The Great Wall of China

#2 in Best Things To Do in Beijing
The Great Wall of China picture
Image Source/Getty Images

Key Info

Badaling

Details

Hiking, Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.8scorecard
  • 4.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Just north of Beijing, you'll find one of the most famous monuments in the world—the Great Wall of China. Although it's unlikely you'll see the whole thing (after all, it measures about 5,500 miles long), you should aim to experience a portion of it. That begs the question: Which section?

Only an hour's drive northwest of Beijing, the Badaling section is convenient, hosts a large souvenir market, and has a gondola to whisk visitors up and down the wall. Sounds perfect, right? Well, and that's why thousands of tourists decide to venture here. This creates mob-like scenes that can spoil the trip. Entrance to the Badaling section of wall (not including the gondola ride) costs 40 CNY (about $6.50 USD) in the winter and spring and 45 CNY (about $7 USD) in the summer and fall. You can start hiking the Badaling portion at 6:40 a.m., and you must be down by 6:30 p.m. every day.

The Mutianyu section, an hour's drive northeast of Beijing, is the favorite of recent travelers. Here, you'll find majestic mountainous vistas, a cable car for quick-and-easy access, a fun sled ride down, and (best of all) fewer tourists. One TripAdvisor user describes Mutainyu as "less [crowded] than at Badaling and far from the roads and villages so you can really enjoy a peaceful walk." Admission costs 35 CNY (about $5.50 USD), and visitors are welcome from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day.

Farther from the city, the Juyongguan, Simatai, Jinshanling, Huanghuacheng, Jiankou, and Gubeikou sections offer adventurous travelers more challenging hikes and unique landscapes. If you opt for one of these sections, take the time to carefully research it beforehand. Each portion meanders through different terrain and has its own pros and cons. Some sections are in better condition than others, and transportation to and from them can be less reliable.

Whichever portion you choose, be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks. The hike alone can be tiring, and hot weather can take its toll on unprepared visitors. For more information, speak with your hotel's concierge, who can arrange the appropriate transportation for you.

See all Hotels in Beijing »

More Best Things To Do in Beijing

Tiananmen Square
Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 11
#1 Tiananmen Square

Up there withTimes Square,Red Square, andSt. Peter's Square, Tiananmen Square is among the world's most famous public spaces. Almost anyone can recognize the Gate of Heavenly Peace—emblazoned with a portrait of Chairman Mao—as a symbol of Beijing. OneTripAdvisoruser comments, "It feels like you already know this place when you arrive.

Read more
zhouyousifang/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Beijing »

Explore More of Beijing

Recommended

The 21 Most Beautiful Waterfalls to See Around the World

Discover which stunning falls offer once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences.

Kyle McCarthyApril 25, 2019

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019