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Chang’An Da Jie (Central Beijing)
(86) 010-8500-7421/7420 | www.dpm.org.cn
HOURS/TIMESApr. 1-Oct. 31: Daily: 8:30am-5:00pm; Nov. 1-Mar. 31: Daily: 8:30am-4:30pm
PRICEApr. 1-Oct. 31: RMB 60; Nov. 1-Mar. 31: RMB 40; Students (with valid ID): RMB 20
POPULAR TIMESWeekends; summers; national holidays (weeks of Apr. 5, May 1, Oct. 1)
RESERVE IN ADVANCENo
WAIT TIME WITHOUT RESERVATIONNone
HIGHLIGHTSHall of Supreme Harmony; residential quarters
METROTiananmen East; Tiananmen West
When Beijing was selected as the site of the imperial capital over a millennium ago, the entire city was planned from the center outwards, with the emperor’s throne in the Hall of Supreme Harmony placed at the highest point and exact geographical center of the new city. From there radiated the Forbidden City, an exclusive walled compound with sumptuous gardens and thousands of palaces, each one distinct, yet all united by their dusky vermillion walls and gleaming yellow tiled roofs. Though the complex has undergone many renovations as it changed hands from Yuan to Ming to Qing Dynasty (the "current version" was built in 1422), its careful alignment at the heart of the city and its brilliant coloring have remained unchanged, providing a striking contrast with the subdued blues and grays of the surrounding Old City streets. As it was operated as a self-contained “city” within the larger city of Beijing for the emperor and his “immediate” family (including hundreds of concubines), the complex includes everything from grandiose pavilions and splendid gardens to intimate living quarters and practical domestic spaces.
GO HERE WITH
Architecture and history buffs; friends; family; kids
WHY WE LIKE IT
It’s an absolute must see. The architecture is incredible, the history equally so. Make sure to spend as much time scoping the quiet back alleyways and living quarters as the magnificent throne rooms. (Over the next few years, an extra 4,000 rooms are scheduled to be opened to the public, so there should be plenty of quiet corners to explore.)
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
Not much. Exploring such a vast, cobblestoned space can be exhausting, so more benches under shady trees for us to rest our weary legs would be nice.
GOOD TO KNOW
According to traditional Chinese belief, heaven has 10,000 rooms, so in order to ever-so-modestly show deference to the gods, the Forbidden City allegedly has exactly 9,999. The audio guide is quite informative, especially if you’re into history. Guides are available in 20+ languages (the English version is narrated by Roger Moore) at both the north and south entrances and cost RMB 40 (plus a deposit of RMB 100). Last entry to the Forbidden City is 50 minutes before closing–though we’d recommend giving yourself way more time than that. No smoking allowed, and no photography is allowed in many of the interior exhibitions. International credit cards accepted.
Summer Palace (Beijing)
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