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The Great Wall is always at the top of the China travelers’ must-visit list, and the Badaling and Mutianyu sections of the Great Wall are always the top two choices. Many people ask which one is the best to visit.
The quick answer is that the Mutianyu section is better for foreign tourists to visit than the Badaling one. Read on to discover the differences between the two sections.
This chart provides a simple comparison between the Badaling and Mutianyu sections:
|Distance from Beijing||72 kilometers (45 miles) from Beijing, 1½ hours’ drive(private car)||73 kilometers (45 miles) from Beijing, 1½ hours’ drive(private car)|
|Time needed||Half a day||Half a day|
|Features||1. Most popular section
2. Most representative and magnificent section of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty
3. Well renovated
4. First to be opened to foreign guests
|1.Better architecture: densely spaced watchtowers
2. Longest fully-restored Great Wall section open to tourists
3. Most child-friendly section
4. Most popular among foreign travelers
5. Beautiful scenery
|Fees||40 yuan (peak season), 35 yuan (off-season)||45 yuan|
|Cable cars, roller coaster||√||√|
|Pros||1. Easily accessible
2. Most famous
|1. Less crowded
2. More authentic
2. More commercial and touristy
|Less easy to access|
By private transport, both sections can be reached in about an hour and a half. The route to Badaling is easier (straight northwest on the Badaling Expressway), however, at busy times, traffic jams near Badaling may be severe, making Mutianyu the “more accessible peak season option”.
Badaling is more easily accessible by public transport, because it can be reached by a direct bus and train. The Mutianyu section is more remote. You need to take a bus and then transfer to another one to get there.
Bus/Train to Badaling:
Buses to Mutianyu: Take bus 916 from Dongzhimen on Metro Line 2 to Huairou. Then, transfer to bus line H23, H24, H35, or H36 to Mutianyu Roundabout. Alternatively, taking bus 916 plus a local minibus to reach Mutianyu is the fastest public transportation option, taking about 2 hours. Bus 916 runs frequently at approximately every 20 minutes.
Badaling is the most visited section (about 70% of all Great Wall visits!) and it is more touristy and crowded because it is more easily accessible using public transportation. It is always crowded there — hundreds of thousands of annual visitors make the tourism conditions better at Badaling but it also makes it more commercial there.
In the public holidays, Badaling is bursting with visitors (some only get as far as the traffic jams as its capacity is 70,000 visitors per day). Therefore, if you want to visit Badaling, you’d better avoid Chinese public holidays and visit during the off-season.
To the contrary, Mutianyu is less crowded and suitable for visiting if you prefer a quiet environment. It is more popular with foreign tourists.
Both are magnificent sections of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty and are well-restored.
Mutianyu is the longest and best fully-restored Great Wall section open to tourists with 23 original-style watchtowers. Today’s wall is a replica of the Ming Dynasty fortifications in 1568. You can appreciate its original glory. Pine and maple trees cover over 90 percent of the surrounding area. The natural scenery seen from Mutianyu varies all year around. In autumn, the surroundings look like a golden sea.
Badaling has been open to the public the longest (since 1957). Some of its extensive renovation work does not conform to the original Wall’s likeness, which makes it less authentic. Its wall, however, is wider than the one at Mutianyu. The wall is, on average, 7.8 meters (26 feet) tall and 5.7 meters (19 feet) wide, which allowed five horses to gallop abreast and 10 men to march shoulder to shoulder.
In 1954, the Great Wall at Badaling received its first foreign guest, India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In the following five decades, the Great Wall at Badaling received more than 400 heads of state and government, as well as world-famous figures including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela, Boris Yeltsin, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, and Barack Obama.
Mutianyu also received many world leaders, such as former US president Bill Clinton, former British prime minister John Major, First Lady Melania Trump, and former First Lady Michelle Obama. The Great Wall at Mutianyu has gained more and more attention and popularity.
As the most popular sections, both Badaling and Mutianyu have sound facilities and both are wheelchair-friendly sections of the Great Wall. Handrails have been built for visitors' convenience and safety.
At Badaling, visitors can use a roller coaster or cable car to ascend and descend. Many restaurants and a KFC are located around the entrance areas. There are also many small inns in the villages around Badaling.
At Mutianyu, a chairlift, cable car, and toboggan are available. There are many restaurants around the parking lot where you can try local dishes. Many local guesthouses and mid-level hotels are concentrated in and around Mutianyu Village at the foot the Great Wall.
The Great Wall at Badaling is well-preserved and has renovated sections of wall. It can be reached by taking a direct bus or train. It has more crowds and a less authentic feel.
The Great Wall at Mutianyu is completely-restored and more authentic with fewer crowds and less transportation options. For a better experience and to suit people who prefer a quieter environment, we recommend visiting the Great Wall at Mutianyu.
|The Great Wall at Badaling||The Great Wall at Mutianyu|
|Open||6:30am–5:30pm (peak season); 7:30am–4:30pm (off-season)||All year round, 7:30am–5:30pm|
|Best times||March–May and September–November||Spring and autumn|
|Dining||Badaling Hotel Restaurant, McDonald's, Yonghe King, Commune by the Great Wall, and Jindian Friendship Restaurant||Xin Shuang Quan Restaurant|
|Hotels||Badaling Hotel and Commune by the Great Wall||Brickyard Retreat and Home of the Great Wall|
|Transport||Direct bus and train||Bus plus a hire car|
Try our Create My Trip service to create a hassle-free tour. The Great Wall is a long way from downtown Beijing and the traffic encountered on the way is the biggest problem for foreign visitors. Our private tour will provide a comfortable vehicle to escort you so you won’t need to worry about any traffic issues during your trip. See our recommended Great Wall tours below:
All the itineraries can be modified. Just tell us your interests and requirements, and we will be happy to tailor-make your unique tour.