There are many ways to tackle the Great Wall of China. One largely painless method is to bypass the bonkers lines at Badaling and head straight for the Mutianyu section, 45 miles north of Beijing. The easiest way to get there is to hire a driver to take you to the ticketing area in Huairou Beidajie. Once you arrive, be prepared to pay several fees: 45 yuan (around $7 USD) to get in, 15 yuan ($2.25) for a roundtrip shuttle to the main entrance, and 80 yuan ($12) for a cable car up the wall and a toboggan down it (because when else will you be able to say you slid down one of the world’s great wonders?). Doing it this way saves you from a brutal uphill climb that’ll leave you winded before you even get started.
Mutianyu isn’t the most desolate stretch of wall in China, but it is well-preserved and includes a 2-kilometer restored area (the longest on the entire wall). As for that toboggan, it can be reached at guard post 6, which is about nine posts away from where the cable car drops you off. Not sure which way to walk? Head down, not up; the latter is steep and tiresome. Remember to BYO water, sweat rags, a picnic lunch (there’s a Subway at the base), and sunscreen—or an umbrella hat, like the little superstar below.
Mutianyu Great Wall, Huairou Qu, Beijing, China.