Did you know that the Great Wall is spread our across 21 thousand km and you would need about 353 days to complete it without taking into account stops or any complications (obviously some parts are not walkable at all).
A short historical overview: Building of the parts of the Wall started in the 7th century BC. Appr. Around 220BC the unifier of China emperor Qin Shi Huang has ordered to connect these sections in one system dedicated to protect China from attacks from Huns in the north.
I spent quite a lot of time choosing, which section to go to. The options included Badaling, Mutyaniu and Jinshaling. We were traveling together with mom, so I had to take into account the easy accessibility and walkability, in addition to other things. Here is the breakdown of the pros and cons:
Badaling – the most visited section of the Wall and the first to be renovated and open for tourists. It was visited by a number of officials. It is easy to reach it from Beijing with trains from Huangtudian Railway Station and tourist buses from Qianmen. I believe either way you would need about 1.5. hours to get there. It is served by the cable car. The downside is that this section is always very crowded. It also isn’t very authentic looking, as the surroundings are too well renovated and to me, has lost its authentic look.
Mutyaniu – second most visited section of the Wall. It isn’t very easy to reach, but there is an option of Mubus (details later) taking about 1.5 hours to get there. Public transport would take too long and be complicated with changing a bus to a mini bus and walking. The section is well renovated and easy to walk, however, still retains its authentic look with views over the surrounding mountains. It is served by a cable car and the tobogan. The downside is that this section is still quite crowded.
Jinshaling – this would have been my choice, if we were not travelling together with mom. This section is less renovated, but it is served by the cable car. There is a shuttle bus from Wangjing West metro stop and it takes about 2 hours to get there. The main plus is also that this is the least crowded among the three sections I considered. However, the main downside is that this section is only partly renovated, so it has uneven steps, loose stones and many rough parts, so you have to be in good shape to walk here.
As I mentioned, I would choose Jinshaling, if we were not looking for better walkability. As it was, the best option for us was Mutyaniu. It was quite easy to walk and it also had the feel of authenticity we were looking for.