Archive for the ‘Beijing Travel’ Category

How to Get to Mutianyu Great Wall by Bus

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019
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Dear Travelers

We’d like to have the following travel guide to be always updated for the benefit of new visitors coming to Mutianyu Great Wall by bus.

If anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!
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tips-1

Latest Update
Apart from the regular 916 Express Bus operated all year round from Dongzhimen Transportation Hub to Huairou District where you connect Bus H23 or taxi for Mutianyu Great Wall Scenic Area, there is one daily return direct shuttle bus starting from Beijing Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station to Mutianyu Great Wall Scenic Area.

Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station — Mutianyu Great Wall Shuttle Schedule
Starting & Time:
Leaving at 8:30 am from Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station ( 东直门外公交车站)
Returning & time

Leaving at 4:00 pm at Parking No.01 at Mutianyu (景区P1停车场)
Bus Fare: 30 yuan ( One Way) Dont’ Accept transportation cards
How to buy tickets: On board the bus

The Mutianyu Shuttle Bus Stop inside Dongzhimen Wai Bus Compound

Mutianyu Shuttle Bus Stop Placard

Note: It is a bit tricky to find Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station. So how to get to Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station Compound ( 东直门外车站)?

The open-air Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station  Compound is about 800 meters away to the northeast of Dongzhimen Transport Hub. It is also a 10-minute’s walk ( 800 meters)from Exit E of Dongzhimen Subway Station.  You exit from Exit E of  Subway Line 2 at Dongzhimen, walk along Dongzhimen Wai Dajie (东直门外大街), then turn left and walk along Dongzhimen Wai Xiejie (东直门外斜街),  soon you will find the open-air bus station compound on your left side, the same bus station going for Jinshanling Great Wall and Gubei Water Town.

If you miss or your travel time doesn’t fit into the daily one time shuttle bus mentioned above, you can use the regular 916 Express Bus from Dongzhimen Transport Hub to Huairou where you change for Bus H23 or taxi going to Mutianyu.

Below is the detailed travel guide for getting from Beijing Dongzhimen to Mutianyu Great Wall by regular 916 Express Bus Bus.

1. Get to Dongzhimen Transport Hub early in the morning

The Sign “Exit C ” at Dongzhimen Subway Station ( Subway Line 2 and 13 ) leading to the bus transfer hall.

Dongzhimen Public Transport Hub (东直门交通枢纽) is mainly composed of three forms of public transport –Dongzhimen Bus Station ( or officially called Bus Transfer Hall) where you take Bus 916 Express ( 916快) for the direction of Mutianyu Great Wall), Dongzhimen Subway Station ( Subway Line 2 and 13 ) and Dongzhimen Airport Express ( for Beijing Capital Airport Express Train).

These three forms of public transport are connected underground as a whole in a massive building.

Try to get to Dongzhimen Transport Hub early in the morning either by subway or taxi. For subway, you may take the subway line 2 or 13 and exit from Exit C leading to the massive transport hub.

916 Express Bus has to be taken from inside of the building of the Dongzhimen Public Transport Hub.

When you leave the subway there are a lot of stops at your right side and you have to get into the building and will see the signs since your bus is inside the transfer hub hall.

The Bus Transfer Hall on the ground floor is mainly composed of two parts – North Platform and South Platform.

Your Mutianyu-bound Bus 916 Express ( 916快 / 怀柔方向) is on the northern platform. There are signs overhead to guide you in the direction to the 916 Express Bus Stop.

Overhead Chinese Sign " 916 快“ ( 916 Express )

Overhead Chinese Sign ” 916 快“ ( 916 Express )

Chinese and English Sign for Bus 916 Express Overhead

Chinese and English Sign for Bus 916 Express Overhead

Wait in line for Bus 916 Express

Wait in line for Bus 916 Express

Wait in line for the Bus 916 Express and the bus fare at 12 yuan.  In the 916 bus you have to pay the exact amount. In the bus entrance door, at your left, there is a small box where you have to put the exact amount. You get ready for the small money and often they don’t have the change.

Below is updated by Chris Nguyen relative to the payment for Express Bus 919:
The 916 express bus accepts transportation cards (tap when you hop on and tap when you hop off) and also accepts cash. We paid 12 RMB each based off of your suggestions but it seems as though the bus works off of the honor system as there is no one checking if you put the correct amount into the collection box. On the outside of the bus, there is a sign that says “self ticketing”.

2. Taking Bus 916 Express and Get off at the 15th stop of Huai Rou Bei Da Jie in Huairou District
( 62km – One Hour Drive)

916 Express Operating Hours: 5:50 – 19:50 ( Dongzhimen Transport Hub to Huairou )
04:50 – 18:50 (Huairou to Dongzhimen Transport Hub)

The 916 buses are clean and air-conditioned.

The 916 buses are clean and air-conditioned.

916 Express buses are clean and air-conditioned.

There are totally 20 stops for Public Bus 916 Express and you get off at the 15th stop of  Huai Rou Bei Da Jjie (怀柔北大街 ) in Huairou District. Then connect a local taxi ( about 50 yuan per taxi ) or further connect the local public Bus H23,( 5 yuan ).

The H23 buses are few and far between, so taking a taxi from Beidajie (Huai Rou Bei Da Jie ) is a good option. Taxi drivers are nice and aren’t trying to scam passengers.

Below is the current bus stop plan (bus line 916 express) submitted by Franziska  from Berlin):

The current bus stop plan (bus line 916 express) and you get off at the 15th stop of Hairou Bei Da Jie 怀柔北大街 from right to left and vice versa if you go back .

The 916 express runs every couple of minutes, so there is no much waiting.  A lot of people get off at Huai Rou Bei Da Jie ( 怀柔北大街),  so even if you don’t speak Chinese, you’ll know when to get off.

Basically, the bus makes a couple stops in Beijing after leaving Dongzhimen, then doesn’t make any stops for a long time, until it gets to Huai Rou District, where it makes stops every couple of minutes. After a handful of those stops, you’ll be at Huai Rou Bei Da Jie ( 怀柔北大街).

For each stop, Bus 916 Express will announce the name of the bus stop both  in English and Chinese. But only the Chinese stops will be shown on the electronic screen on the front of your bus, and make sure you get off at the 15th stop of Huai Rou Bei Da Jie ( 怀柔北大街).

The following bus interior photo shows the Chinese name of the bus station “Huai Rou Bei Da Jie” ( 怀柔北大街) where you should get off. The photo was provided by Franziska  from Berlin.

The electric bus stop screen shows the stop is Huairou Bei Da Jie (怀柔北大街)

After you get off, you will see there is an official bus stop sign for Huai Rou Bei Da jie ( 怀柔北大街)  now as shown in the picture below:

The picture of Huairou Bei Da Jjie Stop taken by Roxanne & Maartje

Huai Rou Bei Da jie ( 怀柔北大街) Station is located by the sidewalk in front of the large governmental building (Beijing Huai Rou Department of Civil Affairs) 民政局.

You get off the 15th stop pf Beidajie ( North Street ) by the side of the large governmental building.

You get off the 15th stop of Huairou Bei Da Jie by the side road in front of  the massive governmental building (Beijing Huairou Department of Civil Affairs) 民政局

Google maps location of where you need to get off at Huairou Bei Da Jie at Bus 916 express in front of the large governmental building (Beijing Huairou Department of Civil Affairs) 民政局

Google maps location of where you need to get off the 916 express.

Note:
1) The bus fare is 12 yuan. Be ready for the small amount of money to pay for the bus fare. You get ready for the small money and often they don’t have the change. If you have a transportation card, you just swipe, and you are entitled to half price.
2) Try to get to the 916 Express bus stop as early as possible to beat the crowds on the Great Wall. The first bus leaves at 5:50 am.
3) You should get off at the 15th stop of Huai Rou Bei Da Jie ( 怀柔北大街)  There is a bus stop sign for Huai Rou Bei Da Jie ( 怀柔北大街)

3.  Connecting Bus H23 for Mutianyu ( 18 km – 50 Minutes Drive)
Once you get off 916 express Bus, you have two options for next transport to your destination – Mutianyu Great Wall: Connect the local bus H23 ; or take a local taxi for Mutianyu.

Below is the way how to connect the local buses for Mutianyu:

You can continue to take Bus H23 for Mutianyu Great Wall. The Bus Stop for Bus H23 is just across where you get off Bus 916 express at Huai Rou Bei Da Jie ( 怀柔北大街). Important notice:  This Bus Stop for Bus H23 is the same bus stop area for 916 Express back to Beijing.

By the way, on your 916 Express back to Beijing, there are two kinds of 916 buses here, the express and the normal one. Take the express one! The express 916 bus is recognizable because it has 2 Chinese characters after the number. The return 916 bus leave you in a different place. After leaving the bus you have to continue and turn right and you will be in the Dongzhimen entrance where you started.

For easy memory,  the location of the bus stop H23 is just in front of the China Mobile Building ( Keep in mind that this is the same bus stop for 916 Express back to Beijing).

Kindly reminder:  basically you need to wait for quite some time before you can get on Bus h23.

The picture is taken by Roxanne & Maartje

Cost 3 yuan paid to ticket lady on the bus. The Bus  h23 is green and there is a blue cardboard sign in the window next to the driver saying h23. The sign on the bus H23 are very small.

You should pay attention to the place – Mutianyu Roundabout (慕田峪环岛) where you get off.  The easier way to identify Mutianyu Roundabout stop is a big aqueduct bridge over it.

Google maps location of where you need to get off h23:

There are totally 41 stops for Bus H23, keep in mind that you will alight at the 17th stop of Mutianyu Roundabout (慕田峪环岛)

Mutianyu Roundabout is recognizable because of the big aqueduct bridge overhead.

The Bus H23 runs the route between Yujiayuan ( 于家园) and Tiekuangyu (铁矿峪)
passing by Beidajie ( Huairou ) and Mutianyu Roundabout.

You may show your bus driver the Chinese characters “我要去慕田峪长城” ( I want to go to Mutianyu Great Wall) and the driver will remind you of the stop when the bus arrives at Mutianyu Roundabout (慕田峪环岛).

A photo of the Mutianyu Roundabout, it is recognizable because of the big aqueduct bridge overhead.

You can see both sides of the H23 bus stop. The right side is the arriving stop and the left one, where the people is standing, is the returning one.

Basically you need to walk about 310 meters to get to the ticketing office of Mutianyu Great Wall Scenic Area.

The Picture below shows the bus station of Bus H23 at Mutianyu Roundabout:

Bus H23 at Mutianyu Roundabout ( Photo by Franziska  from Berlin )

4. Transfer to Mutianyu by Taking a Local Taxi ( 18km – Half Hour Drive)
When getting off Bus 916 express at Beidajie ( North Street ), alternatively you can choose to take a local taxi directly bringing you to the ticketing box offices at Mutianyu.

The fact is that the moment you get off Bus 916, you will be approached by “black taxi drivers”.  We suggest you use the official metered taxis. Most of the official taxi drivers would stay inside their taxis and wait for customers ( maybe they don’t want to have any conflicts with black drivers).

Most of the Huairou official taxis are waiting by the side of the governmental building known as Beijing Huairou Department of Civil Affairs) 民政局. They use meters and the taxi ride costs about 42 yuan per taxi.

Huairou Local Taxi

Huairou Local Taxi

Taxi transfer is fast and comfortable.

Taxi transfer is fast and comfortable.

Taxi transfer is fast and comfortable.

When you arrive at Mutianyu, you should ask for a printed receipt which shows the taxi fare, distance and timing.

Printed Taxi Bill ( Receipt ).

Printed Taxi Bill ( Receipt ).

If you cannot find any official taxis by the governmental building,  just wait for a while and they will definitely will come back after their business.

Black taxi drivers will charge you about 50 yuan for the ride plus 20 yuan for so-called parking fee at Mutianyu. Actually, Mutianyu official parking lot offers free parking within 20 minutes.

Huairou Taxi Hotline: 69651168
Huairou Taxi Complaint: 60697889

5. Buying Your Tickets at Tourist Service Building
The large tourist service center mainly consists of ticketing offices, toilets, a Great Wall exhibition hall and a large tourist information hall where you can use ATM machine.

Mutianyu Tourist Service Building

Mutianyu Tourist Service Building

Price Information:
Entrance Fee Adults: 45 yuan ( 25yuan if you have valid student card)
Children between 1.2 meters and 1.4 meters in height: 25 yuan
Children less than 1.2 meters in height are free of charge
Cable Car:100 yuan(single way ); 120 yuan ( return )
Chairlift + toboggan : 100 yuan(single way ); 120 yuan ( return )
Cable car up + toboggan down: 100 +100 = 200 yuan.
Ferry Shuttle Bus: 15 yuan ( shuttle from the ticketing office to the starting point of the 600-meter long ramp up to the chair-lift station, cable car station and the walking starting point up to the Wall.

Opening Hours:
April to October: 8:00 -17:00
November to March: 8:30-16:30

Important Notice:
Cable car up and down is operated by one company; while chair-lift up and down ( or toboggan down) are operated by another company. They sell their tickets separately through the same ticketing window. This is a tricky part in Mutianyu Great Wall.

A return ticket is cheaper. But if you are going to take cable car up and the toboggan down ( so you are using two different companies), you have to buy two single tickets. If you take the chair-lift up and the toboggan down, you are able to buy a return ticket. This is a tricky part in Mutianyu Great Wall.

Cable car brings you up to the place below the 14th Watch Tower;
Chair-lift takes you up to the place below the 6th Watch Tower;
Walking up along the stone steps (like a mountain hike – 30 minute hike ) – to the 10th or 8th Watch Tower.

Note: After you get off the shuttle from the ticketing office, you still need to walk up a 600-meter long ramp leading to the cable car station. But on the way up, you will first come across the chair-lift ( toboggan ) station. They are different companies with separate accounts.

So it is up to you to decide whether you use cable car up and down, or chair-lift up and toboggan down, or cable up and toboggan down, or lastly just walk up to the summit for the Wall.

So once inside the wall area,  you have four choices with three prices:

1.Cable Car:100 yuan(single way ); 120 yuan ( return )
2.Chairlift + toboggan: 100 yuan(single way ); 120 yuan ( return )
3. Cable car up + toboggan down: 100 +100 = 200 yuan.
4. Walk up: free of Charge

Ferry Shuttle Bus: 15 yuan

Click the Map of Mutianyu Great Wall for more information.

There are 23 towers on the Mutianyu Great Wall snaking the ridge for about 3000 meters. The watch towers at the Mutianyu Great Wall are distributed at short intervals. The 23 watch towers are numbered from right (east) to left (west). The or 23rd tower is highest point of the Mutianyu Great Wall.

Wait in line at Ticketing Box Offices

Wait in line at Ticketing Box Offices

Note: Two different companies operate cable car and chairlift (toboggan) separately. You either choose cable or chairlift (toboggan).  The ticketing staff will ask you which you prefer, cable car or chairlift ( or toboggan down )?

If you have strong legs and prefer to hike up to the Great Wall, you can do the hiking without using the service of cable car or chairlift.

On the right side of the Tourist Service Building is the Exhibition Hall for Great Wall Culture, a brief introduction to the Great Wall of China and Mutianyu Great Wall in particular.

 Exhibitional Hall for Great Wall Culture

Exhibition Hall for Great Wall Culture

The large service center building where you can use ATM machine.

The large service center building where you can use ATM machine

The large service center building where you can use ATM machine

Clean and modern toilet.

Clean and modern toilet

Clean and modern toilet

6. Taking a ferry Shuttle Bus  ( 2.5km ) to the Starting Points for the Mutianyu Great Wall
At the ticketing box office, you are required to buy a 15 yuan ferry shuttle bus. From the tourist service center, you till need to walk about 200 meters to get to the shuttle bus terminal.

The road leading to the Shuttle Bus Terminal is lined with restaurants and vendor stalls.

The road leading to the Shuttle Bus Terminal is lined with restaurants and vendor stalls.

The 200-meter road leading to the shuttle bus terminal is lined with restaurants on the left side and vendors on the right side.

You have the choices of King Burger, Pizza, and Chinese food and more. Bottled water on the vendor stalls here is much cheaper ( 3 yuan per bottle ) than that sold up on the Wall ( 15 yuan per bottle ).

The 5-minute free shuttle ride brings you to the area close to the starting points for Visiting Mutianyu Great Wall.

Ferry Shuttle Bus

Ferry Shuttle Bus

7. Three Ways to Go up to Mutianyu Great Wall
When you get off the ferry shuttle bus, you need to walk along an accessible stone path (600 meters long ) leading up first to the entrance area for chairlift ( or toboggan down ), second to the walking path up to the Wall and last to the area for cable car up to the Wall respectively.

The Cable Car Station is at the end of the 600-meter stone slope. That said, there are three ways to go up to Mutianyu Great Wall.

The Cable Car Station

The Cable Car Station

1) Taking a chairlift to the Great Wall – to the 6th Watch Tower ( or take a toboggan down).
2) Walking up the Great Wall along the stone steps (like a mountain hike – 30 minute hike ) – to the 10th or 8th Watch Tower
3) Taking a cable car up to the Great Wall – to the 14th Watch Tower
Click the Map of Mutianyu Great Wall for more information.

Note:
1) There are 23 towers on the Mutianyu Great Wall snaking the ridge for about 3000 meters. The watch towers at the Mutianyu Great Wall are distributed at short intervals.

2) The 23 watch towers are numbered from right (east) to left (west). The 23rd tower is highest point of the Mutianyu Great Wall.

Mutianyu Great Wall in summer

Mutianyu Great wall in summer

Mutianyu Great wall in summer

Basically it is more convenient to use its smooth and gentle ramp leading up Badaling Great Wall. You don’t need to  use the cable car. The area for the upper cable station is not wheelchair-friendly and teem with domestic tourists.

On the Mutianyu Great Wall, wheelchair users may take a cable car up and then use the accessible lane leading to the platform below the 14th watch tower for a good view of Mutianyu Great Wall.

8. The accessible paths in Mutianyu Great wall are too steep, not so wheelchair user-friendly!
4293-20011On the Mutianyu Great Wall, wheelchair users may take a cable car up and then use the accessible lane leading to the platform below the 14th watch tower for a good view of Mutianyu Great Wall.

The steep accessible ramp at Mutianyu Great Wall

The steep accessible ramp at Mutianyu Great Wall

But unfortunately, the accessible ramp leading from the upper cable station to the platform below the 14th watch tower is too steep, very much challenging for wheelchair users.

Note:
Badaling Great Wall is more wheelchair user-friendly. Basically it is more convenient to use its smooth and gentle ramp leading up Badaling Great Wall. You don’t need to  use the cable car. Click: The Most Wheelchair-Friendly Great Wall to Visit.

9. Going Back to Beijing
At the end of your Mutianyu visit, just retrace on the same travel route.  Alternatively you can make use of the daily 4 pm departure fixed direct shuttle bus going from Mutianyu directly back to Beijing. The Mutianyu Direct Shuttle Bus starts from P1 ( Parking No.01 ) at the parking area of Mutianyu Great Wall Scenic Area.

Mutianyu Great Wall Shuttle Schedule
Leaving at 4:00 pm at Parking No.01 at Mutianyu (景区P1停车场)
Bus Fare: 30 yuan ( One Way) Dont’ Accept transportation cards
How to buy tickets: On board the bus
Note: Ticket selling starts half hour before departure. Full and go. You have to get there earlier to secure a seat.

If you miss the bus or your travel time doesn’t fit into the shuttle schedule,
you may  have the following options for your transfer from Mutianyu to the 916 express bus stop at Huairou.

1) Walk from Mutianyu Great Wall Service Area to the Mutianyu Roundabout and take the h23 back as well. Stops opposite to where you drops off. You can flag it down if you are not  sure if it would have stopped.

2) Take an official taxi from the parking lot of Mutianyu Great Wall Service Area to 916 express bus stop at Huairou. But , it is not easy to find an official taxi back to Beidajie Huairou since it seems that the official taxis are outnumbered by black taxis. In addition, most of the black taxi drivers are local people. Basically people are not willing to offend them. You just wait until you see someone drops off and hail the same taxi back.

3) If you have to take a black taxi back ( not recommended ), you should bargain with them. Take a “black taxi” at the parking lot bringing you back to 916 express bus stop at Huairou ( a choice of no choice).

By the way, when back to the Express Bus 916,  there are two kinds of 916 buses, the express and the normal one. Take the express one! The express 916 bus is recognizable because it have 2 Chinese characters after the number. The return 916 bus leave you in a different place. After leaving the bus you have to continue and turn right and you will be in the Dongzhimen entrance where you started.

Newest Updated:
The blue taxi cabs are not allowed to wait and collect passengers at Mutianyu. Not sure what happened, but didn’t find a single cab while returning from Mutianyu and the office closed. There were several people asking me to board their taxi or minibus. I walked to the public bus stop and i waved down a passing blue cab. He was worried that someone might notice my getting into his cab.

10. Possible Tourist Scams at Dongzhimen Public Transport Hub and fake bus staffers on Bus 916
2000px-warning_icon-svg-p111ng
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A fake official bus station employee (‘friendly lady”- don’t trust her) told us to take the Bus 980 because it would be a shorter ride and that we should get off at the 4th stop. At the 4th stop, there was an older man waiting with a “black taxi”. It was all planned. He was just waiting for us so we were pretty sure that the lady and him were working together.

We ended up taking the bus back to Beijing. He was not gonna get our money, that’s for sure.
So we lost a couple of hours there, unfortunately.

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Hi, your instructions are great – followed them and got to Mutianyu and back without any problems. I can confirm, that a few stops before Beidajie Stop a man in a uniform very similar to public transportation uniform entered the bus and said, that those, who was going to the Great Wall should leave here.

There was lot’s of black taxis on that stop as well. I didn’t leave the bus and continued to go, and get off at  Beidajie Stop where I took a metered taxi without any problem.

On the way back two metered taxis were waiting right on the roundabout. But I also found out, that now it’s possible to get DiDi app in English, so if there is no taxi, but one has mobile internet – the one can be ordered by DiDi without any problem.

———————

11. Hassle-free Mutianyu Great Wall Guided Tours
06611If you don’t want to go the seemingly daunting do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Mutianyu Great wall.

Mutianyu Great Wall Group Day Tour ( No shopping )
Mutianyu Great Wall Half  Day Private Tour ( No Shopping )

Further Readings


How to Get to Badaling Great Wall by Bus
How to visit Great Wall of China around Beijing

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

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.

Tips for Visiting the Temple of Heaven

Sunday, May 19th, 2019
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Map of the Temple of Heaven from www.willgoto.com

Plan your Beijing tour? Temple of Heaven is a big draw in Beijing. The name of the Temple of Heaven is a little misleading. It is more than just a temple, it is a huge park as well.

Inside the huge park, there is a lovely temple complex, which is composed of three main parts – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar sitting along an axis from south to north.

Temple of Heaven is called “Tiantan Park” in Chinese, literally meaning “Temple of Heaven Park”. It was first constructed in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming emperor Yongle. It was the place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would worship the god of heaven and pray for good harvest.

Tip # 01: Get up early to see and feel the locals in the park
Though everyday the temple and historical buildings within the park are open to the public from 8:00 till 17:00, the park itself opens at 6:00 till 22:00. Many local people have yearly tickets for easy access to the park. Get there about 7:00 or 7:30am, especially on a Sunday morning.

You will see local people, most of them are middle-aged or older people doing various kinds of light physical activity you can imagine, like singing, dancing, playing instruments, playing chess, practicing kung fu, tai chi… After 9:30 a.m. it will be slammed with group tourists and is barely worth the subway trip.

Practicing Sword, in Temple of Heaven Park,

Practicing Sword, in Temple of Heaven Park,

 
Tip # 02: Acquaint yourself with the historical buildings in the park
Be prepared for a guidebook or hire a Beijing Tour Guide for your life long trip to the temple complex in the park.Three historical buildings are not missed from north to south, namely the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
:
where the emperors sacrificed animals and burned incense sticks to pray for good weather for the crops

the Hall of Pray for Harvest above the Wall

the Hall of Pray for Harvest above the Wall

The Red Stairway Bridge:
The historical buildings are connected by a 360 metre long raised walk called the Red Step Bridge (Danbiqiao), are arranged in a line forming a north south axis 1,200 meters long, and flanked by century-old cypresses in a spacious area.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven: A single gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. Inside the compound, a circular wall, an echo wall. where you can whisper something from one end and the voice will transmit to the other end.

Imperial Vault of Heaven under the sunset glow

Imperial Vault of Heaven under the sunset glow

Circular Mound Altar: Used to worship Heaven at the winter solstice where the principal construction is a large round marble terrace named the Circular Mound.

The distant view of the Circular Mound Altar under the sunset glow

The distant view of the Circular Mound Altar under the sunset glow

Tip # 03: Don’t miss the Cypress Grove
Always keep in mind that here is a huge park, a huge garden. Old cypress trees are worth having a close look.

Some of the cypresses are more than 600 years old. Dr Henry Kissinger, when he visited the temple, stated that while the USA could recreate the Temple of Heaven if it desired, it could not create the trees!

the Cypress Grove

the Cypress Grove

Tip # 04: Choose the right entrance
Originally the Temple of Heaven had only one main gate, which faced west, but after it was made a public park in 1949, entrances were also opened on the northern, southern and eastern sides.
So now it mainly has four gates – East, South, West and North. Both East Gate and South Gate are highly recommended.

East Gate: If you want to see the local people engaged in all kinds of morning activities, you are advised to enter the east gate since most of the morning activities are carried out around the east gate area.The East Gate entrance is also close to the subway line 05.If you enter the east gate, then your walking itinerary would be east gate – long corridor – The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest – The Imperial Vault of Heaven – Circular Mound Altar – South Gate.

After your north – south tour of the temple, you may turn back and go out of the east gate and head to the Hongqiao Market across the road.

South Gate: Start your tour by entering the south gate, then walk along Danbiqiao raised way to visit Circular Mound Altar – The Imperial Vault of Heaven, The Hall of Prayer for Harvest – Long Corridor – East Gate – Hongqiao Market.

Tip # 05: How to get to the Temple of Heaven
If you visit the Temple of Heaven through the east gate, you take subway line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen Station and take exit A. The East Gate entrance is right there. For the public buses to the east gate, you may try bus 6, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43…

If you use south gate, you take a taxi or take bus 36, 120, 122, 800, 803, 958

Tip # 06: Aware of the daily opening time both for the historical buildings and the park itself

The park opens at 6am and closes at 8pm.
The historical buildings opens 8am and closes around 5:00pm like The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. For the exact opening time in different seasons are listed below:

Gate:6:00-22:00
The main buildings inside the park
From March 1 to June 30: 8:00 – 17:30
From July 1 to October 31: 8:- 18:00
From November 1 to February 28: 8:00 – 17:00
Kindly reminder: Through tickets selling is stopped at 16:00

Tip #07 Two kinds of entrance tickets at Temple of Heaven
There are two kinds of entrance tickets – Entrance ticket for the park and through tickets for entering the park as well the three main historical buildings within the park.

Entrance Ticket:  An entrance ticket charges RMB 15 (April – November) and RMB 10 (December – March). With the ticket, you to get into the park, see local people do morning exercises.

Through Ticket: The ticket charges RMB 35 (April – November) and RMB 30 (December – March). With a through ticket, you can enter the park and go to visit the three areas in the park – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar.

Ticket Type Prices
  Entrance Ticket RMB 10 (December to March), RMB 15 ( April  to November)
   Half Price Ticket RMB 5 (December to March), RMB 8 ( April  to November) (students and seniors over 70)
Through Ticket RMB 30 (December to March), RMB 35 ( April  to November)(including the entries to the three areas – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar)
 Kids under 1.2 meters high  Free of Charge
Tip # 08: Dress for the Hot Weather
Though there are many trees in the park. all the trees are lined on the both sides of the north-south axis. So no single tree on your axis trip – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound.

For summer time, 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
The park is so huge.  You are advised to wear your most comfortable shoes. It’s a long walk!

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)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Further Readings


Tips for Visiting Tiananmen Square
Tips for visiting Summer Palace
Forbidden City Travel Tips – The Palace Museum Travel Tips

How to Visit Forbidden City

Friday, May 10th, 2019
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Dear Travelers,

We’d like to have the following quick guide to be always updated for the benefit of new visitors visiting Forbidden City in Beijing.

If you have any questions or anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!
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Plan your Beijing tours? Visiting Forbidden City ( The Palace Museum ) is no doubt one of your travel highlights in Beijing.  Then how to buy your Forbidden City entry ticket? When to visit? Which gate to enter? What’s the visiting line? How to beat the crowds?

Here we have a quick guide for you to grab some basic travel tips for visiting Forbidden City.

Tip # 01: Try to Avoid Weekends or Chinese Public Holidays
Forbidden City is a must see highlight for every first-time visitor to Beijing. Be ready for crowds of people visiting this complex. Try to avoid visiting  Forbidden City on weekends or public holidays.

On these tourist peak days, the hoards of tourists are thick. Many tour groups ( most domestic ones) seem to aggregate and move about with banners, and colored caps.

Very often you have to elbow your way to see and take pictures. We recommend you come here either early in the morning or in the later afternoon ( not too late to be allowed to enter the museum ) to beat the crowds, enjoy the Forbidden City as it once is before the masses turn up and ruin your photo opportunities.

Tip # 02:  The Entrance Gate and the Exit Gate to Forbidden City
There is just one entrance to Forbidden City, namely the southern gate, or Meridian Gate, also known as Wumen in Chinese. South of the Southern Gate is Tiananmen Tower and Tiananmen Square.

The entrance  to Forbidden City, namely the southern gate, or Meridian Gate

There is just one exit gate to Forbidden City, namely the northern gate, or Gate of Divine, also known as Shenwu Men in Chinese.

Kinder Reminder:
You have to enter Forbidden City from its southern gate and exit from its northern gate, which is officially set as a one-way south to north travel route. You cannot enter the Southern Gate and exit from the Southern Gate again; you cannot enter the Northern Gate.

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.

If you haven’t been to  Tiananmen Square, you should choose to walk from Tiananmen Square. This approach takes longer time due to the security check at the four square corners on Tiananmen Square.

Walking from the east or west to the Southern Gate would be fast and less crowded.  There are electric transfer carts to take you to the Southern Gate from east and west ( 2 yuan ). If you want to visit Forbidden City with only limited time, you can choose to go to the Southern Gate via east or west instead of walking through Tiananmen Square.

Tip # 03: Entry Ticket Information
Forbidden City accepts Master Card, Visa, and PayUnion cards for ticket purchase. You need to show your passport to buy your entrance tickets. Forbidden City Ticketing Purchase is based on real name policy.

Chinese citizens are required to buy the entrance tickets online in advance. But foreigners still can buy their tickets on the spot through “Passport Window” by the southern gate.

Gate of Supreme Harmony inside Forbidden City

So just go to Forbidden City earlier and line up to buy your ticket and don’t worry about the online ticket booking websites in Chinese.

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

There are some exhibits within the complex that require additional tickets to get access to the inside paid sights such as the Treasure Gallery and the Clock and Watch Gallery.

Treasure Gallery : RMB 10;
Clock and Watch Gallery: RMB 10

Note:
1. Forbidden City is closed for the entire day every Monday, except the Chinese national public holidays.
2. Forbidden City Ticketing Purchase is based on real name policy;
3. You need to show your passport to buy your entrance tickets;
4. Free of charge for children under 1.2 meters, each required to be escorted by an adult;
5. 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);
6. Seniors over 60 years old are entitled to half price by showing a valid ID or passport.

Tip # 04 View the Turrets of Forbidden City and its surrounding moat.
When touring Forbidden City, don’t miss 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.

The Northeastern Turrets of Forbidden City and City Moat

Each turret tower has nine girders, eighteen columns and 72 ridges. The two turrets on the northeast and northwest corners offer the best photo opportunities.

The turrets 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 # 05: Walk up to Jingshan Park ( A Panoramic View of Forbidden City)
Jingshan Park is not to miss, a visit during your tour in Beijing. Jingshan just sits across the north gate to Forbidden City.

After finishing your visit of Forbidden City from south to north, you exit from Forbidden City’s north gate.

Jingshan Park

Exiting from the northern gate, raising your head, you will find a pavilion has 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 a panoramic view of Forbidden City and Beijing as whole.  Click “Jingshan Park is not to be missed” for more information.

have a panoramic view of Forbidden City from the top of Jingshan Park.

Tip # 06: How to Get to Forbidden City?
How to Get to Forbidden City (Just north of Tiananmen Square )?

By Bus:
For going to 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).

By Subway ( going to the south gate ):
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.

Parking for Private Car:
There is no parking outside the two entrance gates to Forbidden City. 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.

Tip # 07: How to Leave Forbidden City After Visit?
The Transportation at the North Gate to Forbidden City is a bit chaos. It is a bit tricky to use the public transport back to your hotel or other attractions you continue to visit afterwards.

A little bit chaotic about the transport in the front of the north gate to Forbidden City when you finish your visit.

The North Gate to Forbidden City

After visiting 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 to Forbidden 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 etc.

But some of them are totally bewildered by the transportation at Jinshan Front Street in front of the north gate to Forbidden City, which is inaccessible and blocked by fences on both sides of the road.

Please read the following travel information to help plan your further day trip:

Jinshan Park ( Prospect Hill or Coal Hill )    ( How to Visit Jingshan Park )
Jinshan Park is just opposite the north gate to Forbidden City, but you are not allowed to cross the street. To visit Jinshan Park ( Prospect Hill ), you are advised to use the underpass 20 meters in the west.

Beihai Park Beijing ( How to Visit Beihai Park )
This park is approx 800 meters west of the north gate to Forbidden City, just 10-minute walking.

Summer Palace ( How to Visit Summer Palace )
First take the underpass to cross the street and walk west to the Bus No.103 and get off at Beijing Zoo Station, then connect Bus 332 for Summer Palace.

Badaling Great Wall ( How to Visit Badaling Great Wall by train )
Walk westward and find the Bus No.5 and drop off at Deshengmen, then connect Bus 877 for Badaling Great Wall.

Temple of Heaven ( How to Visit Temple of Heaven )
Walk westward for 30 meters and take Bus 814 and get off at Dong Dan, Chongwenmen and Temple of Heaven.

Wangfujing Street or Beijing Railway Station  ( Wangfujing Street )  ( Beijing Railway Station )
Walk west for 30 meters and take trolley bus No.103 and get off at Wangfujiang or Beijing Railway Station.

Beijing West Railway Station ( Beijing West Railway Station )
Take the underpass to cross the street and Take bus 109 and get off at Xuanwumen, connect bus No.9 or 703 for Beijing West Railway Station.

Beijing South Railway Station  ( Beijing South Railway Station )
Walk west for 500 meters and take Bus No. 05 and get off at Qianmen, connect Bus 20 for Beijing West Railway Station.

Tiananmen Square or Subway Line 01  ( How to Visit Tiananmen Square )  ( Subway Line 1 )
Walk west for 500 meters and take Bus No. 05

How to take a Beijing Taxi ( Beijing Taxi )
Walk west for 50 meters and call a cab.

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 # 07: 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 # 08: Hire a Legal Tour Guide or Audio Guides
Forbidden City is much worth visiting, but unless you know the history very well, you should use a Beijing tour guide. 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 from south to north. There are many signs in English by each building. An actual book would probably better serve you if you want to understand what you are seeing.

Tip # 09: Dress for the Hot Weather
There are very few trees with little shade Forbidden 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 #10 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 # 11: 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 disappointed. See Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing for more information.

Tip # 12: Be vigilant on Tea House Scam and Ticket Touts ( Top 10 Tourist Scams in Beijing)
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:

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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!

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Tip # 13: Hail a Taxi on the Road
Please note that taxis are not allowed to stop either at the northern 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.

Taxis are not allowed to stop at the northern 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.

Tip:  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)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Further Readings


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

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop line.