Visiting any of the Seven Wonders of the World is a once in a life time experience. Some are easier to travel to including the Roman Colosseum in Rome and Christ Redeemer in Brazil while others take planning, research, and quite a bit of frustration – the Great Wall of China falls into the latter. With all of the frustration, I would still say if you have a chance to travel into Beijing don’t miss visiting the Great Wall, it’s some what inconvenient but its a magnificent site and worth your time. Where else can you visit such a stunning site such as the one below!
So, let me start by saying I wasn’t a fan of Beijing. We went without a guide, just the two of us, and getting around was hard and sometimes a real struggle. There is almost zero english spoken, except at the hotels, so the most important tip I will provide you in this post is do plenty of research beforehand on how, where, when and expect plenty of confusion along the way. Google is banned in China and any maps you can get to pull up will be in Chinese. Just be ready for it.. take a deep breath.. and laugh it off. I promise if you set your expectations it will help.
The Great Wall of China is huge – literally 5,500 miles – so researching can get a little overwhelming. Avid hikers and athletes might be interested in the sections less traveled including Jiankou and Zhuangdaokou because they are far less crowded and the experience will be unbelievable as if you are on the wall all by yourself. But, I caution you that the hike to get to these entrances can be challenging and sometimes dangerous. For the average tourist, like myself, who wants to get the full experience and some great pictures and snapchats, entering at Badaling is the easiest, least confusing, and safe. See the outstanding pictures below!
Getting to the Great Wall
One of the most stressful parts of traveling to the Great Wall was deciding how to get there. You can either take a taxi, a bus, or a train. By far, the train is the easiest way (and not to mention the most entertaining way) to get there and it drops you only a short walk away from the entrance. As you take the train in you see the Great Wall in your view and the magnitude of the wall is astonishing!
Because this can be one of the most important and confusing parts of your trip I’ve included all the details needed on traveling by train to Badaling here.
There are 2 ways to see the Great Wall, enter by walking up yourself or taking a cable car on the northern part of the entrance. Important: Bring local currency – they don’t accept credit cards for entrance fees. They do have a local ATM on site but you’ll be charge a transaction fee.
- Walking is the cheapest at CNY 40 ($6) but will take more effort and time.
- The cable car will drop you off at the highest point and will cost you CNY 60 ($9 USD) one way or CNY 80 ($12 USD) round trip. You can pay to go up and down or just simply up and you walk down.
- Down was closed when we went so we walked down, however, I actually recommend this option. You get a ton of photo ops and can really take in the whole experience. The walk down will take you about an hour but longer if you stop to take pictures.
Train Back to the City
Head back to the Badaling train station and buy a ticket back to the city. Easy as that! I would suggest checking the train times online before you head back to the station. It’s tiny and there will be a ton of others waiting.
If you don’t want to wait on the train there are plenty of local taxis to take you back. Negotiate your fee or take a taxi that is metered otherwise you could get scammed with a high fee. They will have to pay a high speed toll on the expressway that they will charge over to you as well.
Don’t be surprised if the Chinese want to take pictures of you or with you. It’s funny at first but can take away your time from enjoying the scenery.
Bring food and water as the options are limited and at a minimum you will traveling 3-4 hours. There are local vendors but unless you are adventurous I wouldn’t suggest it.
Walk down from the main entrance off the cable car to get a good picture without 100 other people in it. The farther you go the better chance you will have.
Wear tennis shoes – sure they’ve spent money “re-building” this part of the wall to make it accessible but it’s still a pretty good hike down. It rained when we were there and the walk ways are slippery with no railings to catch yourself.
If you get the chance to visit the magnificent Great Wall of China don’t miss out. Just remember to take everything in stride and laugh off the small stuff!