Great Wall | Classic Journeys Blog
  • Great Wall of China

    Explore a Seldom Traveled Section of the Great Wall of China

    <h2><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank" title="China Travel Tours">Arguably the most recognized wall in the world, the Great Wall serves as a defining emblem of Chinese culture and strength.</a></h2>   <p>A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the greatest world wonders, the Great Wall snakes across deserts, valleys, mountains and plateaus for more than 13,000 miles from east to west China. Rumor has it that you can see the Great Wall from the moon!</p> <p>Several separate sections comprise the Great Wall. Construction on some segments began as early as 220 B.C., when the first Emperor of a unified China, Qin Shi Huang, wanted a fortification system that would keep out pesky barbarian nomads.</p> <p>For centuries, soldiers, prisoners, and locals built the structure from earth and stone, creating 12-foot-tall ramparts and guard towers at various intervals. It’s been said that of the millions who labored to build the wall, more than 400,000 died during its construction.</p> <p>During the Ming dynasty, much of these fortifications were rebuilt, and construction of the Great Wall that we see and appreciate today began. Workers built bridges, temples, and pagodas into the wall, which splits into north and south lines around Juyong Pass.</p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank" title="China Travel Tours">JOIN US ON AN AWE-INSPIRING JOURNEY – THE TRAVEL EQUIVALENT OF FENG-SHUI!</a></h3> <p><b>From Jinshanling to Simatai</b><br><br>Lucky for us, the section of the Great Wall that we will explore, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank" title="China Travel Tours">from Jinshanling to Simatai</a>, doesn’t see as many visitors as easier-to-reach sections. We may get some offers for tour guide services from entrepreneurial locals, but we won’t have to walk among a thick tourist crowd.<br><br><img alt="Great Wall of China" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002rd7" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>The Jinshanling Great Wall contains many original features, with watchtowers that appear every 100 meters or so, as well as combat towers, embrasures, and crenellations. As we hike along sections, our expert guide explains the history and engineering of the wall, which is quite remarkable for its day.</p> <p>Along our seven-mile journey, we will see damaged parts of the wall, reminding us of its need for protection. We will also take in breathtaking, mountainous views as we rest with a picnic lunch. Porters from a nearby village will accompany us with water and snacks.</p> <p>As we approach Simatai, we will notice parts of the wall built on steep crags. Be prepared, the Simatai Great Wall is known for its steepness, but it’s also one of the few, if not the only, section that looks the same as it did during the Ming dynasty.</p> <p>Distinctive watchtowers and other structures also mark this section of the wall. In particular, the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank" title="China Travel Tours">Simatai Great Wall is home to the Fairy Maiden Tower</a>, which features marble arches carved into lotus patterns. It sits on an 85-degree slope called Stairway to Heaven. Reservoirs such as Hot Spring Lake provide year-round water, which gives this section a more organic feel than more arid stretches.</p> <p>These untouched sections of the Great Wall give us a glimpse into its long history. We can imagine dignitaries standing on the Great Wall, or soldiers monitoring from the watchtowers. Combined with detailed commentary from our guide, not many visitors can claim such an intimate and truly great experience.</p>

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  • Banyan Tree Yangshuo Lobby Entrance, China

    The Sometime Solo: A Repeat Traveler Reflects on her Solo Vacations

    <p>Many people want to vacation solo, for a variety of reasons. Some are single, some have spouses who are too busy to travel, and some people just like to travel without their partner or family for a variety of reasons. But just because you’re leaving ‘your people’ at home doesn’t mean you have to travel alone. We recently had the chance to talk with three-time Classic Journeys’ guest and get her take on planning the perfect solo vacation.<br><br>“I’m really independent so I never thought I’d go on a group tour,” remembers Carolyn Seefer. “But when I decided to go to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank">China</a> and my husband’s schedule was too intense for him to get away, I wasn’t comfortable doing it on my own. This was a big step for me, but it made me a lifelong fan of Classic Journeys.” Since then, she’s also traveled solo with us in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/turkey/" target="_blank">Turkey</a>.</p> <p><b>On her fantastic hotel rooms…</b><br>“My ‘room’ in Tibet was a 2-story converted farmhouse with its own courtyard. It was the best place I’ve ever stayed. And the cave hotel in Cappadocia was the most unique—dug into the hillside, but way more luxurious than it sounds. There was a terrace right outside where I could look out over this surreal, almost lunar landscape.” (As Carolyn discovered, we always try to place solo guests in “double for single use” rooms.)</p> <p><b>On the deserted Great Wall…</b><br>“We were literally the only ones on the segment of the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank">Great Wall</a> where you took us— except for some local farmers who wanted to show us around. In my pictures, I’m the only person you can see. It was the real thing. It hadn’t been all fixed up. I hear that most tourists go to a stretch where all of the motorcoaches unload. I know now that Classic Journeys would never do that.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank"><img alt="Guest in front of Great Wall in China" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7oC&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jdbn" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> </p> <p><b>On Lee’s unlimited hospitality…</b><br>“Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/local-tour-guides/" target="_blank">guide</a> Lee was so sweet. She speaks perfect English, but she’s never been out of China in her life. She told us a lot about what her family went through in the Cultural Revolution. In Shangri-La, she really wanted us to see the traditional dancing. So she called a friend who invited us into her house where several local girls danced just for us while we drank yak butter tea, sitting around her fire. Amazing!”</p> <p><b>On sharing with her husband…</b><br>“For my next Classic Journey, we’re going to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank">Morocco</a> together. When he travels, he always says he doesn’t want surprises. I haven’t told him yet, but he <i>will</i> have surprises —they’ll just all be good ones. I came back from my two solo trips with Classic Journeys really satisfied. I know this one will be the same.”</p> <p><b>About Classic Journeys:</b><br>Classic Journeys offers adventure vacations in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/world/" target="_blank">North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific</a>. Families enjoy luxury accommodations and gourmet meals that reflect the best of each region, coupled with multi-sport activities, daily interactions with locals, and native guides who make countries and cultures come alive. Tours are six to 12 days long. Land-only tour prices range from $2595 to $8895 per person (with discounts for small groups and children traveling with parents). Average tour size is 10, limited to a maximum of 18 guests per departure. Full details and links to itineraries are available at <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">www.classicjourneys.com</a>. To speak with one of our personable and knowledgeable guest services coordinators, email us at <a href="mailto:blog@classicjourneys.com" target="_blank">blog@classicjourneys.com</a> or call 800-200-3887.</p>

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  • Great Wall of China

    Great Wall of China

    For travelers to <u><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank">China</a></u>, the Great Wall is essential to any visit. But with its 10,700,000 annual visitors, it’s hard to find a section where you’re not crowding shoulder-to-shoulder with other sightseers. And that’s why it’s on Travel + Leisure’s list of most visited attractions, as well under protection as a member of United Nations UNESCO World Heritage Sites.<br> <br>So, the key to any authentic and immersive visit to the Great Wall, as with any spot in China, is to avoid those portions that are easiest to reach. Classic Journeys strategically directs its guests away from the crowds by making an after-breakfast drive from Beijing to Jinshanling for a day on a spectacular stretch that’s much less visited. Porters from a nearby village accompany us with water, snacks and lunch as we walk a 7-mile leg of the wall built in the mountains in 1368. As we make our way toward Simatai, our guides have plenty of opportunity to explain the history and engineering of the wall. After all, this stretch alone has 67 combat towers, plus embrasures, watchtowers, crenellations and more. When you’ve seen pictures of dignitaries on the Great Wall, they’re standing on restored sections. One reason we love this area is that we also traverse some untouched sections that speak to the true age of the Great Wall. Because we’ve allocated the whole day, we take our time and stop for a picnic in the gorgeous surroundings. You’re unlikely to know anyone who’s seen this wonder of the world in this detail. <br> <br>Classic Journeys guests, Joel and Jennifer, are on their second trip to <u><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/asiapacific/" target="_blank">Asia with Classic Journeys</a></u> (as a follow up to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia</a> in 2014). From China, they sent us photos of themselves with their Classic Journeys guide, Kevin, exploring the Great Wall. In contrast to the typical traveler’s photos of the Great Wall with thousands of tourists filling the frame, their photos tell a totally different story. In typical Classic Journeys style, they had their section of the wall almost entirely to themselves. And the cooler Kevin is carrying? For their chilled champagne, of course!<br><br><a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank"><img alt="Great Wall of China" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001zEUL&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9Jo" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank"><img alt="Great Wall of China" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001zEUL&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9Jt" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank"><b>How To Have the Great Wall to Yourself</b></a><br>Join Classic Journeys on our handcrafted <u><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/china/" target="_blank">12-day/11-night Cultural + Walking vacation to China</a></u>. Our expert local guides will introduce you to life in Beijing, Shanghai, the Li River Valley and the Tibetan frontier, as well as locals from every walk of life. Highlights include:<br><br>- Hiking the most scenic stretch of the Great Wall<br>- Dancing with locals in the town square of Yangshuo<br>- An up-close visit of the Terra Cotta Warriors with your guide, Kevin<br>- The chanting of the monks at Songzanlin Monastery<br>- An easy guided bike ride among rice paddies and farmhouses

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