Upon booking our flights to New Zealand was agreed on a 10-hour layover in China. The flights were so cheap with the layover and thought we would hang around in the airport, especially as Beijing is one of the largest terminals in an airport.
It wasn’t until I was having a chat with my Mum about her previous layover in Singapore where they have a little bus shuttle from the airport that I started to investigate what our options were.
Beijing Layover Tour
I stumbled across the 24/144 hour visa-free transit pass, meaning that you can apply at the airport to leave the terminal. A tour company called Beijing Layover Tour offer tours between 4 and 72 hours for those with a transit pass. After doing some research on TripAdvisor and being endorsed by National Geographic, we decided to book a 4-hour tour to the Great Wall Of China. Thinking when will be the next time we have this opportunity.
We paid a deposit of US$110 for two of us and then to pay the balance (US$110) at the end of the tour. We were advised to get the visa-free stamp (the 24/144 hour transit visa) and meet the guide at Starbucks. The guide would be an English-Speaker and be accompanied by a professional driver.
Our tour guide, Lisa
We met the lovely Lisa at the time and place, where she was holding a sign with mine and hubby’s names and went to meet the car. The driver was a tiny wee woman called Mrs Chen who was sitting so close to the steering wheel I could have laid down in the back of the luxury car!
Lisa explained to us about the different sections of the Great Wall and how they were all separate sections that then became joined under the First Emperor (same one from the Terracotta Warriors), and we were heading for the Mutianyu section.
Pretty lucky for us the Mutianyu reportedly is one of the best-preserved sections of the wall.
About an hours drive around Beijing (trying to avoid the traffic through the city) and we arrived at the entrance to the Mutianyu section of the wall. Part of our fee included the access to the Wall, however, given the time we paid for the ski-lift up to the wall (rather than walk) and then get the Toboggan down. Yep, a single-rider personal wheeled sledge to descend from the wall to the valley on a winding metal track.
This section of the wall is beautifully preserved with incredible watchtowers, but it’s a stunning dense forest that was illuminated by the gorgeous late afternoon sun, making the experience even more magical.
Not going to lie before I met Lisa I was super nervous that we would be abandoned at the Great Wall. Panicked that we would miss our flight to Auckland, but honestly cannot recommend Beijing Layover Tour company enough!