Crowds and Grandeur at the Great Wall
With the 60th anniversary of China becoming a communist republic approaching October 1, Claire Duffett took a jaunt around the country for the month of September, starting with Beijing. Nowhere does old and new China collide than in its Capital, and for the next five days, we'll share with you the most up-to-date tidbits on what to see and do, and how many yuan it will set you back.
Just 50 miles north of Beijing is the most visited portion of The Great Wall, Badaling. The hordes of tourists on this part of the wall have become almost as recognized as the long, brick barrier itself.
It takes about two hours to drive there by public bus from the city, and costs only 12 yuan (about US$2, entrance to the wall is another US$7 or so) per person, while a tour out to the site can cost upward of US$100—and you’ll be part of a horde of Chinese tourists in matching red hats led by a guide equipped with a colored flag and a megaphone.
One piece of advice however, is to pack a lunch. Whereas 95 percent of the visitors at the wall will be part of a tour that comes with packed lunch, the remainder are left to fend for themselves, and survive off $5 bags of seaweed-flavored potato chips.
Like everything in Beijing, the wall here has changed in the wake of Olympic development, with a set of giant rings adjacent to the most striking vista as the wall climbs up a steep hillside. Handrails and carefully maintained walkways also detract from the wall’s ancient feel.
If you want a quieter and more authentic experience, drive a bit farther from the city to Simatai, where travelers embark on days-long hikes along the wall, which is desolate and crumbling in parts. Since the wall was built over the course of more than 2,000 years, starting in 5th Century B.C. until the 1700s, visiting various portions of its remains provides vastly different experiences.
· China Travel Coverage [Jaunted]
· Beijing Travel Stories [Jaunted]