Great Wall of China - Badaling, Beijing
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.
So much has been said and written about Great Wall, and one thing is certain: your visit to China would not be complete without seeing this symbol of China's isolation. Parts of it were built from 770 to 206 B.C. to defend the country from barbarians' invasion. 2000 years ago emperor Qin Shihuang known for his cruelty ordered to connect all the parts to make the whole. The legend goes that even the bodies of workers who died of exhaustion were used as the building material. Today most tourists come to see 'the stone dragon' at Badaling. It's true that the wall here is far from being authentic - it was reconstructed in the 1950's, but it still makes unforgettable impression. And looking at crowds of people of different colours and nationalities you can't stop thinking that no matter how high or long the walls are, on the long run they can't separate people.
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.
Admit it! Ever since those days long ago when you tried using chopsticks with one in each hand, you have had this life long ambition to climb the Great Wall of China!
The Chinese have figured this out and now the National Tourism Administration issues (and sells) a certificate to those who have finally crossed this accomplishment off of their "things to do before I die" list.
The certificate is stamped with a traditional red seal that says "Great Wall of China" in ancient Chinese characters.
It reads as follows:
"This is to certify that _________(name) did climb the Great Wall on ___________(date)."
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
You CAN'T go to Beijing without going on the Great Wall! You just have to do it. I've been on the Badaling section(the most popular). It's 70 km from the capital. This is unbelievable... Millions of humans built the wall, and a lot of them died... Even if we wanted to build another wall today(with all the technology we have), we could not do something more astonishing than the real one. It took my breath away when I was on the top of it. Beautiful landscapes...you can hear the wind whistles into your ears. I thought I was on the top of the world. You really must see that!
The construction of the Great Wall started during the Warring States Period on 7th century B.C, it had a history of more than 2,500 years. Many dukedoms built walls in Central China to protect themselves and their northern territories. When Qin Shihuang, the first emperor in Chinese history, unified China and established the first centralised feudal state in China, he decided to have the walls linked up and extended.
Those who succeeded in climbing the wall today are often regarded as "Real heroes", from this we should realize the difficulty in climbing the wall, and can imagine how difficult it is to build the Great Wall without modern machinery at that time.
The construction is built on the ridge of mountains, so best visit time is in the morning because of fewer trees, and takes more water.
LOL The ticket that is given for your visit to the Great Wall is pretty cool one. (circa 1987) It is sort of a plastic material that has a nice panoramic view of the wall and has been a nice little keepsake for me. I have it glued into my journal from my China trip! I also bought 5 t-shirts for friends. I still have one of them. It never fit me so I've never really worn it. My son has just started wearing the 16 year-old t-shirt to school!
If you are fit enough to climb the Great Wall for some minutes, choose one side from the main entrance and walk. As you go away, there's fairly less people around and then you can almost find a section of the great wall just for you.
Remember that chinese people says that to be a royal hero, you have to climb the Great Wall. So, put on comfortable shoes and climb the steep hills and stairs.
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...
Remember that this section of the Great Wall crosses a very rough landscape, going along the mountains. So you'll find very steep hills and stairs. Don't let you down by a hill. Take a breath, rest some minutes and go for it. The view from the top is really worth the effort.
Be sure you have comfortable shoes.