🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all known regulation around recreational and commercial drone use over the Great Wall of China and more generally within the country. Give a 👍 at the end of this post & feel free to share your experience or any updates you might have in the Forum. Keep in mind that the content below is updated to the best of our knowledge & does not replace official sources & your research.
The Great Wall is located in China which follows the common rules of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). If you're looking for the unmanned aerial vehicle rules of China then click here.
As for a shortcut, no matter where in China, you should fly:
at a maximum altitude of 120 m & 500 m away from you max.
away from clouds (120 m) & within sight at all times
at less than 100 km/h "You should be fine with that" 👍
a drone that records your flight path in an electronic way.
away from urban centres or near crowds (30 m away & 10 m vertically).
a drone weighting less than 7 kg (you will need a license above that).
away from airports, heliports & give priority to all other categories of aircraft. If you see an aircraft during your flight, land immediately.
To help you out, we will approach this research with questions to ask yourself before flying your drone over the Great Wall of China.
Can I bring my drone to China?
✅ Currently, there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on bringing drones within China as long as your import is considered as legitimate (generally one drone per person). We've just returned from Beijing Airport (15/07/19) and other than over scanning your bag and asking systematically about your batteries if being below 100W, we didn't had any issues.
💡 If you have your drone in your carry on, make sure to pack it for an easy access as security will likely want to read its specs and your battery's voltage.
🚨 Be aware of the airline you purchase to travel as some main ones will only accept your drone on-board if its batteries are detached & placed in a firecase during travel time. Most airlines will have a battery voltage limit based on the recommendation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You can find more info about a specific airline here.
Can I fly a drone over the Great Wall of China?
As a shortcut answer, yes, you can fly your drone above the Great Wall of China but in certain conditions only. As the general drone rules apply in China, you must fly at least 30 m away from anyone which is mission impossible on the common sites of the Great wall such as Badaling, Huanghacheng, Jinshanglin or Sumatrai for example. Another mandatory step to fly your drone above the Great Wall of China is to register it.
How to register my drone in China?
💡 If you own a DJI drone (Chinese Manufacturer), the process is very simple as your app to log in will 'force you' to register your drone before taking off (see image on the right). To do such, you will need a Chinese mainland number and follow these steps:
enter your Chinese mainland phone number in the DJI app
you will receive a code, enter it in the verification box
confirm your email
once completed, your DJI app will unlock and you can fly as usual
✅ For all other drones, the Civil Aviation Administration of China created an online portal (in Chinese) for you to register your drone directly online via this link. You will need your basic personal information (you will need a Chinese phone number) as well as all the technical details of your drone handy to complete the registration. Once completed, you will receive a QR code to stick to your drone prior taking off which will essentially become your Identification Number for the Chinese relevant authorities.
Ok so now that you know you can and how to fly your drone over the Great wall of China, our experience which led us off the beaten path and we are very happy to share with you two of our best Great Wall spots for flying your drone but also for hiking for hours away from anyone which is quite a luxury in China when you think about it.
Where can I fly my drone over the Great Wall of China?
This is a small village with all the facilities you will need to stay onsite should you need. The village counts about 1,000 inhabitants and is very welcoming with 5 hotels, 1 backpackers, 3 restaurants and 2 of the most unique and remote Great Wall of China hikes.
🚌 To access Gubeikou Village from Beijing, the easiest (and cheapest) way is to go by Bus. You will need to catch the 980 Express from Dongzhimen station and get off the last stop at Miyun Long distance bus station. From there, switch to the Minibus 25 that will bring you straight to Gubeikou. 🚨 Arriving in Miyun, many drivers will ask you to climb in their cars as they know you are heading to the Great Wall, trust your guts and look at the bus stop for M25, and wait (there is one bus every hour, the last one leaving at 6pm from Miyun). The total journey will cost you about 40 yuan and takes 3H.
The East side hike, about 7 hours one way is part of the Panlongan Great Wall Scenic Area and stretches all the way back to Jinshanglin which could be an interesting one way day hike if keen to carry all your gear with you.
🧗♂️ To access this hike, you will need to get into the heart of the village and head for the stairs next the giant great wall gate which has been fully restored. This hike is relatively easy considering it hasn’t been restored or modified in any way from its original construction. There are a couple of parts quite steady but the main effort you will have to undertake is when reaching the military zone forcing you to go down and climb up up a little further.
Aside from the military zone, you are free to fly above this section of the great wall and we can tell you that its a real blast! This is one of the rare sections of the Great Wall you will feel truly alone and see up to 10 kms of wall from both sides on clear days!
The West side hike, about 5hours return it is considered as part of the Wohushan Great Wall Scenic Area but do not be fooled by its short timing. This is a very challenging hike that will reward you in every sense should you decide to climb the steep mountain the wall has been built upon. You might be wondering why a wall on the top of a mountain as we did? Well, this made it harder for Mongolians to even reach the wall. Like the East side hike, it remain completely untouched and you will feel pure evasion. If you dare reach the top, it will offer you a 360 view of the valley and you will see about 15kms of the Great Wall from each side so a whooping 30kms from one point.
🧗♀️ To access this hike, you will need to turn left on the only bridge from Gubeikou's main road (road G101) and you will find some stone stairs about 500 m on your right.. start climbing.. During your hike, you will go over a railway, this is the only spot where you shouldn’t fly your drone, every other bit of your day is free to fly and there is 4G on the top of the mountain meaning you can stream live if you fancy..
Huanghuacheng Great Wall
Now this might be contradictory with our earlier comments as it is quite a famous spot for visiting the Great Wall from Beijing but there are some sweet hidden spots nearby that a worth the hike and drone allowed. This town is boosted by strong investments quickly turning this place into a hub but it remains relatively undeveloped compared to Badaling for example and you will still find the little village feeling in several back streets.
🚌 To access Huanghuacheng Wall from Beijing, the easiest (and cheapest) way is to go by Bus. You will need to catch the 916 Express from Dongzhimen station and get off the last stop at Huairou bus station. From there, switch to the Minibus 21 that will bring you straight to Huanghuacheng Great Wall entrance ticket. There is one bus every hour, the last one leaving at 5.10 pm from Huanghuacheng. The total journey will cost you about 40 yuan and takes 2H.
🧗♀️ To access the part of the hike where you can fly your drone, you will need to get off about 1 km before the M21 Minibus' final stop. You will know when to get off once crossing the little river for the second time after passing the city centre of Huanghuacheng. From then, get into the upper part of the village walking North and get ready to engage on a tiny dirt road between corn and plum fields. As soon as you start climbing, you're on the good path (there's only one going up).
Once at the top, you will be on the wall and can decide to walk either way towards Huanghuacheng city centre or Huanghuacheng Great Wall Entrance ticket. Either side is beautiful and will take about 2 hours to complete one way. Note that if going to the ticket side, you might be ask to pay 60 yuan for coming down. Make sure no other hikers are around you before taking off, and enjoy the surroundings while taking some epic shots!
💡 Good to know for all Great Wall hikes:
take at least 2 litres of water with you, there are no shops up there and if you find a vendor on the top of the wall, be prepared to buy your water about 10 times the normal price
if going over summer, think about sunscreen and winter, don’t be afraid of taking an extra layer.
most hikes have an entrance fee starting from 20 yuan to pay in cash, make sure you get your receipt as other controllers might check you upon exit. It is also a good idea to carry more cash than needed as some sections of a same hike might require several entrance tickets.
Once you got everything in order, you can start flying over the Great Wall of China's awesome landscapes and create videos like this one:
✅ Please leave a comment or update the Forum when you receive news and/or gain experience with your drone over the Great Wall of China! Have fun and safe flight!
Disclaimer: Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information researched, we take no responsibility for any loss, harm or damage caused as a direct or indirect consequence of relying on this information. It is your responsibility to seek advice from qualified local & relevant authorities for needed information about local drone rules and regulations.
Light and small drone operation regulations (in Chinese, from CAAC)