Train is the safest and most comfortable transport from Beijing to The Great Wall. It is fast, clean, not crowded and offers nice views. Travelling by car or bus can take longer when you get stuck in traffic jam.
Trains to The Great Wall (Badaling station) depart from Beijing North Railway Station, which is located next to the subway station Xizhimen on Beijing subway line 2, exit A. Ticket offices are located at the right side of the building and in the basement (less crowded). Ask for ticket to Badaling station. One way ticket costs 19 RMB for the second class and 23 RMB for the first class.
Beijing North Railway Station
Choose one of these air conditioned trains from Beijing North to Badaling:
Y563 Beijing North 07:26 Badaling 08:25
Y567 Beijing North 09:33 Badaling 10:42
Y571 Beijing North 11:08 Badaling 12:15
Y575 Beijing North 13:19 Badaling 14:28
Y579 Beijing North 15:01 Badaling 16:10
And back from Badaling to Beijing North:
Y572 Badaling 11:42 Beijing North 12:59
Y580 Badaling 15:22 Beijing North 16:28
Y588 Badaling 19:40 Beijing North 20:57
Badaling station looks like this so be sure to get off at the right station. Trains in China are on time so get off according to the schedule. When you exit the gate of Badaling station turn left and walk 1000 meters. Entrance to The Great Wall costs 45 RMB. Opening Hours are 06:30-19:00 in summer and 07:00-18:00 in winter.
The Great Wall
Yesterday I was at Eagles concert in Beijing. It was in Mastercard Arena (formerly Wukesong) which is Olympics basketball arena so it is pretty new.
The concert was sold out but there were many resellers trying to sell tickets in front of the arena. I did not see almost any free seat when I was inside so they were probably very successful or they were selling fake tickets.
At the entrance tickets were checked visually, ticket codes were checked with computer scanners and also infrared light. The security checkpoint was quite vague. They had metal scanners but some people were only checked with manual scanner. Photo and video cameras were allowed and also half meter long light tubes which I hate because it was very annoying during the concert.
The start time at the ticket said 19:30 and concert started at 19:45 which was surprising because I expected it to start about 1 hour later. There was no support band and when the lights were turned on Eagles just started to play Waiting In The Weeds and later they greeted fans in Chinese. Then they played their first number one single Best Of My Love and continued with their first million selling single Take It To The Limit which I liked very much. The audience was thrilled when Hotel California tunes started. After slow introduction more rock songs followed and I think 18 songs were played in total.
The encore consisted of Take It Easy, Rocky Mountain Way and the last song of the evening was Desperado. Eagles played for 2 hours and I still expected some other songs but the guys are too old :)
There were no standing tickets in the arena, only seats. Chinese authorities probably do not like huge standing crowds. There were many security officials outside and also inside.
Despite copyright announcement and camera restriction announcement many people were shooting with flashes, also video cameras were used. Camera flashes were distracting and I do not understand people who shoot with compact camera flash at concert, anyway the most annoying were flashing light tubes. Anybody did not care about camera restriction during the performance. First videos from the concert were online the same day, you can see Hotel California at Youku.com. Also Eagles branded souvenirs were sold in front of the arena but it did not look like official merchandise which was sold inside.
Visitors were mostly Chinese, maybe less than 10% were foreigners, I met feng shui architect from Taiwan and accountant from Beijing. This was my first big concert in China. It was quite well organised, there were no issues, place was nice and Eagles were great. I am looking forward to Bob Dylan who will be in Beijing in three weeks :)
Photo: Master Card Wukesong Arena Beijing
Chinese soldiers at Qianmen street in Beijing during The Lantern Festival on 17th February 2011
The largest migration of people on the planet happens in China nowadays. Chinese new year of rabbit begins on 3rd February 2011 and it will make Chinese people travel to their home towns to meet their families and celebrate. The bank holiday known as The Spring Festival lasts from 2nd till 8th February 2011. Many shops and restaurant close during this period and Beijing will be less crowded for a few days. Train and flight tickets are almost sold out. According to Chinese Railways 750,000 passengers per day will leave Beijing by train during the Spring Festival travel period from January 31 till February 2.
Beijing subway almost empty