In this article we will discover all you need to know about visiting the Badaling Great Wall; the closest section of the Great Wall of China to Beijing.
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History of the Great Wall of China
The Great Wall is one of China’s most famous landmarks and recognisable as one of the new seven wonders of the world. The wall as we know it today relates largely to the Ming Dynasty fortifications.
The Great Wall was in fact a series of smaller walls that were joined together throughout different time periods. The earliest sections date back to the warring states period (around 400BC) before China was unified.
When King Zhen of the Qin Dynasty (221 to 206BC) became first Emperor of a unified China in 221BC, he ordered that the walls dividing the empire be dismantled.
Qin then ordered that the northern sections of the wall be reinforced and joined together to protect against the Xiongnu, nomads who inhabited the Eurasian steppe from Central Asia to Mongolia and Siberia.
Construction of the early walls was using rammed earth and as such nothing of the Qin walls remains today.
The Han (202BC to 220AD), Northern (420 to 589) and Sui (581 to 618) Dynasties all repaired and added to the northern walls to protect their empires.
The Great Wall of China under The Ming Dynasty
It wasn’t until the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) that the concept of a “Great” wall was revived due to suffering significant defeats at the hands of warring Mongol tribes from the north.
Unlike the early rammed earth constructed walls, the new fortifications were built using bricks and stone with the addition of watchtowers. As the Mongol tribes continued to attack the empire, considerable effort was put in to maintaining and repairing the walls.
Between 1657 and 1570 some 1200 watchtowers were added to warn of impending attacks from the Mongols. During the later end of the Ming Dynasty the wall was again reinforced to protect against the Manchus in the north.
Geography of the Great Wall
Due to the many differing sections, the exact course of the wall is difficult to determine, however in 2012 the National Cultural Heritage Administration of China concluded a detailed study and mapping program determining course. The current figure is that the wall stretches for 21,196 kilometres (13,171 miles).
Sections of the Great wall can be found from the east coast to the Gobi Desert in the northwest. The Wall crosses nine northern provinces and municipalities; Liaoning, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia and Gansu.
Badaling Great Wall
One of the most popular and easiest sections to visit is the Badaling Great Wall which lies 60km northwest of central Beijing.
This section of the wall dates back to the Ming Dynasty in 1504AD and was constructed to protect the Joyongguan Pass and nearby Beijing from the Mongols. The Badaling Great Wall was restored in 1957 and was the first section to be open for mass tourism.
The walkable section of Badaling Great Wall is 7.6km (4.7 miles) and includes 19 watchtowers (*12 on the north route, seven on the south.
Badaling has seen visits from heads of states and politicians from Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
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How to Get to Badaling Great Wall
Badaling Great Wall is easy to reach from central Beijing by train, bus and taxi.
Train: There are daily bullet trains between Beijing North/Qinghe Railway Station and Badaling Railway station. The first train leaves Beijing North at 08:51 and the last train is at 16:25. The journey takes just 20 minutes and tickets cost from ¥24 ($3.77) for a second-class seat. You can book tickets online through Trip.com below.
Bus 877 from Denshengmen to Badaling
Buses depart at 06:00 and 12:30 and return at 10:30 and 17:00
Journey time is 90 minutes and costs ¥12 ($2.20)
Tourist Bus Line 1 from Qianmen to Badaling
Buses depart at 07:00 and 11:00 and return at 09:00 and 17:00
Journey time is 100 minutes and costs ¥20 ($3.15)
Taxi: A taxi should cost around ¥300 ($47) and take under an hour.
Tours to Badaling Great Wall
If you don’t want to arrange transport to the wall, you can join a tour with pickup from your hotel in Beijing. Day trips start from around ¥500 ($79).
Tickets for Badaling Great Wall
- Apr to Oct: ¥40 ($6.30)
- Nov to Mar: ¥35 ($5.50)
Badaling Great Wall Opening Hours
- Apr to Jun: 06:30 – 19:00
- Jul to Aug: 06:00 – 19:30
- Sep to Oct: 06:30 – 19:00
- Nov to Mar: 07:30 – 18:30
Facilities at Badaling Great Wall
- Cable cars
- Roller coaster
- Restaurants and Cafes
When is the best time to visit Badaling Great Wall?
The Badaling Great Wall can be busy most times of the year, however during the national holidays it gets swamped. Avoid Golden Week (1st to 7th October), Labour Day (May 1st to 3rd) and Spring Festival/Chinese New Year (Jan or Feb depending on the year).
September and October are the perfect month for a visit as the heat of summer has cooled making hiking the wall easier. At this time of year, the mountains are aflame with the red, yellow and orange leaves of autumn.
Check out our guide to 27 of the most famous landmarks in Asia for more incredible attractions!
About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang and now resides in the tropical paradise of Sanya on Hainan Island.
He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.
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