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The Great Wall of China is one of the most popular sites on earth. Movies like The Bucket List reinforce it as a must-see place to visit. It was also high on our list but we wanted to avoid the crowds of tour buses and souvenir vendors catering to those visitors that can turn a Great Wall of China visit into an ordeal.

Most tour groups leave Beijing for one day trips to the access point at Badaling. This heavily photographed spot is where you’ll typically see photos of visiting celebrities and dignitaries astride the Great Wall. However, if you look in the background of those photos you’ll see hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of tourists elbow-to-elbow jostling each other for position as they climb the wall. These groups, armed with digital cameras instead of the swords of a bygone era, arrive by the thousands each day.

Our goal when we travel is to avoid the crowds. To see as many sites as we can in their more natural state. We managed to avoid the hordes at the Great Wall by veering slightly off the beaten path to tour a part of the Wall that is less visited. Hiring your own driver for not much more than the cost of a tour will also vastly improve your Great Wall experience.  That way you’re not showing up in a clump with eighty of your new closest friends. (click to read in The Philadelphia Inquirer)

The Great Wall of China

Little Rocky after climbing the Great Wall

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