One of the great wonders of ancient China, the Great Wall of China was constructed over a 1400-year period beginning in 220 BC to protect the Chinese Empire from the marauding warrior tribes of Mongolia. With a total length of more than 20,000 kilometers, the wall is the world’s largest military structure.
There are several sections of the wall located near Beijing and they are a popular attraction for visitors. The Great Wall at Badaling is the closest to Beijing, only 70 kilometers from the city center, and is the section of the Great Wall that most choose to visit.
What to Expect
The Great Wall at Badaling is situated in a scenic area amongst mountains covered in greenery. The wall is well maintained and stands at an imposing height, as it stretches along the mountains as far as the eye can see, with a fortified tower every few hundred meters. Visitors can hike along the wall’s slippery and often steep steps for several kilometers to gain a true bird’s-eye view of the scene. There is also a cable car that connects a mountaintop portion of the wall with the parking lot of Badaling.
Who Will Love It
Almost everyone will enjoy a visit to the Great Wall, but especially those who are interested in Chinese history or architecture, as the stonework of the wall is very impressive. Physically active travelers will no doubt enjoy the wall more, as hiking along the wall is a large part of the experience.
Who Will Be Disappointed
Travelers who have a difficult time climbing steps or walking will most likely find themselves relegated to admiring the wall’s beauty from afar, which will be a disappointment. Also, anyone who is expecting to find a quiet peace of historical tranquility may find themselves disappointed to instead find a site overrun with tourists and gift shops.
Travelers with more than two in their party should think about taking a taxi to Badaling from Beijing instead of joining an organized bus tour. A taxi can be hired from central Beijing for US$80 return and the driver will wait in the parking lot at Badaling as your group leisurely explores the Great Wall.