Forbidden City Travel Tips – The Palace Museum Travel Tips

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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.

Forbidden City

Tip # 01: Try to Avoid Weekends or  Chinese Holidays
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.
Forbidden City entrance fees:
April 1st – October 31st : 60 yuan
November 1st – March 31st : 40 yuan
1. Children under 120 cm in height are free of charge.
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)

Enter Forbidden City through its Southern Gate

   You have to eixt from its northern gate(Gate of Divine – Shenwu Men). 

You have to eixt from its northern gate.

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.

The Southwest Turret of Forbidden City

The Southwest Turret of 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.

A panoramic view of Forbidden City at night 2

A panoramic view of Forbidden City at night 2

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.

By Bus:
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 ):

Take Line 1 to Tian’an men East or “Tian’an men West” (Tian’an men xi).  
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:
*Outside the East Prosperity Gate (Donghua men)
*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).

Take the Forbidden City home

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.

I 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.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.


33 Responses to “Forbidden City Travel Tips – The Palace Museum Travel Tips”

  1. A R Fleck says:

    We took a taxi to the Forbidden City. I was surprised that he dropped us at the Northern Gate – your post says specifically that they are not allowed to. However, I say a long line of taxis on either side of the road and reasoned this was okay. Wrong. You cannot enter by the North Gate – which your post says specifically you can. That means a greater than 1.5 km walk to the South Gate.

    After just starting the walk we decided to take two pedal rickshaws – big mistake. After a meandering route through some very unattractive Hutongs we were dropped at least 500m from the Southern Gate (with no clear directions even how to find the entrance) and were charged an exhorbitant fee.

    After touring the City, guess what? We’re back at the Northern Gate. Guess what (as your site correctly suggests)? All of the taxis there are black and want an exorbitant rate to take us back to our hotel. Here we go again – a 1.5 km walk to the Subway station at the Southern Gate.
    So although the Forbidden City is a wonderful place to visit, the experience was spoiled by deception and inconvenience.

  2. Martha says:

    I will be in Beijing next week and would like a more extensive tour of The Forbidden City, not just the usual 2-3 hour tour.
    What would you suggest?

  3. admin says:

    You may wander in Forbidden City within the business hours in a day.
    Open daily all year.
    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

  4. admin says:

    Fleck, sorry for our misleading information that has caused you so much trouble. Now the northern gate is only for exiting, no longer for entering, a one-way travel route from south gate to north gate which was offially set on July 2, 2011. This one way travel route is aimed at avoiding possible “collision ” between two huge crowds of travelers moving from south gate and north gate, specially during holiday season.

  5. dave gorrell says:

    I would like an extensive and detailed visit to the Clock collection in the Forbidden City. Can that be arranged? Can one photograph the clocks in the collection or on display? Who needs to be contacted to do this sort of thing/ Thanks, Dave

  6. admin says:

    The Clock Collection Hall is located within the Forbidden City. You first buy an entrance ticket for the Forbidden City. Then you walk to the Hall of Clock Collection, then you buy the entrance ticket for the Hall of Clock Collection on the spot. You can spend inside the hall as long as you can within the opening hours. You can take pictures inside the clock collection hall.

  7. Gautam says:

    We shall be visiting in mid August. Is it possible to get a good guide at the Fobidden City to take us around? How much will he/she charge?

  8. admin says:

    Yes, English speaking tour guide are available inside Fordden City. The price for hiring a tour guide: CNY 200 per hour. Please don’t use the tour guides from outside Forbidden City, who may be not registered tour guides.

    Or you may use Audio Guides offered by the Forbidden City for a small money. Have a nice trip!

  9. Evitha says:

    What will be the temperature like in November? Will it be too cold? Going to Beijing in November..

  10. admin says:

    Hello Evitha,

    It is ok to visit Beijing in November. Please check the daily temperature by looking into the Historical Weather Data for November by visiting the page below: . Have a nice trip to Beijing in November!

  11. Joe says:

    Can I rent a wheelchair at the south gate and then return it at the north gate to avoid backtracking as it looks like a very long walk ?

  12. admin says:

    Hello Joe,

    Basically, you can rent a wheelchair at the south gate and return them at the north gate. The use of a wheelchair is free, but you have to pay RMB 500 as a deposit at the south gate and you get the money back at the north gate.

    One annoying thing about renting a wheelchair is that you cannot reserve your wheelchair at the south gate in advance. You have to go there by yourself. If you are lucky, you will have the chance to rent a wheelchair. Nobody knows how many wheelchairs are available and how many people are going to rent. Good Luck!

  13. wm richard says:

    how far forbidden city from tiannamen square? and how to go there? i menas from subway line 1/ tiannamen square..pls advice me

  14. Daniel says:

    Hello wm richard,

    Tiananmen Square is adjacent to the south entrance to the Forbbiden City. You take subway line 1 and get off either at the station of East Tiananmen or West Tiananmen. Once you get to Tiananmen Square, you just follow the throng to walk to Forbbiden City.

  15. Mel says:


    We will be going to Beijing on 2 to 5 November. Can you recommend hotel near to Forbidden City or Great Wall. In which place preferable to stay?

    Thank you.

  16. Daniel says:

    Hello Mel,

    Please check the link below for more information on where to stay in Beijing:

    Have a nice stay in Beijing!

  17. Paul McAdam says:

    My wife and I will be staying at the Jade Garden Hotel, Beijing. Is this within walking distance of Tianamen Square or would you recommend taking a taxi.

  18. Daniel says:

    Hello Paul McAdam,

    The Jade Garden Hotel has a good location, walking south for 800m and turn right, you will see Tiananmen Square and just about 400m just to Forbidden City, no need for taxi!

  19. Swarrior says:

    Unfortunately didn’t we did not read the no-rickshaw recommendations and also got caught up in the “rickshaw” scam. The same situation, seller in front of gate was yelling 3 Yuan or even 2 Yuan. Alarm bells started ringing when the driver didn’t take the turn on the road to the entrance, first time and again when we turn into hutongs and became all alone. Then the drivers stopped in dead-end and said 300Y and also pulled out the 300 Yuan card. We told him to forget it and offered 3 Yuan. Try to call a police but 112 suggest you to call 120 or 122, but 120 and 122 hang up calls. After some pushing and yelling they disappear with 50Y per person. Drop point was few corners from east-bridge to Forbidden city and just one corner from police camera….surprisingly.
    As already it was said here before they do not escalate conflict beyond a few physical pushes and don’t use any weapons. Probably punishment for robbery with violence is strict.

  20. Daniel says:

    Hello Swarrior,

    Thanks for your time writing your rickshaw experience at the north gate of Forbidden city. The right police call in Beijing and other cities in China is 110. So next time just call 110. Kind regards.

  21. Fauziah says:


    I am planning to visit the forbidden city early Jan 2014. I haven’t on where to stay. I want to stay nearby so I can walk to the forbidden city. My budget is USD60 or below/ night. Any recommendation?

  22. Daniel says:

    Hello Fauziah,

    Please read my post below ( where to stay in Beijing ) and check the hotels under the title of “Hotels in Central Beijing (Imperial Center)”

  23. Esther says:

    Can you please advise if Emperor Qianlong’s Lodge of Retirement – Juanqinzhai is open to the general public? How much does it cost to visit? I am planning another visit in October 2013, and very much hope to see this wondrous building.

    Many thanks…

  24. Daniel says:

    Hello Esther,

    As far as I know, at the time of my writing, it is not open to the general public, just have an outside look at the building.

  25. Shelley vey says:

    We are staying at the china world shangri la hotel can you walk to tiananmin square and forbidden city . How far to walk

  26. Daniel says:

    Hello Shelley Vey,

    So you stay at China world shangri la hotel ( No.01 Jiangguomenwai Avenue, Beijing ), right? If yes, it is very convenient for you to go from your hotel to Tiananmen and its attached Forbidden City.

    You just walk along Jiangguomenwai Avenue ( actually this avenue is part of Chang’an Avenue ) to the west direction. Tiananmen Square is about 6.3km to the west of your hotel, about 1 and 20 minutes’ walk.

    Or you may take the subway line 1 from Guomao Station (国贸)just next to your hotel and take the subway to the west direction and get off at the 5th station of East Tiananmen Square (天安门东站) and exit from Exit A. The subway ride including walking involved takes you about 30 minutes.

    By the way, after visiting Tiananmen Square, you can easily walk to the Forbidden City, just follow the crowds since many travelers follow the same itinerary walking from Tiananmen to Forbidden City.

    Have a good time in Beijing!

  27. Myrna Mesana says:

    Is badaling side of great wall opened now.? Since ive read an article that its close for renovation.pls ansr.tnx

  28. Daniel says:

    Hello Myrna Mesana,

    Badaling Great Wall is open and you can visit Badaling Great Wall. But the cable car system is closed for renovation. When the cable service will be back to normal is still unknown.

  29. Mimay says:

    hi. would it be fine if we will not hire tour guide/s in beijing? plans include going to badaling great wall, zoo, forbidden city, tianamen square etc. perhaps taxis and subways are always available and are good enough to make our trips more exciting! :)

  30. Daniel says:

    Hello Mimay,

    Generally, Beijing is friendly to independent travelers. Most of the highlights can be easily reached by subway( easy to handle ) and public buses ( a bit challenging). I suggest you using subway (underground ) or taxis ( on the ground for more sightseeing ).

    1. Badaling Great Wall + Beijing Zoo
    You may take the S Train from Beijing North Railway Station to Badaling Great Wall. Back to Beijing North Railway Station and walk to the next door Beijing Zoo.


    Have a good time in Beijing!

  31. A.A says:


    How do I get to Jingshan Park from the North gate (since both sides of Jingshan Front St is blocked)?


  32. Daniel says:

    Hello A A,

    You may cross the road by going through the underground tunnel.

  33. Longmeat Larry says:

    Its my first day in China, and I almost had the “Tea House Scam” pulled on me by 3 ladies. Funny that they did exactly what everyone warns you about, but to me they were unsuspecting scammers because they were not good looking. I had just finished touring the Forbidden City when I met these ladies who claimed be English teachers on vacation. I figured that since they were not so attractive they were just being friendly, so I accepted their offer to have tea. As we walked, I continued to be aware of my surroundings, making sure someone was not about to come up from behind me and pick my pocket or hit me over the head. But before right before we arrived to the tea house I told them I was in a hurry and had to get back to my hotel. That’s when they became pushy and I finally realized they were trying to scam me. So, NO, they CAN’T fool any foreigner.
    I think the reason I almost fell for this is because I’ve spent a lot of time in Latin American countries where people are generally warm and friendly and its quite often they’ll buy you drinks and introduce you to their girlfriends just so they can hangout and show a foreigner a good time.
    Its only my first day here, so I really can’t pass judgement on the locals. But watch your back around these tourist attractions.

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