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Walking the Great Wall of China

from £1929
Join a like-minded small group guided holiday on a journey of discovery along the Great Wall of China..

The Great Wall of China is a world renown construction. It is an astonishing feat of engineering, construction began in the 5th century BCE and continued up until 400 years ago. It easy to see why it took so long. On this holiday we will explore some highlights of which there are a great many. 

We use the first day in China to explore Beijing. Formerly known in the west as Peking, it is the capital and China's second largest city with more than 20 million inhabitants. We will walk amongst the 'hutongs', old residential areas of the city, to arrive at Tiananmen Square. We will spend the afternoon exploring the Forbidden City.  The next day we head out of the city to start our journey along the Great Wall, beginning at “the Old Dragon’s Head” where the wall reaches the sea at its eastern end.

Over the next few days we hike various sections of the wall. The impressive Jiaoshan Pass section where the wall heads into the mountains for the first time offers fantastic views. We take a morning boat trip on the reservoir near Panijakou where we can see the Wall underwater. We visit the Eastern Qing Tombs, one of the largest and most complete Imperial Tomb complexes in China. Our tour continues as we walk through small villages to experience life in rural China. The accommodation here is simple with no en suite facilities but the rewards of walking the wall in rural China are spectacular.

After exploring the most impressive sections of the wall between Jinshanling and Simatai, we return to Beijing for sightseeing. We have a full day to explore the Summer Palace to the north west of the city. A sumptuous day awaits us.

Holiday Highlights

  • Visit the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace of Beijing.
  • Explore “Old Dragon’s Head” where the Great Wall meets the sea.
  • Walk along remote stretches of the Great Wall of China.
  • Take a boat tour on the reservoir at Panjiakou.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return flights from Heathrow to Beijing (Air China) 
      Airport transfers 
      Half board en suite accommodation 
      Four lunches 
      All entrance fees 
      English speaking local guide throughout 
      All local transport costs.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised programme, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade 4/SS

  1. Day 1

    We depart the UK for our overnight direct flight to Beijing.

  2. Day 2

    On arrival in Beijing we transfer to our hotel for some free time before dinner in our hotel.

  3. Day 3

    This morning we will start with a day tour of Beijing. We will take a public bus to the hutongs and walk amongst old residential districts of the city. We reach Tiananmen Square after about 40 mins. We will spend the afternoon visiting the Forbidden City. For those who have the energy it may be possible to arrange an optional visit to the Beijing opera or perhaps an acrobatic performance.  

  4. Day 4

    After breakfast we will leave Beijing and drive to Shanhaiguan (about 3½ hrs). It is here that the Great Wall reaches the Bohai Sea at a point called Lao Long Tou or the 'Old Dragon's Head'. After visiting Old Dragon's Head, we then drive to the First Pass where we walk on the Wall and visit the Great Wall Museum. Interestingly, for some, there is a former British Army barracks at Lao Long Tou as this was where soldiers came ashore to put down the Boxer rebellion in 1900.

  5. Day 5

    Today we walk along an old section of the wall to the impressive Jiaoshan Pass where the wall heads into the mountains for the first time. You continue up to a high point for spectacular views (weather permitting).  After lunch this afternoon we drive to Panjiakou where the path of the wall goes under the surface of the waters of Panjiakou Reservoir. The reservoir was built in the 1970’s to supply water to the local towns. It also contains a hydro scheme to supply electricity. The level of water will determine how much of the wall we can see during our visit.
    Walking Distance: 8km
    Walking time: 2hrs
    Descent: minimal
    Ascent: 200m

  6. Day 6

    This morning we start with a boat tour on the reservoir at Panjiakou.  Hopefully water levels will allow us to see sections of the wall under water. After the cruise we travel by road to Luowenyu where we walk for approximately 5km on a rugged and quite steep section of the wall with glorious views across the surrounding area.  From Luowenyu, continue to our hotel close by the grounds of the Eastern Qing Tombs near Zunhua.
    Walking Distance: 5 km
    Walking time: 2 hrs
    Descent: 200m
    Ascent: 300m

  7. Day 7

    After breakfast we will have an early start this morning, hopefully allowing us to enjoy the Eastern Qing Tombs before the crowds arrive. 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.  The tombs date from the 1600s. After visiting the tombs we should have time to walk more of the wall at Huangyaguan. The path can be rough underfoot so care will be required.
    Walking Distance: 5km
    Walking time: 3hrs
    Descent: 100m
    Ascent: 100m

  8. Day 8

    Today we drive to Gubeikou. On arrival we walk through the small village of local farmhouses to see rural China up close.  After exploring the village, we walk up on to the wall along a mountain path. This section of the wall takes us past 16 beacon towers. The views can be marvellous. In the distance it should be possible to see a part of the wall that has restricted tourist access and is not usually seen. We leave the wall at Jinshanling and head to the hotel. We will walk at a slow pace with plenty of stops to take in the history and grandeur.
    Walking Distance: 5km
    Walking time: 3hrs
    Descent: 200m
    Ascent: 300m

  9. Day 9

    Today we plan to walk on one of the most stunning sections of the Wall between Jinshanling and Simatai. The walk between these two places has some partially ruined sections, with some steep ascents and many steps to be climbed so care will be required. Again the pace will be slow with plenty of stops for some insights into what you are seeing from our local guide.  
    Walking Distance: 8km
    Walking time: 4hrs with stops
    Descent: 100m
    Ascent: 200m

  10. Day 10

    After breakfast we return to Beijing. This afternoon we have a guided visit to the Summer Palace, a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces on the north west edge of Beijing. It was an imperial garden in the Qing Dynasty. Dominated by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, it covers a huge area, three-quarters of which is water. we have our final dinner in the hotel in Beijing.

  11. Day 11

    After breakfast we return to Beijing Airport for our flight back to the UK.

Travel Details

  • Return flights from Heathrow to Bejing (Air China) 
  • Airport transfers by road c.1hr
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights Premium Economy, Business or First Class and most low-cost carriers have extra legroom seats. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • Visa is required.

Trip Map

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Our Accommodation on this holiday

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday. If you are on a multi-centre holiday, these are highlights of the places where we stay. Please refer to your Holiday Information sheet (which can be found under View Departures & Book), for your departure date and for all your accommodation details.

Haishanghai International Hotel

The Haishanghai International Hotel is located right in the middle of Qinhuangdao. It offers good access to the city centre as well as the public transport. The facilities contain room service, business centre with internet access, meeting rooms and air conditioning. The rooms have air conditioning and wifi.

Sunworld Hotel Beijing

Situated in the heart of the  Beijing the Sunworld Hotel offers easy access to public transport and city centre. Dengshikou Subway Station is 5 mins walk and the Forbidden City is just a 10-minute drive away. The hotel offers free WiFi, its own four-seasons restaurant and daily buffet breakfast. The rooms have air purifiers and offer bathrobes and slippers for guest use.