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Planning a trip to the Great Wall

Los Angeles Times
THE BEST WAY TO THE GREAT WALL
From Los Angeles to Beijing, Air China, United and US Airways offer nonstop service, and Northwestern, Air China and China Eastern offer connecting service (change of plane). Restricted round-trip fares begin at $874.
WHERE TO SEE THE WALL
The most popular destinations near Beijing are Badaling (43 miles), Mutianyu (53 miles), Jinshanling (68 miles) and Simatai (68 miles). Packaged day trips to these sites can be purchased from hotels and travel agencies in the capital. Increasingly, specialty travel agencies and clubs are offering new ways to experience the fortifications in the Beijing area, including camping and hiking along wild, unrestored sections.
REACHING THE WALL
ó Beijing Public Transport: Hiring a car and driver to Beijing-area wall sites can cost $100 or more, so you may want to try other options. Beijing Public Transport runs special tourist buses from various long-distance stations in the city to Badaling, Mutianyu, Simatai and Jinshanling; www.bjbus.com.
ó Railway service to Badaling is available at the Xizhimen Train Station in northwestern Beijing.
TELEPHONES
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 86 (country code for China) and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY
ó Commune by the Great Wall, at Shuiguan exit, Badaling Highway, Beijing, 10-8118-1888, www.kempinski.com or www.communebythegreatwall.com/en, is within walking distance of a spur of the wall and about 20 minutes by car to Badaling. Doubles start at $365. All prices include breakfast and a 15 percent service charge.
ó Red Capital Ranch by the Wall, 28 Xiaguandi village, Yanxi township, Huairou district, Beijing, 10-8401-8886, www.redcapitalclub.com.cn/ranch, is a small, stylish resort near Mutianyu with stone villas patterned on a Manchurian hunting lodge. The Great Wall crosses the property, then climbs the ridgelines to the east and west; doubles start at $209. Rates include breakfast and 15 percent service charge.
HIKING, BIKING, CAMPING ETC.
ó Beijing Hikers, 10-5829-3195, www.beijinghikers.com, offers hikes on weekends, several of which reach the Great Wall; $50 per adult, $29 for 11 and younger. The group offers Great Wall overnighters in spring and fall, with bus transport, guided hikes, village-style accommodations and meals. Beijing visitors are welcome.
ó CnAdventure, 1 Elephant Plaza, Andingmen East Binhe Road, Dongcheng; 10-5166-9102, www.cnadventure.com, has one-, two-, seven- and 14-day hiking and camping trips to the Great Wall.
ó Cycle China, 12 Jingshan East St., Dongcheng; 10-6402-5653, www.cyclechina.com, has a daylong bike tour in the countryside near the Great Wall north of Beijing.
ó Down Town Backpackers, 85 Nanluogu Alley, Dongcheng, Beijing; 10-8400-2429, www.backpackingchina.com, offers daylong hikes from Jinshanling to Simatai, including round-trip bus transfer for about $35.
ó International Friends of the Great Wall, www.friendsofgreatwall.org, is a Beijing-based group dedicated to preserving the wall.
ó Mountain Yoga, 10-625-96-702, www.mountainyoga.cn, offers retreats at a tepee encampment near the Great Wall.
TO LEARN MORE
China National Tourist Office, (818) 545-7507, www.cnto.org.

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