How To Visit the Great Wall of China without the Expensive Tour

One of the most historical and jaw-dropping structures of the ancient world that until now has continued to awe the modern civilization is the magnificent Great Wall of China. Movies and books have immortalized its history. For hundreds of years, people have been so fascinated about its existence. Although it has lost its place as one of 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, its contributions to the development of China and to the world was exemplary.

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Usually, visiting the Great Wall of China requires a private or group tour which unfortunately is expensive. $35 for a 1-day tour, $60 – $70 for 2-day tour. I found the tour to be unnecessary since I usually do DIY trips, however, because majority of Chinese people do not speak English and most social media from the Western countries are restricted including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, most travelers would rather book a group tour for convenience.

Here is a DIY travel guide on how to visit the Great Wall of China without the expensive tour. If you would like to use this article as your travel guide, make sure to print a copy before traveling to Beijing. Emails are usually blocked in China as well.

There are plenty of locations to visit the Great Wall. Near Beijing, Badaling and Mutianyu are 2 of the most famous locations.

Badaling Great Wall

The most visited location of the Great Wall of China. It is located 80 kilometers northwest of Beijing City and was built during the Ming Dynasty in 1504. It worked as a military outpost for a long time during the reign of Ancient China. After the restoration in 1957, Badaling Great Wall was opened to the public. The Badaling site made a significant development and as the number of tourists increased, establishments were opened to serve its visitors. A completed Badaling Expressway was recently opened for tourists convenience.

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Fees and Opening Hours:
Admission Fee: 45 Yuan (Apr. 1 to Oct.31) – 40 Yuan (Nov.1 to Mar.31)
Cable Car: 100 Yuan (Single Trip) – 140 Yuan (Round Trip)
Pulley: 80 Yuan (Single Trip) – 100 Yuan (Round Trip)
Opening Hours: 06:40 to 18:30

How to Get To Badaling Great Wall without the Tour

From Beijing International Airport to Badaling:

– Take the Airport Express to Dongzhimen, and change to Line 2 to Jishuitan, Exit B2. Walk east to Deshengmen. Take Bus 877 from there.

– Take Airport Express to Dongzhimen, and change to subway Line 13 to Huoying Station, Exit G4. Walk to Huangtudian Railway Station to take the S2 train straight to Badaling.

From Beijing South Railway Station:

– Take subway Line 4 to Xuanwumen, change to Line 2 to Jishuitan, and then through Exit B2 Walk to Deshengmen to take bus 877.

– Take subway Line 4 to Xizhimen, change to subway Line 13 to Huoying Station, Exit from G4. Walk to Huangtudian Railway Station to take the S2 train.

From Beijing West Railway Station:

– Take Bus No. T13 from West Railway Station to Deshengmen.

– Take Subway Line 9 to Baishiqiao South Station, transfer to Subway Line 6 to Nanluoguxiang Station. Change to subway Line 8 to Huoying Station, Exit G4. Take the S2 train from Huangtudian Railway Station nearby.

S2 Trains:

– Take the suburban trains to Badaling Great Wall from Beijing Huangtudian Railway Station and Yanqing. All S2 are free seating. No advance booking needed. Fare: 6RMB

Mutianyu Great Wall

Located 70 km northwest of Beijing in Huairou County. It is one of the most preserved sites of the Great Wall. Same as Badaling, Mutianyu became the main barrier in defending the capital city and the imperial tombs of ancient Beijing. The last main restoration was in 1569. After few years, it was open to the public.

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Fees and Opening Hours:
Adults: 45 Yuan
Seniors elder than 60: 25 Yuan (valid ID or passport required)
Children between 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) and 4.6 feet (1.4 meters) in height: 25 Yuan
Children less than 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) in height are admitted free.

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Cable Car Fee:
Adults: 80 Yuan (Single Trip) – 100 Yuan (Round Trip)
Children 3.9 feet and 4.6 feet in height 40 Yuan (Single Trip) – 50 Yuan (Round Trip) Children less than 3.9 feet in height – FREE

Opening Hours:
April to October: 8:00 -17:00
November to March: 8:30-16:30

How to Get To Mutianyu Great Wall without the Tour

From Beijing West Railway Station:

– Take Subway Line 9 to National Library Station. Transfer to Line 4 to Xizhimen Station, change to Line 2 to Dongzhimen Station, Exit E. Train ride for 40 minutes. Fare: 5 Yuan Once outside, take Bus Line 916 Express to Mutianyu.

From Beijing South Railway Station:

– Take subway line 4 from South Railway Station to Xuanwumen Station, and change to line 2 to Dongzhimen Station, Exit E. Train ride 30 minutes. Fare: 5 Yuan. Take Bus Line 916 express to Mutianyu.

From Beijing Railway Station:

– Take subway line 2 to Dongzhimen Station, Exit E. It takes about 15 minutes, and the ticket fare is 3 Yuan. After, take bus line 916 Express to the scenic site.

My Great Wall of China Experience

From the Ming’s Tomb, it was an hour drive to Mutianyu Great Wall. I took a group tour since I didn’t have access to Google as my travel reference. The 1-Day Group Tour includes a visit to Ming’s Tomb, Jade Factory, Tea Factory, Mutianyu Great Wall and Lunch for $33. We started the tour at 8:00 AM, but I was picked up from my hotel before 7:00 AM.

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After a traditional Chinese lunch which the tour provided, we trekked to the cable car station. Cable car ticket is 150 Yuan on top of the 220 Yuan tour fee. It was a quick ride to the top of the mountain. At the entrance of the Great Wall, refreshments and food are available.

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I was thinking that visiting the Great Wall didn’t require heavy trekking so I wasn’t physically and mentally prepared for the hike. I was not wearing trekking clothes and comfortable footwear. Before visiting the wall, make sure to have a comfortable pair of sneakers or walking shoes. A lot of walking needs to be done there.

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From the entrance, we walked about 5 minutes towards the gate. And from there, my heart was pounding with amazement. From where I was standing, the wall looks like a very long snake resting on the top of the mountain. Our tour guide allowed us to freely experience the Great Wall for 2 hours. Mutianyu is less crowded than Badaling, the reason why I chose the location. 2 hours was not enough to soak in its beauty and magnificence. The experience? Incredibly spectacular.

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