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DIY Guide to The Great Wall of China

Home > China > Adventure | Day Trips | Travel | Walks
by Karen Ross (subscribe)
I love slow travel, slow food and discovering new adventures and delicious regional food in new locations. Check my travel tips on Instagram
Published July 20th 2018
My Top Ten Tips
The Great Wall of China stretches almost ten thousand kms across the northern part of China. It was built in stages, around 2000 years ago, more or less, and has served a variety of purposes, including protection against raids and invasions, a border to control allowing transport of goods along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. It was also used to keep the rabbits out, according to an advert on Australian television.

There is a series watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, and gunwales along the length of the wall and many sections of it have proved suitable for use as a transportation corridor.

Almost ten thousand kms

It's a must-do if you're in the vicinity of Beijing and, of course, you can pay a lot of money for a tour with fifty of your closest friends on a coach stopping at expensive souvenir shops on the way, or you can get there all by yourself. It's easy, here are my top ten tips.

1. Head for your nearest Beijing subway station and purchase a metro card. This will make your journey smoother and may give you priority over cash-wielding tourists if there's a big crowd.

Beijing Metro Card
Beijing Metro Card

2. Go to Xizhimen station. Exit at Beijing North Railway Station (just follow the signs).

3. Head for the first floor of the station building and catch the fast train (also known as S train).

4.If the S train isn't running, due to unforeseen circumstances such as a torrential downpour which was my experience, catch the 877 bus. It's easy to find, 500m east of the train station and there are lots of signs along the way to help direct you.

Follow the signs to bus 877
Follow the signs to bus 877

5. Swipe your metro card and sit down for an hour. There's only one stop - Badeling- so you'll know when to get off.

The 877 bus to Badeling takes an hour
The 877 bus to Badeling takes an hour

6. The area where the buses stop is busy. Very busy. Head up the hill. Ignore people selling taxi rides, it's not really that far, especially by comparison to the walk you are about to do. However, if you want to conserve energy, there's a free shuttle bus.

Lots of people, buses, hawkers, maybe even a torrential downpour
Lots of people, buses, hawkers, maybe even a torrential downpour

7. If you go through a nasty corridor with stalls on either side selling tacky souvenirs, you'll know you are on the right track.

8. Head straight for the Cable Car entry. Buy a one-way ticket for 80 plus 40 for an entry ticket to the Great Wall.

Entrance ticket
Entrance ticket

9. Enjoy the short cable car ride to a high point on the wall.

Steps to the wall
Steps to the wall

10. Walk back down. You will have left the masses walking on the low section of the wall while here at the top section, you may even find you'll have whole sections of the wall to yourself.

You may have sections all to yourself
You may have sections all to yourself

You'll enjoy lots of steep steps.......

Steep steps
Steep steps

........ watch towers, and astounding views.


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Why? Tick it off your bucket list
When: 7.30am-6pm every day
Where: Badeling, China
Cost: Bus 5 , Cable Car 80 , Entrance Fee 40
Your Comment
That's great information Karen and some unusul pitures of the wall which I have only previoulsy seen as very crowded. I notice the Chinese are catering to the English tourists and being able to read the signs is no doubt very helpful. I have never been to the wall and can only wonder at the grandeur of it.
by Gayle Beveridge-Marien (score: 4|10580) 2486 days ago
A good summary Karen. I did this particular part of the Great Wall a few years back in early January. Blue skies provided some comfort against the near-zero temperatures. And yes, plenty of people selling anything and everything.
by Steve Hudson (score: 3|1251) 2485 days ago
I have always wanted to do this! I've been put off by the crowds, but your pictures look like you had the place to yourself. Any advice for the best time to go?
by Natalie Bollu (score: 2|310) 2484 days ago
We went to the Jinshaling part. It was just amazing - having seen lots of pictures, I wasn't prepared with how much I loved it - we ended up going on a 2 hour hike alongthe wall. Just amazing.
by Lydia C. Lee (score: 2|692) 427 days ago
Information is out of date. S2 no longer goes from Beijing North. Leaves from HuangTuDian train station. Take Subway line 8 (Green) or 13 to Houying. Underpass connects Houying to HuangTuDian. Direct trains to Badaling are infrequent. (29 Apr 19). We bought tickets but there were a load of people waiting. There was uncertainty about which trains were direct so we gave up. Will arrange transport / tour instead.
by Neil Johnson (score: 0|4) 1501 days ago
I did this way back in 1973 when I travelled to China with Gough Whitlam he didn’t go to the Great Wall. When I went there were no crowds just a few Chinese dressed in grey uniform which they all wore back then I remember going to the toilet block it was a row if slits on a concrete floor you squatted everyone just looked at me no privacy. I was the only westerner ( except for a couple from the Embassy i went with). The Great Wall was in need of repair then I was young and fairly fit but it was still quite a Work out. We drove there in an old black car the driver was Chinese he thought it was his lucky day back then I was a red head so I brought him luck. It was a wonderful day I don’t think I want to go back I’ll just keep those memories of a different time so much seems to have changed.
by ailsa (score: 1|56) 1402 days ago
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