Often considered one of the most remarkable architectural feats in the world, the Great Wall of China is on many people’s travel bucket lists, but what exactly makes the wall so special?
It is Twice as Long as the Diameter of Pluto
When added up, the sections of the Great Wall reach approximately a whopping 6,400 km (3,797 mi), which is more than twice the diameter of Pluto. The wall is also longer than the diameter of Earth’s moon, which is about 3,480 km (2,162 mi).
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
It Cannot be Seen From Space
The myth that the Great Wall is visible from space has been perpetuated at least since 1938, long before humans landed on the moon. Although the structure is indeed formidable, the materials with which it was built tend to blend into the landscape, which makes it difficult to distinguish with the naked eye from space.
In Chinese, It’s Called Chang Cheng
The name Chang Cheng, which means “long wall,” appears to have originated in Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian, a history book written during the Han-dynasty era that serves as a seminal authority on early Chinese society. The wall has alternatively been called Wan-Li Chang Cheng, which means “10,000-Mile Long Wall.”
Glutinous Rice Flour was Used as Mortar
Although little of the wall remains that was built by first Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang, these sections from 220-206 BC were constructed with a mortar made of glutinous rice flour. The bricks themselves were made with rammed earth, stone, and wood.
Construction Began Before China was Unified
Qin Shihuang is typically credited as the brains behind the Great Wall, as large-scale construction of the wall began under his reign. However, he simply joined together pre-existing walls built by Northern kingdoms that he had conquered and unified.
Most of What’s Left is From the Ming Dynasty
New construction of the wall began in earnest during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), and it also stopped during that time. Today, all construction on the wall is done only for preservation. An archaeological survey estimated that the wall spanned 8,850 km (5,499 mi) at the height of the Ming, meaning that more than 2,000 km (1,243 km) of the wall have been lost since.
Bricks Were Removed En Masse During the Cultural Revolution
China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) devastated historical sites across the country, including the Great Wall. During that time, locals were encouraged to remove bricks to build homes and other structures.
Camping is Allowed on Certain Sections
Several travel agencies offer overnight camping trips to the Great Wall, where lucky travelers can pitch tents on living history and watch the sun rise over one of the greatest feats of architecture in the world.
The Wall Crosses Nine Provinces and Municipalities
From east to west, the Great Wall stretches across Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, and Gansu, though not continually. Although many travelers stick to the well-tread sections in Beijing, many other provinces offer wilder and more unique views.
Jiankou is Considered Most Photogenic
Beijing’s Jiankou is often regarded as the most photogenic section of the Great Wall. Due to the steep and dramatic mountains and the wall’s rugged untouched splendor, Jiankou has the kind of epic angles that make photographers salivate.
Badaling and Mutianyu are Most Visited
Jiankou is no easy hike, and it can, in fact, become dangerous for inexperienced climbers. A less challenging, but nevertheless rewarding, visit to the Great Wall can be made at Badaling or Mutianyu, which are based in Beijing. Avoid visiting during Chinese holidays or peak tourist season, however. Those who do make the journey during these times will experience the true meaning of the Chinese phrase ren shan ren hai, which means “people mountain people sea.’
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.