What you’ll See on a Layover Tour to the Great Wall

Many people pass through Beijing airport on route to other destinations and some take the opportunity to do a layover tour from the Beijing Airport to the Great Wall. However there is always a little indecision over whether to make the trip or not. If you’re worried that a layover of 7 or 8 hours is not enough to really see anything then this article will put your mind at rest.

If you make your layover tour plans with a tour guide company you can get either a private driver or travel with a small group. Your driver will be waiting for you with a sign showing your name as you reach the arrival hall of the airport. After greeting you he will take you to the car and your adventure begins.

The journey from Beijing Airport to the closest section of the Great Wall, Mutianyu, will take between 45 minutes and 80 minutes depending on traffic and time of day. The distance is about 45 miles (72km). The drive to and from the Wall can be just as interesting as the Wall itself! Along the way you will pass through small rural villages and undeveloped areas which you would not have seen on a visit just to the city of Beijing. Once you are approaching Mutianyu you will see rolling hills almost completely covered with thick woodlands. In the distance the Great Wall wends its way across the countryside like the tail of a giant dragon. Depending when you visit you may see the hills and Wall covered in snow, reds, yellows and browns during autumn or vivid shades of green in summer with a scattering of colorful wild flowers in the spring. Close to the Wall there are many pine trees some of which are over 300 years old.


Mutianyu is not only the access point to the Wall closest to the airport it is also the easiest to “climb”. No matter what your fitness level or age you can reach the top of the Wall with the Mutianyu cable car. Once on top of the Wall you can walk along the ancient stones and enter the guard towers which are built at even intervals along the Wall. Inside the small hut-like stone guard towers there is graffiti left by many visitors over the years. Here your guide will tell you the story of the Wall and its incredible history. You will be able to imagine the lives of the many workers it took to build the Wall, the battles fought to cross it, the cold nights spent by guards patrolling the Wall and the way the Wall has changed and developed over time.

At the end of this incredible trip, having seen the Chinese countryside and the iconic Great Wall of China your guide will return you to the airport in plenty of time for your connecting flight. So you see you can see quite a lot in your short layover at Beijing Airport, definitely a lot more than you would see if you just sat in the airport for half a day!