Badaling Great Wall of China, near Beijing, P.R. China
The Badaling section of the Great Wall of China is the most visited part of the Great Wall, mainly due to its location just 50 miles northwest of Beijing, but also because it truly is a beautiful section of the Wall. The Badaling section of the Great Wall was originally built mainly during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 A.D.) to better defend the "new" capital city of Beijing, which Emperor Yongle, the 3rd emperor of the Ming Dynasty, had moved from Nanjing. Although the section around the official entrance has been heavily restored, the sight of the Great Wall extending across the hills for miles, as far as the eye can see (and that is constantly getting farther as the air around Beijing continues to improve since the Olympic Games of 2008), is really quite impressive. Badaling was the first section of the Great Wall officially opened to tourists, and it has been visited by luminaries such as President Nixon on his landmark trip to China in 1972, and more recently by celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005. There is also a cable car that can help visitors reach the higher sections of the Wall at Badaling, and its proximity to Beijing makes it easy to visit on a half-day Beijing tour or a full-day tour in combination with a tour of the Ming Tombs. On the downside, it can be very crowded (and probably best avoided during Chinese holidays such as the National Day holiday on October 1 every year), and the countless souvenir vendors on the walk to reach the Great Wall can be persistent to the point of being annoying. All-in-all though, the Badaling section of the Great Wall is still a great place to take your Great Wall tour while visiting Beijing.