Within an hour drive from downtown Beijing, one can arrive at the most family friendly section of the Great Wall of China!
Mutianyu was definitely the right choice for us to take the little ones to see this amazing World Wonder.
We chose this location because it offers a gondola ride to ascend to a section of the wall and a toboggan to descend from the wall once you are done.
We knew our children, as well as ourselves, would enjoy these fun activities.
It was certainly an added bonus to taking in the wonderful views of the wall itself.
The heat of the day was a little intense as we went during the summer months.
Coupled with the heavy humidity, we were grateful the section of the Great Wall was for the most part downhill!
It also helped to have plenty of water, an umbrella, and the aid of our driver in assisting with the little one in the stroller at the time.
The walk on the Wall took a little over an hour before we finally reached the exit for the toboggan ride.
Not far from the base of the wall was a great little restaurant our driver suggested called The Schoolhouse.
There was a good variety of food, kids menu’s they could color on, a nice outdoor environment one could cool off in and clean working restrooms; the perfect place after enduring the heat of the day.
Suggestions for Visiting the Great Wall of China With Kids:
-As mentioned above we found the Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall of China the most family friendly section to visit. Ascending up on a Gondola Ride and descending through a fun Toboggan – serious fun for the whole family!
-The Mutianyu Section of the wall was about 1 hour from Beijing.
-Foreigners are not allowed to rent or drive a car. We booked a driver through our hotel for the day and it proved to be a great option as our driver spoke a little English, was also a guide and even helped us with our kids during the hike on the wall.
-As you make your way over to the gondola, you will walk through a busy stretch of vendors and motorcycles. Be careful and keep a close eye on your little ones. We bought a few souvenirs while there, and if you choose the same, remember to bargain. While most vendors don’t speak much English, they will take a little notepad, or calculator out, and you can bargain by writing numbers down back and forth.
-Another reason we chose to go up the gondola and down the toboggan is because the path is mostly downhill walking in that direction of the wall. I cannot imagine going the opposite direction and having to climb what seemed like hundreds of steps with little ones. Even as adults, we would have struggled during the intense heat making it an even more exhausting experience for us all.
-The Toboggan has a lever at the front so you can control the speed when you descend. They allow one child to ride with an adult which was perfect for our family at the time.
-We visited in June, and while we were warned that it would be brutally hot, it was more intense than I could have expected. The upside was that the crowds were minimal. If you can bare the humidity, heat and are hoping for less crowds, than consider going in summer. Otherwise, I would stick to a cooler season to visit.
-Bring lots of water, especially if visiting during the summer. There were a few vendors at the wall that sold snacks and water in case you need to buy more while there, but just in case, come prepared. There are no bathrooms at the top of the wall, so make sure to go before or bring a little Portable Travel Potty for the little ones.
-We took a stroller through the wall which definitely got us many awkward stares. We even overheard other foreigners making rude comments about how crazy we were for even bringing our small children. That decision was partially us being naive travelers, but also we wanted our toddler to take a nap and that is the only place he would sleep. I don’t think I would do that again but luckily our driver helped my husband carry our sleeping child in the stroller down the steps. In the end it worked out for us, but if you have a child, bring an Infant Carrier instead.
-As mentioned above, we ate a restaurant called The Schoolhouse after our trek. We were definitely hungry and tired from a long day of hiking in the sun. Our driver suggested it, and it was the perfect choice. The food was awesome and even the bathrooms were the cleanest I had seen in all of Asia! We highly recommend it.
-One last thing, and this is a big one! If you are traveling with little ones, just know that the locals will probably stop you constantly to take a photo with them. Not many foreign children visit China so it’s a unique sight. Again while we were warned this would happen it took me a bit of adjusting to have them come up and just grab my kid for a photo without even asking. I did my best to understand it was not something to be offended or bothered by, just a cultural difference.
What a truly epic experience it was to visit this remarkable landmark!
The icing on the cake was definitely the added activities which made our day that much more fun and memorable.
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