For you who are in China and planning to go to the Great Wall, is possible to get there without going on any travel agencies. I did it when I was in the country in September 2014, and it’s pretty easy. You will be at Badaling Section which is about one and half hour from the city center. But get prepared to join with the crowds.
How to get Badaling Section
From any subway you take, get a train to Beijing North Railway Station. It is right beside Xizhimen Station, so you take subway to Xizhimen Station because the Chinese are not familiar if you ask about Beijing North Railway Station. From here, you buy ticket 6RMB bound to Badaling Station (S2), and the ticket box is just in front of the building. The train is not frequent, so you have to see the timetable. Bear in mind that since it’s the easiest way to get the Great Wall, you’ll join with groqqup of people. Also, the Chinese tend to have seat in the train, so they will run to get it. If you don’t mind to stand for about one and half hour, so just take it easy.
If it’s your first time, from the station, just go with the crowd to the free shuttle bus or you can walk by yourself to the wall. The shuttle bus is only a minute from the station, and the terminal is less than five minutes distance. From here you still have to walk to the main gate or take a cable car. If choose to walk like I did, don’t worry. There are many signs directing you to the wall and there many shops and food stalls along the way.
The Great Wall
Again, the crowds were around ticket box. I recommend you to stop here awhile just to enjoy the view of the wall above, seen from where you stay. I took some photos from here before bought a ticket.
Most visitors heading to North side since the highest tower is there. I avoided the crowd though, so I walked down to the south. From here I could enjoy the beautiful sight of the great wavy wall without bumped or pushed by other people. It’s quite, easy to walk, and convenient to get pictures. I really love what I saw, the broken white concrete stretching on the hill, in between the range of greeny highlands. So impressive.
However, I also would like to feel how the north part was, so I went there, but only until the second tower before I turned back to exit. The crowd was crazy and I felt uncomfortable.