This restored section of the Great Wall is Běijīng’s most-visited chunk of the brick-clad bastion. Nixon, Thatcher, Reagan, Gorbachev and Queen Elizabeth have all stamped their feet on Bādálǐng.
It ticks all the iffy Great Wall boxes in one flourish: souvenir stalls, T-shirt-flogging hawkers, restaurants, heavily restored brickwork, little authenticity, guardrails and mobs of sightseers. If you’re curious to discover how many people can fit on the wall at any one time, the big holiday periods are a good time to find out. Some guidebooks trumpet that 130-million foreign and domestic tourists have visited Bādálǐng as if it was a unique selling point. You may even pick up some Cantonese from the sheer number of Guǎngdōng folk storming the ramparts. On the plus side, the scenery is raw and striking and you get to see the Wall snaking off in classic fashion into the hills; but you can get both elsewhere.