Great Wall of China
China's greatest engineering triumph and most famous attraction, the Great Wall of China wriggles haphazardly from its scattered Manchurian remains to wind-scoured rubble in the Gobi desert. The most renowned and robust examples undulate majestically over the peaks and hills of Beijing, but the Great Wall can be visited in many northern provinces.
It is mistakenly assumed that the wall is one continuous entity, but under the Mao Administration it was used as a source of free building material, and its bountiful supply of stone has been stripped from the ramparts at places. The entire barricade itself might have been gone if not for the tourist industry, which led to several important sections being rebuilt and kitted out with souvenir shops, restaurants, and cable cars.
While Badaling is the the wall's most-visited manifestation, for a less touristy experience head to the stirring remains of Simatai, 110km northeast of Beijing. The 19km section is an invigorating stretch of watchtowers, precarious plunges, and scrambling ascents. While the scenery is exhilarating, the eastern section of wall is treacherous, and most opt for the cable car to save valuable time and possible injuries. The breathtaking walk between Jinshangling and Simatai is one of the most popular hikes and makes the journey out here worth it.
Most tourists opt for hotel or hostel-organized tours, which are convenient but you should be wary of over-priced excursions. If you opt for public transport, you can head to Badaling on bus 919 (80 mins, comes every 30 mins) from Deshengmen. Tour buses run to Simatai from the Beijing Sightseeing Bus Centre.