Each section of the Great Wall is different, which has a special character and appeals to diverse forms of tourists. Badaling may be the most renowned, popular and simple to go to section in the wall. It is also one of the most crowded, the best maintained and over developed sections of the wall.
I’ve heard stories from fellow travellers about the Badaling section of the wall for years and the theme of those stories invariably were crowds, voracious hawkers, hordes of tour groups, rampant commercialization and more crowds.
Going to Badaling
Not becoming keen on crowds and preferring to appreciate the majesty and beauty of the Great Wall in relative solitude, I had always avoided Badaling like the plague. Morbid curiosity gradually got the greater of me and I finally broke down and took a trip to Badaling.
The Badaling section of the Great Wall of China was everything I had heard it to become and so much more!!!
By far Badaling is the easiest section of the Great Wall to visit and you may get there by train, multiple bus lines, taxis, private automobiles or with tour groups. After a lot of trips to different sections of the wall that involved multiple buses, taxis and hiking, the luxury of taking a train was irresistible.
There is certainly a train that runs from Beijing North train station that drops you off at the Badaling train station. This section of the wall has its own train station. The simplest way to reach Beijing North train station to catch the subway to Xizhimen on subway line two and use exit A that is appropriate in front of the train station. A quick subway ride, a couple of minutes queuing to get a 6rmb ticket and I was on the train and on the approach to the famous (infamous) Badaling section from the Great Wall of China.
Shortly after an extremely comfortable 78 minute train ride, I disembarked at Badaling train station and followed the crowds of other tourist to the Badaling village where the Badaling Great Wall experience started.
On the wall
The first part of the wall complicated can be a moden retail center cum village that has gift shops, restaurants like Subways, KFC and California Beef noodles, lots of ATM’s and an empty tourist information center. About the only valuable factor I could see there were toilets.
Behind the village was a sizable walled compound and square exactly where tickets are sold and the crowds began. Tickets had been only 45rmb which was surprising right after hearing how high-priced Badaling was to visit. Right after getting a ticket, you start the climbing the wall and also you have a choice of turning to the left and going south or turning towards the right and going north. The crowds had been going north so I took north.
To say the Badaling section of the Great Wall is crowded is really an enormous understatement. Once you turn proper till you pass the North Eighth Tower that is the highest and most northern point from the wall at Badaling, the wall is crowded.
For some sections, getting into shape and packing food and drink for a single or two days is essential preparation. In order to climb Badaling, I advise you take a ride on the Beijing subway for the duration of peak hour.
The wall itself
Badaling has been totally restored and I doubt that if any of the original wall remains. One benefit of this is that the wall is in excellent situation, secure and quite easy to walk. Concerning the only tricky part of the wall to stroll is exactly where the walking surfaces are flat but quite steep. These regions are quite slippery and it is really easy to slide all the method to the bottom. Many people haul themselves up and down the wall by the hand rail at these areas.
The Badaling Great Wall is shaped like an inverted “U”. The beginning point together with the ticket office is in the South West location. The wall heads north to the “North Eighth Tower” which can be the highest and most northern point of Badaling then the wall continues towards the South East where it finishes.
A lot of people only do the very first section with the wall and either catch the chair lift down in the Eighth tower, take a ride on the trolley/slide that starts close to the Eighth tower or turn about and walk back towards the main entrance. The second section of Badaling after the Eighth tower is less crowded. When you get to the Eighth Tower and start off walking the second section of Badaling, you are able to easily loosen up and actually commence to enjoy your time on the wall.
The second section of the wall provides even much better views than the first second, is longer, steeper in some parts and a lot of fun to walk. Walking the very first section will take one to two hours determined by crowds. Walking the second section requires about an hour.
The wall itself continues and joins the Juyongguan section of the wall that you can see at first. You can’t reach the Juyongguan section because the Badaling section ends at a blocked watch tower. You cannot jump off the wall, walk round the blocked tower and go on walking the wall for the wall is too high above the ground and there’s a metal barrier to stop people who do handle to climb off the wall.
The whole Badaling section from the wall only had two hawkers who had set up stands on the second section and there were no hawkers harassing folks or being aggressive and obnoxious.
I was standing near certainly one of the hawkers admiring the view when I overheard a Chinese female tourist asking about the price of one of his wares. -40rmb. I waited several minutes and then asked him in English how much the identical product was. -85rmb. Then I had the satisfaction of watching him squirm when I asked in Chinese why he just offered it to the lady for a much lower price.
Difficulty – The Badaling section of the Great Wall is really easy and secure to climb and appropriate for people of any age or fitness level. For folks who’ve difficulty walking, the complete section of the wall has quite secure hand rails on either side and you can effortlessly take typical rests.
Departing from the Wall & Returning Home
The South East exit at the end of the second section of the wall is just like an amusement park with a two bear enclosures, horse rides, camel rides, food stores and gift shops. When you lease the amusement park there are toilets, a major bus stop and a train station.
Reaching the exit, I found that there was not another train due for over an hour so I jumped on the 919 bus and was back in Beijing for 70 to 80 minutes. The final bus cease in Beijing exactly where I got off is only around 500 meters from the A exit in the Jishuitan subway station on the number two line so getting back to my hotel was quick and simple.
Was it worth it?
I really enjoyed walking through Badaling and it was a great day out. Compared to every other section of the wall, Badaling is extremely easy to get to and the ease of transport can be a refreshing luxury.
T I would only advise you visit Badaling if you might have quite limited time in Beijing, if you’ve problems walking or if you have already seen other less crowded components of the wall like Simatai or Mutianyu.