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 Nov. 04, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Badaling vs. Mutianyu Great Wall
Asked by alice from USA | Nov. 01, 2019 07:35Reply
how to get to other section of the great wall beside these 2 mentioned? bus available?
how to get to the more difficult climb section of the great wall? where to start? will bus take us there ? or we have to start at Badaling?
Answers (1)
Answered by Aubrey from DENMARK | Nov. 04, 2019 21:41
00Reply


You can also take public transportation from downtown area to other sections of Great Wall. You can provide your living place or hotel. Then I can find the detailed transportation for you.
Asked by Alain Perreault from MEXICO | Oct. 12, 2019 14:44Reply
I have a 19 hour layover at PEK. Can I do both the Great wall and the Forbidden City?
And will I find a tour company that can take me from and to the airport?
Answers (1)
Answered by Seamus from DENMARK | Oct. 13, 2019 23:53
00Reply


Yes, you can make full use of time to tour around Great Wall and Forbidden City. Maybe TravelChinaGuide.com can provide such service for you. If interested, their contact information is traveltravelchinaguide.com. :)
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.
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