The Great Wall Guide to Even Some Remote Sections

This Great Wall Guide is not flashy (read: no pictures). It is a thorough guide (read: many maps) on how to get into Beijing, see the great wall like a local, avoid the tourist traps, and do it as cheaply and efficiently as possible. Since I already wrote a review on the great wall, this is strictly a guide, and not an opinion or evaluation. I wrote the bulk of this article two years ago, using my own personal experience traveling with a Chinese person, and referencing many expats and locals. The biggest contribution came from the great wall forum, the single best resource for people who would like to see the wall without the crowds.

I) Before going to China (visas):

China is one of the few countries that require visas for everyone ahead of time as it is the most visited country in the world (believe it or not). This means that you must plan for China earlier than most other countries. Getting a visa is relatively simple, but not cheap if you’re American.

1) If you live in the US: You must go to the Chinese Embassy nearest you, and follow the instructions on this website: Chinese Embassy. [Cost: ~$150 for US citizens, otherwise ~$30] The prices continuously go up, so you might have to pay a little more than this. The prices quoted are for single entry visas.

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The Great Wall

The Great Wall of China

Location: North Eastern China (Accessible Through: Beijing, China)

Visited: February, 2010

Background and Opinion:

“What is the Great Wall of China” you ask? No you don’t, no one asks this EVER because everyone knows right? Actually, you might not know as much as you think you do.

First, the Great Wall is not a single wall at all (excellent map here) and would be more appropriately called “The Great Set of Walls.” This name doesn’t sell as many tickets, as you may imagine, so lets just continue calling it the ‘Great Wall’ for now. Secondly, it is built horizontally. While city walls are built in a circular shape to protect from all sides, the great wall was built as a barrier separating the northern people of the steppes (modern day Mongolia) and the Chinese people in the south. Third, it was built by a number of different Dynasties. The wall was started by Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China who, coincidentally, also ordered the construction of the Terracotta Army and was the founder of Unified China (busy guy). It was built from 200 BCE – 1400s CE to protect different parts of China from external threats. Over the centuries, the numerous parts linked up in many places, but to this day, more and more parts of the wall are being uncovered. Something else that you might not know is just how many sections are accessible. There are dozens of entry points from Beijing alone if you know what you are doing.
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