Plan your Beijing Tour? Summer Palace was a royal palace in later Qing Dynasty, only secondary to Forbidden City ( now the Palace Museum ).
Summer Palace is actually not just a royal palace where once Princess Dowager Cixi and the emperors lived and handled court affairs in later Qing Dynasty, accepted laudation and received foreign diplomats during their stay in Summer Palace.
It also epitomizes classical Chinese architecture, in terms of both gardening design and construction. It is the largest royal garden in Beijing, now a good retreat for holiday makers.
Tip # 01: How to schedule your visit
Normally it takes about 2 or3 hours to walk around Summer Palace itself. With your time on the city transportation included, you are advised to allocate at least half a day for 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 set in a foggy day like a beautiful “water and mountain” Chinese scroll painting and Autumn is the best time walking around Summer Palace, clear and blue sky with comfortable weather.
Tip # 02: How to get to Summer Palace
Add: 19 Xinjian Gongmen Road, Haidian District, Beijing 北京市海淀区新建宫门路19号
Tel: 62881144 Fax : 62881077
Summer Palace has three major entry gates
1) East Gate ( Main Gate ), also called “East Palace Gate” 东宫门
2) North Gate, also called “Beigongmen, or North Palace Gate” 北宫门
3) South Gate, also known as “New Palace Gate” 新建宫门
1. Subway Line 4:
Take subway line 4 to the northwest direction and get off at the last but one station — Beigongmen Station ( or North Gate 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 South Gate, or also known as 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 ( Main Gate) to the Summer Palace (颐和园正门, 东宫门)Bus 330、331、332、346、394、712、718、726、732、737、801、808、817、826
Buses via the North Gate to 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 New Palace Gate ( or South Gate) to the Summer Palace (新建宫门)Bus 374、437、481、952、704、992
A taxi from Beijing city center will cost about RMB 80 and take about 40 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 downtown at all, so this can be troublesome.
Tip # 03: Opening Time
High Season (From April 1 to Oct. 31)
Tickets stop selling at 19:00;
Low Season (From Nov. 1 to Mar. 31 next year)
Tickets stop selling at 18:00;
Tip # 04: Buy a correct entrance ticket
Three kinds of tickets
1) Entrance ticket for the huge park itself.
2) Combo ticket both for the park and also for the pay attractions inside the park.
3) Free Tickets: Foreign tourists aged 60 or above can exchange tickets with their passports; Children under the age of 6 (including 6 years old) or under the height of 1.2 meters (including 1.2 meters) with valid documents are free of charge.
Note: also the ticket prices are divided onto two categories – Low Season ad Peak Season.
Summer Palace Admission
30 yuan (peak season)
20 yuan (off-season)
Summer Palace Combo ticket
60 Yuan (peak season)
50 yuan (off-season)
The pay attractions inside the park: 5 yuan for De He Garden; Wenchang Hospital 20 yuan; 10 yuan for Foxiang Pavilion; 10 yuan for Suzhou Street
1. Combo tickets include both the entrance and the inside pay attractions
2. You are advised to buy entrance tickets instead of combo-tickets.
3. Once you enter the park of Summer Palace and are also interested in some of the paid attractions inside the park.
4. you may purchase a separate admission ticket one by one on the spot.
5. Students enjoy half prices.
6 Children under 1.2m high are free of charge.
7. Basically there is no limit to the purchase of entrance tickets due to the fact that the park is sprawling and spacious.
Tip # 05: Tips for People with Walking Difficulty
Summer Palace is a huge landscape park. If you can’t walk too far, or have some walking difficulty, you can hire a wheelchair free of charge from your entrance gate with a deposit of 500 yuan.
Alternatively, you can take the boat from the marble boat after walking along the long corridor and back to New Palace Gate if you enter the park through the gate. And you don’t have to retrace.
All the toilets in Summer Palace are are equipped with wheelchair accessible facilities.
Tip # 06: 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 three major gates to 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.
Inquiry：010-62881144, ext 6618
Summer Palace offers English guide , the price are listed below:
180 yuan, an hour and a half
240 yuan, two hours
320 yuan , two hours and a half
within five people , include five peoples ; for each travel group plus one people , pay 10 yuan extra.
Tip # 07: 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 ( North 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.
Three Visiting Routes starting from the three gates:
Starting from New Palace Gate ( South 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 ( Main Gate)
Walk from 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 ( South Gate )
Starting from North Palace Gate ( North Gate):
Walking from North Palace Gate: Suzhou Street – Marble Boat – Longevity Hill – Long Corridor – the former court area – East Palace Gate ( Main Gate).
Tip # 08: Tower of Buddhist Incense at Summer Palace Not to Be Missed
Topping the the southern slope of Longevity Hill, the tower faces Kunming Lake southward with its backing on the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom.
Built on a 21-meter base, the tower has a height of 41 meters, three floors, four eaves and supported by eight pillars.
On the base of the tower, you are able to have a bird’s eye view of the Kunming Lake and the surrounding area. For more information, please check out: Tower of Buddhist Incense at Summer Palace.
Tip # 09: Boating on Kunming Lake
Taking a boat ride starting from the Marble Boat across the lake and pass by the beautiful 17-Arch Bridge is a fun way to have more stunning views.
Ferry Boat Ride：30 yuan （Between Marble Boat and Bronze Cattle Dock）
Operating Time： 8:30 – 16:30
Pleasure Boats ( rowing on the lake): 60 yuan per boat per hour with 400 yuan as deposit) , a kind of paddle boat ( Max 4 people)
Operating Time： 8:30 – 16:30
Tip # 10: Familiar with its 3-part layout
The three tour routes are centred 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 # 11: Prepare for a 2-3-hour outdoor sightseeing
Visiting Summer Palace needs 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 # 12: Skating at Summer Palace
Plan your Beijing winter tour? Skating is one of Beijing’s traditional pastimes in winter. There are a few lake-turned skate rinks with a total skating area of 1000,000 square meters in Beijing.
Summer Palace is a big draw for first time visitors to Beijing. The Kunming Lake Skate Rink in Summer Palace is the largest in Beijing totalling 700,000 square meters. See Skating at Summer Palace for more information.
Tip # 13: 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 equippments 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 # 14: 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:
Chinese version of the travel guide
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.