The Great Wall

“He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true hero,” goes the saying, and indeed, the Badaling section is the crown jewel of the Great Wall and a must-visit when in Beijing.

During your visit, the Wall divides into southern and northern sections. If time allows, both sections are worth exploring, but if pressed for time, the northern section should be your priority to reach the Wall’s highest point at the Northern Eighth Tower, offering breathtaking panoramic views.

Among both sections, the Southern Fourth Tower and Northern Eighth Tower offer the best vantage points. Once you reach these spots, you can consider your climb successful.

The Great Wall

From here, you can witness the Great Wall snaking over the mountains—an awe-inspiring sight. Each season brings a different backdrop; spring blossoms with mountain peaches and apricot flowers, autumn glows with fiery red maple leaves, and winter blankets the Wall in snow—all equally stunning.

There are two ways to ascend the Wall: by foot or by cable car. The southern section features a ground-level track cable car, while the northern section boasts an aerial cableway.

Taking the cable car up and walking down is recommended for a relaxed experience with varied perspectives of the scenery. However, if traveling with elderly or children, consider using the cable car for the entire journey to conserve energy.

The Great Wall

Transportation: The Great Wall is quite a distance from the city center. While it’s accessible by public bus, the trip takes approximately 3-4 hours. It’s recommended to drive or take a taxi instead. Upon arrival, you can park your vehicle at either the Heilongtan parking lot or Chaxi parking lot and then take a shuttle bus into the scenic area.

High-speed Train: Take the subway to Qinghe Station and transfer to a high-speed train to the “Badaling Great Wall” station. The journey takes about 20 minutes. It’s strongly advised to book your tickets in advance as there are limited services.

Bus: Take a bus or subway to Deshengmen Bus Station, then transfer to bus No. 877 or others to the Badaling station/Badaling Ancient Great Wall station. The entire trip takes about 2-3 hours. From there, you can take a shuttle bus into the scenic area.

The Great Wall

Driving: Your route will take you through the Jingshang Expressway, Shuiguan Expressway exit, and Qilong Bridge Tunnel, among other landmarks. Just 100 meters beyond the tunnel exit, you’ll see signs for the Badaling Ancient Great Wall scenic area. Follow these signs to reach your destination.

Tickets and Fees: During peak season (April 1st to October 31st), tickets cost 40 RMB per person. In the off-season (November 1st to March 31st), they are 35 RMB per person. Peak season prices for an adult ticket plus a round-trip cable car ride are 180 RMB per person, and 140 RMB per person for a one-way ride.

For specific package deals, follow the official WeChat account “Badaling Great Wall” to book in advance. Actual ticket prices are subject to the scenic area’s daily announcement.

Avoiding Pitfalls

  1. When using a GPS to locate the Badaling Great Wall, the software may direct you to “Badaling Forest Park.” Please be aware that this is not the same location as the Great Wall. If you’re traveling by bus, do not disembark here.
  2. For bus travel directions, it is recommended to search for the “Zhan Tianyou Memorial Hall” (located in Yanqing District, Beijing) as the ticket office for the Badaling Great Wall is nearby. This location is also conveniently close to the ground cable car and the cableway stations for ascending the wall.
  3. It’s advisable to bring your ID card when visiting the area, as entry to the site requires an ID swipe.
  4. The North Cableway is closed during winter, but you can opt to take the ground cable car from the south side to ascend the wall. Additionally, the cableway may close temporarily in case of strong winds or special weather conditions. The operational status is based on real-time conditions.
  5. During the off-peak season (November 1st to March 31st), the staff at the luggage storage facility may leave work early. If you need to store luggage, it’s safer to arrive at the site before 2 p.m. to ensure service availability.

Itinerary

The Badaling section of the Great Wall is best visited in the spring or autumn. The summer sun can be intense and there is little shade on the wall, while winter temperatures are very low, making walking difficult when it snows.

However, the moderate temperatures of spring and autumn, especially the picturesque autumn season, provide a great experience as you climb and take in the scenery.

The scenic area is divided into southern and northern sections. The round trip for the southern section takes about 2 hours, and the northern section about 4 hours. Visitors can choose one section to explore.

Additionally, since the area is located a fair distance from the city center, the round trip can take about half a day, so it is recommended that visitors allocate one full day to visit the area.

Recommended Routes:

Cable Car/Ropeway Tour

Southern Section: Ground cable car to South Tower 4 to South Tower 3 to South Tower 2 to South Tower 1, descend, visit the “He Who Has Never Been to the Great Wall Is Not a True Man” inscribed wall, and return.

Northern Section: Ropeway to North Tower 8 to North Tower 7 to North Tower 6 to North Tower 5 to North Tower 4 to North Tower 3 to North Tower 2 to North Tower 1, descend, visit the “He Who Has Never Been to the Great Wall Is Not a True Man” inscribed wall, and return.

Footpath Tour

Southern Section: From the “He Who Has Never Been to the Great Wall Is Not a True Man” inscribed wall to the entrance of the wall, up to South Tower 1, South Tower 2, South Tower 3, South Tower 4, then descend via cable car or walk back.

Northern Section: From the “He Who Has Never Been to the Great Wall Is Not a True Man” inscribed wall to the entrance of the wall, up to North Tower 1, North Tower 2, North Tower 3, North Tower 4, North Tower 5, North Tower 6, North Tower 7, North Tower 8, then descend via cable car or walk back.

Detailed Guide

  1. Both the southern and northern sections of the Great Wall are worth exploring, but if time is limited, I recommend the northern section where you can reach the highest point of the Wall.
  2. The Hero’s Monument is about 500 meters from the entrance and is a must-visit photo spot you’ll see along the way.
  3. The North Eighth Tower and South Fourth Tower offer the best views of the Great Wall on their respective routes. Once you reach these points, it’s a good time to turn back. Notably, the North Eighth Tower is the highest point of the Wall and offers stunning scenery.
  4. The section of the Wall beyond the North Eighth Tower is quite steep and is not recommended for those traveling with elderly or children.
  5. Always prioritize safety when ascending and descending the Wall. Some steps are steep and uneven, so hold onto the handrails to prevent falls and injuries.
  6. There’s a commercial street near the entrance where you can grab a bite after descending. However, during the off-season, many shops may be closed, so it’s wise to bring your own food and water.
  7. There are no restrooms on the Wall, so it’s advisable to use the facilities before climbing and to avoid drinking large amounts of water.
  8. If it’s convenient to reach a high-speed train station or a suburban railway station, consider traveling by rail. At the base of the Wall, there are two railway stations: “Badaling Great Wall” for high-speed trains and “Badaling Station” for the Beijing suburban S2 line.
  9. When visiting in winter, dress warmly and bring hot water in a thermos as the winds are strong and cold atop the Wall.
  10. Security checks are required to enter the scenic area, so be prepared to remove items like lighters from your bags beforehand.
  11. The use of drones is prohibited within the scenic area.

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