Best Tips on How to Get to the Great Wall from Beijing Airports
Getting from Beijing airports to the Great Wall of China straightly is a memorable journey if you have a 9-hours layover in Beijing.
On a 24/144-hour Beijing visa-free layover, you are allowed to reach the Great Wall from the airports by using buses, taxis, private car/van.
Two Major Airports in Beijing
The city of Beijing and the whole region of Beijing is served by two major international airports. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) and Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX).
- Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is located in Chaoyang District – 32 kilometers (20 mi) northwest of the center of Beijing, China. It’s the primary airport in the city of Beijing, many airlines operate from the airport.
- Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) is located on the border of Beijing and Langfang, Hebei Province – 46 km (26 mi) south of the city center of China’s capital city Beijing. It’s opened in late September 2019 and also the second airport serving Beijing.
For now, Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is still the main international airport; however, more and more flights will be served by the new airport – (PKX).
If you arrive in Beijing from abroad, you will arrive either to Beijing Capital International Airport (all major international airlines and Air China) or to Beijing Daxing International Airport (British Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Himalaya Airlines, iFly Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines).
If you take a domestic flight, it’ll be either to/from PEK or PKX airports.
What is the Best Airport to Fly into in Beijing?
Which airport is best to fly greatly depends on where you are flying in from, airport and airline also determine which airport you will arrive in Beijing.
- Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is the closest airport to the city center and still considered the main airport. It’s the best choice in terms of transferring to most traditional attractions and hotels.
- Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) is a good airport for business travelers who are limited on time but it’s also vital for international tourists coming from the UK, Malaysia, and other destinations. If you are coming from UK, PKX Airport is probably your only option. Taxis to and from PKX Airport are slightly pricier than from PEK Airport.
All in all, which airport you will get into in Beijing depends on the airline you fly from your departing destination. PEK Airport is the best airport for sightseeing all of Beijing’s main city sights. If hiring a car and wanting to see the countryside, PEK Airport is the easiest airport to fly into too.
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. Read our article about visa-free countries and visa types for transit passengers.
Can I Leave Beijing Airports and Visit the Great Wall During a Layover?
Yes, transit passengers are allowed to enter and exit Beijing once during layover period. If you have a long layover in Beijing (at least 9 hours), you should be visiting the Great Wall of China! However, you need to consider eventual delays of your first flight, transportation time from the plane to the terminal, and border control lines.
How Long Does It Take From Beijing Airport to the Great Wall?
From the time the plane lands until you reach the Great Wall (Mutianyu), it can take you at least 4.5 hours or more. The time includes:
- Apply for temporary 24/72/144-hour entry permit (approx. 2.5 hours)
- Take a car/taxi (15-30 minutes)
- the journey to the Great Wall (approx. 1.5 hours)
1. Apply For Temporary 24/72/144-hour Entry Permit (2.5 hours on Average)
As soon as you get off the plane, the first control you pass is to apply for the temporary 24/72/144-hour entry permit. There is a special counter/lane for the 24/144-hour free transit at the immigration, you can go there directly by following the signs, and fill out all the paperwork there.
The transit visa free application procedures, if there are not many arrival flights at the same time, can take approx. 2.5 hours (even more). If there are more arrivals and many people (usually during Christmas week) it is common that you have to wait 3 hours or more.
For example, if your plane lands at 6:00 a.m at PEK Airport, at 8:30 a.m. you will have obtained the temporary entry permit (if there are not many lines).
2. Take a Car/Taxi (between 15 and 30 minutes)
From the moment you obtained the temporary entry permit until you take a means of transport you have to walk the airport on foot and book the taxi. If you have booked in advance, the private driver will be waiting for you outside the arrivals hall. The pre booking driver is the best option to save your time. During the day you can also take a taxi, but there could be a long queue for local taxis at airport.
3. The Journey to the Great Wall (1.5 Hours Minimum by Car)
During the day, a private car or taxi is the best way to get to the Great Wall since the arrival times are unpredictable.
- Beijing PEK airport (about 66 km) Mutianyu Great Wall, 1.5 hours by road;
- Beijing PEK airport (about 68 km) Juyongguan Great Wall, 1.5-2 hours by road;
- Beijing PEK airport (about 78 km) Badaling Great Wall, 1.5-2 hours by road;
- Beijing PEK airport (about 90 km) Jiankou Great Wall, 2 hours by road;
- Beijing PEK airport (about 77 km) Huanghuacheng Great Wall, 2 hours by road;
- Beijing PEK airport (about 144 km) Jinshanling Great Wall, 2.5 hours by road;
- Beijing PEK airport (about 139 km) Gubeikou Great Wall, 2.5 hours by road;
- Beijing PEK airport (about 139 km) Simatai Great Wall, 2.5 hours by road.
Example: If you took a car at 8:00 at PEK Airport, around 9:20 to 9:30 you could be at Mutianyu Great Wall. If you took the car at 8:30, you’ll arrive at 9:50-10: 00. All this assuming that everything went well, without delays and without mistakes.
From the time the plane lands until you reach the Great Wall (Mutianyu), it takes approx. 4.5 hours, and 1.5 hours for the return from the Great Wall to the airport, allowing 1 hour to visit the Great Wall if you don’t want to be rush. Also, note that is convenient to be at least with 2 hours in advance in the airport to take the next plane. Thus in total you need around 9 hours. (4.5+1.5+1+2 =9 hours)
So, if your layover is less than 9 hours, it’s not recommended visiting the Great Wall. It is worth visiting the Great Wall when your layover is at least 9 hours to really enjoy your trip.
Which Airport is Closest to the Great Wall of China?
Most of the popular sections of the Great Wall are located around Beijing. That being so, Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is the closest airport to the Great Wall–Mutianyu section at a distance of 66km. If you’re flying in from anywhere in the world or in China, chances are you’ll come through here.
Unfortunately, Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) is a little far from the Great Wall. Plan on at least 2.5 hours by car to reach the closest section of the wall-Mutianyu (135km from PKX Airport).
Which Section of the Great Wall Should I Visit From PEK Airport?
It depends on the length of your layover, and arrival time assuming airline ticket prices are almost the same. An ideal layover would be arriving on a sunny morning, having a whole day in Beijing then departing in the evening.
If your layover is less than 9 hours, you really don’t have enough time to consider a trip into the Great Wall. You will have to entertain yourself at the airport. If you have:
- 9-hour layover & early morning arrival: Though there are various sections of the Great Wall in Beijing, visiting Mutianyu – the nearest section to PEK Airport is highly recommended. The longer your layover, the more you’ll be able to discover the Great Wall.
- 9 hour layover & afternoon arrival: The last admission of Mutianyu will be at 16:00 pm with the Wall closing around 5:30 pm. If you arrive at PEK Airport in early afternoon, visiting Huanghuacheng Great Wall/Simatai Great Wall are the best options for the passengers, since it’s either closes “at sundown” or opens in the evening.
- Less than 9-hour layover: If your layover is less than 9 hours, we suggest you put your feet up at PEK Airport, get a couple of drinks instead of sightseeing. Beijing airports are quite busy, there are usually long passport/ security control queues. It takes 3-3.5 hours or more to apply for a 24/144 Hour Transit Visa then to leave PEK Airport, especially if you’re not familiar with the airport. It’s a good idea to stay at the airport, and leave yourself time for boarding the second flight. Even if you could get into Mutianyu Great Wall from PEK Airport on an 8.5-hour layover, but the quality of the experience would be seriously hampered by the stress of getting back in time. You might have 10-20 mins enjoyment time in total.
Mutianyu VS Badaling Great Wall: Which One is Better?
Both Badaling and Mutianyu are popular choices among visitors. Each has its own advantages/ disadvantages. Though Badaling is the most famous section of the Great Wall. visiting Mutianyu from the airports is recommended by most of the passengers to save travel time, money and energy but still enjoy a layover trip.
How Much is the Entrance Fee For the Great Wall of China?
The Great Wall of China has had an entrance fee since 1953. Admission fees for the Mutianyu Great Wall are as follows:
- Adults entrance fee RMB 45/person. There is a reduced fee for seniors elder than 60: RMB 20 (valid ID or passport required).
- Teenagers between 1.2 and 1.4 meters: entrance fee RMB 20.
- Children under 1.2 meters are free.
- Shuttle bus single ride: RMB 10;
- Shuttle bus round trip: RMB 15;
You have a few options to buy a cable car ticket. Fares for the Cable car are:
- Cable car single ride: RMB100 adults or RMB 50 kids for kids between 120cm and 140cm;
- Cable car round trip: RMB 120 adults or RMB 60 for kids between 120cm and 140cm;
Can You Buy Tickets For Mutianyu Great Wall On the Day?
Yes, you can buy tickets on the day of your visit from 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’s no direct train service from both PEK and PKX airports to the Great Wall. The fastest and most stress-free transfer from Beijing airports to the Great Wall is to taxi or private car.
Is There a Direct Bus Between Beijing Airports and the Great Wall?
No, there is no direct bus from Beijing airports to the Great Wall. However, there are services departing from PEK Airport Terminals 3 and arriving at Xinying Station(辛营站) via Hualikan Station(花梨坎站) near Mutianyu Great Wall. The journey, including transfers, costs RMB 14 per person and takes approximately 3 hours.
What is the Cheapest Way to Get From Beijing Airports to the Great Wall?
The cheapest way to get from Beijing Airports to the Great Wall is to bus which costs RMB 14 from PEK airport to Mutianyu, and 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 the Bus 916 to Yujiayuanyiqu Station (approximately 60-90 minutes).
- Step 3: cross the road again to the other side and take the 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 airports to the Great Wall is to taxi, or book a car in advance, which takes only 90 minutes from PEK Airport to Mutianyu.
What is the Best Way to Get From Beijing Airports to the Great Wall?
A private car trip can avoid any queue for local taxis at airport. It is quick, convenient and most stress-free to travel to the Great Wall from the airports. Your driver will take you out to Mutianyu directly and back. You have time to visit and have driver wait, then return you to the airport by a certain time to catch your next flight.
Pre-booking a car will save your valuable time, and in a Beijing layover situation, that might provide the best value. If there are more than two of you it will be very cost-effective to hire a private car from Beijing airports to the Great Wall.
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.
If you hail a taxi at the airport, the taxi driver will always calculate a metered fare. And when you’ve reached Mutianyu Great Wall, the costs are much higher than you anticipated. If you don’t speak Chinese and don’t have a Chinese phone number it may be hard to coordinate with the driver.
Be aware that PKX airport is a little far from the city, during the daytime, taxi fare for travel from PEK airport to downtown is usually higher than that from PKX airport to downtown.
Alternatively, you can save yourself the trouble and the costs by pre-booking private car tour to Mutianyu through travel agents or specialist tour operators, and there will be no surprises about the prices. You’ll get a fixed price in advance without starting rate, waiting rate, and rate per kilometer.
Is it Easy to Get a Taxi From Beijing Airport?
Taxis are easy at PEK/PKX airports. When you land in PEK/PKX airports there is a taxi stand outside that will allow you to order your taxi from a live person.
Please note PKX airport is a little far from the city, during the daytime, taxi fare for travel from PEK airport to downtown is usually higher than that from PKX airport to downtown.
Some of the drivers will also speak a little English and, if you’re in the mood, they love to practice 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 on a Beijing overnight layover:
- Pick a hotel that’s just a short walk from the city subway station: Some prefer to travel into 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 of these 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 when it’s at its quietest early in the morning or late afternoon, and also enjoy sunrise/sunset over the wall if 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 that have 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 be sure to check your carrier’s website.
- Sleep in airport lounge: If you are an economy class traveler, you can wait for your flight in the comfort of a 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 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 Airports?
Yes, if sleeping in PEK airport overnight is not for you, there are many transit hotels nearby PEK Airport that provide courtesy airport shuttle service for their guests. Ask your hotel about shuttle service details and availability before booking a room.
The 8 transit hotels listed below are prime examples:
- Beijing Aulympic 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, Suwei 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
Are Beijing Airports Safe at Night?
Generally, both PEK and PKX airports are safe at night as long as you take normal precautions that one should expect to do when sleeping in public places. However, it never hurts to keep your common sense and your wits about you.
The chance of being shot or stabbed in any airport in China, let alone PEK/PKX, is very low, as generally there are a lot of police around, and they tend to have quite heavy security at airports for the reasons of safety.
Both airports are busy during the day, while most terminals are quiet overnight, with few flights and little foot traffic.
Mutianyu Travel Tips-Four Things to Know:
- At Mutianyu, you do have to be prepared to walk on some fairly rough and demanding terrain for about half-hour, though most part of Wall is quite flat.
- Having some good footwear is a good idea before you go.
- Using a cable car/chair lift can help you avoid the initial climb up.
- You may want to entertain yourself by riding the toboggan down. The toboggan is a favorite among kids and it’s very safe to use.
- If your outbound flight is international and your main bags are already checked through, then you’ll need to be back at the terminal about 1.5 -2 hours before your departure, in order to have time to deal with immigration and security, and get your boarding pass for your next flight.
How to Get into the Center of Beijing From the Airports
- PEK airport: You can take the Airport Express Train at PEK airport, which is 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 spot. You’ll also need to make a transfer or two onto the Beijing subway to the city center after 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 cost you RMB 25 per person. But be forewarned, you’ll have to drag your luggage up and down a lot of stairs, and then you still have to get from the subway station to your hotel.