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Badaling Great Wall — Most Popular with Chinese and VIPs

Badaling Great Wall — Most Popular with Chinese and VIPs

Written by Kelly PangUpdated May. 16, 2022

Badaling Great Wall, about 60 km (40 mi) northwest of central Beijing, was the first section restored to open to tourists in 1957. It is easily accessible and has easy walking conditions.

Badaling is the most representative and magnificent section of the Ming Great Wall and has been visited by over 500 state leaders and VIPs, including presidents Nixon and Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, and Queen Elizabeth II.

  • Chinese: 八达岭 Bādálǐng /baa-daa-ling/ 'eight reach ridge'
  • Time from Beijing: about 1½ hours' drive 
  • Time of visit: 2-3 hours
  • Facilities: cable cars, toboggan, the Great Wall Museum, a circular-screen cinema, shopping and dining facilities, and some wheelchair access
  • Open: 6:30am–5:30pm (peak season); 7:30am–4:30pm (off-season)
A Bird's Eye View of the Badaling Great Wall

Where is the Badaling Great Wall?

Badaling Location Map

Badaling is about 60 km northwest of central Beijing, about 1½ hours' drive. It's 9 km up the valley passing northwest of the Juyong Pass Fort.

Badaling's Great Wall section stretches 7.6 km (4.7 mi) across the mountain ridges of the pass from the Shixiaguan section in the south to the Shuiguan section in the east.

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Badaling's History: Who Built It, When and Why

Badaling's History

The Great Wall at Badaling was completed in 1505 (the 18th year of the reign of Hong Zhi, an emperor of the Ming Dynasty). This section's construction was led by General Qi Jiguang (1528-1588), famous for defending China from Japanese pirates.

Badaling commands a strategic position, once the first line of defense on the main pass between Beijing and the Mongol tribes north of the Great Wall. The first Mongol emperor marched through Badaling with his army to take Beijing and begin the Yuan Dynasty, which preceded the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).

Why You Should Visit Badaling Great Wall?

Badaling Section of the Great Wall

"He Who Has Never Been to the Great Wall Is Not a True Man"

Badaling has a stone engraved with "不到长城非好汉" ('not arrive Great Wall not good man'), a famous line from one of Mao Zedong's poems, commonly translated as per the above heading.

Continuing the theme, the highest point of this section is called 'Good Man Slope' (好汉坡 Hǎohàn Pō /haoww-han por/).  

Visited by over 500 State Leaders and VIPs

About 500 state leaders and VIPs, including presidents Nixon and Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, and Queen Elizabeth II, have climbed Badaling and admired the magnificence and beauty of its scenery.

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Features of the Badaling Great Wall 

Badaling Great Wall

Dimensions: 7.6 km (4.7 mi) long. The wall is on average 7.8 meters (26 ft) tall and 5.7 meters (19 ft) wide, which allowed five horses to gallop abreast or ten men to march shoulder to shoulder.

Watchtowers:  43 towers

Comprehensive Facilities: Badaling has the most comprehensive facilities of all the Great Wall sections, including a circular-screen cinema, Great Wall Museum, shopping, and dining facilities, as well as barrier-free access for the disabled.

Ascent and Descent of the Badaling Great Wall

badaling tourism map

Hike Up

The main access paths, steps, and wall on top of the Great Wall at Badaling are well paved with granite slabs, and handrails have been installed on each side of the wall. Therefore walking conditions pose no significant risks, though there are some steep steps.

Dirt paths up from around the cableway station to North Fifth Tower and North Eighth Tower are well worn but may be slippery after rain.

Cable Car

The cableway will lift you to the highest tower of Badaling, North Eighth Tower, at the top of 'Good Man Slope'. The cable car station is in the north of the parking area.

Toboggan/Slide Way

Toboggan down the Badaling Great Wall

The toboggan can take you down from North Fourth Tower to the valley, surrounded by Badaling's north towers, or up.

Cars are pulled up on a railroad through a tunnel, and go down on a track as a train controlled by a staff member in the front car. It doesn't offer much of a view, and riders are shielded from the sun (and rain) most of the way down by a light blue plastic canopy.

North Eleventh Tower is a 300 m walk up from the valley station, which is 400 m (¼ mile) northeast of the Badaling bus stop.

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Best Times to Visit Badaling

Best time to visit Badaling Great Wall

March-May and September–November are the best times to visit the Badaling Great Wall.

We advise our customers to avoid China's major holidays when the wall is packed with Chinese tourists:

  • Labor Day Holiday — 5 days in/around the first week of May
  • National Day Holiday — 7 days in/around the first week of October
  • July and August - when Chinese children and students are on summer holiday

More about the best times to visit the Great Wall >>>

Prepare Well to Enjoy Your Badaling Experience

What to Wear

Dress for walking and dress for the weather. Choose comfortable footwear with a good grip and support for the feet. Layers of clothes that can be taken on and off allow for greater comfort and temperature control.

Wear/bring sun protection in the summer and dress for sub-zero temperatures in the winter. It can feel much colder on the wall than down in the valleys because of altitude and exposure.

Packing for the Great Wall

What to Bring

Bring breathable waterproofs for protection from rain and wind. Umbrellas may be used here as the ascents and descents are not difficult, but maybe inconvenient in strong winds.

Bring a camera and money for souvenirs and refreshments. Bring snacks and water if you want to walk along a portion of the wall.

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Getting to the Badaling Great Wall from Beijing

By High-Speed Train (20 Minutes)

The new Badaling railway station for high-speed trains has been completed. Bullet trains departing from Beijing North Railway Station can reach the Great Wall at Badaling in 20 minutes.

By Public Bus

Badaling is about 80 km (50 miles, 1½ hours) by road northwest of central Beijing. All buses stop 400 m southwest of the valley-bottom rollercoaster station, not at the main parking lot entrance with the cableway, another kilometer west.

  • Bus 877 (direct from Deshengmen)

Route: Deshengmen (德胜门 /der-shnng-mnn/) – Badaling Great Wall (八达岭长城 /baa-daa-ling chaang-chnng/)

Bus fare: 12 yuan (50% off with a Beijing bus card)

First bus (from Deshengmen): 6:00 am.

Last bus (from Badaling Great Wall): 5:00 pm.

Deshengmen is about 5 km northwest of the Forbidden City, a ½-km walk east from Jishuitan (积水潭) Exit A on Metro Line 2.

  • Bus 879 (Ming Tombs – Badaling)

Route: Changling (长陵 /chaang-ling/) – Badaling Great Wall (八达岭长城 /baa-daa-ling chaang-chnng/)

Bus fare: 10 yuan

First bus: (depart from Changling) 8:00 am

Last bus: (return from Badaling Great Wall) 5:30 pm

If you go to the Ming Tombs in the morning you may find Badaling less crowded in the afternoon, as most tour groups do the two the other way round.

By Coach from Beijing Tourist Hub

If you don't want to take a crowded public bus, Beijing Tourist Hub (北京旅游集散中心) has direct coaches to Badaling for about 100 yuan; children under 1.2 m ride free.

Be Careful of Illegal Tourist Trap Buses

There are many fake buses claiming that they go to Badaling, even at Deshengmen showing 877, or at the Beijing Tourist Hub entrance, which looks like true buses. The drivers will ask you, "Badaling?" But they will take you to expensive shops, Shuiguan (a section of the Great Wall next to Badaling's), and other places that waste your time and money. So please don't be cheated.

Tour with China Highlights — hassle-free and flexible

Badaling Great Wall Tour

We advise our customers to avoid the Badaling Section of the wall as it is always packed with Chinese tourist groups. By comparison, the Great Wall at Huanghuacheng and Mutianyu is much quieter, and these two sections are almost the same distance as Badaling from Beijing.  See below our most popular Great Wall tours: 

If the tours above aren't what you're looking for, you can tell us your interests and requirements, and we will help you design your own Great Wall tour.

And if you are interested in Great Wall hiking, see our Wild Great Wall Hiking Tours >>>

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Restaurants and Accommodation

The Badaling section is well developed and you can find many restaurants around the entrance areas. There are also many small inns in the villages around Badaling.

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