Badaling vs. Mutianyu Great Wall, Which one to visit?

Badaling and Mutianyu are the two most visited Great Wall sections. Both are well-preserved, and well equipped for visitors' convenience. Which one should I visit if I have limited time? The answer is that Badaling is a must-see for first-time visitors to China and recommended on normal days, while Mutianyu is popular among foreigners and a good choice during holidays.

Here are their differences and similarities to help you make a final decision.

  • Badaling
  • Best-preserved
  • Popular among domestic & int'l travelers
  • Too crowded to visit on some holidays
  • Cable car and pulley are available
  • Direct public transport from Beijing
vs
  • Mutianyu
  • Well-preserved
  • Favored by foreign visitors
  • OK to visit on holidays
  • Cable car and slide way are equipped
  • Need transfer from downtown Beijing
 
Book a ticket in advance: 

Both are well-preserved; Badaling is wider.

Badaling is the best-preserved and most complete section. The bottom is 7-8 yards (6.5-7.5 meters) wide, and the top is 5-6 yards (4.5-5.8 meters) wide, allowing five horses or ten soldiers to walk shoulder by shoulder. Its magnificence is incomparable. It is also the first section that was developed into a scenic area and opened to the public in 1958.
 
Mutianyu was opened as a scenic area in 1988. It is also well-preserved, retaining the original status of the ancient wall structure, while its scale cannot rival that of its counterpart, with a top width of 4-5.5 yards (4-5 meters).
Which one to choose: Badaling or Mutianyu
 

Badaling is overcrowded on holidays, while Mutianyu less crowded.

Badaling has more visitors than other sections. As of today, it has received 150 million visitors from home and abroad. This may be the source of the rumor that it is overcrowded, but that is not always the case. Most of the time, Badaling has a regular number of visitors. The scenic area is large with pretty long walls, allowing enough space. During holidays, however, especially National Day Holiday from October 1st to 7th or the Chinese New Year, it will be overcrowded.

Mutianyu, with less tourists, ensures pleasant tour experience all the year round. Even on public holidays, you can enjoy the scenery at an easy pace. If you plan to take the cable car, it is better to go early, for there might be a long queue at the cable car station on some big holidays.

Badaling on normal days and on big holiday

It is wise to consult a China Public Holiday Calendar  to avoid big holidays. If you happen to visit during the peak travel time, Jinshanling and Juyongguan with fewer visitors are also good alternatives.

 

Both are well-equipped with sound facilities for visitors' convenience.

At Badaling, there are two cableways: North Cableway and South Cableway. Additionally, visitors can ride on the exciting pulley. At Mutianyu, visitors can ride on the cableway. Also, they can descend by slideway, which is quite thrilling. Both sections are equipped with handrails for visitors' convenience and safety. 

For people lacking physical strength or families with kids, Mutianyu is more recommended, for the gentle slope makes it less challenging.

 

Badaling is more easily reached by public transport than Mutianyu.

How to get to the Great Wall makes little difference to group travelers, but it means a lot to independent travelers.

Compared with Mutianyu, Badaling is more easily accessible by public transport from downtown Beijing. You can take bus line 877 from Deshengmen or tourist bus line 1 from Qianmen to get there directly. Or, you can take an S2 train from Huangtudian Railway Station near Huoying Subway Station.
See How to Get to Badaling from Downtown Beijing

There is no direct transportation to Mutianyu from downtown Beijing. You need to take bus line 916 Express or 916 from Dongzhimen to Huairou District. Then, change to a local mini bus or charter a private car to get there.
See How to reach Mutianyu from Downtown Beijing

Badaling Bus 877 vs Mutianyu Bus 916
 

World Leaders Prefer Badaling.

Accompanied by China's Premier Zhou Enlai, India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Badaling in 1954. It was the first time a foreign head of state was received at the Great Wall of China. Since then, it has become an important place to entertain foreign leaders. More than 460 heads of state, and heads of government have visited it. Some of these influential people are Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Boris Yeltsin, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, and Barack Obama.

Mutianyu also received some influential people, like Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama.

- Last modified on Sep. 04, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Badaling vs. Mutianyu Great Wall
Asked by Duane Carlson from UNITED STATES | Sep. 03, 2019 20:02Reply
Will be in Beijing day and a half in mid-November. Should we book a hotel at airport or in Beijing?
Will arrive at PEK at 5 p.m. on flight from US. Will have all of next day free. On the following day we depart
PEK at 5 p.m. Want to see the wall, not spend time on it and visit the forbidden city area. Will appreciate any thoughts about where to stay (airport or city) and how to use our time.
Answers (1)
Answered by Anna from FRANCE | Sep. 04, 2019 23:17
00Reply


You are suggested to stay in downtown area because you can also taste some local foods like roast duck.
Asked by Ruby from MALAYSIA | Aug. 24, 2019 12:25Reply
Time and crowd
Will there be huge cword normally on last day of public holiday? 07Oct? And does trip on public holiday took longer hour than non holidays period?
Answers (1)
Answered by Glen from CANADA | Aug. 28, 2019 02:57
00Reply


Yes, you will expect huge crowds in that day because people need to go back their home. There are high chances of traffic jam if you travel by self-drive.
Asked by Duane Carlson from UNITED STATES | Jul. 20, 2019 13:33Reply
We would like to see the Badaling section of Great Wall.
We have one day and the morning of the next in Beijing. We want to see the Great Wall at Badaling but
spend the least time going to and from it and not a lot of time at the wall. Just to see it close up would be great. The Carlsons - seniors, husband and wife, from Chicago
Answers (3)
Answered by Alice from FINLAND | Jul. 22, 2019 19:51
00Reply


Yes, you are right. It will be ok for you to see it close up. If you have enough time, you can also tour around the downtown area before leaving PEK.
Answered by Ruby from MALAYSIA | Aug. 28, 2019 20:29
00Reply


Thank you!
And do you think its better to go there on 8oct day after their public holiday? Coz it will be my last day in beijing that day..im just dilemma with my time and crowd
Answered by Allice | Aug. 29, 2019 23:17
00Reply


Yes, it will be ok for you to go there on Oct. 8.
Asked by minh son doan from VIỆT NAM | Feb. 25, 2019 03:27Reply
Time and cost to visit badaling and summer palace
i plan to visit Badaling and Summer Place in a day, and i plan to take taxi to Badaling, then return Summer Palace. How long will it take? How much is taxi's fare?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jane from CANADA | Feb. 25, 2019 17:57
00Reply


The fare from Badaling to Summer Palace is about CNY200 and it takes around 80 minutes. One day is too tight and expensive.
Asked by Patrick Häuser from GERMANY | Feb. 17, 2019 11:25Reply
Will the flow of tourists in Badaling in mid-March be alright? Or is it too full?
Thanks.
Answers (1)
Answered by Fred from AUSTRALIA | Feb. 17, 2019 22:30
00Reply


Hi, it will be less than in other time but still a little busy and you are suggested to get there before 10:00.
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