Where to Celebrate Your Christmas in Beijing

The Best Places To Celebrate Christmas in Beijing

It’s not uncommon to call celebrating Christmas in Beijing a once in a lifetime experience. But those who experience the amazing festivities, food, carol, shopping, singing, and holiday strolls on the Great Wall of China find themselves returning year after year.

That’ because sharing the holiday season with loved ones in Beijing offers a rare opportunity to be immersed in a culture renowned for its commitment to long-standing traditions. These rank among the wondrous things you can do in Beijing during a Christmas vacation.

1: Join in Traditional Christmas Carols at Beijing Churches

Beijing has earned a global reputation for outstanding architecture and is home to some of the world’s most beautiful churches. During Christmas, church choirs, congregation members, and visitors come together to sing. These six are considered among the most inspiring churches to carol during your stay.

  •  Xuanwumen Cathedral: Built in 1904, this marvel is called “Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.” It stands on the site of a church constructed by Jesuit missionary Adam Schall in 1650 that later burned down.
  • St. Joseph’s: This house of worship is conveniently located on Wangfujing Dajie, one of the more popular areas to shop during the holidays. Built in 1905 with a Romanesque façade, it also stands on the site of one raised by Jesuits during the 1600s. St. Joseph’s also housing historical paintings by Giuseppe Castiglione.
  • St. Michael’s: Built in 1902, the Gothic-style marvel features stunning stained-glass windows and statues of angels.
  • Xishiku Church: The “Church of the Savior,” as it is called, is designed in the neo-Gothic style and has been deftly restored.
  • Zhushikou Church: Built by the United Methodists, it enjoys three levels and delivers a modern evangelical experience complete with large monitors.
  • Xizhimen Church: Originally constructed in 1723, this Catholic church was rebuilt in 1912 after a fire destroyed it in 1811. Its high Gothic peaks are incredible.

These beautiful structures are home to choirs and everyday people who embrace the joy of song during Christmas.

2: Hike the Jinshanling Great Wall

Following a hearty Beijing brunch, you may be pleased to know you can stretch your legs in full holiday regalia on the Jinshanling Great Wall. Visitors can generally access this section from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and enjoy the breath-taking views. You may find a few revelers wearing Santa hats. Bundle up though, because the weather is usually chilly and dry at this time of year.

3: Soak up the Festive Atmosphere at Sanlitun

For many Beijing visitors, Christmas is an opportunity to continue their traditional celebration and dip a toe into some modern fun, as well. Sanlitun ranks among the more lively neighborhoods in Beijing.

Party people can enjoy the bar-hopping scene in the area’s semi-dive scene. By contract, you can also have a sophisticated dining experience at some of the upscale restaurants. In terms of Christmas shopping, the 19-building, dual-site Taikoo Li offers flagship brands and significant savings. These possibilities are just the tip of the iceberg at Sanlitun.

4: Explore Beijing Christmas Markets

China has embraced a similar shopping cycle to the West, and visitors will be able to take advantage of huge discounts during the holidays. Expect extended hours, and there are niche markets for people from all over the world.

There are usually Christmas markets associated with the German, Polish, and British embassies, among others. However, the Liangma International Flower Market is an absolute must for Christmas shoppers.

5: Feast on Festive Food and Drink

One of the exciting facts that travelers are happy to discover is that Christmas is not a public holiday in Beijing. That means you can expect many of the attractions and eateries to be open. After gifts are exchanged and families have enjoyed some quality time, consider taking in one of the city’s extraordinary brunch buffets. Many are all-you-can-eat, which gives visitors an opportunity to try various traditional delicacies.

6: Go Ice Skating at Shichahai Skating Rink

Beijing is on a similar weather pattern as the West and locals and visitors alike take to this well-manicured skating rink. Located in the historic Houhai area, visitors can rent skates and other equipment on site. People love to ice skate in Beijing, and laughter and excitement fill the air.

Christmas in Beijing is a special time of year. The joy of the holiday and season are in everyone’s hearts, and the experience is one not to be missed.

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Top 5 Sunrise Spots in Beijing You Won’t Want to Miss

5 Recommended Places to See the Sunrise in Beijing

The sights and sounds of Beijing are worth exploring at all hours of the day. There is something truly special about dawn, however, when select corners of the city have yet to come to life. If there is any time to capture a serene moment in the heart of Beijing — or in nearby parks or historic sites — it’s at sunrise, when the already beautiful scenery is amplified by swirling colors worthy of painting.

Not sure where to start? You’ll definitely want to check out these top sunrise spots in and around Beijing:

1.Wanchun Pavilion at Jingshan Park

If you’re on the hunt for a distinctively cosmopolitan sunrise view, hit up the Jingshan Park’s  Wanchun Pavilion. Conveniently located in the center of Beijing, this famous park is easy to access. A sunrise visit will serve as the perfect precursor to a  busy day in the city. This is your opportunity to enjoy a little peace and quiet before the liveliness of Beijing takes over.

Once you arrive at the park, climb up to the Wanchun Pavilion. From there, you can enjoy an expansive view of the Forbidden City, along with the vibrant colors of the sunrise. The earlier you arrive, the better — but keep in mind that, depending on the season, the park’s opening hours could prevent you from witnessing the first rays of light.

2. Incense Burner Peak at Fragrant Hills Park

Spanning over 400 acres, Fragrant Hills Park is best known as the home of Incense Burner Peak, which is named for its two large stones that resemble incense burners. While the summit has long been a top spot for viewing fall colors, it offers spectacular scenery all year long —, especially during sunrise. Of course, the sunrise view is that much more impressive when complemented by vibrant autumn leaves.

Many people visit Incense Burner Peak early in the morning in hopes of avoiding the crowds that tend to gather later in the day. If possible, plan to arrive slightly before sunrise to see the park covered in the mysteriously beautiful haze of dawn. This haze will slowly give way to gorgeous colors as they usher the sun to rise over the expansive park.

3. Jinshanling Great Wall

Sunrise viewing opportunities abound all along the Great Wall of China, but the best view is arguably available at the beautiful section known as Jinshanling. Situated in a mountainous region northeast of Beijing, this section takes a little effort to access — but you’ll quickly realize that the trip is worthwhile, given the serenity and indescribable beauty available at this peaceful enclave.

While virtually any spot on Jinshanling can offer a memorable sunrise experience, West Five Window Tower is arguably your best bet. A go-to among both local and visiting photographers, this spot offers a remarkable view. Other areas worth exploring at sunrise include West Six Window Tower and Gaojian Tower.

4. Tanzhe Temple

Head to Beijing’s Mentougou District to explore the famed Tanzhe Temple at sunrise. Once one of China’s most important temples, this attraction is now beloved for its beautiful architecture and its Western Hills scenery. On a clear morning, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city.

Stop by early to take in the scenery before you explore Mahavira Hall, Yigan Pavilion, and a large collection of pagodas. In addition to the sunrise and the architecture, you may also spot several Buddhist monks.

5. Lingshan Mountain

If you’re willing to travel away from Beijing for the day, you won’t find a better sunrise view than the stunning display available from the summit of Lingshan Mountain. This view takes some effort to achieve, but those who have had the pleasure of taking it all in would happily go through the trouble again. Plan ahead to ensure plenty of time to reach the peak in time for the sunrise.

With the Lingshan Mountain hike, the journey is every bit as enjoyable as the destination. While you’ll surely be impressed at the gorgeous vistas available from the peak of the Beijing area’s highest mountain, you’ll also love the mountain goats, yaks, and wild horses spotted along the way.

Nothing compares to the beauty of a sunrise over Beijing. Set aside at least one morning to wake up before dawn and explore the region’s most beautiful attractions — you won’t regret it.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Huanghuacheng Great Wall

The Most Common Questions About Huanghuacheng and Answers

Many travelers have questions regarding their booking experience, tour info and more. Take a look through our frequently asked questions, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to email us at [email protected]

1. How physically fit do you have to be to walk the Huanghuacheng Great Wall section?

People in average physical condition generally have little problems hiking up and down the Huanghuacheng Great Wall. Appropriate footwear, such as crossover shoes or hiking boots is usually a good idea.

2. How much does it cost to take a bus to the Huanghuacheng Great Wall?

Visitors often take the subway to  Dongzhimen and then take bus 916 or 916 (Express) at to the Huairou Bus Station. The cost of the 916s runs about under $2 and the Huairou less than $1.

3. When visiting Beijing, is Huanghuacheng a popular Great Wall section?

Huanghuacheng is a lakeside Great Wall section that visitors find quite appealing. It’s mountainous landscape, and boat-ride possibilities tend to enhance visitors’ experience.

4. What should visitors know when hiking around Huanghuacheng?

It’s important to wear appropriate hiking footwear and seasonal clothing. Summers tend to be quite warm, and visitors enjoy the robust flower blooms. Many travelers take advantage of the moderate fall and spring weather when hiking the Great Wall.

5. Where are the best places to ascend and descend the Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall?

Huanghuacheng tends to see fewer crowds due to its wild and rugged terrain. Perhaps the most popular way to approach and leave this section of the Great Wall is by boat. Consider speaking with a tourism professional about visiting.

6. Is it better to use public transportation or hire a driver to visit the Huanghuacheng Great Wall?

Public transportation is generally efficient and cost-effective when traveling from Beijing to the Huanghuacheng Great Wall. Private drivers may cost upwards of $100, while public transport is only a few dollars. The cost generally outweighs any tie saved.

7. How long does it take to hike from the road to the actual Huanghuacheng Great Wall?

The Huanghuacheng Great Wall section is located approximately 45 miles from Beijing proper. Visitors can expect a travel time of about 90 minutes to two hours, depending on traffic. The Great Wall is in walking distance (10-15 minutes) from the bus station, and many visitors take a boat ride to the Great Wall.

8. Can you hike the Great Wall from Huanghuacheng to Mutianyu?

Given the distance, steep hills and sometimes rugged terrain, this trek may be best suited for experienced hikers. Casual visitors may be better served by taking public transportation or hiring a driver to experience both sections.

9. Is the Huanghuacheng Great Wall a good location to watch sunrises and sunsets?

This portion of the Great Wall enjoys 360-degree views over robust mountainsides and an amazing lake. This section tends to have fewer visitors because it can be rugged and steep in places, making the outdoors experience even more exceptional.

10. Is the Huanghuacheng Great Wall suitable for senior citizens, or is it too steep?

There are two factors to consider when visiting the Huanghuacheng section. Portions are still wild and unrepaired. There are definitely steep stairs and climbs involved to reach the best views. Other sections offer lifts that assist people that may find this portion physically challenging.

11. Is the Huanghuacheng Great Wall section a good choice for a 1-hour visit during a Beijing layover?

Visitors often enjoy taking 1-hour walks on the Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall. The lakeside views and sometimes unrestored ruggedness of certain areas provide a sense of history. The photo opportunities also rank among the finest.

12. Other than hiring a private driver, what is the best way to get to the Huanghuacheng Great Wall?

Public transportation is considered convenient and inexpensive in the Beijing area. Visitors usually take bus 916 or 916 (Express) at Dongzhimen to the Huairou Bus Station near the Great Wall.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Mutianyu Great Wall

The Most Common Questions About Mutianyu and Answers

Visiting Mutianyu Great Wall and trying to cram as much as possible for as little as possible can be difficult if you don’t know your way around. You probably have many questions and we are here to help. Let’s get right to it!

1. What are the Current Fees for Mutianyu Great Wall?

The ticket fare for the Mutianyu Great Wall runs 45RMB p.p, 15RMB p.p both ways by shuttle bus, 120RMB both ways by cable car, and 100RMB p.p one-way via toboggan. Rates are subject to change and visitors are advised to check with a travel agent.

2. Is the Mutianyu tour Bus 867 in Service?

The short answer is: No. bus 867 has stopped servicing, and it’s not available anymore since April, 2016. Visiting Mutianyu by bus is a good option on the cheap. However, if you don’t want to spend the majority of the day coming and going on public transportation, then hiring a private car is a much more cost efficient.

3. What are the Top Restaurants with Chinese Noodles Options near the Mutianyu Great Wall?

Ranked among the more popular eateries, Lake Palace, Xin Shuang QuanSheng Tai LvYuan Restaurant, Yu Jia Ao, and Shun Tong serve Chinese cuisine and are within 2 miles (3.22 km) of the Mutianyu Great Wall.

  • XinShuangQuan Restaurant, Chinese restaurant, Food include Kung Pow Chicken, Sauteed Mushrooms, and Local Barbecue Fish. One of the few local restaurants open late. 30-50yuan per person. Open time: 8:30am–7:00pm. Phone: (010)61621633
  • Xiaolongpu Restaurant, dishes from around China, including Sichuan, Canton, Northeast, and even Beijing. A good place for a quick meal to or from Mutianyu. 30-50yuan per person. Open time: 8:30am–7:00pm.  Phone: (010)61621322
  • Fish Chef, near Mutianyu Roundabout famous for the rainbow trout barbacue, 30-50yuan per person. Open time: 7:30am–10:30pm. Phone: (010)61621024
  • Subway fast food restaurant, at the base of Mutianyu, 30-50yuan per person. Open time: 8:00am –6:00pm. Phone: (010)61626496
4. Is Mobility Difficult on the Mutianyu Great Wall and Should I Use the Cable Car and Ski Lift?

The Great Wall was not built with tourism in mind. Those with limited mobility often take cable up and, perhaps, walk back down on your own or utilize lift to come down.  There are options available for visitors.

5. Is there a Minimum Age to Ride the Mutianyu Toboggan?

No. Children and elders widely use Toboggan. However, the sick, the elderly as well as children below the ages of ten or have a height measuring less than 130 cm, must be accompanied by a responsible adult to ride.

6. Is There a Public Shuttle Service that Travels to Mutianyu and Ming Tombs on the Same Day?

There is not a tour bus that travels to both on the same day, because they are far apart. However, visitors can secure transportation to both.

7. Can I take the Enclosed Cable Car Up the Great Wall Mutianyu and Walk Down?

Yes. This is a relatively common practice because the stairs can be steep in places.

8. Is Morning or Late Afternoon the Best Time to Visit the Mutianyu Great Wall?

Visitors often prefer to experience the Great Wall in the morning during summer to avoid the heat. In Fall or Winter, the late afternoon is often favored.

9. Is it Difficult to Find a Taxi from Mutianyu back to Beijing City Centre?

Taxi service tends to be at a premium and visitors may be better served to hire a driver in advance or book seats on tour buses.

10. How Long Does it Take to Travel Up and Down the Mutianyu Great Wall?

For travelers with a layover in Beijing, it’s possible to go up and down the Mutianyu Great Wall in about two hours. However, visitors may be best served by scheduling at least a half day to savor this once in a lifetime experience.

11. Are There Issues Balancing, Especially at Sharp Corners, when taking a Toboggan Ride at Mutianyu?

Riders have the ability to control their own speeds. The ride is generally not considered challenging.

12. Will it be Very Cool at Mutianyu Great Wall in Early November?

November is considered an excellent time of year to visit the Great Wall. The temperatures usually call for a light jacket.

13. Does the Mutianyu Cable Car Operate During December?

Yes. The hours are usually 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Hours of operation may be subject to change.

14. How Much Does a Ca Ride from Beijing to Mutianyu Great Wall Cost?

Costs vary, but visitors report paying more than $100 for a round trip.

15. When is the Best time to Arrive at the Mutianyu Great Wall?

Weekends tend to draw larger crowds. Visitors interested in less wait time generally arrive in the early morning during weekdays.

16. Should I Visit the Simatai or Mutianyu Great Wall?

Both areas have unique positives that are a matter of visitor choice. The Mutianyu Great Wall enjoys toboggan, ski lifts, and offer restored and unfinished rugged sections. The Simatai area has been cited as more suitable for very young children. It may be best to speak with a tour guide about your unique preferences.

17. Can I Visit Mutianyu, Badaling, and Jinshanling in One Day?

Although all three offer a unique, breath-taking experience, they are not close enough to each other to see all three in a single day.

18. Can I Visit the Mutianyu Great Wall with a Baby and Ride the Luge?

Many parents bring children to the Mutianyu Great Wall. The policy generally requires children to be accompanied by an adult to ride the Luge.

19. Are there Height and Weight Restriction to Ride the Toboggan at the Mutianyu Great Wall?

Riders control the toboggan’s speed, and there are no formal policies in place about height and weight restrictions.

20. Can I Visit the Badaling, Huanghuacheng and Mutianyu Great Walls Using a Toboggan in One Day?

No. These areas are too far apart. People with mobility issues may find Mutianyu easier to traverse.

21. Are Drones Allowed at Mutianyu Great Wall?

It is not advisable to fly a drone over the Great Wall without expressed permission. There are several government facilities and private properties that could pose a legal problem. Check before you fly your drone in a specific area.

22. Is it Possible to Visit the Huanghuacheng and Mutianyu Great Wall Sections in One Day?

Absolutely yes. These areas are not far apart. Hiring a private car is a much more cost efficient way to see both Mutianyu and Huanghuacheng.

23. How Much is Airport Transfer for Badaling vs Mutianyu on a Wheelchair?

The Badaling section is usually only wheelchair accessible until you reach the Great Wall. Then it’s stairs. The Mutianyu Great Wall has cable cars and lifts that may be handicapped accessible. Check with your travel agent for more details.

24. How Does Mutianyu vs. Jinshanling Rate for Seniors?

Travelers tend to prefer the Mutianyu Great Wall for seniors because it has lifts and cable cars to carry you up and rides down as well. However, seniors may find Jinshanling viable, depending on mobility.

25. What Should I Know About Luggage storage at or Near Mutianyu?

Yes. There is usually a luggage counter that will secure your belongings while you enjoy the Great Wall.

26. What are the More Popular Restaurants near Mutianyu or Ming Tombs?

The Jiu Long Chi Farmhouse ranks among the more highly rated eateries close to the Ming Tombs. Other popular options may be 5 miles (ca. 8 km) or farther away.

27. Should I Hire a Guide when Visiting Mutianyu?

The Great Wall destination is quite popular and accessible to people from all over the world without the need for a guide.

28. How can I Reach the Mutianyu Great Wall from Beijing Capital City Airport?

Traveling by car takes about 90 minutes. There are no tour buses and public transportation available.

29. I’m Afraid of Heights. Which is Higher, Badaling or Mutianyu Great Wall?

Although the Great Wall rises over large inclines, visitors who are concerned about heights find they are not in a position to look over a great height while walking. Both provide similar experiences.

30. How to get to Mutianyu Great Wall by Public Transport?

Bus 916 tends to be the preferred means of public transportation.

31. I will be landing at 07:45 and my total transit time is 8 hours 40 minutes. Do I Have Enough Time to Visit the Mutianyu Great Wall?

Probably not. If your layover is at least 9 hours or more, and you have transportation, then you could have 1-2 hours to experience Mutianyu Great Wall, the trip will be more worthwhile.

32. What is the Path from the Shuttle Bus Parking Lot to the Mutianyu Cable Car Like?

The path takes only about 3 minutes to walk beyond the ski lift and is not considered steep.

33. Hiking Jiankou to Mutianyu, or JiuYanLou to Zheng Bei Lou?

These sections are generally for experienced hikers and may take you off the Great Wall into rugged territory.

34. Is The Summer Palace or To Mutianyu Quieter on a Sunday?

The Summer Palace tends to be very busy on weekends. Because the Mutianyu Great Wall is located outside Beijing proper, it is generally the quieter destination.

35. I’m Hiking the Great Wall from Jinshanling to Mutianyu and Camping Overnight. Will it be Very Cold?

The temperatures are modest in late Spring, Summer, and early Fall. It can be quite cold from late Fall to early Spring. It’s also important to check the local guidelines about where one can legally camp while hiking the Great Wall.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Badaling Great Wall

Learning Everything You Need To Know Before Your Visit To Badaling

1. Must Badaling Great Wall Tickets be Bought Online?

Tickets may be purchased online up to seven days in advance. The process for visitors also includes showing a passport that matches tickets before entering. Visitors may also purchase tickets on-site with a valid passport.

There are two main ways of getting your Badaling tickets – buying tickets online through official website and WeChat mini programme. Unfortunately, the website has no English version. If you cannot read Chinese, using Google TranslateIt helps a lot. In addition, you need to provide a China mobile number or a WeChat account to register, and Alipay (Zhifubao), WeChat or a UnionPay card to pay.

2. Badaling Online Tickets: Is it True that You Can Only Buy them 7 Days in Advance?

Yes, as of Sept 20th 2019, visitors to the Badaling section of The Great Wall need to buy tickets online. Advanced ticketing is designed to reduce wait times at the gate and avoid turning visitors away if the capacity limit is exceeded. However, on-site ticket sales remain available as long as travelers show a valid passport.

3. How Long does it Take to Reach the Badaling Great Wall?

Taking a tour bus from Tiananmen East to Badaling takes approximately three hours. Direct bus routes usually take 1-1.5 hours followed by a 10- to 15-minute walk after drop-off. Free shuttles  are available after drop-off.

4. Is the Badaling Great Wall Bus Stop to Cable Car Station Walkable?

YES. visitors can generally walk from the bus drop-off point to the cable car station in about 10-15 minutes.

5. How Long Would it Take and How Much Would it Cost to Visit the Badaling Great Wall?

The drive time from Beijing Airport to the Badaling Great Wall generally takes 2.5 hours, depending on traffic. Visitors going to the Badaling Great Wall also enjoys excellent public transportation and may shorten travel time. A non-stop bus ride can cost only a few dollars.

6. Badaling Bus 919 vs 877: When is the “Rush Hour” for the Morning Busses?

Visitors who prefer to expedite their visit to the Badaling Great Wall are advised to take Bus 877. This is considered to the more direct route with Bus 919 making frequent local stops.

7. Can I Buy Train Tickets to Badaling from Beijing Tickets on the Same Day?

The short answer is: Yes. However, many visitors find that buses tend to be a faster way to travel in Beijing.

8. What is the Best Way to Travel Directly from Beijing Airport (PEK) to the Badaling Great Wall?

If you are trying to take in the Badaling Great Wall while on a flight layover, it may be in your best interest to hire a private driver. If your time is more flexible, public transportation or tour buses tend to be the preferred way to travel.

Alternatively, visiting Mutianyu– the closest part to the airport (PEK) is highly recommended if you have 9 -14 hour stop over in Beijing

9. Is a Tour Bus the Best Travel Option from Beijing to Badaling Great Wall?

Taking a tour bus can be a remarkable experience that provides fantastic sightseeing opportunities and insight into Beijing. If you are under a time constraint, a direct bus or personal driver can expedite your travel time. Private car is usually quicker, convenient to save your valuable time.

10. What is the Weather Like from May-June and Summer Months when Hiking from Badaling to Shanhaiguan?

Hikers should prepare themselves for increasing warm weather. Daily average highs run in the high 80-degree Fahrenheit range in May to upper 90s in August. Hikers are advised to bring plenty of water and dress appropriately.

11. How Far Can I Hike Before Reaching A Tourist No-go Zone When Hiking the Badaling Great Wall of China?

Experienced hikers routinely trek distances of 10 miles per day without encountering so-called “tourist no-go” zones. It’s important to understand that the Great Wall is not a single walkable structure. Some areas have not been rebuilt, and others may take hikers off the wall onto private or government property. Visitors are advised to work with a travel outfit or tour guide before mapping out a route.

12. Getting to Badaling by Train: Does the Train Go via the Ming Tombs or Should I Skip It?

People who have not visited the area are curious about the Ming Tombs. For practical purposes, the train usually does not stop directly at the Ming Tombs, and travelers tend to place more value on other sights.

13. How High Does the Cable Car Reach at Badaling?

The cable car generally reaches the eighth tower – the highest point of the Badaling Great Wall, which is around 889 meters above sea level.

14. Where are the Best Photo Spots on Badaling Pass?

The Badaling area of the Great Wall ranks among the most popular places to take photos and selfies. The eighth tower is the highest point and provides a panoramic landscape.

15. Are there Taxis Waiting to Take Visitors from Badaling Great Wall Back to a Hotel?

Taxis are generally secured in advance and at a premium when traveling to and from the Badaling Great Wall. A Tour bus, private driver, or public transportation are more efficient and widely used.

16. How Busy is Badaling during Late November?

Fall is considered one of the best times to visit the Badaling Great Wall because the foliage is particularly exquisite, and the summer crowds have waned. The Great Wall is an internationally renowned destination attracting crowds all year. However, November is not generally considered the visitor peak season. Simply put: November is an excellent time to visit the Badaling Great Wall, it won’t be as crowded as July, August or October.

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