As one of the sections of the great wall closest to Beijing, Badaling Great Wall is convenient to get to as well as having several improvements such as a cable car to help the elderly. This fact has not been lost on Chinese tour operators however, and so hoards of tourists descend upon Badaling during the summer, national holidays, and many weekends.
The Great Wall (which actually consists of many unlinked sections spreading from the East to West of China) was built to defend China against invading Mongolians – although interesting fact, it never actually saw any conflict. The wall was mainly built using local rock, although in some places (particularly towards the West of China) simple mud and straw was used.
The Badaling section has been pretty heavily restored, verging on completely rebuilt, so if you are looking for a genuine historical experience you may be rather disappointed. The wall is still very impressive nonetheless, with regular watch towers and arrow-shooting holes along its length. The view of the great wall meandering over the hills is an iconic image in China, definitely an essential photo opportunity. Just beware all the other selfie-stick-waving tourists trying to get the same shot…
Personally, I would say Badaling Great Wall is a great section to visit if you are in Beijing and pressed for time. It’s an easy way to tick the great wall of your China bucket list without spending too much time or money. However, if you want to escape the crowds a bit more (particularly if you are travelling during peak season) then Mutianyu may be a better option.
Entrance ticket: 40 RMB
Transport: public bus 877 / 879