Best time to visit The Great Wall of China? Go in December to avoid the heat and the crowds. You’ll have the wall ALL to yourself.


Credit: Jabari Bell

Credit: Jabari Bell

I conquered 7,200 steps to the top of Taishan and trekked 4 hours around the West Lake in Hangzhou. Climbing The Great Wall? Sure, no problem! Except I forgot to factor in the high altitude and nearly freezing temperature. I huffed and puffed all the way up. Either my cardio was really bad or my cardio was…just…really bad.

The Great Wall is segmented into sections based on the difficulty of the route. I chose to climb Badaling, one of the less strenuous routes. Unfortunately, I still found myself lagging behind.

The good thing about going in December is that it’s not a tourist season. The Great Wall was so empty it felt like it was all mine.  I glided down – knees bent, arms out – on the snow caked paths from descending slopes. I marked my initials in the snow. I built a snowman far superior than the person before me.

My climb on The Great Wall was not just a climb. I took away more than just pictures and souvenirs. For many of us, we stand in awe at the length of The Great Wall, the rolling mountains and the vastness of the land that it sits on. We enjoy its beauty and its history. But for us to have all that, many of my ancestors had to slave away to build it. I was able to climb it because of their backbreaking sweat. The only way to stack each stone was to carry it up the mountain. And if you’ve ever climbed The Great Wall you know that it can be a grueling journey.

Monica reflects on her travels by sharing her thoughts on A Cup of Moca. She writes about her journey as she experiences the destination to encourage others to marinate in the moment instead of just checking things off a bucket list.