Great Wall of China from Beijing by Bus

I would like to think every tourist coming to visit Beijing will go to see the Great Wall of China at one point or the other. The thing is, there are so many different places to access it and every single one seems awesome. It is really not that easy to choose! We did a lot of research during our stay in China looking for the most worthwhile locations of the Great Wall by bus (public transport) and Badaling and Jinshangling ended up being the two top ones that we decided to visit.

Badaling Great Wall visit by bus

The Great Wall of China in Badaling – Photo by Andrius – May 2019

Get by: 877 service from Deshengmen Bus terminal in Beijing.
Cost: 6 Yuan bus and 40 Yuan for entrance to the Great Wall.
Travel time: 70min
Last bus: 17:00

Great Wall of China at Badaling is one of the cheapest, easiest and quickest sections of the wall to get to by public transportation from Beijing city. It is also really beautiful. These were the primary reasons why we decided to visit the wall in Badaling. This is how you can do it.

To get to Badaling Great Wall go to Jishuitan Metro station, use exit B2 to leave the station. Follow blue signs, to Badaling Great Wall service 877. The buses depart from a terminal right next to Deshengmen Arrow Tower.

Badaling Great Wall of China by Bus
Location of Jishuitan Metro Station and Deshengmen Arrow Tower for bus service 877 to Badaling Great Wall of China – May 2019

The bus leaves every 20-30min and costs 6 Yuan (if you use Yikatong card for public transport, double that if you pay cash) one way. Last buses leave Badaling Great Wall at 16:30-17:00. Duration of the journey is around 70 minutes. Buses back to Beijing leave frequently – it seemed departures were based on demand rather than schedule.

We arrived in the afternoon and went on to the South section as it seemed less busy and light on that side was better for photos. Although our online sources suggested we should expect crowds it was not that busy. The views were superb although the downside is that because of the refurbishment work and in order to make sure the wall is accessible for everyone a lot of additional staircases and platforms have been built. This makes the wall look a bit unnatural in places but considering this section is so easy to reach by public transport from Beijing it is well worth visiting.

Great Wall of China in Badaling by bus
Views from the Great Wall of China in Badaling – Photo by Kristina – May 2019

We only did about an hour worth of hiking and backtracked to the same place we entered through. As mentioned previously a lot of restoration work has been done on this section so it is very easy and safe to walk it.

For more authentic views of the wall my advice would be to head to Jinshangling, which is almost as easy to get to by Public Transport from Beijing and almost as if not more beautiful.

Jinshangling Great Wall by bus

Great Wall of China in Jinshangling by bus
The Great Wall of China in Jinshangling – Photo by Andrius – May 2019

Get by: 7:40am Jinshangling great Wall express from Dongzhimen wai bus station in Beijing.
Cost: 50 for the bus and 65 Yuan for entrance to the Great Wall.
Travel time: 2h 30min
Last bus: 15:40pm from East gate, 16:00pm from Main Gate.

Jinshangling section of the Great Wall of China is still easy to visit (no bus changeovers or negotiations with potentially dodgy taxi drivers), however it is more expensive and the bus ride takes longer.

Bus leaves from Dongzhimen wai bus station which is 5-10 min away from Dongzhimen Metro Station. Finding the bus station is the most tricky bit, but if you use the map you should be fine.

Use exit B1 to leave Dongzhimen Metro station and follow the road (a lot of public bus stops) until you hit a busy junction, turn left and walk for another couple of minutes until you see a big blue sign saying Jingshangling Great Wall.

Jinshangling Great Wall of China by bus
Location of Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station for bus service to Jinshangling Great Wall of China – May 2019

You might also pass buses to Simatai Great Wall too just before arriving to the bus station.

Jinshangling express to Great Wall of China from Beijing
This is where the express bus to Great Wall of China leaves from – Photo by Andrius – May 2019

Bus leaves at 7:40 (it actually departed at 8am when we took it) and also stops in Wanjing West Bus Station. We left Wanjing West Bus Station at around 8:25. Cost is 50 yuan one way paid in cash only. Unfortunately there is no way to use the Yikatong Card (more about it later) on this route.

Once in Jinshangling you will have to get to the main entrance building to buy tickets for the wall and (optional – 10 yuan) shuttle bus tickets to take you to the main gate of the wall. You don’t have to take the shuttle as the distance to the entrance is less than 1km.

Although not to the same extent as in Badaling, in Jinshangling there are places to buy water and food and toilets are very clean. Some vendors even get to the wall to sell refreshments in towers. There are also drinking water top-up points at the main and east gates.

The hike itself is relatively easy, the wall is nicely refurbished and comfortable to walk on. There were a couple of sections which were very steep though and it seemed it would be nearly impossible to climb those if there was snow/ice. We finished the hike (reached five window east tower) at 1pm, hung around for lunch and checked a small section of unrefurbished wall. You can go quite a bit further along the unrefurbished section (2-3 towers) if you have time and energy. We started heading towards East gate at 1:40pm and reached it at around 2pm.

Unrestored great wall of china in Jinshangling
Unrestored section of the Great Wall of China in Jinshangling – Photo by Andrius – May 2019

We were about to settle for a couple of hours of waiting as the bus which we took to get to Jingshangling Great Wall only runs once a day (3:40pm from East gate and 4pm from Main Entrance) when we noticed another bus preparing to leave. We asked the people getting onto the bus and were told the bus goes to Dongzhimen station in Beijing, however, as this was a tour they would be stopping for lunch for about 30minutes. Considering we were done with the Great Wall this meant we could still save an hour or so of waiting so we took it. We left at 2:30pm and the price was the same – 50 yuan per person.

I would not bank on this happening every time, but don’t be shy asking of you see other buses leaving. We were back at Dongzhimen bus station in Beijing at 6pm.

Other Considerations for visiting the Great Wall from Beijing

Yikatong card for public transport (metro, buses) is an extremely useful thing to have while traveling in Beijing. Yikatong card will allow you to “beep” your way into metro stations without having to buy tickets for each trip. We used the card extensively including when we had to go to Jishuitan and Dongzhimen bus stations from which buses to Great Wall of China for Badaling and Jinshangling depart.

Yikatong metro card for visiting Great Wall of China by bus
Yikatong metro card is a useful tool for visiting Great Wall of China as well as getting around in Beijing – May 2019

You can get the card issued in most of the metro stations and it will cost you 20 Yuan which can be recovered if the card is returned. The most convenient location to return the card in most cases is Beijing Airport.

My last suggestion for visiting the great wall is to always pack some drinking water and snacks as purchasing those on the wall are quite expensive. Also, wear comfortable clothing, especially if you decide to go to Jinshangling as this particular hike takes at least a couple of hours.

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