Plan your Beijing tours? Visiting the Forbidden City ( The Palace Museum ) is no doubt one of your travel highlights in Beijing. Before starting your visit, it is quite helpful for you to grab some basic travel tips for visiting the Forbidden City.
The Forbidden City is a must see highlight for every first time visitor to Beijing. Be preppared for crowds of people like you visiting this complex. Try to avoid visiting the Forbidden City on weekends or public holidays. On these tourist peak days, the hoards of people are so thick that you could hardly see anything at all.
Many tour groups ( most domestic ones) seem to aggregate and move about with their whistles, banners, and colored caps. In many cases, you have to elbow your way to see and take pictures.
We also recommend you come hereeither early in the morning or in the later afternoon to beat the crowds, enjoy the Forbidden City as it once was before the masses turn up and ruin your photo opportunity’s.
Below are the opening times for your timing your visit.Open daily all year exccept on Monday
( Monday is closed )
Note: Monday is still open during Chinese Public Holidays
April 1st – October 31 ( 8:30 – 17:00 )
Last Entry at 16:10
Tickets sold until 16:00
November 1st – March 31 (8:30 – 16:30)
Last Entry at 15:40
Tickets sold until 15:30
Tip # 02: Choose the Right Entrance
There are two entrances to the Forbidden City – the southern gate ( Meridian Gate – Wumen) and northern gate(Gate of Divine – Shenwu Men). The southern gate is linked to Tiananmen Square to the south. You have to enter Forbidden City from its southern gate and eixt from its northern gate, which is officially set as a one-way south to north travel route.
Below is the admission policy for planning your budget:
The Museum accepts Master Card, Visa, and PayUnion cards for ticket purchase.
November 1st – March 31st : 40 yuan
2. Special 20 yuan tickets are available for China’s elementary, middle school, and university students (including foreign students studying in Chinese universities) with valid student I.D. or certified letter from school administrator (including students from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, excluding graduate and adult education students).
Enter Forbidden City through its Southern gate ( Meridian Gate – Wumen)
Tip # 03 View the Turrets of Forbidden City and its surrounding moat.
One primary thing that is often missed is visiting the magnificent turrets of Forbidden City and its surrounding moat. There are four beautiful turrets of the same structure on the four corners of Forbidden City. Each turret tower has nine griders, eighteen columns and 72 ridges. The two turrets on the northeast and northwest corners offer the best photo opportunity.
The turret are inaccessible to visitors. People usually finish their visit to Forbidden and exit from its north gate. Then turn either right for the northeast turret tower or left for the northwest turret tower outside Forbidden City.
Tip # 04: Move up to Jingshan Park ( A Panoramic View of Forbidden City)
Jingshan Park is not to be missed a visit during your tour in Beijing. Jingshan just sits across the north gate of Forbidden City. After finishing your visit of Forbidden City from south to north, you exit from Forbidden City’s north gate.
Raising your head, you will find a pavilion with three layered eaves perched on a hill. The hill is called Jingshan Hill ( Coal Hill or prospect Hill). Jingshan Hill is an ideal place to have an panoramic view of Forbidden City and Beijing as whole.
Tip # 05: Choose Your Right Transportation
Visitors are highly recommended to use Beijing Transportation – bus, subway and taxi. Please note that taxis are not allowed to stop either at the southern gate or northern gate.
For the southern gate ( Wu men), take bus No.1, 10, 120, 126, 2, 20, 37, 4, 52, 59, 728, 802, or Te 1, to “Tian’an Men East” (Tian’an men dong). Or take bus No. 1, 10, 22, 37, 4, 5, 52, 728, 802, or Te1, to “Tian’an men West” (Tian’an men xi).
For the nothern gate (Shenwu men), take bus No. 101, 103, 109, 111, 124, 810, 685, 814, 846, or Zhuan 1 (a suttle bus traveling between Qianmen and The Palace Museum).
By Subway ( to south gate ):
There is no parking outside the two entrance gates of the Palace Museum. The following public parking lots are located in the vicinity of the Forbidden City:
*In the back street of Jingshan Park;
*In front of the Front Gate of Beihai Park
Visitors are encouraged to visit the Museum via public transportation.
The Transportation at the North Gate of Forbidden City is a bit chaos.
After their visit of Forbidden City and exit from its north gate, most of the visitors want to continue their day trips to other attractions or destinations in Beijing like Jinshan Park ( just opposite the north gate of Forbiden City), Wangfujing Street, Beijing Zoo, Summer Palace, Fragrance Hill, Temple of Heaven, Badaling Great Wall, Beijing Railway Station, Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station…
But some of them are totally bewildered by Jinshan Front Street in front of the north gate of Forbidden City, which is unaccessible and blocked by fences on both sides of the road. And visitors are at a loss on how to take a bus, taxi or subway since there are no buses, no taxis and no subway lines by the north gate of Forbbiden City.Please check How to Take a Bus or Taxi at the North Gate of Forbidden City for more information.
Taking a rickshaw at the north gate is a rip-off.
Don’t ever take a Rickshaw at the north gate of Forbidden City unless you feel like getting lost and extorted. So if you visit Forbidden City by getting to a wrong gate (north gate), don’t use a local rickshaw to get back to the south gate, just walk to the right gate (south gate). For the same reason, if you exit from the north gate after visiting Forbidden City, don’t use a rickshaw for your next place.
Tip # 06: Well Schedule Your Visiting Time
The Forbidden City is huge, covering an area of 72 hectares. Normally you should cruise through in two or three hours. Plan this together with Tiananmen Square, Jinshan Park or Beihai park. Please keep in mind that Tickets sold until 15:30(November 1st – March 31); Tickets sold until 16:00(April 01 – October).
Tip # 07: Hire a Legal Tour Guide or Audio Guides
The Forbidden City is much worth visiting, but unless you know the history very well, you should use a Beijing Tour Guides. You are not advised to use the tourist guides around the entrance. They are self-employed tour guides.
So, try to find a reliable travel agency for your tour guide services or the Recorded guide. The recorded audio guides: these are available for rent walking form south to north. There are numerous signs in English by each building. An actual book would probably better serve you if you want to understand what you are seeing.
Tip # 08: Dress for the Hot Weather
There are very few trees with little shade the Forbbden City. It is super hot during the summer. So if coming here in summer, be ready to bring an umbrella for sun protection, bottles of water, and comfy walking shoes. Check Beijing Climate for more information.
Tip # 9 Wear Comfortable Shoes
There are lots of outdoor areas so you can’t do a lot of hiding from the sun or rain. Wear your most comfortable shoes. It’s a long walk! strollers and wheelchairs are available for free at the tourist guide service at both southern gate and the northern gate.
Tip # 10: Avoid Tour Vendors on the Street
There are some tour vendors at each entrance selling their excursions to the Great Wall. Just ignore all handouts that will be forced upon you. Especially bus tours. They are all too good to be true, and you will be disapointed. See Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing for more information.
Tip # 11: Be vigilant on Tea House Scam and Ticket Touts
A kind reminder that Tea House Scams and ticket touts could possibly pester you around Forbidden City area. Below is a trip report by a victim from Sri Lanka named Akalan.I wish I read this page 1 week earlier! I was a victim to the “Tea House” scam. The scammer, a lady was very clever. I came to the Tiananmen area and was going to buy the ticket to enter the forbidden city. A lady who was walking besides me casually said “Hello” and started a chat while walking.
In fact this was my 4th trip to China, but first trip to Beijing. Many a times many people, usually young ladies chatted with me and they helped me a lot. Even on the same day morning I went to the Great Wall and a young girl with good English walked with me. All those I met earlier were genuine people who just wanted to help a visitor to their country. Most of the time they did not even allow me to pay a bill, ticket price or taxi fare.
With that sort of experience, I had no suspicion on this woman. Still my priority was to get into the Forbidden city ASAP, as it was passed 3pm and I knew that the ticket sales would stop at 4 pm. This lady said that she would show me the “East gate” where I can enter without a long queue. Yes, there was a queue of people at the main entrance.
Simply followed her advice and she walked with me to “show” the entrance. On the way she said she is from Xi’An (a city I visited 1 month ago) and we had quite a good conversation on history, culture and languages. She also explained some history of the area.
She said her friends from another province are there and they will meet them in 10 min. If I can wait 10 min, they also can join me to go inside the Forbidden city.
While waiting for them, she suggested me to sit somewhere and have a tea or fruit juice. In fact after walking and climbing whole morning in Great Wall area, I was thirsty and wanted to sit and stretch my legs. So I agreed.
I tried to sit on some chairs laid outside, but she suggested to go inside – less noisy, less dust and air conditioned!
I picked a Chinese tea and the scam began! You know the rest. Yes, she split the bill, still I lost a few hundred! Worst thing was that she took me to a gate, assuring that I could enter from there, but obviously there were no ticket counters. I had to get to an electric car. The driver charged 20, instead of 2, as he sensed my urgency!
He actually did not take me to the ticket counters, instead, he stopped somewhere and a woman approached me. She was telling me that the ticket counters are closed and she would sell a ticket to me for 100 ! I did not want to let some one rip me off for 3rd time, within 15 min. Finally when I found the ticket counters, they were closed! So I missed the Forbidden City!
Tip # 12: Hail a Taxi on the Road
Please note that taxis are not allowed to stop either at the nothern gate or south gate. Some people approaching you for taxi service after you finish your visit at the Forbidden City, may be black taxi drivers. Just avoid them and hail a taxi on the road.
Vehicle Drivers and Taxis are not allowed to stop at the nothern gate (Shenwu men) according to the local traffic regulations, Visitors exiting from the northern gate need to walk further either east or west to hail a taxi or take a bus.
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