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Walk the Great Wall of China

China - Trip code WG Walking and Trekking
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756Kg of CO²e
Average carbon footprint per person
Carbon Footprint
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Why book this trip?

A walking trip that really gets off the beaten track in rural China exploring some of the most interesting and spectacular sections of China's iconic Great Wall. Starting at the Dragon's Head, where the Wall meets the sea, our hikes conclude among the beautiful rolling hills near Jinshanling with its numerous beacon towers.

  • Beijing - Visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City
  • Panjiakou - Take a boat trip where the Wall crosses the water
  • Eastern Qing Tombs - Visit the stunning Imperial Tomb Complex of the Qing Dynasty
  • Included meals

    Breakfast: 9

  • Trip staff

    Explore Tour Leader


    Local Guide(s)

  • Transport



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    2 nights comfortable guesthouse

    6 nights comfortable hotel

    1 nights simple hotel

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    Walking grade:


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    Group Size:

    10 - 16


Day 1 - Join trip in Beijing

The trip starts today in Beijing, China's political and cultural centre. The city has been the capital for most of the period since Kublai Khan made it the capital of his mighty Asian Empire in the late 1200s. All clocks in this vast country are set by Beijing time despite the westernmost regions being some 5000 km away.

Your Leader plans to meet everyone in the hotel reception for a welcome meeting at 5 pm. For those that wish, there is the chance to go out together as a group for dinner afterwards. There are no other activities planned for today. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up the next morning.

If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into either Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) or Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) . Due to the frequent traffic congestion in the city you should allow up to one-and-a-half hours for this journey.

If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to head out on foot and explore Beijing's central district with its many parks, temples and restaurants. Although Beijing is a massive city our hotel is centrally located within walking distance of Tiananmen Square (40 minutes) and the Temple of Heaven (15 mins).


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: None

Day 2 - Visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

Our trip begins today with a drive to the impressive expanse of Tiananmen Square, the heart of Beijing, covering some 40 hectares and enclosed on all sides by memorials to the past and present. After visiting the square we will cross to the magnificent Forbidden City, the one-time home of the Ming and the Manchu (Qing) emperors and a treasure trove of eastern wares. So named, because for 500 years it was off limits to all but a privileged few, the Forbidden City is the largest and best preserved collection of ancient buildings in China, covering an area of 720,000 square metres and containing an incredible array of some 800 buildings. After our visit the rest of the day is free to continue exploring as you wish, perhaps taking the opportunity to explore the alleyways or 'Hutongs' that make up the older and rapidly disappearing residential quarters of this fascinating city. Then there are the numerous parks and markets, selling everything from live frogs to deep fried bluebottles and scorpions! This evening there may also be the opportunity to experience the unique atmosphere of a traditional Beijing Opera performance or acrobatic display (optional).


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 3 - Drive to Shanhaiguan where Great Wall reaches the sea

Leaving Beijing we drive to Shanhaiguan. It is here that the Great Wall reaches the Bohai Sea at a point called Laolongtou or the 'Old Dragon's Head' - named after the legendary carved dragon's head that once faced the ocean. The city was a garrison town with a large square fort (which still exists) with huge gateways facing the four compass points. The east gate is an impressive structure known as 'First pass under Heaven'. It has these words inscribed at the top signifying the ancient Chinese perceived division of the world into 'civilised China' and the 'barbarians'. After visiting Old Dragon's Head we then drive to the First Pass where we have our first opportunity to walk on the Wall and visit the Great Wall Museum.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 4 - Trek on Great Wall to Jiaoshan Pass; drive to Panjiakou

Today we walk out of town along an old section of the wall to the impressive Jiaoshan Pass where it heads into the mountains for the first time. The fitter amongst the group may wish to continue up to a high point for spectacular views (weather permitting). This afternoon we take the scenic drive to Panjiakou where the wall crosses water.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 5 - Boat trip by the Wall, walk at Luowenyou

This morning we take a boat excursion on the reservoir at Panjiakou. The surrounding scenery is stunning - the Wall following undulating ridges across the rugged hills before plummeting into the water at two points, Panjiakou and Xifengkou. Joining our vehicle again we head for Luowenyou where we are able to walk for approximately five kilometres on a rugged and quite steep section of the wall with glorious views across the surrounding area. From Luowenyou we continue to our hotel in the grounds of the Eastern Qing Tombs near Zunhua.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 6 - Visit Eastern Qing Tombs; trek on Wall to Huangyaguan

Making a reasonably early start this morning, we hope to have this lovely site to ourselves. The Eastern Qing Tombs are the largest and most complete of the Imperial Tombs in China with 5 emperors, 15 empresses and 136 concubines all buried here. In addition the surrounding mountains contain the tombs of hundreds of lesser nobles such as princes and dukes. We are able to enter a few of the beautifully carved tombs which mostly date back to the 17th and 18th Centuries. That of Emperor Qianlong covers almost

half a square kilometre. Leaving the tombs we drive to a point on the Great Wall where there is access, and walk for 2-3 hours into Huangyaguan. This section of the wall is very quiet and offers some great views - the first part of the walk is an ascent up to a prominent tower before descending down to another tower near the river. From here we cross the river and walk into the town and our hotel for the night.


Grade: Simple Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 7 - Drive to Gubeikou; beacon tower walk to Jinshanling

Today we drive from Huangyaguan to Gubeikou. On arrival we walk through the small village of local farm houses, a great opportunity to see life in rural China up close. From here we will walk up on to the wall along a mountain path. This section of the wall takes us past 16 beacon towers and we get to see a part of the wall in the distance that is restricted and not usually seen. We leave the wall at Jinshanling and head to the hotel. Total walking about 6hrs.


Grade: Comfortable Guesthouse

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 8 - Trek on Great Wall towards Simatai; return to Jinshanling

Today we aim to walk on one of the most stunning sections of the Wall between Jinshanling and Simatai - both locations where the wall has been refurbished. The walk between these two places is on partially ruined sections, with some quite steep ascents and many steps to be climbed. In 2010 Simitai was closed to the public, so we'll walk as far as we're allowed towards Simitai before returning to Jinshaling for a second night. We pass 18 watch-towers on this walk - these provide the only shade along the route and give us an excuse to pause and admire the breath-taking views. (approx 4-5 hours walking).


Grade: Comfortable Guesthouse

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 9 - Return to Beijing; optional visit to Summer Palace

Today we return to Beijing. We should arrive back into the city by early afternoon with late afternoon free for further personal exploration. You may wish to take an excursion to the Summer Palace or the Temple of Heaven in Tiantan Park (both optional).


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 10 - Trip ends in Beijing

The trip ends this morning after breakfast at our hotel in Beijing.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Beijing at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from either Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) or Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX). Due to the frequent traffic congestion in the city you should allow up to one-and-a-half hours for this journey.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Trip information

Climate and country information



China has primarily a temperate climate, with a wide spectrum of extremes due to its huge area. Summer months are hot and rainy though in the south the climate is tropical and we can experience rain at any time of the year, often falling in sharp tropical rain-storms which are heavy but short lived. Winter is colder and drier, temperatures in Beijing can be as low as -12c.

Time difference to GMT



3 Pin Flat


Mainly Buddhist



Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.

Beijing - Opera 150 CNY; Acrobatic performance 260 CNY ; Summer Palace 40 CNY entrance fee plus 200 CNY private transfer; Temple of Heaven 35 CNY entrance fee; Hutong tour (including lunch) 160 CNY; Kung Fu show 260 CNY

Please note that it may not be possible to do all of the optionals.


Lightweight raingear year round and some warmer clothes in April and October.


We recommend you bring lightweight walking boots with ankle support, make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Also trainers or sandals for relaxing and general wear. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.



Luggage: On tour

One main piece of baggage and a daysac for personal items. Remember that you'll have to carry your own luggage, so don't overload yourself.


A Mandarin phrase book may be helpful. You may wish to bring a trekking pole with a rubber tip and a torch. You may also find rehydration salts useful in the summer months. We advise you bring a water botle for day to day use.


Explore leader
Tipping isn't compulsory, and we work hard to ensure that our leaders all receive a fair wage. You may however, want to recongnise a leader that's done a great job or really added to your trip by giving them a tip. We're often asked about the recommended amout. It's tricky one, and down to personal preference, but we'd recommend between £ 15- £20 per person per week as a guideline.
Local crew
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided.Accordingly, you should allow approx £30 for tips.

In order to make things easier for you, the Tour Leaders may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour.


Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.

Lunch price
Dinner price
£6.00 - 10.00
Beer price
Water price
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Recommended Currency For Exchange
Either EUR, USD or GBP.
Where To Exchange
We'd strongly recommend changing enough money for the duration of your trip at the airport on your arrival. When changing money ask for a receipt so you can change Yuan back into your own currency when leaving China.
ATM Availability
All major towns.
Credit Card Acceptance
Most major restaurants and stores.
Travellers Cheques
Travellers cheques can be changed in Hong Kong and at the Bank of China in all major cities but only during bank opening hours. Please note this is very time consuming and is not recommended.
Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, Boat

Accommodation notes

Our trek along the Great Wall is in a remote area off the beaten tourist track. Our accommodation is in local hotels and guesthouses. Rooms are twin-bedded and en-suite but plumbing and electricity supplies can be somewhat erratic. Although the welcome is warm, service levels may be less efficient than you may be used to. Our choice in these areas is limited and we do use the best available hotels. Any shortcomings are more than made up for by the experience of small town China and enjoying some spectacular locations close to the Great Wall.

On day six you stay in a simple hotel. The rooms are basic with en-suite facilities and air conditioning. There is a lovely courtyard with view of the Wall - where you can relax at the end of the day.

Essential Information

Government Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.

Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

China: A visa is required by all nationalities. A single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travelling.

From 1st November 2018, British Passport Holders will be required to present themselves in person at the Chinese Visa Processing Centre in London, Manchester, Edinburgh or Belfast on the day of application, to provide biometric information (fingerprints). Appointments can be booked and forms completed via

In order to apply for your Chinese visa you will need to submit supporting documents from our local supplier confirming your itinerary and travel arrangements, which we will obtain on your behalf. So that we can provide this for you, and to ensure all local arrangements are in place, we require a copy of your passport no later than 8 weeks before you are due to start your trip. Once we have your passport copy we shall process and pass on the documents you require 6-8 weeks before your trip, please be mindful of this when applying for your visa. If you require the supporting documents earlier than this, please contact Explore so we can arrange this.

Passengers wishing to extend their stay in China should be aware that current visa regulations only allow foreigners to stay in the country for up to 30 days. Please consider this when planning your trip.

You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.

If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Minimum age restrictions

For our group tours, the minimum age is 16. The minimum age on Family trips varies between 7 and 11 - please check the 'Family information' section of the trip page for more information. 


Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.

Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.

The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here


It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.

Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.


Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.



Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, infectious hepatitis, typhoid, tetanus and polio. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Travellers may wish to take immunisation against Japanese Encephalitis. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Walking and Trekking information
Walking grade
Trek details
We trek on 6 days with walks ranging from 2.5 to 6 hours. Much of the route involves negotiating the steep stone stairways along the wall. We have graded this trek as moderate although there are a few sections that are a little more strenuous.
Trek terrain
Some sections of the wall are broken and a little overgrown and certain stretches of the Wall have some very steep sections involving climbing on high steps - because of this the tour is not recommended for vertigo sufferers. It is possible to travel in the support vehicle if you do not wish to partake in any particular walk.
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Airport Transfers
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