One of the most visited Beijing tourist sites is the Great Wall. There are 4 places where one can visit the wall to, from Beijing: Badaling, Mutianyu, Simatai and Jinshanling, Badaling and Mutianyu being the most visited due to their proximity to the city. We chose Badaling, which is the closest one to Beijing and easily accessible by bus or train.
We decided to take the train there and arrived sometime after noon. There was pretty much no queue to buy the ticket (as of Oct 2009, 45 RMB). Once we got in, we decided to walk/climb counterclockwise to avoid some of the bus tours that were already there. The day we arrived the sky was clear (sort of), it was warm and we had great visibility and it made the climbing, even the steep parts, easier.
The Wall was built in sections along several provinces in China to protect the country from invaders. The whole structure was built during several Chinese dynasties, utilizing the mountains and the natural defenses, such as barriers and rivers. The Wall itself is about 8 km long.
One thing I noticed while climbing and catching my breath (and taking in the views) is that most bricks had inscriptions and dates (see picture #3) but I can't say if the inscriptions are names of important people in history or the kind of "(name) was here".
Regarding question on forum about time walking up the Badaling Great Wall:
It really depends on how far you want to go up Badaling and if there is someone waiting for you at the start of the Wall. I coordinated with my guide about when to come back down.
The Great Wall is very very long and I think there's only a few people who have walked the whole expanse...but Badaling is a fairly localized part of the wall and I think I did go up and then down through a few towers in about an hour and a half. It is pretty tiring, specially as you have to pass all those people who are huffing along the way. I could have gone even further up through the Wall and God knows where it will end, but my private tour guide and car were waiting for me and I just gave them a time on how long to wait for me. Besides, I had to see many more sites around Beijing. If you want to see how a person (me) ends up huffing after climbing the Great Wall, I have included a video of it here in VT.
There's some vandalism on the Great Wall, and so preservationists encourage no vanadalism and leaving no thrash in the area. I hope it does last several more centuries...
It has always been my dream to visit the Great Wall of China. The section of the wall that I was so fortunate to visit is known as Badaling. When embarking on your long walk upon the wall, proceed to the right side if you want to take the easier route. The left offers a more challenging hike up the wall. I did a little bit of both. Don't get to excited and go up to fast, or else, you could get winded quite easily, especially if you are not in shape. haha. Bring adequate shoes, your camera, and drinking water. Be careful when coming back down for it can be quite steep. In some areas, coming down is harder than going up. For the animal lovers, there is a horse and a camel located on the right side of wall (easy side). They are photogenic and would love to take a picture with you. By the way, I talked to people who did both sides, and they all told me that they didn't think the right side was easy...so, perhaps, depending on the individual person, both sides are hard. Perhaps my enthusiam didn't cause me to take notice. I didn't find either side to hard. For those people who are adventureous, perhaps they would like to venture on to the less known parts of the wall that remain unrestored and badly weathered...anyhow, no matter where you visit, you are guarenteed to have spectacular panoramic views.
This is the ultimate of any China tour.
I was impressed that the wall was like a dragon snaking up and down the rolling hills. The walk from the bus park to the wall was short enough but sloppy. The steps of the walls was steep and I cannot imagine how the soldiers could run up and down quickly fighting off the invading barbarians.
Another surprise was the graffiti on the every brick of the walls. Some must be centuries old and part of history. I bought a T-shirt that said "I climbed the Great Wall of China". I did huff and puff as long as I can until it was time for the tour to leave.
Be careful if you go in winter. A friend reached there and it was already dark and could only feel the wall. So start early if you are going to the wall in winter.
Once you have been to the Great Wall, you have been to China.
I may not be spelling the small villages name right. But it is phonetic and close enough. The best way to get to Badaling is to hook up with a tour company. Most of the hotels will offer them. Since the wall is a good distance outside Beijing, you may not want to drive there yourself, especially if you don't know the area.
Once you reach the Badaling gate, you must climb either one of the two sides up the mountain. The view is spectacular, and you have an appreciation for what it must have taken to build it. Plus, on the way, you see the wall everywhere! It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. It just blows you away how mamouth it is.
Whoever said that capitalism would never thrive in China is a liar. The bottled water or ice cream at ground level is roughly a buck. It changes to 6 bucks at the top! Bring your own.
Also, if you have trouble doing steps, stay down at ground level. Some of those steps are 3 feet above the next, and 4 inches deep (to step onto). A fit 29 year old, even I had some difficulty, and barely managed to make both sides. If you can make it though, the guard houses at the top of the hill are soooo cool!
********NOTE: Heard from my friends in Beijing that the authorities have increased the entrance fees to all historical sites by double! Hence it may cost RMB 80 to enter the Great Wall from 1 Dec 2004. Hope to confirm this soon!***********
One of the most popular, and "easier" parts of the Great Wall is at Badaling. It took us around 50 mins to reach Badaling from central Beijing by taxi, but we left at 6.30am when traffic was stil very light.
You need to pay RMB40 entrance fee (USD 5) and the climb up the wall and back takes around 2 hours. There are souvenir shops and coffeehouses at the great wall entrance in Badaling, incl good toilet facilities.
Plenty of souvenir stalls, even on the wall itself. There are also photographers with camels and horses, and chinese costumes.
The area's very windy especially in winter so wrap up nice and warm (it's usually 5-7 deg cooler than the city). Army coats and russian style hats are available for rent at the souvenir stall
I became a real man on the 18th September 2006! Famous Chinese quote:”You are not a real man until you have climbed the Great Wall"...
I climbed the Great Wall at Badaling (80km north of Beijing). The portion of the wall was built during the Ming Dynasty and has a total length of nearly 4km. Badaling opened for tourists in 1957 after a heavy restoration.
Guidebook says that you might meet many other tourists at Badaling, but I don't think the place was very crowded. There is a staircase up to the beginning of the wall, and from there you can go right or left. Most people went right, so I went left and kept walking until it was not possible to walk any further. Here were no tourists at all...
There is a fantastic view of the surrounding landscape from the wall. Another “must see in Beijing/China”…
The Badaling Great Wall is a good section to see the Great Wall. It was the earliest section to be opened to the tourists. Here you will see what you have seen in books, magazines, and on television -- the image of the famous Great Wall. The walk on the wall can be tiring since the wall follows the contour of the mountains -- so it's like ascending and descending mountains.
Commune by the Great Wall is a private collection of contemporary architecture. it is a valley near Badaling section of the Great Wall in which contemporary Asian architects displey their work.
Visit of the Commune makes a nice one day trip out to the outskirts of Beijing. The entrance fee is 120 RMB (12 EUR) and includes private guided tour of the area, visit of 3 selected houses and visit of the Club House with coffe/tea for free...
It is also possible to hire a house there - the Commune is also a very posh hotel.
Place is open from 9 am to 6 pm.
Be sure to choose a suny day for a visit!
Oh, there are also beautiful views of the Great Wall from the valley and from some of the houses...
Badaling Section of the Great Wall is the most touristic section of the wall, but it deserves a visit in spite of the thousand tourist you'll find along.
It's just an hour ride from central Beijing. As you aproach to the site, you leave the even terrain of the city and begin the steep mountains. From that moment you star to feel the magnificent of the Great Wall, because the construction site is in middle of the mountains, in very rough landscape.
Certainly a marvel.
There are different sections of the Great Wall namely Badaling, Mutianyu (with cable car), Simatai (older section of the wall with bricks stamped with dates of when they were manufactured). I visited Badaling's West Wall. I learned castle terms like parapets, merlons (raised parts of the wall used as protection to hide from enemies; gave the wall a saw-tooth look) and crenels (gaps in between merlons). An intriguing custom that I saw was attaching padlocks to a chain in one section of the wall. The padlocks (with inscriptions of Chinese names) and tied with a red ribbon, symbolize everlasting love and are usually attached to one long chain by amorous couples.
Please bring wipes/tissues since most of the time you'd be holding on to the rusty handrail as you descend/ascend the Great Wall. Bring water and moisturizer as it gets too dry in that altitude
Badaling is the closest part of the Wall to Beijing and it's said to be the easiest part. Well, it is steep climbing all the way up on either side is a pretty good workout (it's also possible to go around, if you've got time). The year before I went to Mutianyu and maybe I was fitter, but that part seemed to be easier for me, though I remember I was surprised by the stairs - I imagined more of a roadlike surface, not steps. Probably because I learnt in school that the Great Wall was also used as a road for the army and it was wide enough for carriages. And I was there and couldn't imagine any carriage moving on those steps. Maybe they were more like litters without wheels, carried by people.
When visiting Beijing for me it was imperrative to visit the Great Wall (Changcheng) as it would be I'd imagine with everyone else that visits the city.This obviously is a mandatory thing to do as it is not often you get to visit and walk on a Wonder of the World. The day I chose to go to The Great wall the weather was a little on the cold side so myself and my Chinese friend made our way to the bus station and headed for Badaling .Today was my first journey on a public bus here in China and the volume of noisy chatter was a different experience and very enjoyable. I was ready for and accustomed to large crowds and expected plenty at Badaling..
This particular section of the wall is an extremely popular section I imagine because it is probably the closest to Beijing City to visit being just 70 kilometers north west of the City.. I found though as we walked along the wall the crowds seemed to diminish a lot and it wasn't that crowded at all...The photo opportunites are everywhere and talking to some workers that were doing repairs I was given a piece of an aged old floor stone that was being replaced and the old broken up and used as a filler..I was thrilled with the fact that I had this piece of ancient stone from such an amazing place.I couldn't help but wonder just how long it had been there in its place!!..I was assured by the workers, through my Chinese interpreter friend that is was ok to have..
I was surprised how steep some of the sections were as we walked quite a long distance along the wall...and then wile on our way back quite suddenly the temperature dropped noticeably and the wind started to blow very hard with snow ...as I was only dressed for a cool day I had to make a dash for it and caught the biconvex pulley that raced down the tracks to our bus..This was a shame as I wanted to spend a night on the wall..
A LOCAL BUS TICKET FROM THE BUS STATION .RETURN TO THE WALL IS VERY CHEAP AND IS AN ALLROUND BETTER EXPERIENCE THAN A HOTEL ORGANISED TOUR THAT CAN BE AN EXPENSIVE "RIP OFF"
Climbing the Great Wall was really the highlight of our trip. What an incredible place!
Our tour guide provided us with a little history about how the Wall was made. The emporers of the period were so obsessed with building it that they pulled men away from all other areas of life to build it, including agriculture. The result was there was no food to feed the construction workers. Many died from starvation and exhaustion. Our guide claimed that the Wall is a testament to the Chinese spirit.
We visited the Wall at Badaling. The site is extremely well maintained: no garbage, no loose rocks, hand rails, etc. I realize that those last two are the result of alterations to the site, but I personally will take my safety over 100% historical authenticity!
The climb itself was much longer than I had imagined. I always thought that you climbed a flight of stairs and then you were at the top...! When I got there and looked up the hill, I just about fell over. Jesse and I made a pact to get to the top no matter how tired we got, and we did it!
For those of you coming to Beijing, put this at the top of your list. The climb itself is pretty satisfying. Add to that the view and the history, and you have an all around spectacular activity!
There are several sites around Beijing where you can experience the Great Wall: Badaling, Mutianyu, Simatai and Jinshanling. Badaling, 70 km northwest of Beijing, was the section first open to visitors in the 1950s - it remains the most convenient part to get to, but is also the most touristed. Make sure you wear sensible walking shoes and bring an umbrella. You can combine a day out to Badaling with a tour of the Ming Tombs if you hire your own car.
The Great Wall was once built to keep other people away, but these days you just can't stop them coming! From the main entrance, there is a cable car that takes you up to the Wall. Once up on the Wall, the views of the hills are really great and you can walk along a fair length of the Wall (along with masses of tourists), which provides a welcome break from the pollution of Beijing. There isn't much else to do though, and those who cannot walk much won't have much fun.