Which Section of the GREAT WALL OF CHINA Should You Visit? | Abandoned or Restored


Crowds. Constant queuing. Overpriced cafes. Cable cars and even a toboggan ride. Yet this is not a theme park. This is the Mutianyu section of the Great
Wall of China. An estimated 5 million people visit this stretch
of wall every single year, making it the 2nd most popular section for tourists. It’s busy, it’s noisy and it feels quite
new. It doesn’t have to be like this. The Great Wall of China has been on my bucket
list for as long as I can remember. It is incredible up here. But at over 21,000 kilometres long, it’s
hard to know where to start. Should you visit a restored or ruined section? An easily accessible or a remote section? Full on forest on top of the Great Wall of
China. We travelled out to three very different sections
of the wall with three very different vibes. All with their own unique strengths and obstacles. In search of the best way to experience this
wonder of the world. My name is Ryan and this is Emma and welcome
to a very special episode of the One Shot Adventures China Series. Good morning, welcome to Beijing. We just left our very cool hostel in the city
and we’re heading to Wanjing subway station to get on a bus to see the Great Wall for
the first time. So very very exciting. Today we’re heading to a section of the
wall called Jinshanling. Which is slightly further away than some of
the more popular sections like Badaling. It’s also only half restored, so we should
get that nice blend of kind of ruined sections of the wall and stuff that looks quite new. Just starting to get our first glimpses of
the wall now. The bus drops you off at sort of a service
station and then from there there’s supposed to be a free shuttle bus but it wasn’t there
when we arrived so we just got a taxi. We paid 40 Yuan each which is way too much,
but we’re a little bit short on time today, so it had to do. Although it has all of the same amenities
as a busy section of the wall, Jinshanling was pretty empty. Being that slightly further away from the
city can make a huge difference. Cosy. As we started climbing up in the cable car,
I started to feel pretty excited. This is something I’ve wanted to do since
I was very young so to me this was like meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time, but in wall
form. I’m having a weird outer body experience
now. We’re at the Great Wall. This first part of the wall off the cable
car is quite heavily restored, so it’s pretty easy to walk on but when you compare it to
pictures of Badaling or any of the parts of the wall that are much nearer Beijing, there’s
crowds and crowds of people. You can barely get anywhere. Then you come here and there’s only a handful. So the further we walk on, the more wild it
should become. Jinshanling is also great for some longer
hiking, you can trek along the wall to another section called Simitai and it takes between
4 and 5 hours. It just goes on and on and on and on. After our compulsory photo shoot with Chinese
tourists, we left Jinshanling feeling pretty chuffed. We found the shuttle bus this time. But we couldn’t help but crave something
even more authentic. A bit more raw, a little more wild. Good morning, it’s another day in Beijing
and today we’re heading out to a very special part of the wall. We’re just heading to the train station
now. I’ve always had a bit of an Indiana Jones
obsession, I love ruins and I love hidden gems. So we booked a night with the Chen family,
who run a homestay from their farm 2 hours outside of Beijing. And most importantly, they have access to
completely unrestored sections of the great wall. Now, I know what you’re thinking, this does
not look like the start of a journey to a hidden gem and check out what happens when
the train arrives and there’s no reserved seating. That was insane. This is Beijing’s S2 tourist train that
leads directly to the most popular section of the Great Wall, Badaling. But thankfully we were not going there. We were staying on one more stop to a quieter
area called Yanqing. From the train station we were picked up by
a member of the family and very quickly arrived at their home. The village they live in is incredibly small
and the farm is so peaceful, with probably the best dog I have ever seen. We arrived at the Chen family farm and they
gave us a lovely lunch and now we’ve been dropped at the trail head ready to climb up
to the Great Wall. We’re going to be hiking a section called
the Hunchback Curve, it’s going to take about 4 hours and its supposed to be a very
beautiful spot. This section of the wall is no joke, it’s
pretty dangerous to climb and I’m not even sure if its entirely legal to visit. This is very different from the last steps
we climbed up. There’s barely a path at all. Right, up we go. So we just made it to the first watchtower
and the views are already amazing. There’s just sections of dense forest. You’ll be on crumbling parts of wall and
suddenly you’ll just be engulfed in forest. Completely overgrown. Spiderweb! Get off! I don’t think many people come here at all. We were looking for wild, this is pretty wild. You can see how the wall snakes right along
the top of the mountain. You okay? Why are we going down to go up? That’s my favourite kind of way. Jesus. I have mentioned this already on this trip
by the way, neither of us are experienced hikers at all So why we chose to do one of the most demanding
hikes, I dont really know. Emma has fallen over twice already. Are you ok?… War wound. I’m hoping these little things are markers
to tell us that we’re going the right way, not remains of the last people that came here. Now this. Just when we thought it was going to get easier,
this is the steepest part yet. This looks like a real staircase. Steps! I never thought I would be so happy to see
steps. From this, to this. From what I understand, this is still part
of the Badaling section of the wall, Its just only the top here has been restored and everything
around it has been left to ruin. We’ve been walking for a couple of hours
and we haven’t seen a single person. I know we’ve been saying that a lot on this
trip, I said it a lot on Jinshanling that there’s nobody around. But there’s really nobody around here. The cloud is really setting in now, can’t
even see what’s in front of us. This is why they call it the Hunchback Curve,
because of the way this part of the wall just twists around the top of the mountain. It almost doubles back on itself. There’s no more words to describe this place,
its just incredible. It’s a very special moment this. You can be like Michael Jackson here. Wait wait wait, ready? It goes down which is what we’re doing now. To 2 towers. We’ve been looking for 2 towers in the distance
that will show us the way down and we’ve finally seen them just up ahead. The 2 towers! Are you filming so you can get my death on
camera? Yeah for insurance purposes. Hikers! Yeah! It would be nice to stay and watch some more
of the sunset but, we’ve still got a 40 minute at least walk back to the farm. So, we don’t really want to do that in the
dark. Reunion. He’s so cute. Which takes us back to where this film started. This isnt even a busy day, from what I’ve
read it can get a lot busier than this. But its a very different vibe from the last
2 places that we’ve seen. The restoration is really impressive, the
wall looks amazing here, its just its got that kind of Disneyland feel, where everything
is so set up for tourists that it loses so much of the character that made the other
2 parts of the wall so nice. You know there’s 2 cable cars, a toboggan
down, theres way more people than we’ve had on the last couple of days. It’s just different. My advice would be to avoid Badaling and Mutianyu
completely. If you want that perfect balance of easy access,
convenience and a complete lack of people. Jinshanling is great. It’s restored, it’s ruined, you can walk
on it for an hour or hike it for several. But if you want something more than just a
visit, something more like an adventure. Take the wild route and I promise it will be
something you will never forget. Now then, I suppose there’s only one way
to finish off this film. I never thought I would be saying this but
I’m about to slide off the Great Wall of China. That was pretty fun. Why is that at the Great Wall?

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Reader Comments

  1. One Shot Adventures

    Well here are, (some of) you asked for it… It's finally a MUCH longer video! I finally found an idea that justified a longer runtime, so I hope you enjoy this little documentary about The Great Wall.

    Should I make more longer videos? Or do you prefer the punchier short ones? 🙂

  2. It'sChrisLloyd

    What a crazy episode! So cool to see the different aspects of the Great Wall. You two have done some serious hiking/walking in your time in China! How are your feet holding up? haha.

    The longer runtime for this video was perfect! Especially since there was so much to show. It also better showed us your fascination and wonder with the Great Wall. Personally, I like a mix of long videos and short videos, it really depends on the subject matter 🙂

  3. Travelling K

    I really enjoyed watching that! I like how it's all been edited together. Had to laugh at your dash to a seat on the train. I would have preferred the wild section – those views are fantastic.

  4. meletispix

    DUDE! This was a masterpiece! 😍 your best work thus far! sad to say I went to the touristy part with the toboggan 😂😂 This video makes so excited for where your channel is going mate!

  5. Go Travel On The Cheap

    Three cheers for this longer video!!! We were captivated. Truly! How did you come up with the idea to compare three sections of the wall? (A very good one, btw…) Some of your shots were absolutely amazing and the song you used for the best section of the wall was spot on–greatly enhanced our viewing experience. Bet you can guess which we thought is the best section… 😃

  6. Timezone Junkies

    This was by far our favourite video so far!!! We loved it and we think that was because there was a lot of speaking in it and comparing the three different spots was really well done! Oh and it was longer 🙂👍 Would definitely visit the quiter one and the ruined on, looked like a great adventure!!! Thanks for sharing this!

  7. buy the tickets take the ride

    Fantastic format, you really tell a great story through your vids which create a very professional vibe. Keep it up and hope you have plenty of more material to work with. All the best for the New Year.

  8. Cheers to Travels

    wow! what a fun adventure! the fact that you guys stayed with locals and went to an area that wasn't so touristy is amazing! thanks for sharing this! this is the way to travel! ~sara ct

  9. ippy

    Beautiful footage mate but I feel a tad ill when you rotate the camera. Also, your pronunciation of Chinese names suck, stop trying to pronounce them like it's English, it's not. e.g. a quick google would tell you how to pronounce 'q' and it's not a 'k' sound, but a "ch". Mutianyu does not have 4 syllables but 3, 1 for each Chinese character. (Mu-tian-yu). I don't even speak Mandarin but I learnt this because I have visited China before.

  10. Gab & Maya Backpacking

    I don't know why, but I always thought that visiting the great wall would be like going to Machu Picchu! But I never thought we could visit different part of the wall (of course) haha! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Joshuagrapher

    Found you on reddit! You have absolutely earned my subscription. Your producion vlalue and script was captivating and the incredible camerawork drove it home. Absolutely in love!

  12. RebeccaTheFlightAttendant

    I know its overly touristy, but I want to do that toboggan ride so badly! This definitely makes me want to venture out to another part of the wall when I do finally go. Gonna save this video so I can refer to the sections when I get to planning.

  13. Two Traveling Texans

    I visited the Great Wall of China 15 years ago! I went in the winter so it wasn't crowded but it was freezing. I am not sure what section we went to. I would love to go back when it is warmer and do more hiking. I think that Jinshanling section looks perfect.

  14. Travel Pockets

    The Tobbogan ride looks terrifying yet exciting! I always wondered if everyone starts at the same section of the Great Wall. I would much rather go to the less crowded area. So glad you got to see your "Mickey Mouse" 🙂 So so amazing!! I hope to visit the Great Wall of China one day.

  15. Karo Adores

    Thanks for the tips to visit the Great Wall, I realized one dream last year by seeing the Niagara Falls, I'm glad to have received tips from you to realize and an other dream, which you guess is visiting the Great Wall =)

  16. Alex Simeon

    really does feel like i watched a documentary! really incredible and wonderfully made. would definitely want to see Section 1 and 2 myself. the toboggan ride looks like so much fun!

  17. Go Travel On The Cheap

    Like your opening. I've been debating about including a 5-15 second 'hook' before my "Hey you guys!"…may I ask what your opinion is? Indiana Jones is one of my most favorite movies!! Did you hike out one way to the Hunchback Curve or was it an out & back? This is your best video yet, in our opinions 👍 c/t

  18. Just Let Me Travel

    Found you from brother dunne and looks like the type of channel we like…..travel and adventure we are in,,,,, great job on the video good info and you did a great job presenting

  19. The Backpacking Family

    Your video is epic! SO well shot and edited! We lived in China for a couple of years and I think you nailed it! hoping to backpack there again soon with our baby 🙂

  20. Ella in Wanderlust

    My family went to the Great Wall a few years ago and they didn't seem to keen on the experience although they said the tobogganing was fun. The abandoned bit sounds like my cup of tea though. Dude, I know I say it every time but your videos are amazing. I love your little preview insert at the beginning here. It's like I'm watching BBC or something and you don't naturally pay much attention to the music but the way you match the music to the clips and atmosphere is awesome. Oh and I've only just realised but I think we may use the same glitch overlay for our intro text 😝 but yours is more sped up. Your excitement at seeing the wall is so evident which is really nice to watch! Haha my family had the same experience with the Chinese always wanting pictures taken with them! I love ruins too. It feels almost weird that parts are being restored as they're just not the same as the original… though I can see the mindset behind the idea. Omg that run for the train looks horrible but at least there was an adorable Chowchow doggo at the other end. OK I'm just gonna post my comment now as it's getting way too long.

  21. Nomadic Gear

    SO beautiful, that's a hard pick – like you said the restorations look amazing but I love the idea of being out there all alone and taking in the beauty. -c/t

  22. Penguin Wanderlust

    Awesome video. I really liked the comparison of the different parts of the wall. I don't like crowds. The abandoned section looked amazing. Greenery and ruins look so good together.

  23. The Kids are Tired of Traveling

    Color me ignorant, but I had no idea there were different sections. Of course, it makes sense. It's a long wall. I'm glad you could smile while racing through the crowds to get a seat on the train. Great advice on where to go (watch out Chen family…you're going to be getting a ton of tourists). How long/hard of a hike up was that Yangqin section? It looked insane. BTW, thumbs up for the Smiths shirt (and not just because that's our last name).

  24. HotMamaTravel

    Ok so the Mutianyu section is one to avoid then. I love the section where you took the cable car, I travel with family so it seems like the perfect mix of accessibility and isolation. That wild part of the wall was really dangerous looking, but I could tell you were really having a moment there, which is moving.

  25. Sam Was Here

    I love the editing style and overall feel of the video. It's so well put together! The music over the abandoned sections was perfect! I'd avoid the busy sections too, well worth the trekking for the views!

  26. Zhao Zhuxuan

    Amazing that you could find this place by yourself the first time you visit, but just a reminder to everyone who wants to make the wild great wall trip, do not attempt it during a possible rain, especially in summer. A lot of rain in summer in Beijing are thunder storm, and the great wall are usually the highest part on a mountain and you standing on it makes you the attraction point for lightning. We have lightling strike accident to hikers almost every year like this

  27. Ela Lee

    Awesome video! You inspired me and my husband. Now we are thinking to do 3 day camping on the wild wall but also we want to see Mutianyu. I know there are buses to get there and I was just curious how did you guys get to Mutianyu from your hotel in Beijing! Keep up the great videos! 🙂

  28. Nomadic Buff

    I LOVE YOUR VIDEOS!!! They are so packed full of great information while at the same time keeping it super interesting! The great wall of china has been on my list, but not that high up…. I think that has now changed after watching your video. I hate crowds so I love that you showed a couple of sections you can go to without any. I'm like you, I LOVE ruins! I'm definitely saving this video for future reference when planning my future trip to china 🙂

  29. L L

    Beautiful background music which frames your video perfectly, brings out the loneliness and surrealist of the location. Also like the the narrative, organized and meaningful. Professional quality – well done !

  30. The Lost Lemurian

    All I can say is WOW. That abandoned section of the wall is like a whole other planet. Amazing to think that there was not a soul around – what a precious experience!! Parts of it looked dangerous but what a small price to pay for experiencing something most other tourists probably haven't even heard of!! The busy area in comparison looks awful, lol. DEFINITELY bookmarking this so I can come back to it and visit the abandoned area when I get to China.

  31. James Wang

    Well, in China, white people (especially blonds and redheads) are pretty much like elves or fairies. You guys are mobile tourist attractions.

  32. V mAn

    BRILLIANT! I love the unrestored section, im and adrenaline junkie adventurer, this is exactly what i look for in the world! Even better, i plan on going there in january 2020, middle of winter! Ive emailed the chen family to see im permitted to hike that area at that time of the year! I hope they allow it! Thanks for this video, i would never had known about it if not for it! Cheers!

  33. Julie Sutherland

    I was there October 2018 for 6 days of hiking and it was also a bucket list dream of mine from a young age. I much preferred the wild and unrestored sections, much quieter, more interesting terrain and perfect trekking temperature at that time of year with amazing colours on the surrounding foliage. I did not enjoy the main restored sections at all, except the toboggan was quite cool. Some of those hills nearly killed though, people forget the wall is on top of a mountain range! I would go again in a heartbeat.

  34. Mitchell M

    This would have to be one of the best videos i've watched about the great wall here on YouTube
    That's where my husband and sister in law were yesterday
    Mutianyu section
    Loved watching this video here in england this morning
    Carlene M

  35. Rick R

    Jinshanling looks like a perfect balance for me. (I might actually have been to Mutianyu or Badaling before when I was five…)
    Also, I travelled to one end of the great wall, the desert end, in Jiayuguan in 2010. it was also amazing. Yes, it was quite restored, but with just a few tourists AND had desert and snow capped mountains for the view

  36. Yifat Ratsabi

    Wow!!! First, an amazing video. Really, awesome. Second, thank you thank you thank you. I'm planning my trip to china and i got lost just trying to plan the great wall day, i didn't know where to start, and what's best. I'm also a person who try to get away from tourists places but this wall was on my bucket list too!:) So you just gave me great idea of where to go for the great wall trip. Thanks!
    Btw, do i book the night before the hiking or the night after? (I mean, did you slept there before and then started the hike early, or did you came from beijing, hiked and then slept there?)

  37. BlessAll2015KC

    At Jinshanling, how long does it take to climb up to the watch tower from the lowest point ( or the entry to the wall )?? Would the trip upward be too demanding for a group of retirees ( age 60 to 70's ) ? Can the up & down trip be completed safely before sunset in one day, as there are no electric lights on the mountain?
    How far is Jinshanling from Beijing city ( travel time required) ?

  38. BlessAll2015KC

    The magnificent panoramic view below the highest watch tower you reached is as professional as cinematic photography. Thank you so much for your great presentation.
    It's beyond belief that so much heavy construction materials could be transported manually up to such heights about 500 years ago ( when the Ming Dynasty sections were constructed near Beijing ), & further back to more than 2000 years ago along various other sections.

  39. bourgetvillage

    I was completely captivated by your video and wanna know which software did you use to edit this video? i really wanna make a so cool one of myself

  40. Andrew Elliott

    Hi, I've watched all of your China series and have emulated some of your stuff that's great.
    I was wondering where exactly this yangqin place is and where it is on the wall. I want to go and camp on the wall there overnight, and would happily pay the Chen family for their help too once I get there. My Chinese girlfriend can't quite find exactly where it is on the map. Cheers mate and keep it up

  41. Svenywhere

    I never visited Badaling. Also decided to visit Jinshanling. Walked there partly the unrestored section, a pity that my girlfriend didn't want to walk further and the thunderstorms where coming in. Would love to have explored more of the unrestored part. Great coverage!

  42. Seycil Sinaga

    WOW! Wish I can do more than just like and subscribe for you!
    Amazing channel, your editing skills are T.O.P and the journey is so raw. Love it!
    Thank you for sharing your adventure with us <3

    Love and support from Bali !

  43. Kirsty Wood

    Awesome video Ryan & Emma 🙂 Keep up the great work! Without going through all 200 comments below, I am planning to visit Jinshanling in a couple of days and have tried to research the best way to get there! Which I imagine you know, isn't the easiest thing to do in China! Can you tell me if you got the 07:40am bus from Dongzhimen? Or did you go straight to Wangjing West Station? I can't wait to see it!

  44. Jason Ho

    I am too old to ever make this kind of trip. Thank you so much. Maybe someday some enterprising duke would provide a helicopter tour of the unrestored parts of the Wall. I would sign up for that.

  45. Ana Najdanovic

    Thank you for a very good and informative video! It looks amazing! Could you please tell me which month it was when you hiked the wall?

  46. Rorschach Got Nice Mask

    I can't believe such a well-done video only has 7K views!!!! It's almost like a documentary!!! subbed and liked and shared, man, you deserve10+ subs.

  47. H W

    Thanks for your video. Well, as a Chinese living in Beijing, I have been to the Great Wall many times. But when I see the wild wall stretching into the distance as far as I can see, disappearing into the mist among those magnificent mountains, I almost cried.

  48. André Wörner

    Did you do the hike at the arrival day at the Chen Family or on the second day? I plan to stay there next week and do the same as you did 🙂

  49. Wei

    This is by far THE BEST Great Wall vlog I have ever seen. As a travel magazine photographer myself, I have to say you're real professional! Seriously your works deserve much more attention. I wish I could thumb up 100 times.

  50. Ben TheKeeshond

    What if you are hurt out there? That is a complete possibility. I heard that it can get pretty cold at night and that is why you don't want to be stranded out there. Maybe the cellphone is very helpful.

  51. HAIHUA CHEN

    the Great Wall that you see nowadays was built in Ming dynasty, not very old. Not sure how many workers died there, Did the workers got paid every two weeks ?

  52. karen in oz

    Thank you, I loved traveling the wall with you. It was on my bucket list for years but I've heard so often about the many/uneven steps and the crowds that we never went. Now we are in our 60s I doubt we will ever go, so I enjoy watching others travels and adventures instead. Thoroughly enjoyed watching 🙂

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