Mutyaniu is the second most visited section of the Wall. It isn’t very easy to reach by public transport, but there is an option of Mubus (details later) taking about 1.5 hours to get there.
When to go
If you have a while in Beijing, it’s preferable to go during weekdays, rather than on the weekend. However, basically any attractions would be better to visit on weekdays, so it may not be possible. In summer, the Wall would be set in greenery. When we visited in the middle of October, it had beautiful views of yellow leaves.
I believe winter would be the worst time, as the trees will be bare and views would not be so beautiful, unless, of course, the mountains are covered in snow.
Either way, you may or may not be lucky with the weather. It was foggy on the day we went, so the visibility was not that great.
We thought that going in the afternoon would mean that there would be less crowds. I am not really sure if that is the case, as I haven’t been in the morning. But the crowds were manageable when we went. Obviously, you don’t have a chance to find a photo opportunity with no people in it, but it was quite all right.
How to get there
The best guide for taking public transport is here: https://www.tour-beijing.com/blog/beijing-travel/how-to-get-to-mutianyu-great-wall-by-bus . This option of taking a bus and changing to a mini bus didn’t appeal to us, as it takes a lot of time and effort. So I searched for other options.
I hate taking tours and most of them ask for exorbitant prices just to get you to Mutyaniu. Taxi would be too expensive as well, particularly, if it waited for you, while you visited the site. Otherwise, finding a taxi back is an almost impossible task.
In the end, I found the best option for us, which was Mubus. This is a direct bus with no stops at shops or wherever. It directly gets you to Mutyaniu. The Mubus return ticket costs around 80 yuans or less, if you get a deal on trip.com . You don’t really need to prebook the tickets though, as many people just showed up and bought tickets on the spot, so they added another bus to accommodate everyone. The Mubus buses leave from the East side of the of Swissotel Beijing Hong Kong Macau Center. After getting out of the metro stop Dongsishitiao exit C, you should head to your right to the nearest Dongzhong street corner. Across the street, the Mubus employees will stand in their red uniforms and the bus is parked nearby. You will also see Starbucks coffee shop for orientation.
There are buses twice a day at 7.40/8am (returning from Mutyaniu at 3pm) and at 12am (returning from Mutyaniu at 6pm. This gives you about 4 to 5 hours on the spot. I am not sure, if you can take the 8am one and return with the 6pm one though. I guess, it’s worth asking.
Mubus has great guides. The best thing is that you don’t have to follow them, they drop you off and you can go independently until the meeting time.
The bus will drop you off at the bus station. We were told that normally it’s a requirement to pass the small village with stalls, but on the day we were there, this wasn’t necessary and the bus parked at the nearby bus stop, which was great for us, as we didn’t have to walk too much to get to the entrance.
Tickets and the options to go up the Wall
The Mubus guide will give you detailed information about your options and offer to buy tickets for you. The price you will pay is exactly the same, as you would pay, if you queue at the ticket office. The queues are long, so I do suggest to take up this offer, as it will save you a lot of time, at no extra cost.
You can also go to the ticket offices yourself and get tickets there.
This map from TourBeijing gives you the best overview of where is what. I will explain your choices step-by-step:
The entrance ticket of the wall costs 40 yuans. In addition to this, you have three options to go up:
- On foot, which is free. I believe you can go either to Tower 8 or Tower 10 on foot. We didn’t attempt this, and I don’t think I would in any circumstances, simply because it takes 1-2 hours and has no views. You will need your energy once you are on the Wall.
- By cable car, which costs 120 return and 100 one way; To reach the cable car station, from where you will take it, you will have to walk up the steep hill for about 5-10 minutes. This is not very complicated walk, mom managed it quite well. The cable car goes up to the Tower 14 (see on the map). This is a higher point than the towers on its east, however the highest point of the whole section is Tower 23, from where the unrenovated wild parts start. From the cable car, you have an option to go left and climb up to the Tower 23, if you are fit and don’t mind a long climb on steep steps. Or you can head to the right, towards Tower 6, from where the open cable car/toboggan can bring you down. Keep in mind that the cable car going to Tower 14 and the toboggan for Tower 6 are operated by different companies, so you can’t buy return ticket to take one up and another down. You will have to buy two single tickets in this case.
- By open cable car up and toboggan down. This option costs 100 one way and 120 both ways. To get to the place, from where you can take it up, you will have to walk up the hill a bit, but the stop is located much downer than the cable car stop. It goes up to Tower 6. I believe this is the worst option, if you go up only to this section, as it’s neither highest, nor gives access to highest points.
Your options for walking on the Wall:
Go up by the Cable car to Tower 14 and go to your left all the way up to Tower 23. I was told this would take you about 1.5 hours. You will then have to come back to Tower 14 to take cable car down, so keep your energy. This option will cost 40+120 yuans.
Go up by the Cable car to Tower 14 and walk to your right to reach Tower 6. From there you can go down by toboggan or the open cable car. This option is much easier, but it will be more expensive, as you pay one way for the cable car and one way for toboggan separately. Price: 40+100+100 yuans.
Go up to Tower 14 and just walk around there. You can go to your left and reach Tower 17, which has quite nice views. Then come back and stroll to Tower 13 before going back to take the Cable car down. This option would be best if you have limited time and are not very fit. We chose to do this with mom, instead of rushing to Tower 23.
How easy is it to walk?
The Mutyaniu section is well renovated and easy to walk, however, still retains its authentic look with views over the surrounding mountains. I was quite worried that mom would not be able to move around here much, but except for several steep steps from the cable car to the wall and the steps to go up the towers (which is not necessary), it was quite easy for her.
The crowds relatively cleared after 5pm, when people headed down I guess not to miss the last cable car.