How to get to the Great Wall of China on the Public Bus

I realise that this is a very niche blog post. If you’re not going there, don’t read it. But if you are, it could change your life (well, it could make your day a lot better anyway).

We attempted to get a public bus from Beijing to the Great Wall of China and I found it difficult to find information on this topic from guidebooks or tourist information. The internet was the best source. We managed it, but as I described in my last blog, it was a total nightmare.  So here are my tips, in case you want to attempt it:-

Getting there

  1. Ensure you have 12 yuan per person in cash for the bus.
  2. Take the subway to Jishuitan on line 2 (blue line).
  3. Use exit A and turn right to leave the station, then head left down the road.
  4. Carry on walking straight for approx 10 minutes. The bus station should be on your left hand side, but do not walk into it. Carry on straight. You will see about 3 or 4 bus stops on this road, all with the number 919 on them. These are not for you. If you slow down you will be approached by touts trying to convince you that this is the bus to the Great Wall of China. Ignore them. They are trying to get you onto their (more expensive) private bus. Staff for the public bus company wear a bright blue uniform and tend to ignore you. If someone is pestering you to get you onto their bus then the chances are they do not work for the public bus!
  5. Continue past these bus stops and eventually you will come to a large stone watchtower in the middle of a traffic junction, with a large yard of buses and people to the left of the watchtower. All of the buses will say “bus 919” on the front.
  6. Cross the road to get to the buses. Ignore the first large bus queue you come to. Join the second queue, located in the centre of the yard.
  7. Check with the staff (dressed in bright blue) that the bus goes to Badaling.
  8. Double check this by ensuring that the fare is 12 Yuan per person when you get on the bus.
  9. The whole thing is very confusing but the only way to do it is to ignore all the touts. That’s what got us through, and I must give credit to this blog, which gave us our information before we went!

Getting back

The large queue behind a rope which runs along the back of the car park next to the shops is a queue for the bus 919, SEATING only. It moves incredibly slowly, but it seemed fairly ordered and everyone in that queue will eventually get a seat.

The smaller, unofficial queues in the middle of the car park are queues for STANDING room only. These queues are faster moving but as they are not controlled by a rope (or at all), they are chaotic, with more people queue-jumping than queuing, and with people pushing. Not for the feint-hearted!

The system appears to be that a bus 919 goes to the front of the “seating” queue, and the seats are all filled up. Then the bus comes to the front of one of the many “standing” queues, and people stampede onto the bus.

I would advise joining the “seating” queue rather than the “standing” one, firstly because the “standing” queue was a nightmare, and secondly because you have to stand for the 1 hour journey to Beijing, packed in like sardines. No-one wants that… you want to sit down and fall asleep dreaming about what a wonderful day you’ve had. You don’t want to become intimately acquainted with half of Beijing.

If all else fails, thank god that taxis exist! They’re not my first choice due to cost, but they are preferable to a sleepover at the Great Wall.

Great Wall of China 2I hope this is helpful. I also hope that the bus company can whip this into shape, as a bit more order in the bus queue would sort this out!

Next blog: Food in Beijing

Previous blog: Great Wall of China


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