When traveling in Beijing one of the absolute highlights is visiting The Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum. To make your visit as smooth as possible I listed my top 10 tips for visiting The Forbidden City.
1. How to buy your ticket to the Forbidden City
The maximum capacity of daily visitors is 80.000 people and on a lot of days, at the end of the day all tickets are sold out. The Forbidden City is a highly popular attraction with both locals and foreigners.
While the Chinese citizens need to buy their tickets online, as a foreigner you’re not obligated to do so.
Ticket prices and opening hours
April 1st – October 31 ( 8:30 – 17:00 )
Last Entry at 16:10
Tickets sold until 16:00
Entrance ticket:RMB 60
November 1st – March 31 (8:30 – 16:30)
Last Entry at 15:40
Tickets sold until 15:30
Entrance Ticket: RMB 40
As a foreigner get there before opening time to line up to buy your ticket! You can do so at the Southern gate at the ‘Passport Window’.
2. When should you visit the Forbidden City
When planning your visit to the Forbidden City try to avoid weekends and Chinese public holidays. On these days the place tends to be even more swarmed with tour groups and you will have to elbow your way through.
The Forbidden City is also closed on every Monday!
Either plan your visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon (but don’t forget you have to buy your ticket at the Southern entrance in the morning!).
I opted for the late afternoon and ended up having the Forbidden City almost entirely to myself in the end.
3. Bring your passport
This item gets it’s own pointer because it is so important. If you’ve bought your ticket online you can only enter upon showing your passport.
Or if you can to buy your ticket at the Southern entrance, you can only do so upon showing your passport.
4. Wear comfortable shoes
The Forbidden City is the largest imperial palace in the world and you will need at least 2 to 3 hours to explore the area! So make sure to wear comfortable shoes cause you will be doing a lot of walking.
5. Where to enter the Forbidden City
There is just one entrance to the Forbidden City, namely the Southern gate, or Meridian Gate. South of the Southern Gate is Tiananmen Tower and Tiananmen Square.
6. How to exit the Forbidden City
There is just one exit gate to Forbidden City, namely the Northern gate, or Gate of Divine, also known as Shenwu Men in Chinese.
How to get to the Southern Gate to Forbidden City?
There are three ways to reach the Southern Gate:
1) Walking to the Southern Gate from the south via Tiananmen Square under the famous Mao portrait;
2) Walking to the Southern Gate from the west via Zhongshan Park
3) Walking to the Southern Gate from the east via Donghuamen and the moat.
Although when I was there in the afternoon they also escorted people out through one of the side gates.
Hot Tip – If you’re visiting in the afternoon make sure to stay until closing time. You might be able to see the Forbidden City without almost any other people.
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7. How to get to the Forbidden City?
The easiest and cheapest way to get around in Beijing is by public transportation. The subway is a great option and everything is also explained in English. I don’t speak a word of Mandarin and it was always clear where I had to go.
There are 2 options
- Metro Line 1: drop off at Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East Station, walk north through the Tiananmen Tower (Gate of Heavenly Peace), and then you’ll find the Meridian Gate (south gate) to Forbidden City.
- Metro Line 2: drop off at Qianmen Station and walk north through the Tiananmen Tower.
Why not drive a taxi in Beijing?
Beijing is always swamped with cars so to drive a short distance it could already take you an hour and cost you a lot of money!
8. Protect yourself from the sun when visiting
When visiting during summer days make sure to put on sunscreen and maybe even wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the reflection!
Why? Cause there is almost no cover on the entire site. And since it’s about 72ha to explore you otherwise might end up with a nasty sunburn.
9. Avoid tour vendors on the street or people that try to sell you their ticket
Chances are very high that these are scams and you might end up losing a bunch of money.
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10. Best viewpoints in the Forbidden City
- Historic palace – This is usually the busiest place, except for when you wait until closing time.
- Hall of Supreme Harmony – On the sides you might find a few quiet places to take some photos!
- Yuqinggong – Especially the view through the gates is breathtaking!