Post image for The Great Wall of China minus the tourist hordes

The Great Wall of China minus the tourist hordes

by Michael

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

Click the link for more on travel to China.


Richard Needham November 15, 2011 at 9:28 am

Great article and photo! We were on the BaDaLing tour many years ago, and wish we had known of this (and Joe!). I’ll be back in Shanghai next week (and the donut shop, most likely), and then to Wenzhou area by bullet train, finally to Taiwan. Any chance you want to put Taiwan on your itinerary? A wonderful country more Chinese than China, and with some great mountain scenery as well as the National Palace Museum. Also, some great donut shops in Taipei!

Michael November 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Hi Richard, We’ve run into a few people now that have mentioned Taiwan as a possible destination so we are looking into it. Thanks for the pointers.

Aaron April 8, 2012 at 12:31 am

I strongly recommend you visit Taiwan. My wife is Chinese and we’ve been to China about 20 times. Dirty, filthy, polluted and gross all sum up China. Taiwan on the other hand is the total opposite. Although close to China it is not part of China, although mainland Chinese will have you believe otherwise. Please don’t miss out on visiting Taiwan, you won’t regret it.

Us April 8, 2012 at 5:52 am

Thanks Aaron. We’ve heard universally great things about Taiwan. We hope to get there on a future trip.

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