The Great Wall is an absolutely a ‘must see’ when you visit China. Two popular choices among tourists are the Mutianyu Great Wall and the Badaling Great Wall. Each has their own unique advantages. Below, we will be going over some of the pros and cons of each to help you plan your trip.
Pros Of Mutianyu Great Wall
1. More authentic.
Mutianyu appears more authentic than Badaling. One of the biggest reasons why this is such a good option is because you feel more authentic while visiting Mutianyu. Mutianyu happens to be the longest fully restored section of the Great Wall of China. It allows you to really take in the vast nature of the wall itself.
2. Less Crowded.
Another reason you might want to check out this section is that it happens to be much less crowded, and less touristy than the more popular section at Badaling. Because of this, you are going to be able to enjoy a quiet time on the Wall, be away from the crowds, and listen to the silence of the mountains, take time to sit on the edge of the wall and take it all in…
3. Better Architecture.
Nothing can define a place quite as distinctly as its architecture. The entire section of Mutianyu is restored. Due to its superior architecture, you will be able to enjoy the better architecture that it provides a more authentic feel.
4: Fun Toboggan Ride.
Both Mutianyu and Badaling have cable cars. Besides chairlift, Mutianyu features fast toboggan run for going down. If you are in search of a fast and convenient way of returning to the entrance, your solution lies in riding the toboggan. You sit very close to the ground, and control your own speed with a hand brake. The toboggan is fun, safe and not scary at all, although you may be backed up a little. Kids would love it.
Cons of Mutianyu Great Wall
1. Harder Climb to the Top.
One of the biggest cons associated with this section might be considered a good thing for some. This section is typically going to require a higher fitness level to complete because of it’s steeper stairs. For example, the section between tower 19 and 20 is really steep, containing approx. 450 steps. If you have hip, ankles or knee issues be sure to watch the steps. If you find climbing vertical steps exciting, you will enjoy this part of the wall.
Similarly, the vertical steps between the 1st and the 6th towers may add the difficulty of your walk. If you are not in good shape, you may struggle.
While the steps are steeper, there are handrails that you can use in order to help brace yourself and provide yourself with the support you might need to get through it. It is also important to watch your footing throughout because the entire area is not fully restored.
2. Bit Further Out.
Another negative that might be associated with Mutianyu would be the fact that Mutianyu is a little further out. There is no direct train between Mutianyu and Beijing. It is more difficult to reach Mutianyu by public transport. It is best to arrange a driver ( or taxi at a set rate) to travel to Mutianyu from Beijing.
Pros of Badaling Great Wall
1. Easily Accessible by Train and Bus.
One of the biggest pros to Badaling Great Wall and perhaps the reason it is the most popular section among tourists is its convenience and accessibility. Badaling is closer to Beijing city than Mutianyu. You can easily travel to Badaling by bus or train. A single trip takes 1.5 hours or so by train, or 1.5 -2 hours by bus, depending on traffic.
2. Most Famous.
Another thing that makes Badaling so popular is the fact that it happens to be the most famous section of the Great Wall. Over 400 world leaders and celebrities have visited Badaling, including former US presidents Nixon, Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II of UK, and US basketball legend Michael Jordan.
3. Easier to Get to the Top.
Because it happens to be the best-preserved section, you will not need to be at a high level of fitness in order to get to the top and enjoy the views. The stairs are certainly not as steep which makes it much easier to climb than Mutianyu.
Cons of Badaling Great Wall
1. More Crowded.
This happens to be the most popular section of the Great Wall. Therefore, you can anticipate large crowds and more people to deal with. If you need good pictures on the Great Wall, better visit Badaling off-peak season. During the peak season or pubic holidays, it is always over crowded.
With restaurants, hotels, viewing telescopes, and a long row of souvenir market stalls, Badaling is more commercial than Mutianyu. Nearly all tour groups include this thrilling section as part of Beijing tour package.
Overall, each of these sections has their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The option you choose should come down to a matter of preference as to which benefits weigh the most to your particular self and situation.