This is probably the hardest part of seeing the Great Wall (but still worth it!). We read online taking the train from downtown Beijing is the cheapest, safest, and stress free way to get to Badaling. Sure, you can take a taxi or take a bus tour but this is going to cost you anywhere from $50-$100 USD. Here is where our frustration started mostly because of the outdated information on the internet we had read and the lack of english. We basically bought our train tickets saying B-a-d-a-l-i-n-g 100 times and crossing our fingers we would end up at the Great Wall at the end. Follow these steps and you’ll be golden:
- You’ll want to take a taxi to the Xizhimen subway station (Bejing North Railway Station). Check train times before you head there online.
- Once you get to the subway station, look for the S2 train schedule. This is the train you will need. I recommend taking a picture of the exact train and time you want a ticket for as the cashier will not speak english. The ticket cashier will be on the right – do not try to enter the station without a ticket – they will make you turn around.
- The ticket will cost you 6 RMB and is only a one way ticket. When returning you will have to purchase a separate ticket to get back. Tickets are only available at the station in person.
- We actually took a taxi back as the 4pm train was “cancelled”. We couldn’t figure out if this was actually the truth or a propaganda they had going on so taxi drivers could make money. Either way… we weren’t going to wait in a small room with 200 people till 5:30… so we took a taxi and it cost us about 400 RMB ($60 USD) to get back to our hotel in downtown Beijing. Sure, this cost us quite a bit more but totally worth it to save time.
- Once you have your ticket make your way to the entrance. They’ll check your ticket and you’ll have to run through a metal detector.
- There is a waiting area for all trains. Look for the S2 sign and wait there until the doors open where the S2 sign is. Eventually the glass sliding doors will open and there will be a mad rush, literally, for the train. Seating is first come, first serve and the Chinese take this very serious.
- We couldn’t figure out which train to enter but just follow the mad rush. When the doors open they are only loading up one train ride so you can’t get on the wrong one. There will be workers that can “help” but remember they do not speak English.
- The train ride will take about 1.5 hours. They sell food and Great Wall Souvenirs which is pretty entertaining. The train moves at a modest pace, never quite as fast as you expect it to, but as you get closer to the Great Wall the sites are pretty awesome.
- Once you get to the Badaling train station, you will exit and follow the signs to the Great Wall entrance. It’s pretty easy to follow and everyone else will be going this way. After you walk a short walk, there will be buses that will ask if you want a ride closer to the entrance and they are actually are free..not a scam unless you stay on for a tour. We rode them about 5 minutes and hoped off to check out the entrance and local shops.
Once you see the entrance in the above picture you are there and you can start to enjoy the astonishing Great Wall of China!
See additional tips to visiting the Great Wall of China here!