Spend the night on the Great Wall of China

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(CNN) — Considered one of the top architectural marvels of all time, the Great Wall of China draws millions of travelers to its fabled stones every year.

And now, for the first time in thousands of years, it will host open-air sleepovers.

Well, for a few lucky travelers anyways.

Home rental website Airbnb has just launched a new contest called “Night at the Great Wall,” in which four people and their guests will sleep in a custom-designed “home” set in one of the UNESCO-listed structure’s towers.

Judging by the photos of the set-up provided by Airbnb, the once-in-a-lifetime experience will be quite spectacular — provided it doesn’t rain.

At sunset, guests will enjoy a multi-course gourmet dinner inspired by various facets of Chinese culture accompanied by a traditional Chinese music experience.

The next morning, they’ll set out on a sunrise hike though the countryside and learn about the Great Wall from official historians.

Other activities include Chinese seal-engraving and calligraphy, both part of Airbnb’s Experiences program.

Showcasing sustainable tourism

The point of this campaign? According to a statement by Airbnb, the contest will showcase the Great Wall to the world and promote sustainable tourism to China by spotlighting wide ranging efforts to preserve the Wall’s deep heritage and bring Chinese culture to life.

“It’s been an honor to work with historians and preservationist groups in Beijing to bring this once-in-a-lifetime experience to the world,” said Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder and chairman of Airbnb China, in the statement.

“We are so proud to partner in this truly collective effort to highlight such an incredible landmark that now serves to unify people rather than divide them.”

Winners will be flown in to Beijing from anywhere in the world but those hoping to be among the lucky four need to move fast. The contest closes August 11 and winners need to be free to travel from September 3-9.

Entrants have to answer the following questions in 550 characters or less: “Why is it more important now than ever to break down barriers between cultures? How would you want to build new connections?”

A panel of judges will select the winners based on their responses.

Reaction from Chinese netizens

Chinese netizens have offered mixed reactions to the sleepover contest on Weibo, a popular micro-blogging site.

Some question how wise it is to spend the night in an open-air room.

“With the temperature in Beijing now, I fear you’d die of heat,” said Weibo user Taozi Wei Jiaxin Tang. “And the mosquitoes all over this wild mountain. Oh my God. Forget about it.”

Others fear the impact it will have on the historic structure.

“It will probably cause damage to the old walls,” commented Zhixiang Gankuai Shui Dao Ba Ye.

But many expressed excitement at the prospect of spending a night on the Great Wall.

“Wow. This is something out of Harry Potter! I’m willing to do it even if I get feasted on by mosquitoes,” said Weibo user OathKeeper.

Airbnb’s China growth

Airbnb says 10 million Chinese travelers have already used its listings worldwide since the company started in 2008. Over half of those took place in the past year.

Meanwhile, the number of Airbnb listings in China has grown by 125%, with more than 3.3 million guests using Airbnb listings in China over the past year.

CNN’s Maggie Hiufu Wong contributed to this story.



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