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Badaling Vs Mutianyu: Which One Is Better for Visiting

Written by Kelly PangUpdated May. 26, 2023
the great wall

The Great Wall is always at the top of the China travelers' must-visit list, and the Badaling and Mutianyu sections of the Great Wall are always the top two choices. Many people ask which one is the best to visit.

The quick answer is that the Mutianyu section is better for foreign tourists to visit than the Badaling one. Read on to discover the differences between the two sections.

This chart provides a simple comparison between the Badaling and Mutianyu sections:

Badaling Mutianyu
Distance from Beijing 72 kilometers (45 miles) from Beijing, 1½ hours' drive(private car) 73 kilometers (45 miles) from Beijing, 1½ hours' drive(private car)
Time needed Half a day Half a day
Crowds ★★★ ★★☆
Features 1. Most popular section
2. Most representative and magnificent section of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty
3. Well renovated
4. First to be opened to foreign guests
1.Better architecture: densely spaced watchtowers
2. Longest fully-restored Great Wall section open to tourists
3. Most child-friendly section
4. Most popular among foreign travelers
5. Beautiful scenery
Activities Hiking Hiking, sightseeing
Fees 40 yuan (peak season), 35 yuan (off-season) 45 yuan
Cable cars, roller coaster
Wheelchair access
Chairlift, toboggan X
Circular-screen cinemas X
Pros 1. Easily accessible
2. Most famous
1. Less crowded
2. More authentic
Cons 1. Crowded
2. More commercial and touristy
Less easy to access
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Badaling vs. Mutianyu

map of distance from beijing to badaling and mutianyu

1. Badaling Is More Easily Accessible Than Mutianyu

By private transport, both sections can be reached in about an hour and a half. The route to Badaling is easier (straight northwest on the Badaling Expressway), however, at busy times, traffic jams near Badaling may be severe, making Mutianyu the "more accessible peak season option".

Badaling is more easily accessible by public transport, because it can be reached by a direct bus and train. The Mutianyu section is more remote. You need to take a bus and then transfer to another one to get there.

Bus/Train to Badaling:

  • Direct bus: Take bus 877 (direct from Deshengmen (德胜门, /der-shnng-mnn/) to the Great Wall at Badaling (八达岭长城, /baa-daa-ling chaang-chnng/)
  • Beijing Suburban Railway Line 2 (S2): Get on at Huangtudian Railway Station, which is near Huoying Station's Exit G2 on Metro Line 8 or Exit A on Metro Line 13, and get off at Badaling Railway Station.
  • High-speed train: Beijing North Railway Station has several pairs of bullet trains traveling to Badaling Great Wall. The journey only takes 20-30 minutes.

Buses to Mutianyu: Take bus 916 from Dongzhimen on Metro Line 2 to Huairou. Then, transfer to bus line H23, H24, H35, or H36 to Mutianyu Roundabout. Alternatively, taking bus 916 plus a local minibus to reach Mutianyu is the fastest public transportation option, taking about 2 hours. Bus 916 runs frequently at approximately every 20 minutes.

2. Badaling Is More Crowded Than Mutianyu

badaling great wallIn the public holidays, Badaling is filled with tourists.

Badaling is the most visited section (about 70% of all Great Wall visits!) and it is more touristy and crowded because it is more easily accessible using public transportation. It is always crowded there - hundreds of thousands of annual visitors make the tourism conditions better at Badaling but it also makes it more commercial there.

In the public holidays, Badaling is bursting with visitors (some only get as far as the traffic jams as its capacity is 70,000 visitors per day). Therefore, if you want to visit Badaling, you'd better avoid Chinese public holidays and visit during the off-season.

To the contrary, Mutianyu is less crowded and suitable for visiting if you prefer a quiet environment. It is more popular with foreign tourists.

3. Mutianyu Has Better Architecture and Scenery Than Badaling

Both are magnificent sections of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty and are well-restored.

mutianyu great wallBeautiful scenery in Mutianyu in autumn

Mutianyu is the longest and best fully-restored Great Wall section open to tourists with 23 original-style watchtowers. Today's wall is a replica of the Ming Dynasty fortifications in 1568. You can appreciate its original glory. Pine and maple trees cover over 90 percent of the surrounding area. The natural scenery seen from Mutianyu varies all year around. In autumn, the surroundings look like a golden sea.

Badaling has been open to the public the longest (since 1957). Some of its extensive renovation work does not conform to the original Wall's likeness, which makes it less authentic. Its wall, however, is wider than the one at Mutianyu. The wall is, on average, 7.8 meters (26 feet) tall and 5.7 meters (19 feet) wide, which allowed five horses to gallop abreast and 10 men to march shoulder to shoulder.

4. Badaling Has Been Visited by More World Leaders

In 1954, the Great Wall at Badaling received its first foreign guest, India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In the following five decades, the Great Wall at Badaling received more than 400 heads of state and government, as well as world-famous figures including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela, Boris Yeltsin, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, and Barack Obama.

Mutianyu also received many world leaders, such as former US president Bill Clinton, former British prime minister John Major, First Lady Melania Trump, and former First Lady Michelle Obama. The Great Wall at Mutianyu has gained more and more attention and popularity.

5. Both Are Tourist-Friendly with Facilities

toboggan in mutianyuToboggan

As the most popular sections, both Badaling and Mutianyu have sound facilities and both are wheelchair-friendly sections of the Great Wall. Handrails have been built for visitors' convenience and safety.

At Badaling, visitors can use a roller coaster or cable car to ascend and descend. Many restaurants and a KFC are located around the entrance areas. There are also many small inns in the villages around Badaling.

At Mutianyu, a chairlift, cable car, and toboggan are available. There are many restaurants around the parking lot where you can try local dishes. Many local guesthouses and mid-level hotels are concentrated in and around Mutianyu Village at the foot the Great Wall.

In Conclusion

The Great Wall at Badaling is well-preserved and has renovated sections of wall. It can be reached by taking a direct bus or train. It has more crowds and a less authentic feel.

The Great Wall at Mutianyu is completely-restored and more authentic with fewer crowds and less transportation options. For a better experience and to suit people who prefer a quieter environment, we recommend visiting the Great Wall at Mutianyu.

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Travel Information about Badaling and Mutianyu

The Great Wall at Badaling The Great Wall at Mutianyu
Open 6:30am–5:30pm (peak season); 7:30am–4:30pm (off-season) All year round, 7:30am–5:30pm
Best times March–May and September–November Spring and autumn
Dining Badaling Hotel Restaurant, McDonald's, Yonghe King, Commune by the Great Wall, and Jindian Friendship Restaurant Xin Shuang Quan Restaurant
Hotels Badaling Hotel and Commune by the Great Wall Brickyard Retreat and Home of the Great Wall
Transport Direct bus and train Bus plus a hire car

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