A Walk along the Wall

No trip to Beijing is complete without a visit to the Great Wall of China. As usual we did not book any of the many tours available and planned everything ourselves.

The easiest way to get to the Wall using public transportation is to take the train to Beijing North railway station and take an S train to Badaling Great Wall. The cost for a ticket is 6RMB, which is about 1 USD.

We found it a little confusing getting to the right platform, so don’t be afraid to ask attendants if you are not sure. We took a wrong turn to the subway, but made it to the right place eventually.

Great Wall of China

The train ride takes an hour and twenty minutes to get to Badaling Station. The scenery is pleasant as you get closer to your destination, look out for glimpses of the wall atop rolling hills surrounded by green forest as you speed along.

From the station it is a bit of a hike to the admission area, just over a kilometre, but this a just a warm up compared to the steep stairways to come. We paid our 40 RMB entrance fee (7 USD), grabbed a quick snack and some water at one of the local stores and entered through the main gate.

Steep Walkways

Once you navigate yourself up to the main wall walkway, you have the freedom to go as far along the wall as you wish. This part of the wall is set amongst lush forest and is a nice example of a Chinese rural area, though it is fairly hilly and there are some steep parts.

If walking up hundreds of steep hand cut stairs is not your thing, you can take a cable car to a section near the top of a hill for 40 RMB. From there you can walk down to the main gate, which is much easier than going up, or you can return via the car.

Rainy Wall Day

We were not blessed with great weather on the day we visited the Great Wall. It rained fairly steadily from when we left the station, but did not dampen our  enjoyment. If anything it helped create an eerie atmosphere, with the mists rolling across the hills and the dank smell of the ancient stone as it became saturated.

The wall is separated into sections marked by towers or guard houses. My companions found the combination of cold, rain and steep walking disheartening and struggled to make it up more than a few sections, while I soldiered on to the top of the nearest hill so I could take shots from a better vantage point.

We stayed in the area for a few hours before heading back to the station. It is advisable to know the train times and plan your trip back to coincide, as we were waiting for thirty minutes in a crowded station, where we could have stayed in a warm restaurant a little longer.

Also, as a major tourist destination, especially amongst the locals who are more likely to use the train to get there, weekends and holiday times are best avoided unless you are a fan of crowds.

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One Response

  1. china holidays June 21, 2015

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