The Great Wall is no longer a connected structure; it is separated
into different sections (and tour sites) such as Badaling, Mutianyu,
Juyongguan, Simatai (http://www.travelchinaguide.com/china_great_wall/scene/beijing/).
The section closest to Beijing is 70 km away at Ba Da Ling. It's the
easiest part of the wall to get to but it's also the most packaged,
and to get the best out of it you need to escape the paths along which
visitors are herded (http://www.webtourist.net/knowbefore/goto/beijing/china/the_great_wall_badaling.htm).The
wall of Badaling has a total tour area of 19, 000 square meters
There are no hotels or accommodations near or on this section of the wall.
The place most recommended is Simatai, which is 110km north-east of
Beijing. It is about a 300 meter uphill hike up the side of a mountain
just to reach the wall (or a cable car), and the wall has a 300 meter
elevation change. There is a direct route to the next section
Jinshanling. The sections of Jinshanling and Simatai have ?much more
of the genuine bricks, and fortifications left behind from ancient
times. Here you can get a real glimpse at the ancient history of
While there are dozens of organized tours available for the Great
Wall, most exceed your 5 day schedule and run into 8, 10 and 15 day
excursions (example: http://china-hiking.com/greatwall/). There are
also some day tours available which include trips into the city and
surrounding areas (http://www.china.travelmall.com/travelmall/tour/The_Great_Wall_Tour#description).
Most tourists stay in hotel in downtown at night and start the trip
again the next morning. There are no hotels at these sites. However, I
did discover that you can stay at a Watchtower above the section
?Do not expect much in the way of creature comforts as the tower is
one large room. However the Chinese hospitality is great and hey,
you're sleeping ON the Great Wall of China. They will provide you with
bed on the floor, blankets and pillows.
You will need to make advance arrangements for accommodation food..
You can have Chinese food, jiaozi (dumplings), beer and bai jiu at the
tower or in the village. If you want real coffee in the morning you
had better bring it (hot water and Nescafe available). You may also
want to bring bread, cheese and fruit for your breakfast.
To make arrangements to stay in the watchtower, contact Sun Hai Long.
He speaks a little English but not a lot so you may do best to get a
Chinese speaker to call up and make the arrangements for you. You will
meet them in the village of Jinshanling and they will take you up to
the tower. If you are calling from Beijing ring Sun Hai Long on his
mobile: 0-13613143948 or his wife (speaks no English) on
0-13932444368. The leading "0" is needed if calling long distance
within China, if at Jinshanling then drop the "0". If calling from
outside China drop the "0" and add the "86" country code.?
-The Beijing Guide (http://www.thebeijingguide.com/great_wall_of_china/accommodation_great_wall_of_china.html)
The Jinshanling section runs 6.8 miles. ?As there are relatively few
tourists at Jinshanling Great Wall, it is a good place to explore on
foot. In early mornings of spring and summer you can see a remarkable
view - "Cloud Sea" below you from the Wall. The Jinshanling Great Wall
has never been repaired. You are safer when you visit this section of
the Great Wall than other parts. It is safer as the service in this
section of Great Wall includes that one tour guide is responsible for
one tourist, for his/her safety actually. When needed, the tour guides
will go hand in hand to protect the tourists.?
The only accommodation available at the Great Wall is between
Jinshanling and Simatai. ?Jinshangling and Simaotai both have
restaurants, guest houses and shops?It is about a two hour drive from
Beijing to Jinshangling or Simaotai. The walk then takes between three
and five hours. You can do the whole thing in one long day or go to
the start of your walk at the end of the day, have dinner, sleep and
get up at sunrise and do the walk. It will certainly be less crowded
at that time. Sunrise is beautiful on a clear day and the wall can be
amazing in foggy weather too.
If you choose to begin your trek from Simatai, it will be a day?s
journey to the next section, Jinshanling. From there, you can stay at
the only on site accommodation at the Watchtower of Jinshanling, from
there you can explore the Wall further or return to a hotel in Beijing
until your next morning?s journey. If you decide to take a normal
scheduled tour that will exceed 5 days, please let me know, and I will
gladly provide you with more information.
I hope you enjoy your trip!
You may also find the following links useful:
1) Walking the Great Wall (the story of a traveler)
2) A diary from the Great Wall (advice)
3) General advice on touring the Wall
4) About Simatai
5) Cycling the Great Wall!
6) Hotels in Beijing
7) Visitor review of Simatai
Please ask for a clarification on this answer if necessary,
I hope this helps!