A tour around China is not completed if you don’t visit the Great Wall. This majestic defensive structure winds up and down like a huge snake across mountains, deserts, grasslands, stretching for almost 21.000 km from east to west of the country . It is a symbol of China, one of the Eight Wonders of the World and was listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987. There are several sections close to Beijing that could be visited, but the most famous and ‘’explored’’ are Badaling and Mutyanyu .
I have visited the Great Wall twice, in 2009 at Juyongguan and in 2017 at Badaling, the best-preserved, most popular and complete section among the various. Compared with other sections, most stairs are not very steep and they are equipped with handrails, so it’s easier to climb. In this section you’ll also find a cable car and pulley to save energy, and it even has some facilities to make it easier for seniors and the disabile.
3700 meters and 19 watchtowers of this section has been restored and opened to visitors since 1957. The Badaling Great wall, with its strategic position, was completed in 1505 during the Ming Dynasty as line of defense on the main pass between Beijing and the Mongol tribes of the north. The wall average is about 7.8 meters tall and 6 meters wide and its watchtowers were built to accommodate soldiers, observe the enemy, and store supplies. The sides are covered in stone whereas the top in layers of brick and a great number of holes were drilled in the wall to shoot arrows and watch enemies. As the Chairman Mao Zedong said, who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man!
The scenic site of Badaling is divided into north and south sections, and if you don’t want to hike and save energy, it’s also equipped with cable cars and pulley.
North section: with its beautiful scenery and 12 watchtowers, this section winds up and down the mountains ridge. The cable car runs from the parking lot to north tower number 8 (highest point in this area), whereas the pulley runs next to the Bear Garden to the north tower number 4. After reaching the Tower number 12, you don’t need to go back but you’ll find a way to get to the exit by Bear Garden. A special flat wheelchair accessible lane is built for wheelchair tourists to get as far as to the third watch tower of the Wall.
South section: with its 7 watchtowers and an easier hike, it’s the less crowded part of the 2. After getting the Tower nr. 7 , you have to go back at tower nr. 3 to find the exit way. The cable car runs close to the Zhan Tianyou Memorial Hall to Tower number 4.
Facilities: in this area you’ll find restaurants, take aways and some shops. If you’d like to spend your night here you can check at Badaling Hotel and Great Wall Commune.
Opening hours: 06:30-19:00 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31); 07:00-18:00 (Nov. 1 to Mar. 31)
Ticket Price: 35 RMB (Nov. 1 to Mar. 31); 40 RMB (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31). Cable car is not included (80 RMB)
How to get there: it’s possible to book a tour with a local agency (also ask your hotel reception) or book in advance online through the many websites that offer different daily tour.
Anyway you can easily get there with a local bus or by train. Badaling is about 70 km by road northwest of central Beijing.
Bus 877 : direct from Deshengmen bus station, it takes around 1.30hrs and it costs 12 RMB ( first bus at 6 am, last 12.30 – last from Badaling 5 pm). Deshengmen is 10 – 15 min walk from Jishuitan subway station (Exit A) of subway line 2. The bus (it’s green and white) stands in the middle part behind the Deshengmen Arrow Tower. Probably you’ll meet some sellers offering tickets for other buses on your way to the bus stop, skip them and go straight to the official one (same if they offer great wall tickets on the bus, skip it). Got Badaling, the stop is next to the pulley station, 10 minutes walk from the entrance.
Beijing Public Tourist Bus Line 1: it departs from southwest of Qianmen Arrow Tower (south of Tiananmen Square). Take subway line 2 and get off at Exit C of Qianmen. It takes about 1.30 hrs and it costs 20 RMB (first bus at 7.30, last 11.30 – from Badaling 11.30 to 16.30). The stop is at Badaling Guntiangou Parking Lot.
Anyway check the timetable once there because they can be different in high and low season.
Train: originally from Beijing North Railway Station (now closed for reconstruction since 2016 until 2019), have been moved to the Huangtudian Railway Station. The code name of the trains to Badaling is S2. Take the subway line 8 or 13 and get off at Huoying Station and go out from Exit G4 (the railwaystation is next to it). The tickets cannot be booked online or bought in advance but at the Railway station. It is advised to go to Huangtudian early, especially when traveling in a peak season. The Badaling Railway Station is 15 min. walk from the Great wall entrance. It takes around 1 hr and it costs 7 RMB. You’ll find shuttle buses from Badaling train station to the cable car station and the main entrance. The first train from Huangtudian departs at 6.30 am whereas the last from Badaling around 9 pm, but they get changed often so check locally.