I’ve hiked the Great Wall many times during many seasons – spring, summer, and even once during autumn…But I had never seen the Great Wall in winter with lots of snow! It’s been on my Beijing Bucket List for some time, so when Beijing had a second round of snowfall this December, I was excited! My friend Xiao Wei (@greatwallmylove) and I had made a plan to visit the Great Wall together the next time it snowed, so we finally had the chance to go.
Meet Xiao Wei, founder of Great Wall My Love
Xiao Wei and I have been Instagram friends for a long time but never met until now. Both of us are Beijing enthusiasts – we love sharing beautiful places around Beijing. He loves it so much that his job is actually giving tours to the Great Wall and around Beijing.
Xiao Wei is also a fantastic photographer – I’m a huge fan of his Instagram photos and his photography style, and when he invited me to join him for a photo shoot on the wall in the snow I was extremely excited. He wanted to go to Jinshanling and told me it was his favorite section, which was perfect because it’s my favorite section as well!
Spending the Night at the Wall
We drove to Jinshanling late from Beijing on Monday evening and reached the base of the Great Wall around 11:30 pm. There are several hotels and home stays right near the ticket entrance to Jinshanling, so we spent the night in one of the home stays. The family has an amazing story and have lived at the Great Wall all their lives. They have a restaurant and home stay, and also have shops on the different towers of the wall where you can buy food and drinks.
Sunrise on the Great Wall
I woke up at 6 am to meet Xiao Wei at 6:30 am to begin our hike up the wall. Jinshanling is a great wall section to hike because it only takes around 30 minutes (mostly on a road and path) to hike up to the entrance where you are immediately on the wall.
While it was very cold, we were both immediately delighted at how much snow was covering the Wall. It was a perfect winter scene, and we quickly hiked up to one of the towers to get photos of the sunrise.
After some sunrise shots we continued on to a place to get these shots…
Hiking Jinshanling in the Snow
After sunrise we continued our hike along the rest of the Jinshanling Great Wall. It was amazing to be completely surrounded by snowy mountains. There were actually quite a few other photographers there, and they were very curious about me wearing a dress for photos when it was freezing outside!
Xiao Wei and I had a good system for photos though – he would set up a shot and tell me what his vision was. I had my dress on underneath my jacket and layers, so when it was time for a photo I would quickly take off my coat, pose for a few photos, then quickly put my coat back on! Xiao Wei knows me and my own photography style well, and he also had his own creative ideas to try and I love how they turned out.
I had a wonderful time with Xiao Wei – he wasn’t just an amazing photographer (as you can clearly see), but he was also a fun travel companion. He and I chatted about everything, like his hometown in Guizhou, our families and friends, our mutual love of Beijing and photography, and our future ideas and personal goals.
A little before and after I pulled my dress out!
Sunset at Jinshanling Great Wall
We spent the whole morning hiking and taking photos, heading down from the middle gate around 11:30 a.m. We went back to the home stay for some delicious local Chinese dishes (Xiao Wei ordered my favorite and didn’t even know it! Eggplant and green beans) and we had a short rest. Around 2 p.m. we left to hike back up the wall on the wild side. I’ve been to Jinshanling 3 times before and never hiked on that side, so it was exciting to see a different part of the wall there.
The afternoon was very sunny and much warmer than the morning – I didn’t need my gloves on like before.
Hiking Jinshanling Great Wall
It was my 4th time to visit Jinshanling and it still remains my favorite section of the wall because of the hike and the views! I actually have many more photos but just decided to share a few of my favorites.
It was really special to see it on such a beautiful and snowy day, and I’m happy I was also able to have this experience with Xiao Wei. Usually I travel solo and take photos by myself with my tripod, so it was really fun to have a photographer (and friend) there to take photos and share the amazing day with! I would highly recommend taking a Great Wall My Love tour with Xiao Wei to anyone who wants an exceptional Great Wall experience away from crowds and with amazing photo memories from your hike!
I look forward to the next time I get to hike the Great Wall!