The Great Wall of China is one of, if not the most famous, Seven Wonders of the World. This iconic landmark is probably on every travelers’ bucket list, rightfully so. The Great Wall has a reputation for inspiring awe, making people believe in magic, and be overly crowded.
We’ve all seen the photos of hundreds of people packed like sardines next to each other at the Great Wall. Luckily, it is easy to avoid this type of experience while getting better photos than you would’ve anyway!
The secret to visiting the Great Wall of China is to do it at sunset. Here are the reasons why.
Enjoy The Wall In Peace
No one enjoys fighting tourists to get the picture, the view, or just to get a spot to stand.
Luckily, the big tour groups leave nearly every portion of the wall at 4:00 pm or earlier. Since sunset isn’t until 6:00 to 8:00 pm depending on the time of year, you get HOURS of the empty wall to examine, hike, and take pictures all by yourself.
Now I know what you’re thinking. If tour groups leave, then how do you get to the wall? A private tour from Beijing is not nearly as expensive as other destinations. For around $250 USD, Layton and I went on a private tour for the entire day, leaving around noon and returning at 9:00 pm. We booked the Great Wall of China sunset tour to Gubeiko and Jinshanling with Beijing Walking Tour and had the best time possible! It was fantastic in every aspect. Our super friendly and knowledgeable guide, Leo, is the one who taught of all of this information!
We watched the sunset on the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. According to Leo, it offers the best views and is less crowded than other areas. You can see he was right just by looking at the photos below. Apart from us, there is no one in sight.
It Takes You Back In Time
Walking along the Great Wall of China with not another soul in sight as the sun dips down behind the mountains is a feeling words can’t describe. It makes you wonder what like would be like as soldiers stationed at one of these lonely outposts just waiting to protect China from foreign invaders.
Every corner, watchtower, and ridge presents another horizon. As you pass one, you can’t help but want to walk to the next. As far as the eye can see, the wall goes.
We walked for miles. We walked farther than we walked when we explored Ancient Rome, Dubrovnik, Chichen Itza, or Venice. All by ourselves.
The Great Wall of China was my fourth Wonder of the World, but it was the most magical by far.
The Views At Sunset Are Stunning
It isn’t a crazy statement to say nearly everywhere in the world looks better at sunset. Whether you are in the islands, the mountains, the desert, or the open sea, the sunset is beautiful.
Why would the Great Wall be any different?
Whether you are visiting to make memories, become inspired, or grab a few snaps of a fantastic piece of architecture, going to the Great Wall of China at sunset will make your experience better because it will look better through your eyes or lens.
If you want to see the Great Wall at its best, you need to see it at sunset.
Note: Sometimes, smog from Beijing makes its way to parts of the Great Wall. The day before we had the tour, our guide Leo from Beijing Walking Tours asked if we wanted to reschedule to a later date when the smog cleared. Luckily, we’re able to make this change. However, if you’re unable to reschedule, I still would recommend going on the sunset tour. You’ll still get to see what it’s like exploring the Great Wall without hoards of tourists -something most people never experience.
If you have a few days in Beijing, be sure to check out my post about the “7 Unique Things To Do In Beijing“. You’ll discover some off the beaten path locations that are just as amazing as the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, or Temple of Heaven.