive phone and email of local supplier of the tour immediately after your booking. Maybe your hotel can help.
  • Read the reviews. If the majority of the reviews are positive that’s a good thing. And always check all the info you read here in the official page of each tour, things change and the official site provides the latest updates.
  • Do your travel plans take you to other cities in China? Are you looking for a guided tour? Hopefully you might be interested in reading my technical reviews of the most complete and value for money day-trips and excursions in Xian, Shanghai and Hong Kong. In The Best Guided Tours in Xian you can find my comments about the best travel options to visit the world famous Terracotta Army Museum and the highlights of the city; including the City Walls, the Great Mosque, the Muslim Quarter and the magnificent Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The Best Shanghai Guided Tours and Day-Trips invites you to discover the biggest metropolis in China, the UNESCO listed traditional Chinese gardens of Suzhou and the ancient and charming watertowns of Zhujiajiao, Zhouzhuang, Tongli e Xitang. Finally, The Best Guided Tours in Hong Kong offers you some ideas of the best excursions to explore Kowloon and Hong Kong Island and how to visit Macau in a guided day-trip, leaving in the morning and coming back to Hong Kong in the evening.

Last Update: April 1st 2019

Creative Commons 2.0 GenericFront cover photo credit: Great Wall of China in black and white by Ernst Kiessling on-off. Photos come from Flickr: Creative Commons Attribution Licensed Photos. Please read here the Summary of the Legal Code. Terms of license are valid at the time of publishing this post.