Mutianyu

Chinese: 慕田峪
Pinyin: Mù tián yù
English: Mutian valley
Coordinates: 40°26'17"N 116°33'43"E

Mutianyu is one of the most popular of all Great Wall locations and is a good choice for a first visit to the Great Wall. The Mutianyu Great Wall has something for everyone. The main span is restored but original, unrepaired sections are usually accessible at both ends. Mutianyu is situated in beautiful, heavily forested mountains. Mutianyu is second only to Badaling for tourist activity, so if you're looking for peace and quiet, be prepared to walk for a considerable distance before you find it.

Being a major tourist destination, Mutianyu is easy to access. It's about 30 or 40 minutes northwest of the Huairou urban area. There are buses traveling frequently to Mutianyu and any taxi driver in Beijing or Huairou should know how to get there.

The Mutianyu Great Wall consists of a medium-length span of restored Great Wall. The restoration is of a high quality but probably not done beyond the original quality of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. Built during the Ming Dynasty on the foundations of a wall originally built in the Northern Qi Dynasty, Mutianyu was one of the highest-quality sections of the Beijing wall.

At both ends of the restored section, you will find long stretches of original Great Wall which are in relatively good condition.

Overview of Mutianyu

When you arrive at the Mutianyu Great Wall, you have several choices on how to reach the Great Wall. There are two cable cars. The eastern cable car is smaller and the western cable car is larger and more modern.

As you walk northward through the parking lot, you will reach a path on the right side which takes up you a long series of steps towards the eastern end of the restored section. There is also the lower station for the east cable car. Further up is another path which goes more towards the middle. Last you will find the west cable car's station. This is a high-quality, enclosed cable car, much more refined than the “ski lift” type of cable cars found at most Great Wall locations. The cable car will take you up to the west of the center point of the restored section in just a couple of minutes while providing great views of most of the Mutianyu Great Wall.

However you arrive at the wall, you can walk either to the left or right, continue to the end of the restored section, turn around and walk all the way back to the other end of the restored section, and finally walk back to your original entry point, in just a few hours. For many visitors, this is enough. There are many interesting features to enjoy. There are also many vendors who want you to buy their merchandise. This can be handy if you want some food or drink. There are also restrooms.

After you are finished exploring the Great Wall, if you don't want to walk down or take the cable car, you can return to the parking lot via a toboggan ride that departs from near the upper station of the eastern (smaller) cable car. The toboggan is a lot of fun and many visitors enjoy riding it. It's a single-seat toboggan where you control your own speed, so try to delay your departure in order to create a gap to the toboggan in front of you in order to enable you to go as fast as you wish. The incline isn't very steep, but it's a curvy track, so be careful not to go too fast or you can lose control in a corner; this is not a roller coaster where the cars are attached to the track.

If you walk along the wall towards the west, as you near the end of the restored area, you will find a long straight incline with exactly 454 steps from bottom to top. At the top of this incline, there is a large tower. The span beyond this tower was restored in 2009-2010. Beyond the end of the newly-restored section, the wall is closed to visitors. However, it's not usually guarded and it is possible to continue westward towards Niujiaobian and Jiankou.

The 454-step incline at Mutianyu

If you walk to the east from the restored section of the Mutianyu Great Wall, you will reach a special group of three large, connected towers called Zhengguantai. Beyond this, the wall climbs steeply and just beyond the third tower are signs stating that the wall is closed beyond this point. Here the wall branches off in two directions. If you take the right branch, which leads south, you'll be following a spur wall that is in very dilapidated condition and only continues for about one kilometer. This spur is accessed by climbing through a side window in the top tower. If, instead, you walk straight through and head to the east, you will be following the main wall which is in better condition and follows mountain ridges to Lianhuachi.

While it's usually possible to access these unrestored areas, there are times when guards are present. This can be the case during busy holiday times. This can also occur after accidents happen, which they do, even on restored sections of the Great Wall.

There are several guest houses and hotels in the Mutianyu area. The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu (a hotel and restaurant) is just south of the entrance to the Great Wall on the south side of the road. The Mutianyu Great Wall hotel is about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) away from the entrance area on the north side of the road.

Along the road to and from Mutianyu are many fish farm restaurants which are sure to satisfy the appetite you will have after climbing the Great Wall.

Just west of Mutianyu, in the adjacent valley, is a village called Beigou or Yingbeigou (营北沟, Yíng běi gōu). In addition to restaurants, guest houses, and other tourist accommodations, this village has a road that goes back towards the mountain and the Great Wall which joins a trail that leads to the western end of Mutianyu Great Wall. About 60 meters (200 feet) before the end of the road, on the right (east) side, you can find the beginning of the trail. The trail is steep but easy to follow. It joins the wall aside a tower. You can get onto the wall at that point, or you can continue following the path along the left (south) side of the Great Wall. The path ends within the section of Mutianyu that was repaired in 2009-2010. From here, you can proceed to your right (east) to Mutianyu or to your left (west) to Niujiaobian and Jiankou.

Location summary: Mutianyu is about 61 kilometers (38 miles) north of downtown Beijing. It is about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) west of Lianhuachi, about 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles) southeast of Niujiaobian and about 2.6 kilometers (1.6 miles) east of Zhengbeilou tower at Jiankou. The path of the Great Wall from Mutianyu to Niujiaobian is about 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles). The path of the Great Wall from Mutianyu to Zhengbeilou tower at Jiankou is about 3.4 kilometers (2.1 miles). The path of the Great Wall from Niujiaobian to Zhengbeilou tower at Jiankou is about 0.9 kilometers (0.5 miles).

Driving directions: From the Huairou urban area, take X009 northwest for 15.6 kilometers (10.3 miles) to the Mutianyu roundabout. At the roundabout, turn right and drive north for about 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) to the Mutianyu Great Wall.

Mutianyu Lodging Wall map

Mutianyu Great Wall map

Mutianyu Great Wall map

Mutianyu Great Wall map

The end of the restored section looking west towards the Ox Horn Edge Wall and, further along, Jiankou

The western end of the restored section

The main wall at the eastern end of the restored section

The spur wall at the eastern end of the restored section

Mutianyu spur wall

There is a span of the Great Wall that follows a high mountain ridge south from the eastern end of the Mutianyu Great Wall before ending abruptly at the top of a steep peak. Most of it is in excellent original condition as it was left by the Ming Dynasty. There are a few spots that are badly damaged towards the northern end.

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Access point at 40°25'31"N 116°34'1"E

Trail from Mutianyu village

Mutianyu spur wall

Intricate and unusual transition design

Jiankou Great Wall above the clouds

Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

Mutianyu spur wall

A damaged area. Pass carefully.

The #1 tower at the eastern end of Mutianyu
You can climb out this window to access the spur wall.

Unusual structure

Jiankou viewed from Mutianyu

Many parts of Mutianyu are in excellent, original condition.

Lianhuachi viewed from Mutianyu

Cannon platform

This one should make chinoook laugh. Too bad we can't see her shoes.

Freestanding unrestored tower (40°26'27.30"N 116°33'39.22"E)

This woman was proud to tell me she had met Robert Loken and to show me his card

Mutianyu Tower 11 (40°26'12.14"N 116°33'45.65"E)

Tower 11 at Mutianyu is a special tower. It’s not freestanding, but it sits at the end of a short spur off of the main line of the Wall. Around its base is an additional wall to provide extra protection. In order to reach this area, I had to climb out the window and down a ladder from tower 10 and then climb down to tower 11.

Tower 10 at the left, tower 12 in the middle, tower 11 at the right

Looking at tower 11 from the main line of the Great Wall (40°26'12.29"N 116°33'43.76"E)

Looking out the window on the east side of the tower

View from 40°26'11.94"N 116°33'44.83"E looking east

View from 40°26'11.93"N 116°33'45.34"E looking east

View from 40°26'11.96"N 116°33'45.83"E looking north

Mutianyu Tower 11

Mutianyu Tower 11

Mutianyu Tower 11

Looking up at the east side of the tower from its base

Ladder from tower 10 (40°26'10.43"N 116°33'43.58"E)

Christmas decorations at Mutianyu

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu tower inscriptions

Mutianyu Web Links

http://www.mutianyugreatwall.com/
http://www.mutianyugreatwall.net/
http://www.theschoolhouseatmutianyu.com/
http://www.roadhouseatmutianyu.com/
http://www.xiaolumian.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutianyu
http://115.47.243.77/