How to visit the Great Wall independently by train...

If you're spending a few days in Beijing, you'll probably want to visit the Great Wall of China.  Badaling is the most-visited section of rebuilt Great Wall, an easy day trip 61km (38 miles) north of Beijing.  Most people go there on a one-day bus tour, but this often only gives 30 rushed minutes to see the Wall.  It can be far better to visit the Great Wall independently, taking a comfortable train from Beijing up into the mountains to Badaling, exploring and taking photographs at your leisure for an hour or two, then returning by train at a time to suit you.  These trains are modern & air-conditioned with soft & hard seats.  For other train routes in China, see the train travel in China page For overland travel between Europe & China, see the Trans-Siberian page.

Outward train times...

 Beijing ► Great Wall of China       Mon, Fri, Sat, Sun

 Train number:

S203

S287

S205

S209

S211

S213

S217

S219

S221

 Beijing Huangtudian station  depart

07:45

08:08

09:09

11:32

12:41

13:08

15:35

16:53

17:20

 Badaling for Great Wall, arrive

08:52

09:24

10:15

12:47

13:53

14:19

16:52

17:59

18:26

 Beijing ► Great Wall of China       Tues, Wed, Thurs  

 Train number:

S203

S205

S209

S211

S217

S219

 Beijing Huangtudian station  depart

07:46

09:09

11:32

12:41

15:35

16:53

 Badaling for Great Wall, arrive

08:32

10:15

12:47

13:53

16:52

17:59

These times are current as at May 2018, but they get changed regularly so check locally.

There's a signboard showing current train times outside the station - they do change from time to time.  The final destination of these trains is usually Yanqing, 1 stop beyond Badaling.

CHANGE OF STATION IN BEIJING SINCE NOVEMBER 2016:  These trains previously used Beijing North which is closed for reconstruction from November 2016 until 2019.  Trains to and from Badaling currently use the new Beijing Huangtudian station, which is a 150m walk from exit G4 of Huoying Station on the Beijing metro, see here for detailed advice on how to get to Huangtudian station.  It's a little way north of central Beijing, allow 45 minutes from central Beijing to Huoying station by metro, then 8 minutes to walk from the metro platform via exit G4 to Huangtudian mainline station, follow signposts to Huangtudian & line 'S2'.  Feedback & any photos would be much appreciated.  Ignore any touts who tell you there are  no trains and try to sell you their bus trip!

Return train times...

 Great Wall of China ► Beijing     Mon, Fri, Sat, Sun  

 Train number:

S204

S208

S210

S286

S214

S216

S218

S222

S224

S228

 Badaling for Great Wall, depart

07:27

09:55

11:04

11:21

13:34

14:54

15:25

17:39

19:01

19:39

 Beijing Huangtudian station  arrive

08:40

11:11

12:17

12:34

15:03

16:07

16:36

19:01

20:26

21:01

 Great Wall of China ► Beijing     Tue, Wed, Thurs  

 Train number:

S204

S208

S210

S214

S216

S222

S224

 Badaling for Great Wall, depart

07:27

09:55

11:04

13:34

14:54

17:39

19:01

 Beijing Huangtudian station  arrive

08:40

11:11

12:17

15:03

16:07

19:01

20:26

How much does it cost? 

RMB 6  (0.60 or $1) each way, and you can sit anywhere, they make no distinction between soft & hard class on this route.

How to buy tickets...

No reservation is necessary, simply turn up at the station and buy a ticket.  They stop selling tickets 10 minutes before each departure and there may be a queue, so get to the station with plenty of time to spare.  Then head for the platforms through the ticket check and hop on the next train.

Buying tickets is normally fairly easy, you are given a ticket with 'S2' printed on it and you can use this on any train with a train number beginning 'S2', meaning any of the trains shown above.  Ideally, you should buy your ticket back to Beijing when you arrive at Badaling.

Although some travellers say that buying a ticket is easy with short or no queues half an hour before the train goes, other travellers report long queues at the ticket office, especially at weekends when many Chinese were visiting the Wall.  So it is strongly recommended that you simply use a Beijing metro Smartcard to make this journey, as follows.  Feedback is always appreciated!

Save time & hassle buying tickets with a Beijing Metro Smartcard...

You can use a Beijing metro smartcard to travel on the S2 trains to Badaling, which saves you queuing for a ticket.  It is therefore strongly recommended that you get one for this journey - it's useful for travel on the metro anyway.  It must have at least RMB 16 credit loaded on it to access the station, even though the round trip to Badaling only costs RMB 12.  You just touch in and out as you would for the metro, avoiding the need to go to the ticket office.  It debits RMB 5 at the start of the journey and RMB1 at the end.  You should arrive about 15 minutes before departure at least, as the access gates are closed a few minutes before the departure of each train.  You stand a better chance of getting a seat at busy times if you arrive earlier, say 30 minutes.  It's also reported that whilst regular tickets can sell out, you can always just get on the train if you access it with a smartcard.  Feedback would be appreciated.

From Badaling station to the Great Wall...

Walking:  On arrival at Badaling station, leave the station and turn left and walk up the hill, following everyone else.  The Great Wall ticket office is about 860m away on the right, you can't miss it.  Entrance fee is around RMB 45 (4.50 or $7.50).  Signs are in English, no guide is required.

Bus:  They run a bus from just outside Badaling station stopping first at the cable car station then at the main wall entrance, bus fare RMB 80 one-way or RMB 100 round trip, but according to one report 'The bus goes very slowly and sits around for a while at the cable car, so it may be quicker just to walk...' (it's 740m from the station).  It's also reported that they try and (hard) sell a combined wall plus cinema entrance ticket on the train, but don't sell the wall entrance ticket on its own.  One correspondent says they tried to warn of 2-hour queues at the wall ticket office, but having declined the on-train sales people he found only a 5-minute one at the official wall visitors entrance.

Funicular:  Alternatively there's now a new funicular railway up to the wall, with the lower station located 250m north of Badaling station.  Fare RMB 100 one-way or RMB 140 return, plus RMB 40 park entry fee.  This takes you to a less crowded stretch of wall.  Feedback would be appreciated.

What's the journey like?

For the first 20 minutes, the train negotiates the Beijing suburbs, then it accelerates for a brief sprint to its first station stop.  After stopping briefly at this station, the train starts climbing at slow speed into the mountains to Badaling.  You start to see parts of the Great Wall as soon as you leave the station stop, so have your camera ready!  The train reverses direction at Qinglongqiao, the stop before Badaling, so don't be surprised when this happens.  You'll get the best views of the Wall if you sit on the left hand side of the train.  2 hours at the wall is enough for most people, but when you take the train, how long you stay is up to you!

Train to Beijing arriving at Badaling station   Hard class seats on the train from Beijing to Badaling

The easy, independent way to the Great Wall...  The train back to Beijing arriving at Badaling station...  Photo courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

 

Inside the train...  Hard class seats on the air-conditioned train linking Beijing with Badaling...  Courtesy of Barnaby Hornshaw.

Badalinmg station sign   Badaling station

Badaling station...  Photos courtesy of David Smith

The Great Wall of China at Badaling

The Great Wall at Badaling.  Courtesy of David Smith.


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