If you missed my last post, it was all about our first day exploring Beijing! You can read it HERE. Taylor and I had such a fun and relaxing day wondering around the city, but we were even more excited for our second day. Like most people, we have been dreaming about seeing the Great Wall of China because it’s one of the 7 Wonders of the World. We knew we were going to see it during our time living in China, but we strategically planned to go during the month of October. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s less crowded, cooler, and the leaves would be transitioning.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Taylor is no average guy when it comes to traveling. He always takes the path less traveled and strives to make his experiences the most unique. The Great Wall of China was no exception. His boss whom we had lunch with the previous day made sure we had the most authentic and wonderful experience. He’s been living here for over 10 years, so he was very helpful!!
At 7:30am, he sent a driver to come pick us up at our hotel for the day. If you’re planning on traveling to Beijing to see the Great Wall, please remember that the most popular sections of The Wall will take 40 minutes to an hour to get there. There are various ways you can get there:
- The Bus – Probably the cheapest route.
- A tour group – make sure you do your research on this one. I’ve heard people talk about how they were scammed by doing this.
- Hiring a Car – I’m not sure how much this costs, but I’m sure it’s not cheap.
Most tourists visit a part of the wall that has been rebuilt by the government for tourism and accessibility. There’s nothing wrong with this, but we didn’t want hundreds of people around and we wanted to see something real and historical. We were taken to Huang Hua and it took 2 hours to get there by car. Once we arrived, our driver dropped us off in a very small farming town. We paid 5RMB each to walk through a woman’s restaurant, which lead to a small opening in the wall. The view from that first lookout was amazing!
We hired a photographer named Tony to join us because we really wanted to enjoy the moment and take our Christmas card photos. Tony was a friend of a friend, and he’s currently earning his bachelor’s degree in Beijing. He was absolutely phenomenal and a joy to have along. If you’re in the Beijing area and want a photographer, I’d highly recommend him. I know we’ll be asking him to take photos again in the future!! He was such a sweet guy.
Walking along The Wall was a lot more difficult than we were expecting. Some parts were straight up! It didn’t help that we were dressed for photos. 🙂 We hiked to the next town, which took close to two hours with all the pictures. We crossed paths with one other person during the whole time. This is unheard of with The Great Wall. Even Tony was astonished and said he’d never return to the popular sections again. He told us that he visited during the summer and he could barley walk or take photos with all the people.
We paid another 10RMB each to exit the wall through someone’s orchard. Our driver was waiting there ready to take us home. I was so exhausted after all the hiking and photos that I fell asleep the whole two hours back into the city. We were dropped off in Sanlitun, and headed straight for lunch.
We ate at another favorite, Home Plate BBQ! As you can imagine, we were starving! Taylor ordered the fried buffalo chicken sandwich and I ordered their classic pulled pork sandwich. We also split an order of bbq pulled pork fries! Yum!
After scarfing down our food, we went back to The Bookworm to look at our photos and reflect on our Great Wall experience. Tony took all the photos on my memory card so we’d have access to them immediately. We were also able to edit them however we wanted!
Before heading to the train station, we walked around one of the markets. To be honest, we didn’t really enjoy it. The stuff there was almost “too nice” and the sellers weren’t willing to negotiate much. Nothing stood out either. We prefer the markets in Shanghai much more. We got to the train station a few hours before our train because we were meeting our wonderful friend Jenny!! We met her years ago when we visited China the first time, and we finally had the chance to reconnect because she lives in Beijing now. We got Starbucks and caught up on life. I’m so thankful for a friend like Jenny!
Side note: if you’re a Starbucks mug collector like me, the Beijing train station has almost every Chinese city you can imagine!! Don’t stress if you can’t find one out and about.
I still can’t believe we hiked The Great Wall of China! Everything about our experience was perfect, and I can’t wait to take family and friends there in the future. ❤
We’ll be traveling to Hong Kong for our second visa run tomorrow. Make sure you’re subscribed for all the details. Thank’s for reading!! xoxo