Here are some advice if you are visiting the Great Wall in Beijing:
🧱Going with Children?
Most tourists would go to to Badaling which is overcrowded and overly restored. If you are with young children, it is probably the best choice because:
- it is the nearest to Beijing City (about an hour). We know it is tricky to take long journeys with them if you were to choose other Great Walls.
- easiest to get to with high speed rail, buses, etc serving this part of the Great Wall.
- Badaling Great Wall, being commercialised, means that you get more facilities like toilet, restaurants and getting up and down, etc.
- there is a museum there.
- there is even a roller coaster to get you up and down the Great Wall.
However, my recommendation is to visit others which are further away if you have the time because you get a more authentic feel to the original the UNESCO Heritage Site.
I highly recommend the Jinshanling (金山岭) part of the Great Wall. Though you probably may need 2 hours or more to get there, it is totally worth it.
How to get to Jinshanling Great Wall
A direct bus departs from Beijing at 8am to Jinshanling’s Great Wall Ticket Gate, and returns at 3pm. To get to the bus stop, take subway Line 13 or 15 to Wanjjing West (望京西), use Exit B or D, and walk east 100 or 200 meters. Do book or check the schedule before going.
There are also long distance bus which takes you to Chengde area. There are several long distance bus stations in Beijing. Once you are there, you can find locals in a van or taxi to bring you to the Great Wall. You can book your transport for half a day by asking them to pick you up at Simatai Great Wall.
🧱Why Jinshanling Great Wall of China?
You can walk from Jinshanling to Simatai which is about 10km; a 4 hour walk. I feel it is just right to absorb in the grandeur of this amazing structure.
At Jinshanling Great Wall, walk towards the East to Simaitai. When I was there, the cable car wasn’t in operation yet. But there is now a cable car to bring you to near the top.
Some part of the Great Wall are so destroyed, you get to exit from the Great Wall, walk on the ground and then climb back up after. In other parts, you may need to climb near vertical staircases! This adds to the whole experience to take in the architecture of this magnificent structure.
Despite this part of the Great Wall in its partly original state, it is not as dangerous as eg. the Jiankou part of the wall.
🧱There is a reservoir in the area which is mentioned in many Chinese writings; may not mean a lot for foreigners but it is famous for locals. Worth a look when you drive by.
🧱Because there are less tourists, so the street vendors also have less customers to target on! Be prepared to be approached.
Explaining the history of Great Wall of China to kids
- During the Warring State period, different states built walls to defend themselves. (There wasn’t ‘China’ yet.)
- First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang united China and started building the Great Wall
- Removed walls which divide his empire
- Built new ones to make it more difficult for the Xiongnu (his enemy) to invade China.
- Other dynasties in China had worked more on the wall and made it longer.
- Han, Sui, Northern and Jin Dynasties all repaired, rebuilt or expanded the Great Wall.
- During the Ming Dynasty, major rebuilding work took place
- built with bricks and stone instead of earth.
- more than 2000 years for building and completion of the Great wall.
Some fun facts about the Great Wall of China:
🧱 The Great Wall of China is 21,196 km long!
🧱 It is a myth that you can see the Great Wall of China from the moon.
🧱 You may take more than a year to walk the entire length of the Great Wall!
By the way, do you know that there is a Great Wall of China in Tianjin?