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Punkyl44 Aug 13th, 2004 03:17 AM

Beijing Great Wall needed ASAP
Greetings from Beijing!

After our first full day spent we are trying to decide on which part of the Great Wall to visit. The Forbidden City was MOBBED today and are worried about similat crowds (really hordes of pushing and shoving people) at the wall.

So, should we go to Ba Da Ling (which seems to be a favorite) or Mutianyu or somwhere else altogether? Also, is it worth the stop at the Ming Tombs or should we just skip it. Since we'll be paying for the car for the day I gather we can stop if we want to. Or should we just take a bus?

Thanks for your help!

mrwunrfl Aug 13th, 2004 05:28 AM

Hi, Punkyl44, I chose a bus tour to Mutianyu mainly because I read there was a chairlift and I figured better lazy than sorry. Is Ba Da Ling off to the northwest of the city? There is a GW site in that direction where the tours also stop at the Summer Palace and/or the Zoo (I think).

xgao Aug 13th, 2004 05:42 AM

If you want to avoid the crowd, Jinshanling probably is the choice. Not sure about Mutianyu. Badaling seems to be the worst. Jinshanling could be a little bit far out. Most of my experience with Beijing are quite dated though.

gard Aug 13th, 2004 06:30 AM


I have heard that most people go for the Badaling section because it is closer to Beijing. We took a trip to Simatai when we went to Beijing. It is a bit out of town but it was worth it....we were there in March and there were not many people on the wall at all :-) I have posted more info in a trip report with pictures on my personal homepage Maybe you can find some useful information there :-)

Stavanger, Norway

JaneB Aug 13th, 2004 08:09 AM

We took bus tours from our hotel to Mutianyu and to Badaling in May. (I don't like hiring a car and driver from past experiences). The tour to Mutianyu was half day and only a few other tour buses were there. However, the touts were very agressive! The tour to Badaling was a full day and included Ming tombs. This tour was a total disappointment--very crowded and we saw almost nothing of the tombs--a real waste of time and money.

kathyl Aug 13th, 2004 09:42 AM

What ever you do, do not go to Ba Da Ling! If the Forbidden City is mobbed then Ba Da Ling will be too. Try Mutianyu or Simatai. The former is a little closer to Beijing and does have a cable car. The latter is less "refurbished" and a further. I also don't recommned the Ming Tombs--the entry fee is ridiculous (more than Forbidden City) and there was really NOTHING to see. Apparently the real tombs are under a huge dirt mound (big tree-covered hill in the back of the complex) and the rest of the buildings are nothing special. However, my mom was quite happy about the 4 star toilet!

PeterN_H Aug 13th, 2004 12:17 PM

All of the sites listed above consist of rebuilt from the ground up sections which eventually taper off to the partly dismantled unrestored state in which all of them could be found only a few years ago. It never takes more than 20 minutes to reach such sections and leave behind the rest of the crowds who are on tours, and this includes Badaling. There are many other officially open sites than those listed, and much less visited, but there's also, if crowds are an issue, nothing to stop you visiting any point of the Wall you happen to see and like the look of.

You could try going to Jinshanling and walking to the right (away from Simatai), back towards Gubeikou, which you will have passed on the way to Jinshanling, and chances are you'll see nobody even at this refurbished and publicly open site. But you can also escape the crowds and refurbishment at Badaling, which will save you a long drive, if that's what you want.

If you want an officially open site which is more rarely visited, try getting yourself taken to Huanghuacheng.

A little more detail on the Ming Tombs (although I agree they are not going out of your way to see on a short trip). Both the Ming and the (far more interesting) Qing tombs take the form of a statue-lined path (to the entire site and in some cases to individual tombs), a succession of pailou (ornamental honorific gates), sometimes triple bridges over a small stream, a set of buildings to one side for the preparation of sacrificial offerings (now often housing for the site administration), a courtyard building consisting of side halls for enrobing and preparation, and a main hall now often containing a feeble waxwork with loose connection either to the emperor buried in the tomb or the rites which were once carried out there. Behind this hall a gate leads to an alter with stone representations of sacrificial vessels of various types, a steep slope up to the 'soul tower' which fronts a wall running around the tomb mound proper. The path leads beneath the soul tower, and if the tomb has been excavated and opened (as several of the Qing tombs have) stairs lead down to a series of chambers (this has been poorly and rather anaesthetically done at one of the Ming tombs). Behind the soul tower, stairs lead up to the top of the wall, allowing a stroll round the top of the main tomb mound with views around the countryside and to other tombs in the distance.

Peter N-H

Punkyl44 Aug 15th, 2004 05:04 AM

Thanks for the responses. I think we are going to skip the Ming tombs and attempt to take bus 919 to Badaling despite our fear of the crowds- it seems to be the most easily accessed section without spending a good amount of money to hire a driver. We'll post a report when we get home!

Thanks again for everyones help.

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