How to Get to Great Wall: Beijing Airport Tips

airport to the Great Wall of China

 

Discover the Great Wall From Beijing Airports: Transportation Tips from PKX & PEK

If you have a 9-hour layover in Beijing, making the journey from the airport to the Great Wall of China can be a memorable experience.

For travelers with a 24/144-hour Beijing visa-free layover, you are allowed to travel from the airports to the Great Wall using buses, taxis, or private cars/vans.

Two Major Airports in Beijing

Beijing, the capital city of China, is served by two major international airports:

  • Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)
  • Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX)

Here is a brief overview of each airport:

  • Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK): Located in Chaoyang District, 32 kilometers (20 mi) northwest of the center of Beijing, PEK is the primary airport in the city. Many airlines operate from this airport, making it the main international airport in Beijing.
  • Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX): Opened in late September 2019, PKX is located on the border of Beijing and Langfang, Hebei Province, 46 kilometers (26 mi) south of the city center. It is the second airport serving Beijing and is expected to handle an increasing number of flights in the future.

If you are arriving in Beijing from abroad, you will most likely arrive at either PEK or PKX airport, depending on the airline you are flying with.

All major international airlines and Air China operate from PEK, while British Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Himalaya Airlines, iFly Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines operate from PKX.

If you are taking a domestic flight within China, you will be departing from either PEK or PKX airport, depending on your airline and destination.

What is the Best Airport to Fly to in Beijing?

Choosing which airport to fly to in Beijing depends on various factors, such as your departing airport and airline.

Here is a breakdown of the two airports in Beijing:

  • Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK): Located closest to the city center, PEK is still considered the main airport in Beijing. It is the best choice for travelers visiting traditional attractions and hotels. If you plan on sightseeing in the city or want to hire a car to explore the countryside, PEK is the easiest airport to fly into.
  • Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX): Although farther from the city center, PKX is a good option for business travelers or international tourists arriving from the UK, Malaysia, and other destinations. In some cases, PKX may be the only option for those arriving from the UK. Taxis to and from PKX Airport are slightly pricier than those from PEK Airport.

Ultimately, the airport you arrive at in Beijing depends on your airline and departing airport.

However, if you prioritize proximity to the city center and traditional attractions, PEK is the best option for you.

On the other hand, if you are limited on time or arriving from certain international destinations, PKX is a better choice.

Do I Need Visa For Beijing Layover?

Yes, even if you plan to leave the airport for only a few hours, you should obtain a transit visa.

Please read our article about visa-free countries and visa types for transit passengers.

Can I Leave Beijing Airports and Visit the Great Wall of China During a Layover?

If you are a transit passenger in Beijing, you are allowed to enter and exit the city once during your layover period.

However, if you plan on leaving the airport and visiting the Great Wall of China, there are a few things to consider:

Firstly, ensure that you have a layover period of at least 9 hours to allow enough time for transportation and sightseeing.

Secondly, factor in the potential delays of your first flight, as well as the time it takes to exit the plane and go through border control.

Once you have considered these factors, you can begin planning your visit to the Great Wall of China.

There are various transportation options available, including

  • buses
  • taxis
  • private cars/vans.

Choose the option that best fits your budget and schedule, and doesn’t forget to factor in travel time.

Pro tip:

Make sure to download a Virtual Private Network (VPN) onto your computer and phone before arriving in China, as you will not be able to do so in-country.

A VPN allows you to access websites such as Google, email services, and social media platforms like Facebook, which are otherwise restricted.

This can be particularly useful if you plan to use these services for work or personal communication.

One VPN service that is easy to use and can be connected to up to several devices is 12VPX.

Use the code: vpx10 you will enjoy a 10% discount.

Please note that restrictions on internet use and access to certain websites are subject to change, so it is advisable to stay up to date with any developments in the country’s regulations.

How Long Does It Take From Beijing Airport to the Great Wall?

From the plane lands, until you reach the Great Wall (Mutianyu), it can take you at least 4.5 hours or more.

Here is a breakdown of the estimated time it takes from when your plane lands until you reach the Great Wall:

  1. Applying for a temporary entry permit: Depending on the type of permit you need (24/72/144-hour), this process can take approximately 2.5 hours. You will need to provide the necessary documentation and complete any required forms.
  2. Taking a car/taxi: Once you have your permit, you can take a car or taxi to the Great Wall of China. This journey usually takes 15-30 minutes, depending on traffic and your departure point.
  3. Journey to the Great Wall: Finally, the journey to the Great Wall itself takes approximately 1.5 hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions.
1. Apply For a Temporary 24/72/144-hour Entry Permit (2.5 hours on Average)

When you arrive in Beijing and get off the plane, the first thing you need to do is apply for a temporary entry permit for transit passengers.

There is a specific counter or lane for the 24/72/144-hour free transit at the immigration, which is easy to find by following the signs.

You will need to fill out all the necessary paperwork there.

The transit visa-free application process usually takes around 2.5 hours, but it can take longer if there are many arrival flights or during peak travel periods (such as Christmas week).

In some cases, you may need to wait for 3 hours or more.

For example, if your plane lands at PEK Airport at 6:00 am, you can expect to obtain your temporary entry permit by around 8:30 am, assuming there are not many lines.

2. Take a Car/Taxi (between 15 and 30 minutes)

Once you have obtained your temporary entry permit, the next step is to find transportation to get to your destination in Beijing.

Here are some options to consider:

  1. Walking and booking a taxi: If you prefer to save money and don’t mind walking, you can exit the airport on foot and find a taxi outside. However, keep in mind that there may be a long queue for local taxis, especially during peak travel periods.
  2. Pre-booking a private driver: If you want to save time and avoid the hassle of waiting for a taxi, consider pre-booking a private driver in advance. This option is particularly convenient if you have a tight schedule or are traveling with a group of people.
  3. Taking a taxi during the day: If you arrive during the day, you can still take a taxi from the airport. However, as mentioned earlier, there may be a long queue for local taxis, so be prepared to wait.

Overall, there are several options for finding transportation from the airport to your destination in Beijing.

Consider your budget, schedule, and preferences when deciding which option to choose.

3. The Journey to the Great Wall (1.5 Hours Minimum by Car)

If you plan on visiting the Great Wall of China during the day, taking a private car or taxi is the best way to get there.

The arrival times of buses and other public transportation options can be unpredictable, making it difficult to plan your itinerary.

With a private car or taxi, you can set your own schedule and ensure that you have enough time to explore the Great Wall.

Additionally, you can avoid the hassle of waiting for public transportation and the potential for crowded buses or trains.

Overall, if you want to make the most of your visit to the Great Wall and have a smooth transportation experience, a private car or taxi is the recommended option during the day.

How Long Does It Take From PEK Beijing Airport to the Great Wall?

Great Wall Section Distance from PEK Airport (km) Estimated Travel Time by Road (hrs)
Mutianyu 66 1.5
Juyongguan 68 1.5-2
Badaling 78 1.5-2
Jiankou 90 2
Huanghuacheng 77 2
Jinshanling 144 2.5
Gubeikou 139 2.5
Simatai 139 2.5

Example: If you take a car from PEK Airport at 8:00, you can expect to reach Mutianyu Great Wall around 9:20 to 9:30.

However, if you take the vehicle at 8:30, you’ll arrive at 9:50-10:00. These estimates assume that there are no delays or mistakes along the way.

How Long Does It Take From Daxing (PKX) Airport to the Great Wall?

Great Wall Section Distance from Daxing Airport (km) Estimated Travel Time by Road (hrs)
Mutianyu 125 2.5
Juyongguan 125 1.5-2
Badaling 140 2-2.5
Jiankou 130 2.5-3
Huanghuacheng 140 2.5-3
Jinshanling 200 3-3.5
Gubeikou 200 3-3.5
Simatai 190 3-3.5

In Summary

If you want to visit the Great Wall of China (Mutianyu) during a layover in Beijing, it’s important to factor in the time it takes to get there and back, as well as the time you want to spend at the Great Wall.

Here is a breakdown of the estimated time required:

  • From the plane landing to reaching the Great Wall: Approximately 4.5 hours
  • Time to visit the Great Wall: Ideally, you should allow at least 1 hour to enjoy the scenery and explore the wall without feeling rushed.
  • Return journey from the Great Wall to the airport: Approximately 1.5 hours
  • Time required to check in and board your next flight: It’s recommended to be at the airport at least 2 hours in advance.

In total, you need around 9 hours to visit the Great Wall of China during a layover in Beijing (4.5 + 1.5 + 1 + 2 = 9).

If your layover is less than 9 hours, it’s not recommended to visit the Great Wall, as you may not have enough time to fully enjoy the experience.

However, if your layover is at least 9 hours, it’s definitely worth considering a visit to the Great Wall.

Which Airport is Closest to the Great Wall of China?

Most of the popular sections of the Great Wall are located around Beijing, which means that Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is the closest airport to the Great Wall-Mutianyu section at 66km.

This airport is the primary airport in Beijing and serves many airlines from around the world and China.

Unfortunately, Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) is far from the Great Wall.

It takes at least 2.5 hours by car to reach the closest section of the wall-Mutianyu-which is 135km from PKX Airport.

This airport is newer and serves a limited number of airlines, including British Airways, Malaysia Airlines, and some Chinese airlines.

Overall, if you want to visit the Great Wall during a layover in Beijing, it’s recommended to fly into Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), as it’s much closer to the popular sections of the wall.

If you arrive at Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX), be prepared for a longer journey to reach the Great Wall.

Which Section of the Great Wall Should I Visit From PEK Airport?

An ideal layover would be arriving on a sunny morning, having a whole day in Beijing, then departing in the evening.

However, this depends on the length of your layover and arrival time, assuming airline ticket prices are almost the same.

  • If your layover is less than 9 hours, it’s not recommended to consider a trip to the Great Wall, as you may not have enough time to fully enjoy the experience. Instead, it’s best to relax at the airport and give yourself plenty of time to check in and board your next flight.
  • If you have a 9-hour layover and an early morning arrival, visiting Mutianyu-the nearest section to PEK Airport-is highly recommended. The longer your layover, the more time you’ll have to explore the Great Wall and its surroundings.
  • If you have a 9-hour layover and an afternoon arrival, visiting Huanghuacheng Great Wall or Simatai Great Wall is the best option, as these sections close later in the day.

Keep in mind that Beijing airports can be busy, with long passport and security control queues.

It may take 3-3.5 hours or more to apply for a 24/144 Hour Transit Visa and leave PEK Airport, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the airport.

It’s important to factor in this time when planning your itinerary.

Even if you could get to Mutianyu Great Wall from PEK Airport on an 8.5-hour layover, the quality of the experience would be seriously hampered by the stress of getting back in time.

You might have only 10-20 minutes of enjoyment time in total.

Therefore, it’s best to plan your itinerary carefully and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your visit to the Great Wall.

Overall, with proper planning and consideration of your layover length and arrival time, visiting the Great Wall of China can be a rewarding experience during a layover in Beijing.

Mutianyu VS Badaling Great Wall: Which One is Better?

  • Badaling is the most famous section of the Great Wall and is often crowded with tourists. While it’s a popular choice among visitors, it can be overwhelming and may not offer the best experience for those on a layover.
  • Mutianyu is another popular section of the Great Wall and is closer to the Beijing airports than Badaling. This section is less crowded and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and countryside. Many layover passengers recommend visiting Mutianyu from the airports to save travel time, money, and energy while still enjoying a memorable trip to the Great Wall.

Keep in mind that each section of the Great Wall has its own advantages and disadvantages.

It’s important to consider your preferences and priorities when choosing which section to visit.

airport-to-the-great-wall

 

How Much is the Entrance Fee For the Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall of China has had an entrance fee since 1953.

If you’re planning to visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall during your layover in Beijing, here’s what you need to know about admission fees:

  • Adult entrance fee: RMB 60 per person
  • Reduced fee for seniors over 60: RMB 20 (valid ID or passport required)
  • Entrance fee for teenagers between 1.2 and 1.4 meters: RMB 30
  • Children under 1.2 meters are free

In addition to the entrance fee, there are shuttle bus fees:

  • Single ride: RMB 10
  • Round trip: RMB 15

If you want to take the cable car at the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, here’s what you need to know about ticket fares:

  • Cable car single ride: RMB 100 for adults or RMB 50 for children between 120cm and 140cm
  • Cable car round trip: RMB 140 for adults or RMB 60 for children between 120cm and 140cm

Can You Buy Tickets For Mutianyu Great Wall On the Day?

Yes, you can buy tickets on your visit from the Mutianyu tourist center for immediate use.

Please note purchasing tickets from the ticket office can be busy during high seasons or weekends.

Is There a Direct Train Between Beijing Airports and the Great Wall?

No, there is no direct train service from Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) or Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) to the Great Wall.

The fastest and most stress-free way to get from either airport to the Great Wall is by private car or taxi.

While other transportation options are available, such as buses or public trains, they may not be as efficient or convenient.

Is There a Direct Bus Between Beijing Airports and the Great Wall?

No, there is no direct bus from Beijing Airport to the Great Wall.

However, services are departing from PEK Airport Terminals 3 and arrive at Xinying Station(辛营站) via Hualikan Station(花梨坎站) near Mutianyu Great Wall.

The journey costs RMB 14 per person and takes approximately 3 hours, including transfers.

From Daxing Airport, you can follow these steps:

  1. Take the airport express line Daxing Line to Caoqiao Station (草桥站).
  2. Transfer to subway line 10 and take it to Jinsong Station (劲松站).
  3. Transfer to subway line 6 and take it to Dongdaqiao Station (东大桥站).
  4. Exit the station and walk to the bus stop at Dongdaqiao South (东大桥南).
  5. Take bus 916 or 916 Express to Huairou North Street (怀柔北大街).
  6. Transfer to bus H23 and take it to Mutianyu Roundabout (慕田峪环岛).
  7. From there, you can either take a shuttle bus or hike up to the Mutianyu Great Wall.

What is the Cheapest Way to Get From Beijing Airports to the Great Wall?

Taking a bus is the cheapest way to get to the Great Wall.

From Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), you can take a bus to Mutianyu for just RMB 14.

The journey takes approximately 3 hours:

  • Step 1: take Konggang Bus 10 from PEK Airport Terminals 3 until Hualikan Station (approximately 30-50 minutes).
  • Step 2: Cross the road to the other side and transfer to Bus 916 to Yujiayuanyiqu Station (approximately 60-90 minutes).
  • Step 3: Cross the road again to the other side and take Bus H23 until Xinying Station, where you will arrive 450 meters from the ticket office (approximately 40-60 minutes).

What is the Fastest Way to Get From Beijing Airports to the Great Wall?

The quickest way to get from Beijing Airport to the Great Wall is to taxi or book a car in advance, only 90 minutes from PEK Airport to Mutianyu or 150 minutes from Daxing (PKX) airport.

What is the Best Way to Get From Beijing Airport to the Great Wall?

The best way to visit the Great Wall from the airports is to book a private layover tour unless you have a very long layover and public transport will suit.

A private layover tour can avoid any queue for local taxis at the airport.

It is quick, convenient, and stress-free to travel to the Great Wall from the airports.

By booking a private car tour, you can avoid any queues for local taxis at the airport and enjoy a personalized experience tailored to your needs.

Your driver will take you directly to Mutianyu and back, giving you plenty of time to explore and enjoy the Great Wall at your leisure.

You can also have the driver wait for you and return you to the airport by a specific time to catch your next flight.

Pre-booking a private layover tour will save you valuable time, which is especially important during a Beijing layover.

If you’re traveling with more than two people, hiring a private layover tour from Beijing Airport to the Great Wall can be very cost-effective.

How Much is a Taxi From Beijing Airports to the Great Wall?

The simplest though usually most expensive way is to take a taxi. The cost is RMB 800-RMB 1100 from PEK Airport to Mutianyu Great Wall and RMB 1000-RMB 1400 from PKX to Mutianyu.

It’s important to note that when hailing a taxi at the airport, the driver will always calculate a metered fare.

However, when you arrive at Mutianyu Great Wall, the total fare can end up much higher than anticipated.

Additionally, it can be challenging to coordinate with the driver if you don’t speak Chinese and don’t have a Chinese phone number.

It’s also worth mentioning that PKX airport is a bit further from the city than PEK airport, so during the daytime, the taxi fare from PEK airport to downtown is usually higher than from PKX airport to downtown.

To save yourself the hassle and potential extra costs, consider pre-booking a private car tour to Mutianyu through travel agents or specialist tour operators.

With a private car tour, you’ll receive a fixed price in advance without any surprises or additional fees such as

  • a starting rate,
  • waiting rate,
  • or rate per kilometer.
Great Wall

 

Is it Easy to Get a Taxi From Beijing Airport?

Taxis are readily available at both PEK and PKX airports.

Upon landing at the airport, you can easily order a taxi from a live person at the designated taxi stand.

However, it is important to note that booking a taxi at the airport can be more expensive compared to pre-booking a private layover tour.

This is because taxi fares at the airport often include additional charges or higher rates.

In contrast, pre-booking a private layover tour offers the advantage of a fixed price and dedicated service tailored to your needs.

While some taxi drivers may speak a little English, it is not always guaranteed.

Nevertheless, if you’re in the mood, some drivers enjoy practicing their English with their customers.

Where Can I Stay Overnight on a Beijing Layover?

Many a Beijing layover takes place during a 24-hour day with no need for overnight accommodations.

But in some cases, you’ll need to spend the night.

Here are a few options for a Beijing overnight layover:

  • Pick a hotel just a short walk from the city subway station: Some prefer to travel to Central Beijing and enjoy the benefits of being in the heart of Beijing.
  • Choose a hotel close to the airport: Others opt for a budget hotel near the airport from which they will depart. This option usually results in a smaller bill, but some so-called airport lodgings take an hour to reach. Make sure to check out hotel reviews before booking a room.
  • Stay overnight at a farmhouse near the Great Wall: Staying overnight near the Great Wall allows you to appreciate the wall at its quietest early in the morning or late afternoon and enjoy sunrise/sunset over the Wall if the weather permits. Many farmhouses are available near Jinshanling Great Wall or Huanghuacheng Great Wall.
  • Stay for free at an airport hotel: Some airlines provide free transit hotel accommodations for passengers with a layover between 10-15 hours or overnight. For example, Air China offers free hotel stay for passengers who transit overnight within 24 hours. However, each airline is different, so check the website.
  • Sleep in the airport lounge: If you are an economy class traveler, you can wait for your flight in the comfort of an airport lounge. Air China First & Business Class Lounge is on 2F, Terminal 3-E (International Departures); Opening hours: 3:30-2:00+. It consists of a dining area, internet terminals, shower facilities, and a sleeping area if that works for you. Alternatively, if you’re looking for uninterrupted sleep, Terminal 3 at PEK Airport has sleep pods that can be rented by the hour if required.

Is there a Transit Hotel Near Beijing Airport?

If you don’t want to sleep at PEK airport overnight, there are several transit hotels located nearby that provide a complimentary airport shuttle service for their guests.

Before booking a room, it’s best to inquire with your hotel about shuttle service availability and details.

The eight transit hotels listed below are prime examples:

  • Beijing Olympic Airport Hotel: Address: 36 Xiaotianzhu Road, Shunyi District, China. Phone: +86 10 5827 1122
  • Beijing Airport Yuanhang International Hotel: Address: 1 Fuqian 2nd St, Shunyi District, China. Phone: +86 10 8416 6060.
  • Beijing Lanwan International Airport Hotel: Address: No. 22, Tianzhu East Road, Shunyi District, China. Phone: +86 10 6456 8436.
  • Beijing Jinhangxian International Business Hotel: Address: No. 8, Huawei Road, Shunyi District, China. Phone: +86 10 6456 8436.
  • Beijing Kai Sheng Xingfeng International Hotel: Address: No. 2, Tianzhu East Road, Shunyi District, China. Phone: +86 10 8445 6688
  • >Beijing Wansihotel: Address: No.30 Fuqian No.1 Street, Tianzhu Town, Shunyi District, Phone: +86 10 6858 9988
  • Crowne Plaza International Airport Beijing: Address: 60 Fuqian 1st St, Tianzhu Town, Shunyi District, China. Phone: +86 10 5810 8888
  • Beijing Capital International Airport: Address: the entrance road of Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3. Phone: +86 10 96158

To find the best deals on these and other hotels in Beijing, use the search tool to compare prices and amenities.

Don’t let a layover ruin your trip – book a comfortable and convenient transit hotel. Check the Best Deals on Hotels

Are Beijing Airports Safe at Night?

In general, PEK and PKX airports are considered safe at night as long as you take standard precautions that one would expect when sleeping in public places.

It’s always a good idea to stay aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts.

The chances of being a victim of violent crime such as a shooting or stabbing at either airport or any airport in China, is extremely low.

There are usually many police and security personnel around, especially in airports, to maintain safety and security.

Both airports are very busy during the day, but the terminals tend to be quiet at night, with fewer flights and less foot traffic.

Mutianyu Travel Tips-Four Things to Know:

  1. At Mutianyu, you have to be prepared to walk on some relatively rough and demanding terrain for about half-hour, though most of the Wall is relatively flat.
  2. Having some suitable footwear is a good idea before you go.
  3. Using a cable car/chair lift can help you avoid the initial climb up.
  4. You may want to entertain yourself by riding the toboggan down. The toboggan is a favorite among kids. It’s very safe to use.
  5. Suppose your outbound flight is international and your main bags are already checked through. In that case,  you’ll need to be back at the terminal about 1.5 -2 hours before your departure to have time to deal with immigration and security and get your boarding pass for your next flight.

What’s the Easiest Way to Get from Beijing Danxing International Airport to The Beijing Capital Airport?

The most straightforward option is to reserve a seat on the airport shuttle bus from Daxing Airport to Capital Airport.

The journey typically takes approximately 2 hours, provided there is no heavy traffic, and the fare is 55 RMB per person.

To book your airport bus in advance, open WeChat and search for the ‘Airport Bus Official Platform’ mini-program (机场巴士官方平台).

Once you’ve accessed it:

  1. Choose your intended date of travel.
  2. Be aware that Beijing Capital Airport comprises Terminals 2 and 3. Confirm which terminal your flight uses to ensure you select the correct bus.
  3. Note that the bus service is limited to only three departures daily.

For the departure times and more detailed information, please check the below tabel:

Shuttle Departure Schedule From Beijing Daxing Airport to Beijing Capital Airport T2

Departure Order Time From To
First 13:30 Daxing Airport Capital Airport Terminal 2
Second 16:00 Daxing Airport Capital Airport Terminal 2
Third 18:30 Daxing Airport Capital Airport Terminal 2

How to Get into the Center of Beijing From the Airports

  • PEK airport: You can take the Airport Express Train at PEK airport, the fastest and easiest way to get to the city. A train ride takes about 30 minutes and costs about RMB 30 one way. Tickets can be purchased on the spYou’llu’ll also need to make a transfer or two onto the Beijing subway to the city center after the express train.
  • PKX airport: If you want to save some money traveling back and forth to PKX Airport, then a high-speed train to the subway and the subway to your hotel is the best way to go. It takes around 30 minutes to reach the city and only costs you RMB 25 per person. But before you have to drag your luggage up and down a lot of stairs, you still have to get from the subway station to your hotel.

 

Final Words

In conclusion, visiting the Great Wall of China from Beijing Airport is a fantastic opportunity for travelers with a long layover.

Whether you choose to hire a private car or take public transportation, experiencing one of the world’s wonders is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed.

With the tips and information provided, you can now plan your trip with confidence and make the most of your layover in Beijing.

Looking to explore Beijing during your layover? Check out our latest articles for thorough guidance and helpful advice:

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