You cannot talk about China without mentioning the Great Wall. Besides being an triumph of engineering, to actually contemplate its sheer size and significance Ė fortifications constructed from brick, stone, wood and packed earth that snakes its way across 8,850km of mountainside Ė is to consider over 2,000 years of cultural isolation and political endurance.
The Great Wall of China is perhaps the worldís greatest manmade wonder: it is not just a link with the fabled emperors of the past, but a physical expression of our sense of China as separate from the rest of the world.
You can visit for a day Ė there are cable cars and a toboggan run for those who fancy more of a saunter than a hike, or revel in a two-week itinerary that combines nights in homestays and guesthouses with daily treks of up to seven hours.
The further you go from Beijing, the more authentic and less crowded it becomes, but when you do reach the Wall, youíll quickly realise that this incredible run of ramparts, strung out along a twisting, dipping, east-west line, must be seen to be believed. To witness such a feat of human achievement against a landscape of chestnut trees and blooms is to fulfill the trip of a lifetime.
Find out more in our Great Wall of China travel guide.