How to Plan a Great Wall Layover Tour From Beijing Airport

Written by Sally Guo Updated Jul. 11, 2023

Beijing now offers visa-free stays for 24/72/144 hours. Travelers from qualified countries are allowed to visit Beijing and the Great Wall without a visa. Those who are eligible for the visa-free policy can travel from the airport to the Great Wall. You may want to explore the Great Wall of China during your layover in Beijing. See below for our suggestions on how to plan your trip effectively.

The Great Wall
The Great Wall

Choose the Best Airports to Land in Beijing

Beijing is served by two airports: the Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) and Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX).

Great Wall layover tour
The Best Airports to Land in Beijing

Beijing Capital International Airport is still the major airport in Beijing, located 25 kilometers from the city center. Compared to Daxing Airport, it has more flights and is closer to the city center and the Great Wall, and it also has more international flights.

Beijing Daxing International Airport is a newly opened airport located to the south of Beijing city, about 35 kilometers from Beijing city center and approximately 130 kilometers away from the Great Wall.

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.

If you want to have a quick trip to the Great Wall or to go sightseeing in the city, we suggest you use Beijing Capital International Airport for its proximity. It is also easy to hire a car or take a taxi at the airport and there are also more airport express buses from Beijing Capital International Airport to the city center.

The Time You Need For a Great Wall Layover Tour

You need at least 9 hours to 1 day for the layover time. If you land at Beijing Capital Airport, you need at least 9 hours for a tour to visit the Great Wall at Mutianyu. If you land at Daxing Airport, you will need at least 1 day because Daxing Airport is further away from the Great Wall.

The nearest section of the Great Wall, Mutianyu, is 1.5 hours away. You also need time to exit the plane and go through border control. It takes about 4.5 hours to reach the Mutianyu Great Wall from the moment your plane lands.

If your layover time is less than 9 hours, we don't suggest you take the tour to the Great Wall, as you may not have enough time to enjoy the trip. Otherwise, you may risk delaying your next flight.

Given this limited time, it is advisable to book a layover tour with an experienced travel company that can plan a time-efficient itinerary for you and maximizes your time on the wall.  

Choose the Best Great Wall Sections for Your Layover Tour

Great Wall layover tour
the Best Great Wall Sections for layover tour

The four Great Wall sections suitable for your layover tour from Beijing airport include Mutianyu, Huanghuacheng, Simatai, and Badaling. Which sections to visit depends on the length of your layover time and your arrival time.

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

If you have a layover of around 9 hours and an early morning arrival, we suggest visiting the Mutianyu Great Wall, as it is the closest to the airport. The wall is fully restored and quiet with fewer travelers. There are also cable cars to the wall, which can save you time and energy.

If you arrive in the afternoon, we suggest visiting the Simatai and Huanghuacheng sections of the Great Wall, as these two sections stay open in the evening. Especially the Simatai Great Wall, where you can enjoy a beautiful night tour on the wall.

We don't recommend choosing the Badaling Great Wall, as it is always crowded, and you may need to queue a long time for the cable car to get to the wall. Please ask our travel advisers for more suggestions for your layover tour.

Travel Time from Airport to Great Wall

Travel time from the PEk airport to the Great Wall sections

Great Wall Distance Travel time (hours)
Mutianyu 66 1.5
Badaling 78 1.5-2
Huanghuacheng 77 2
Simatai 139 2.5
Jinshanling 144 2.5
Gubeikou 139 2.5
Jiankou 90 2
Juyongguan 68 1.5-2

Travel Time From the Daxing Airport to the Great Wall

Great Wall Distance Travel time (hours)
Mutianyu 125 2.5
Badaling 140 2-2.5
Huanghuacheng 140 2.5-3
Simatai 190 3-3.5
Jinshanling 200 3-3.5
Gubeikou 200 3-3.5
Jiankou 130 2.5-3
Juyongguan 125 1.5-2

How to Get to the Great Wall from Beijing Airport?

The Great Wall is about a 2-hour drive from Beijing's airports. As there are no direct buses from the airport to any sections of the Great Wall, we suggest you take a layover tour with a private transfer.

You will be picked up at the airport exit and driven directly to the Wall. Your travel advisor will arrange the optimal Great Wall section for you. Your experienced guide and driver are well-versed in traffic situations and will do their best to help you avoid as much traffic as possible, saving you time on the way.

Public Transportation to the Great Wall - Not Recommended!

If you attempt to reach the Great Wall by public transportation, you would first need to take the Airport Express to Beijing city center, then transfer to a public bus to the Great Wall. This approach can be quite time-consuming. Locating the station for the public bus alone could be an exhausting endeavor.

 Tips for Planning Your Great Wall Layover Tour

1. For a fast and efficient Great Wall tour, we suggest you book with an experienced travel agency like China Travel. Your guide and driver will ensure you spend more time at the Wall and less time in traffic.

2. Ideally, arrive early morning for a full day in Beijing, then depart in the evening.

3. Avoid planning tours during busy Chinese holidays such as May Day, National Holiday, and New Year Holiday. The Wall gets crowded, and you may lose time waiting for cable cars. Weekends tend to be busier than weekdays.

4. If possible, allocate at least two days for your Great Wall tour. This allows for a relaxed visit and a deeper exploration of the Wall.

Jinshanling Great Wall
Jinshanling Great Wall

Explore the Great Wall with China Travel

Choose China Travel for your Great Wall Layover tour. We will make all arrangements according to your arrival and departure times, saving you hassles and maximizing your time at the magnificent Wall. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and fully immerse yourself in the delightful adventure. Contact us now!

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