Badaling Great Wall
The Great Wall is a must for a China tour, while Badaling is a must for a Great Wall tour. Badaling Great Wall in Beijing is the best-preserved and most complete section among the various, hence the most popular, even among world leaders. You should visit it at least once in your life.
Why visit Badaling rather than others
It is the most popular section.
It is the best-preserved and most complete section.
Compared with other sections, most stairs are not very steep and they are equipped with handrails, so it is a relatively easier climb.
This section has been equipped with cable car and pulley to save energy, and it even has some facilities to make it easier for seniors and the disabled.
It is close to downtown Beijing, about 43 miles (70 kilometers) away, and easy to reach by public transportation.
Badaling vs. Mutianyu
Which one is better? As the best-preserved and most popular section, Badaling is sure a must-see for first-time visitors to China. If you happen to visit during some big holidays with massive traveler flow, Mutianyu is a good alternative. Although not as magnificent as Badaling, it is breath-taking as well and among top visited sections.
Basic Facts about Badaling Great Wall
Most of the preserved parts were built and reinforced during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD) to defend Beijing against the intrusion of northern Mongolians.
The total length of this section is 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) with 43 watchtowers, however only 2.3 miles (3.74 kilometers) and 19 watchtowers have been restored and opened to visitors.
In this section the wall averages about 26 feet (7.8 meters) tall, and 20 feet (6 meters) wide, which would allow five horses to gallop or ten soldiers to march abreast.
It is built of huge bar-stones and bricks. The interior of the wall was stuffed with rammed earth and small stones to make it firm and solid.
A number of holes have been drilled in the wall to shoot arrows and to watch enemies.
The watchtowers were built to accommodate soldiers, send messages, observe the enemy, and store supplies. It also has shooting and observing holes.
It witnessed many significant events in history: Yuan Taizu, the first emperor of Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD) conquered it, took control over Beijing, then the whole China, and began the Yuan Dynasty; Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD) fled from there to western China in 1900 when an alliance of eight western countries controlled Beijing.
It has drawn tens of millions of tourists both from home and abroad. More than 370 foreign leaders and celebrities have visited it, including former US presidents Nixon, Reagan, Carter, and Gorge W Bush, Queen Elizabeth II of UK, and former South Africa president Mandela.
Apr. 1 to Oct.31: CNY 40; Nov.1 to Mar.31: CNY 35
Apr. 1 to Oct.31: 06:30-19:00; Nov.1 to Mar.31: 07:00-18:00
How to tour Badaling Great Wall
The scenic site is divided into north and south sections.
|Badaling Great Wall Map (Click to enlarge it)|
It has twelve watchtowers.
The Wall winds up and down the mountain ridges, offering more magnificent scenery, but requiring more energy to climb.
The stone stele engraved with “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man” is along this section, close to No. 8 North Tower; it is also the highest point in this area, offering a great bird’s-eye view.
Both cable car and pulley are available. Cable cars that run between the back mountain and No.8 North Tower are suitable for all visitors. Pulleys, which more exciting and more challenging than sealed cable cars, are not recommended for seniors and little kids. The lower station is next to the Bear Garden at the front mountain and the upper station is close to No.4 North Tower.
CNY 80 (single trip); CNY 100 (round trip)
CNY 80 (single trip); CNY 100 (round trip)
The path through No.9 North Tower to No.12 North Tower is not easy, think before climbing.
After reaching the furthest tower, No. 12 North, it is not necessary to return the way you came; there is an easier way to get to the exit by Bear Garden. It generally takes about 3 hours to complete this visit on foot. But upon descending via the convenient way, another ticket will be required if you want to climb the south section.
Between No. 6 North Tower and the exit, there is also a convenient path for descending. Another ticket is also required to ascend the south section.
It has seven watchtowers.
The slopes are gentle and less energy-consuming.
Compared with the north section, there are fewer visitors here and one can enjoy it at a more leisurely pace.
Only cable car is available, no pulleys. The cable car runs between the back mountain and No.4 South Tower. Ticket fare is also CNY 80 for a single trip and CNY 100 for round trip.
After arriving at the furthest No.7 South Tower, return to No.3 South Tower for a quick exit. This visit takes about 2 hours on foot. If visitors want to cover the north section, they can go back to the starting point and then continue to the north section; in that case, no extra ticket will be required.
When is the best time for a visit?
The best times are April, May, September, or October, when it is neither too cold nor too hot, and the surrounding natural scenery is amazing. Usually from mid October to late October, the Great Wall is decorated by red leaves; while in the other time, it is surrounded by luxurious green plants. However, you should avoid the May Day holiday (May1st -3rd) and the National Day holiday (October 1st-7th), when the site will be overrun with tourists.
How to get to Badaling Great Wall from downtown Beijing
There are two kinds of public transport: bus and train.
By Bus: 877
Bus 877 is your first choice. It departs from Deshengmen, about 10 minutes' walking from Jishuitan subway station (Exit B2) of subway line 2. It is a non-stop bus, taking about an hour and costing CNY 12 per person. The drop-off site is close to the pulley car lower station and about 10 minutes' walk to the entrance. Please note that the last departure from Deshengmen is at 12:30.
From Deshemngmen: Apr. 1 - Nov. 15: 06:00-12:30; Nov. 16 - Mar. 31: 06:30-12:30
From Badaling: Apr. 1 - Nov. 15: 10:30-17:00; Nov. 16 - Mar. 31: 11:00-16:30
Special Note on Bus 919:
Bus 919 is not recommended any more. It used to be a non-stop line from Deshengmen to Badaling. However, it now does not run on expressway and has many stops on the way. It takes 2 hours and costs CNY 12 to Badaling, which is just an intermediate station. The bus is always crowded, with no seat left. In addition, the drop-off site is 1.5 mi (2.5 km) from the entrance. You need to walk or take the free shuttle bus to the ticket office.
If you fail to catch bus 877 before 12:30, and want to go there in the afternoon, you can choose 919. Please note that bus 919 has many branch lines heading for different destinations. Please confirm with the driver your destination Badaling before you board a bus 919.
On the way from Jishuitan subway station to Deshengmen, there are many fake buses 877, which look similar to the official ones. The ticket sellers even wear “uniforms”. Please ignore them. We recommend that visitors take the official ones from the parking lots.
If it is an official bus, there are usually many passengers in a long line waiting to boarding; no one is trying to convince you to get on the bus; the official buses are equipped with a card reader, passengers can either pay by cash or transportation card.
There may be a guide on bus 877 who sells tickets for the wall. The tickets are usually a combo type and we do not advise you to buy them. Regular tickets are available at the scenic site and you can buy what you really need upon arrival.
If you are using Transportation Smart Card, the ticket fare will be 50% off.
By Train: S2
The trains depart from Beijing North Railway Station, near the Xizhimen subway station of subway line 2, line 4, and line 13. One should get off at Badaling Railway Station; the entrance to the scenic area is a 15 - 20 minutes' walk. Just follow the passenger flow or direction boards and one will get there easily. A single rail ride takes about an hour and the fare is CNY 6. There are free shuttle buses between S2 train station and cable car station. If you don’t want to walk, you can queue up to take it.
The tickets cannot be booked online or bought in advance. Plan to get there early, especially when traveling in a peak season.
Seats on the train are not numbered. If you board late, there may be no seat left and you may need to stand all the way to the destination.
If you have a Transportation Smart Card, you can get onboard by swiping the card and no paper ticket will be required. If you do not have a Transportation Smart Card, you will need to buy a paper ticket before boarding; if in that case, be prepared of long queues at the ticket office and you should arrive there at least two hours before departure. The transportation card can be bought at many subway stations. After returning, you can return it to get the remaining money back.
How to get there from Ming Tombs
Bus 879 runs between the Ming Tombs and Badaling Town with a stop at the Great Wall. A single ride between the two scenic sites takes about 50 minutes and tickets cost CNY 8.
From Ming Tombs: 08:00-16:00
To Ming Tombs: 09:30-17:30
How to get there from Capital International Airport
Take Airport Express to Dongzhimen, get off and change to subway line 2 to Jishuitan (Exit B2), and then walk eastward for about 600 yards (550 meters) to Deshengmen to take Bus No. 877.
Take Airport Express to Dongzhimen, change to subway line 2 to Xizhimen, get off and walk to North Railway Station to take a S2 train.
How to get there from Beijing West Railway Station
Take bus no. Te 13 from the West Railway Station to Deshengmen directly.
Take subway line 9 to National Library, transfer to line 4 to Xizhimen, and then walk to North Railway Station to take a S2 train.
How to get there from Beijing South Railway Station
Take subway line 4 to Xuanwumen, change to line 2 to Jishuitan, go out Exit B2 and walk to Deshengmen to take bus 877.
Take subway line 4 to Xizhimen, walk to the North Railway Station and take an S2 train.
How to get there from Beijing Railway Station
Take subway line 2 to Jishuitan, go out Exit B2 and walk to Deshengmen to take bus 877.
Take subway line 2 to Xizhimen, get to the North Railway Station on foot and take an S2 train.
How to get there from Shanghai
You should take a flight, a bullet train, or an overnight sleeper train from Shanghai to Beijing first, and then follow the routes mentioned above to the site.
How to get there from Hong Kong
First of all, take a flight or train from Hong Kong to Beijing, or take a high speed train from Shenzhen to Beijing. Then, follow the above route to the attraction.
Where to eat
There are no restaurants inside the scenic area. Although there are some restaurants around the entrance we do not recommend eating there. The food price is generally high and the quality is just so-so. We recommend that you bring some food and snacks for lunch and treat yourself to a good meal after returning to downtown.
There is a KFC not far from the entrance and the price there is more reasonable.
Bring some bottled water. It is not available up in the scenic site. But do not drink too much. There are only a few toilets up there.