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A few questions about Beijing and the Great Wall

A few questions about Beijing and the Great Wall

Old Oct 1st, 2007, 03:43 AM
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A few questions about Beijing and the Great Wall

Hi everybody,

I was wondering how long I should spend in Beijing considering I'd like to visit both the Badaling and Simatai Great Wall. Is it worth visiting both? Can you visit them on your own or is it better to do it with a tour operator?

I'm considering travelling to Beijing next year.

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Old Oct 1st, 2007, 12:16 PM
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Yes, both are worth visiting. The Great Wall at Jinshanling (68 miles east of Beijing) Least visited and best preserved with jutting obstacle walls and oval watchtowers. It is at present being reconstructed. The walk between Jinshaling and Simatai is highly recommended.
Badaling often gets bad reviews here, mainly because it can be very busy. The trick is to get there early in the morning. It's well worth the effort.

We will have a China page on our website (based on our recent trip to Beijing, Nanjing, Wuzi, Suzhou, Shanghai and X'ian), up and running by this weekend. You may find some useful info there.
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Old Oct 1st, 2007, 05:09 PM
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Hi Castellanese,

You might also consider visiting the Great Wall at Mutianyu, about an hour's drive north-west out of Beijing. We had an amazing 'Wall Experience' there last month and highly recommend it as a well preserved and scenic section of the Wall - not busy at all whilst we were there. For quite long sections of this incredible structure, we were able to take photos with us as the only occupants!

As Leigh mentioned, Badaling often gets bad reviews ... not only because it is so busy and too many pushy hawkers, but because purists claim much of it is actually reconstruction (as opposed to restoration).

We did our trip independently, and started early mainly to catch the coolest part of the day. Taxi is between 500 - 700yuan (depending on your ability to bargain and the type of taxi) return, with the driver waiting until you return from your expedition.

This gives the freedom to experience it all at your own pace; we did see several beetroot-red visitors puffing to the exit toboggan as their tour group had strict instructions and a deadline for returning to the bus.

We took the gondola rid up the mountain, so arrived relatively fresh, and paused at the many watchtowers to enjoy the view and coolness compared to the heat (well over 40oC) of the unshaded wall itself. We had packed a picnic lunch, and enjoyed one of the most special meals ever on the thick ledge of one of the watchtower windows, marvelling at the Wall stretching and snaking in front of us, and the breathtaking mountain scenery around us - albeit shrouded in a thick mist that some call heat haze and others pollution.

We strolled the Wall for over three hours, ending at the toboggan/ski lift exit a few kilometres along, and loved every minute of it.

Had to keep pinching myself I was really, truly there.

It's that kind of experience.

Good luck with your trip planning for next year!


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Old Oct 1st, 2007, 06:39 PM
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Hi again!

My decision to, probably, visit Beijing came up last week. I say "probably" because I know it's still very soon to be talking about next year's vacation (I came back from Morocco last week), but I like planning in advance.

My Beijing bookguide (The Best of Beijing by Lonely Planet) only recommends the Great Wall at Badaling and Simatai. However, I'm open to suggestions concerning other parts of the Great Wall. I must look up information about the Great Wall at Jinshanling and Mutianyu in order to make a decision.

The only thing I'm sure about is that I hate when a landmark becomes a theme park and the crowds ruin the whole experience. I know I am part of the "crowd", but you know what I mean.

Any suggestions on how long to stay in Beijing?

Thanks again!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2007, 05:10 AM
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<b>QUOTE:</b><i>The only thing I'm sure about is that I hate when a landmark becomes a theme park and the crowds ruin the whole experience. </i>
Then definitely avoid Badaling. Mutianyu and Simatai/Jinshanling are all good alternatives.

You could easily spend 5 days in Beijing, even if you are the 'on the move' type of traveller - there's a lot to see here.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 02:56 AM
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We went to the Badaling section of the wall and while it is crowded the views are amazing. There is a gondala to take you up and down to the highest sections. We preferred not to take a tour as we didnt want the mandatory 'shopping' stops. We caught the airconditioned express bus from Deshengmen bus depot and it cost a mere 15 yuan each way. It took around an hour and it was great as we could stay as long as we wanted to and there were plenty of buses returning to Beijing when we were ready to leave.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 03:15 AM
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We went to the Mutianyu section and loved it. We also had the wall to ourselves a good bit of the time (great Xmas photo). And the luge ride down was great fun!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 09:01 AM
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Castellanese, having read your concerns on your other post (http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34898869), just keep in mind that in China you'll encounter a lot of the same issues of crowding, continually being asked to spend money, even the feeling that everything comes down to a monetary transaction. Not that you shouldn't go! Just to be prepared for that ahead of time.

I went to both Badaling and Simatai. I had a really hard time dealing with the crowds at Badaling: it was a weekend in summer, and there were points where the crowd was so tremendous we couldn't even move forward. And proximity to Beijing's air pollution meant we didn't have very long-distance views.

Simatai was tremendous, both for views and relative solitude. Do hire a car to take you out there (about 3 hours from Beijing); your hotel will be able to get one for you. There are women on the footpaths who will try to help you with the steep climb, then ask you to buy some of their souvenirs. They're not particularly annoying, though.

Badaling would be a 1/2 day trip, or full day if you include the Ming Tombs (which all the tours do). Give yourself most of a day to do Simatai. I think you could easily spend a week in Beijing - but I spent three weeks there (in a class) and still felt there was more to explore!

I found the Rough Guide Beijing to be a very good resource. (For instance, it lists much more than just Badaling and Simatai.) However, it can be short on some specifics, such as <i>where</i> to sign up for the Jinshaling-Simatai hike (greatly loved by all my friends who did it). When we were in Beijing, we also found the Insiders Guide to Beijing, probably the best guidebook I've seen.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 09:05 AM
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Oh also, keep in mind that the Olympics will be in Beijing next year. That should factor into your decision of when to go.

Check out other threads in this forum on the subject. Also ekscrunchy's trip report has some great suggestions:
<i>Back from 21 Superb Days in Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai</i>
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