Without a visit to the Great Wall of China (万里长城) when in Beijing, seems incomplete. The Great Wall of China is about 70 km north of Beijing City, getting there would easily takes an hour or even more.
There are a number of ascending points to the Great Wall.
The two that are nearer to Beijing city are Mutianyu (慕田峪) and Badaling (八达岭). Badaling is nearer to Beijing city than Mutianyu. I was recommended to go Mutianyu. I was told by my Mainland China colleagues that Badaling is usually packed with lots of tourists all year round. Mutianyu is less crowded so it is worth to be on the road longer.
As the Great Wall is on a higher altitude, the temperature is generally lower than Beijing city. You may want to bring along a jacket. The steps are steep and the condition of some part of the wall is a little worn. So you have to be very careful and beware of your steps.
The wall is a grandiose architecture of mankind history. No wonder it is still considered as the seven wonders of the world. The purpose of the wall, built by the Emperor Qin Shi Huang between BC 220 and 206, was to defend the border. The total length of the wall is about 21, 196 km.
Mutianyu is not very accessible from the city. First, you need to get to Dongzhimen (东直门) to take the bus to the great wall by taking the subway line 2 or 13 and alight at Dongzhimen Station (东直门站), look for Exit B. Next, you need to find your way to the bus depot. The bus depot is not easy to find. It is kind of hidden. I took some time to find the bus depot by asking a few people. From Exit B to the bus depot, you need to walk about 15 to 20 minutes.
Once you got out of Exit B, turn right and walk straight, along Dongzhimen Outer Street (东直门外大街). Turn left into Dongzhimen Outer Byway (东直门外斜街) and walk straight till you see some low building structure with red sign board like the ones shown in the photo below.
Turn left when you see the side of the building, not before those building. The bus depot is right in front of those building. You should be seeing the photo like the below when you make your turn.
Once you are at the bus depot, look for the tourism bus 867 queue. This bus will take you to Mutianyu, the final destination. It is always better to check with the staff at the bus depot, in case there is a change in the route. There are only two trips daily from Beijing to Mutianyu, at 0700 and 0830. The return trip from Mutianyu is at 1400 and 1600. This bus only operates during 15 March to 15 November. It does not operate from 16 November to 14 March.
You can refer to the map I drawn, below, to find your way to the bus depot.
On your return trip, wait for the bus at where you alight.
Getting to the great wall can be either by taking the cable car of hike. I choose to take the cable car which takes me to tower 14 of the wall and return by cable car as well. The other method of getting down from the wall is via a toboggan slide at tower 6. Taking the toboggan slide may be a good method for you cover the wall provided you do not have Acrophobia (fear of height). This will allow you to walk from tower 14 to tower 6. This stretch is in general descending so it will be easy on your physical.
You will get an excellent view of the Great Wall when the weather is good. I did not get a good view as it was very cloudy in the morning. It got better in the afternoon but I decided to go back to the city.
Great Wall of China
- Mutianyu Ascending Point (慕田峪长城)
April to October: Daily 0700 to 1800; November to March: Daily 0730 to 1730
Entrance: Adult RMB 40; Children/Student RMB 20
Cable Car One Way: Adult RMB 45; Children/Student RMB 25
Cable Car Return: Adult RMB 65; Children/Student RMB 35
Toboggan Slide: Adult RMB 40; Children/Student RMB 40
Take the subway line 2 or 13 alight at Dongzhimen station. Walk to the bus depot at Dongzhimen Outer Byway and broad the tourism bus 867.
Alternatively, hire a cab or private car.
April to October: Daily 0630 to 1900 November to March: Daily 0700 to 1800
Bus 877 (non-stop) from Deshengmen (). Arrives near the pulley station & Bear Garden at the front hill of Badaling. 10 min walk from the station to the ticket office.
Bus 919 and 880 from Deshengmen stop near the cable car station at the rear mountain. 10 min walk to the ticket office from the station.
From North Railway Station. To reach the railway station, take Bus No. 85, 375, 438, 534, 563, 632; or Subway Line 2, Line 4 or Line 13 to Xizhimen Station, get off and then walk to the railway station.
Alternatively, hire a cab or private car.