Plan your Beijing Tour? Summer Palace was a royal palace in later Qing Dynasty, only secondary to the Forbidden City ( now the Palace Museum ).Summer Palace is actually not just a royal palace where once Princess Dowager Cixi and the emperor lived and handled court affairs, accepted laudations and received foreign diplomats during their stay in the Summer Palace.It also epitomizes classical Chinese architecture, in terms of both garden design and construction. It is the largest royal garden in Beijing, now a good retreat for holiday makers.
Tip # 01: How to time your visit
Normally 2-3 hours are needed to walk around Summer Palace itself. With your time on the city transportation included, you are advised to have allocate at least half day in visiting Summer Palace. Summer Palace presents itself with different views for different seasons.
Winter sees people skiing on the Kunming Lake; Spring time finds people breathe under fresh trees and flowers; Summer time often sees Summer Palace in a foggy day like a beautiful “water and mountain” Chinese scroll painting. Autumn is the best time walking around Summer Palace, clear and blue sky with comfortable weather.
Tip # 02: How to get to Summer Palace
1. Subway Line 4:
Take subway line 4 to the northest direction and get off at the last but one of Beigongmen (北宫门) and exit from Exit D and walk to the west, soon you will see the north gate ( Beigongmen Gate ）to Summer Palace 颐和园 (entrance fee:RMB30) on your left side.
2. Subway Line 10
Take subway line 10 to Bagou station at the end of Line 10, and then get a taxi from outside the station to the New Palace Gate (新建宫门). Or you may just walk for about 1.5km from Bagou Station to the New Palace Gate.
Get off Bagou Station, follow your nose, you will meet a river, then turn right and walk along the river bank till the New Palace Gate of Summer Palace. If confused upon which way to go upon leaving the subway, just follow the crowd.
Buses via the East Gate of the Summer Palace (颐和园正门, 东宫门)
Buses via the North Gate of the Summer Palace (北宫门
Bus 303、330、331、346、375、384、393、634、716、718、737、801、808、817、834、Express 5
Buses via the South Gate of the Summer Palace (新建宫门)
A taxi from Beijing city center will cost about RMB 80 and take about 50 minutes without much traffic.
As you finish your tour and exit, you will find some taxi drivers are reluctant or even refuse to use the meter, only do a set rate, and most don’t want to go all the way back to Beijing at all, so this can be troublesome.
Tip # 03: Buy a correct entrance ticket
There are two kinds of tickets – Entrance ticket for the garden-like complex and through ticket both for the complex itself also attractions inside the Summer Palace complex.
The ticket prices are divided onto two categories – Low Season ad Peak Season.
|Ticket Types||Unit: (RMB ¥)|
Nov – Mar
April – Oct
|Entrance Ticket||RMB ¥20||RMB ¥30||Entrance Tickets don’t include the admission to some paid attractions inside the compound of Summer Palace|
|RMB ¥10||RMB ¥15|
(Including the admission to some paid attractions inside the compound of Summer Palace)
|RMB ¥50||RMB ¥60|
|Admissions to the paid attractions inside the Summer Palace||Garden of Virtue and Harmony||RMB ¥5||RMB ¥5|
|Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha||RMB ¥10||RMB ¥10|
|Wenchang Gallery||RMB ¥20||RMB ¥20|
|Suzhou Street&Hall of Serenity||RMB ¥10||RMB ¥10|
1. You are advised to buy entrance tickets instead of through tickets.
2. Once you enter the park of Summer Palace and are also interested in some of the paid attractions inside the park, you may purchase a separate admission ticket one by one.
3. Students enjoy half prices.
4. Children under 1.2m high are free of charge.
Tip # 04: English speaking tour guides in Summer Palace
As for English speaking tour guides in Summer Palace, you have the following three choices:
1. Hire the official tour guides attached to Summer Palace at East Palace Gate (the main gate) 东宫门.
2. Hire recorded audio guides at any of the four gates of Summer Palace. You can return the audio guide at any gates.
3. There are some self-employed English speaking tour guides by the entrance gates who will actively come up to you and ask you to buy their service. Not advised to use their service.
Tip # 05: Choose the right entrance gate and tour route
So there are three main entrances to Summer Palace – East Palace Gate (the main gate), North Palace Gate and New Palace Gate (south gate).
You should get to know the gate you will go through, especially when you take a taxi or bus. Entering Summer Palace via the different three gates, you will have three different tour routes visiting Summer Palace.
Starting from New Palace Gate (south gate) Loop Line Route: New Palace Gate – Walk north along East Dyke – the former Court Area (the East Palace Gate, the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity…) – Long Corridor – Longevity Hill – Marble Boat – Ferry Boat and back to New Palace Gate (loop line)
Starting from East Palace Gate Route: East Palace Gate – the former Court Area (the East Palace Gate, the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity…) – Long Corridor – Longevity Hill – Marble Boat – Ferry Boat – New Palace Gate
Starting from North Palace Gate: North Palace Gate – Suzhou Street – Marble Boat – Longevity Hill – Long Corridor – the former court area – East Palace Gate
Tip # 06: Boating on Kunming Lake
Taking a boat ride starting from the Marble Boat across the lake to the beautiful 17-Arch Bridge is a fun way to have more stunning views. Boat Ride：10 yuan.
Tip # 07: Familiar with its 3-part layout
The three tour routes are centered around the three main parts in Summer Palace:
The Former Court Area; a royal palace where once Princess Dowager Cixi and the emperor lived and handled court affairs, accepted laudations and received foreign diplomats during their stay in the Summer Palace.
Long Corridor and Longevity Hill; The second part features the Long Corridor, the Hall of Dispelling Clouds, the Tower of Buddhist Incense, the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom, the Back Lake, the Suzhou Market and Longevity Hill.
Kunming Lake and Nanhu Isle: The last part is Kunming Lake, which consists of the Marble Boat, Nanhu Island, the Bronze Ox and the beautiful 17-Arch Bridge.
Tip # 08: Prepare for a 2-3-hour outdoor sightseeing
Visiting Summer Palace needs some a little bit strong legs with a lot walking since Summer Palace is huge. Dress for the Hot or cold weather. The summer in Beijing could be humid and closed, sometimes extremely hot.
Also winter could be very cold. So well prepared for the uncomfortable weather both in winter and summer. You are advised to wear your most comfortable shoes.
It’s a long walk! Food choice in the complex is poor – typical fast food and snacks. So bring your own.
Tip # 09: Get to know the official notice to the visitors
1. No visitors are allowed to cross, climb, smoke, swim, skate, fish, spit, foul and litter and so on.
2. No visitors are allowed to camp, cook, fish, capture animals and dig plants inside.
3. No visitors are allowed to paint and carve on the buildings, ground, stone, facility and tree, and to pick the flowers and spoil the lawn and trees.
4. The north of pavilion of Wenchang and the east of Jiehu Bridge are fist-level fire-proof non-smoking
5. Expect for hand-powered wheelchairs and baby carriers used by the aged, the disabled, and children, any other vehicle are not allowed to enter without any permission.
6. The professional camera equipments are not allowed to use inside without any permission.
7. Without any permission, don’t perform, sing and make a noise so as to influence and disturb other visitors.|
8. The tour guides inside must have guide qualification.
Tip # 10: Opening Time:
High Season (From April 1 to Oct. 31)
Tickets stop selling at 18:00;
Low Season (From Nov. 1 to Mar. 31 next year)
Tickets stop selling at 17:00;
After the tickets stop selling, the visitors are not allowed to enter, and to leave on time.
Tip # 10: Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Beijing guided tours:
Beijing Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)
Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites
Any questions, just drop line.