No family visit to Beijing, or China for that matter, is complete without a visit to the Great Wall. There are many options as to what part of the Great Wall you can visit, depending on whether you prefer rougher terrain, steeper climbs and more run down but quieter areas. However, if taking children to the Great Wall, one of the more touristy spots will be more convenient. We took our children, aged 7 and 3, with a 6 year old friend, to the popular Badaling.
The Badaling section of the Great Wall has some steep parts, more challenging for parents than children, but is not a too strenuous climb, and it has some great views. When the wind isn’t too strong, which it often is, there is a cable car to the top.
The grounds leading to the entrance of Badaling are fairly well developed, clean and spacious, with an attempt to make it look like a little town with cafes and hotels and numerous restaurants, including a KFC and Subway.
There are several options for getting to Badaling. If you can hire a driver for a reasonable rate, that is ideal. But there are also trains running regularly from the Beijing North Station and it’s only 6 RMB ($1) per person, children included. Children under 1.2 meters are free. From the Badaling train station it is about an 800 meter walk to the entrance.
Ticket prices are 45 RMB ($7) in high season, 20 or so for kids. There are also two bus lines from Beijing that will take you closer to the wall but that are not very well organized when trying to find one going back to Beijing.
If you have the time and inclination there are also some groups such as Beijing Hikers and the China Culture Center that take groups for hikes or overnights to less populated and touristy areas of the Great Wall.