Lonely Planet Writer

No, you won’t be spending a night on the Great Wall of China. Here's why

After making international headlines and generating lots of excitement amongst adventurous travellers around the world, Airbnb has decided to cancel its competition that would have seen four people spend the night on the Great Wall of China.

Sadly this Airbnb will never be made into a reality. Image by Airbnb

The competition was one of the accommodation giant’s ‘Night At’ series which offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to stay in unique spots around the world. Previous competitions have included a night at Denmark’s LEGO House, the Abbey Road Studios and Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse.

The Great Wall competition promised a full day and night of events on the historic structure. However, the company has since announced that it has cancelled the competition citing “feedback we have received” and will instead focus on other ways to promote China as a destination.

It is illegal to stay overnight on the Wall. Photo by NI QIN/Getty Images

In a statement, Airbnb said they had an agreement with the authorities about the competition before publicising. However on Weibo, one of China’s biggest social networks, the Beijing cultural commission said that no formal agreement had been reached and that it received no documents to formally acquire that permission.

While Airbnb’s competition announcement last week generated huge interest internationally, there was some backlash amongst Chinese social media users who criticised the plans, citing concerns about the preservation of the Wall and questioned whether it was even legal.

Legally, travellers are not allowed sleep on the wall, although it hasn’t stopped a small number of people staying there overnight over the years and some have even created mini-guides on picking a remote spot to stay. However, for many locals, this creates issues as the illegal camping spots don’t have facilities and people often leave their trash behind.

If you truly want to get as close possible to this wonder – and be there early enough to see the spectacular sunsets – there are plenty of tour operators who operate overnight trips and will help you find a spot camping near the Wall.