After reading some reviews and doing some online search, we decided to go with Beijing Downtown Backpackers. They provided everything we needed (transportation both ways, all entrance fees and bridge toll) and none of the stuff we didn’t need (shopping stops, meals, etc), all for 260RMB per person. That’s hard to beat. What you get in return is awesome scenery, a great workout, relief away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and a tactile sense of history and time. Unlike Badaling, which has been restored to postcard perfect, the section of the Great Wall between Jinshanling and Simatai is mostly left as-is except for some spot fixes for safety. To be able to climb the eroded steps put together by hand centuries ago and walk into the crumbling watchtowers that once stood guard of the Middle Kingdom is a privilege and a humbling experience.
Note: The vendors at the various watchtowers are relaxed and friendly, but the ones at the start of Jinshanling can be pushy and they may even follow you for a short distance. Just be firm if you do not want to purchase their goods.More