Archive for the ‘Beijing Tour Reviews’ Category

How to Visit the Great Wall of China around Beijing?

Tuesday, October 8th, 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 the Great Wall around Beijing. If anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!
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Plan your Great Wall Tour? Needless to say, you will visit the Great Wall of China on your first trip to Beijing China. So, when to visit, which sections of Great Wall to visit and how to visit?

The Great Wall of China was built mainly during the three dynasties – Qin Dynasty (221 B.C to 206 B.C), Han Dynasty (206 B.C.– 220 A.D ) and Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D – 1644 A.D).

The most powerful Yuan Dynasty and the last Dynasty – Qing Dynasty did nothing about the building of the Wall since they were “barbarians” against whom the Great Wall of China was supposed to have been built.

Actually the history tells us the Great Wall played no effective role in preventing the “barbarians”. Rarely did the Wall stop any invasions, large or small. But the Great Wall did do many things: it proclaimed the frontier, it employed the thousands, it prevented defections, it displayed the mighty of the emperor and provided numerous frontier areas for trades.

The Great Wall is not an “it” as you think. It is a “them”, walls in the plural, and they do not form a continuous line. They are in bits, built in different dynasties.

Those “bits” of the Great Wall snake across the northern China stretching from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east  to Jiayuguan Pass in the west, totaling 21196 km long with the Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty being  the longest –  8851 km.

Beijing is a good place to visit the “sections” of the Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty. Most of the “sections” of the Great Wall open to tourists here are tamed and reconstructed for the safety of travelers. But still there remain many wild ones (original and unrestored) – crumbling, overgrown and barred to walkers, but attracting adventure hikers.

Here are some tips for planning ahead your visit to Great Wall of China around Beijing:

Tip # 01: The best time to hike the Great Wall of China
In Beijing, all the  officially administered sections of the Great Wall are open to tourists all year round. The ideal months for the Great Wall hike fall on spring, early summer, and autumn: later March, April, May, June, September, October and early November.

Great Wall Hike in Spring (March 15 to May 15)
Each year, March 15th is the official day of turning off the heating system in Beijing. This special date indicates the dry, harsh cold of Beijing’s winter is coming to an end though Beijingers will still have some chilly days in March.

A warmer spring usually starts early April and ends early May. So a warm springtime in Beijing lasts over one month. Kindly reminder: There are possibly dust storms in March. But things are getting better with the efforts put into the local environment management. Generally speaking, Beijing is dry and windy in spring.

Spring is a delightful time to visit the Great Wall – mild climate, green trees and flowers. But if you hike the Great Wall, you still feel chilly and a bit cold especially in March, wearing jackets in the morning and evening due to the big temperature drop between day and night.

Visiting Great Wall in Summer (May 15 to September 15)
If you happen to visit the Wall in summer – later June, July and August, be ready for heat stroke prevention – sunglasses, sun cream,  sun block, hat, and water.  Summer is the rain season in Beijing and just bring waterproof in case. The weather in July and August is a bit muggy, so be well ready for your hiking in summer.

You will expect a long queue, waiting to buy entrance tickets for the Great Wall mainly due to the large number of domestic tourists because of school vacations in July and August.

Hike Great Wall in Autumn (September 05 to November 15)
The foggy and cloudy days in Beijing’s oppressive summer are leaving us, coming with Beijing’s cooling autumn, with a blue sky, comfortable sunshine and the colorful leaves in and around Beijing.

Beijing autumn, specifically the two months from the mid-September to mid-November are the best season to visit Great Wall in a year. It’s always comfortably cool outside.

The best period autumn colors starts from October 15 throughout November 15 in Beijing with many trees changing theirs colors with charming autumn hues. Snap pictures or just take in a feast for the eyes!

Fairly big difference in temperature between early morning and afternoon. Wear a thin  jacket, or a warm coat in the morning, long-sleeve shirts or short T-shirts in the afternoon. So be mindful of the temperature difference in Autumn, comfortable sport shoes, rubber soled shoes for hiking. In afternoon, sometimes the autumn sunlight could be very strong, get ready for sunglasses, sun cream and sun hat.

Visit Great Wall in Winter  (November 15 to March 15)
Winter Great Wall Hike is a bit challenging mainly due to the frozen weather in later December, January and early February each year in Beijing. You are advised to dress warmly – winter hat with ear flap, ear warmers, gloves, scarf, warm jackets and their winter accessories.

The Great Wall is impossible to hike only because the roads leading to the  sections of the Great Wall are blocked due to the heavy snow or other extreme weather. If you plan to do the hike in winter, we do suggest you check the weather report.  Check out  How to dress for visiting Great Wall in winter.

Tip # 02: Avoid weekends or public holidays for the Wall
It is better to hike the Wall during the weekdays instead of weekends. Strongly advise you not to visit the Wall during China public holidays ( Especially May 1-3, and October 1-7).

Crowds at Badaling Great Wall

Crowds at Badaling Great Wall during holidays.

On these special days you will waste much of your valuable time on the way from your hotel to the Wall. On the Wall, you have to take group photos due to a great number of people on the Wall.

Tip # 03: Select the right bit of the Wall (Great Wall Guide)
There are  8 major sections of the Great Wall around Beijing. 7 of the 8 sections of the Wall are legally open to tourists home and abroad. “legally open” means these sections of the Wall are tamed, repaired and controlled by a local Great Wall administration bureau with well-managed facilities like parking lots, guard rails, restaurants, toilets and more.

Within the officially managed sections of the Great Wall, the entrance fees are collected, police stations are set up and security guides are dotted along the Wall.

These “legal” sections of the Wall are Juyongguan, Badaling, Mutianyu, Jinshanling, Gubeikou, Huanghuacheng ( certain sections opened) and Simatai.

Jiankou is not open to common tourists due to their wildness and treacherousness.

Below are the tips for choosing the right bit of the Wall you most like:

1) If you don’t have much time, but you still want to have a glimpse of the Wall, especially on a busy day, choose Juyongguan Great Wall.

Juyongguan, literally “Juyong Pass”(居庸关), is situated in a valley named “Guangou” as long 20 kilometers, which is within Changping District, about 50 kilometers north of downtown Beijing. It is one of the three most famous passes of Great Wall in China。

Juyongguan Grea tWall

Juyongguan Great Wall

2) If you want to see the most popular and gorgeous restored section of the Wall in Beijing, go to Badaling Great Wall.  Badaling is also wheelchair friendly , accessible by the handicapped.

Badaling Great Wall

Badaling Great Wall


3) If you want to visit the Wall with beautiful green scenery and environment ( travel with kids or seniors), less crowded, then visit Mutianyu Great Wall.

 

Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu Great Wall

4) If you want to hike the wild and original sections of the Wall (half restored or unrestored), go to visit Shixiagan Great Wall, Jiankou Great WallJinshanling Great Wall, Gubeikou Great WallHuanghuacheng Great Wall and Simatai Great Wall  or put them together.

Check out: Hike from Jiankou Great Wall to Mutinayu Great Wall.
Jiankou Great Wall is forbidden to hike according to the official rule and regulations concerned. Hikers are responsible for their own safety while hiking Jiankou Great Wall.

Jiankou Great Wall

Check out Hike from Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling GreatWall.
Today’ Gubeikou Great Wall is only composed of two parts – Panlongshan Great Wall and Wohushan Great Wall. “Panlongshan” literally means “Coiled Dragon Mountain” while “Wohushan” literally means “Crouching Tiger Mountain”.

The two mountains faces each other with a valley in between from south to north, a strategic passage in the ancient times linking Inner Mongolia and Beijing. Now the valley has been turned into a fast developing Gubeikou Township under Miyun County of Beijing City.

Gubeikou Great Wall


Check out Simatai Great Wall.

There are totally 16 watch towers distributed on the Simatai Great Wall snaking the ridge of the steep mountain. The 13th-16th towers are forbidden to hike due to their steepness and treacherousness.

Simatai Great Wall


Check out Hike Across Shixiaguan GreatWall.

Shixiaguan Great Wall ( literally means “Stone Gorge Pass Great Wall”) is officially known as Ruined Badaling Great Wall. It is 5km southwest of the restored Badaling Great Wall,a western gate of the Badaling Defense Works.

Shixiaguan Great Wall


Check out Huanghuacheng Great Wall.

Huanghuacheng (literally meaning “Yellow Flower City”) Great Wall (黄花城), about 65 km north of downtown Beijing, is one of the most ruined sections of the wall in Beijing.

It has become popular with hikers in recent years. This section of the great wall is about 1000 meters long and connecting Juyongguan Pass Great Wall and Badaling Great Wall in the west and Jiankou Great Wall and Mutianuyu Great Wall in the east. Now it is a quite challenge to climb the wall since it is overgrown and treacherous.

Huanghuacheng Great Wall


Check out Jinshanling Great Wall

Jinshanling Great Wall (金山岭长城) is located about 130 km in the northeast of the downtown Beijing. To its east stands the Simatai Great Wall and the west stands Gubeikou Great Wall. Jinshangling Great Wall was named after the mountain called Jinshan Mountains. The Jinshanling Great Wall was first constructed built in the Ming Dynasty.

The famous general, Xu Da, of the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) supervised and directed the construction of the Great Wall. Later, Qi Jiguang led a number of defense works while guarding the north area in 1567.

Jinshanling Great Wall

Tip # 04: Choose the right transportation to get to the Great Wall

How to Get to Badaling Great Wall

1)Take Badaling Great Wall Bus No.877 (Bus Fare: RMB 12)

Deshengmen (德胜门)- Badaling (八达岭)
Operating Hours:
06:00-12:00(Apr.1-Oct.31)
06:00-12:30 (Nov.1-Mar.31)

Return:
Badaling (八达岭)- Deshengmen (德胜门)
10:30-17:00(Apr.1-Oct.31)
11:00-16:30(Nov.1-Mar.31)
From: Deshengmen Bus Station

Note:
Bus 919 has two kinds of bus lines: 919 express (919快) and 919 slow (919慢) with their final destinations being Yanqing County. Bus 919 will stop at the Badaling Great Wall ( the drop-off stop is a bit far from the ticketing office). You are still advised to take 877, the special bus for Badaling Great Wall tourists.

By the way, there is a bit chaos around Deshengmen Bus Station with some touts pushing you to take theirs vehicles or group. Just forget it and insist on taking the official Bus 877. Have a good day!

2. Go to Badaling Great Wall by Train

Badaling Great Wall Train Schedule
The S2 Train Timetable below is just for your reference and subject to possible changes. Note: The 7:58 train out of Beijing is quite crowded. One has to run to get a good seat.The return trip at 11:50 is mostly empty. In tourist high season, the trains fill up quite fast and once it is full, you will have to wait for the next train.

(A)Beijing Huangtudian Railway Station → Badaling Great Wall Train Schedule
(4 Daily Trains, 3 trains on Tue, Wed and Thu) and  4 trains on Fri, Sat and Sun )

Train S201: 06:30 – 07:37 ( Daily)
Train S205: 08:40 – 09:05 ( Tue, Wed and Thu )
Train S207: 09:06 – 10:15  ( Fri, Sat and Sun )
Train S209: 11:06– 12:13  ( Daily )
Train S211: 12:38– 14:01  ( Tue, Wed and Thu )
Train S213: 13:20 – 14:25 ( Fri, Sat and Sun )
Train S215: 13:44 – 14:50 ( Fri, Sat and Sun )
Train S217: 15:34 – 16:43 ( Daily )
Train S219: 17:09 – 18:30 ( Tue, Wed and Thu )
Train S221: 17:50 – 18:57 ( Fri, Sat and Sun )
Train S227 21:30 – 22:38 ( Tue, Wed and Thu )

(B)Badaling Great Wall → Beijing Huangtudian Ralway Station Train Timetable
(4 Daily Trains, 3 trains on Tue, Wed and Thu) and  4 trains on Fri, Sat and Sun )

Train S208: 08:26 – 09:41 ( Daily)
Train S210: 10:35 – 12:03 ( Tue, Wed and Thu )
Train S214: 11:38 – 13:10  ( Fri, Sat and Sun )
Train S216: 13:20 – 14:53  ( Daily)
Train S218: 14:45 – 16:31  ( Tue, Wed and Thu )
Train S220: 15:30 – 17:04 ( Fri, Sat and Sun )
Train S222: 16:05 – 17:40 ( Fri, Sat and Sun )
Train S224: 17:17 – 18:54 ( Daily)
Train S226: 19:18 – 20:47 ( Tue, Wed and Thu )
Train S228: 19:42 – 21:22 ( Fri, Sat and Sun )
Train S232: 21:18– 23:01 ( Daily)

Take the S Train from Beijing Huangtudian Railway Station to Badaling

From: Dongzhimen Public Transport Hub (东直门交通枢纽)

To:Mutianyu Great Wall 慕田峪长城

Check out ” How to Get to Mutianyu Great Wall by Public Bus” for more information.

Important Notice: The final destination of the Bus 916 Express is actually Huairou Beidajie (怀柔北大街)in Huairou District, then you have to change for the local bus H23 or 24 (Huairou – Dongtai 怀柔至洞台), continue to take the bus for another 18.6km, pass 8 stops and get off at Mutianyu Great Wall finally.

Bus 916 Express (916快)Fare: RMB 12
Bus H23, or 24 Fare: RMB 5
Bus Operation Time: 6:00-17:00 ( every 20 minutes )From: Dongzhimen Public Transport Hub (东直门交通枢纽)

Bus No. 980 Express (980快) To: Destination: Jinshanling Great Wall 金山岭长城.
Very Important Notice: Actually the Bus 980 Express stops at Miyun County ( 密云汽车站 ), and then you take a mini bus from the downtown Miyun to Jinshanling.

Bus Fare: RMB 15

Minibus Fare: about RMB 50 ( you have to share a mini-bus for Jinshanling Great Wall)

Take a taxi to the Great Wall
You can also charter a taxi for day trips to the Great Wall. The drive ranges from 1.5 hour to 2.5 hours from the city center according to the different sections of the Great Wall.

Below are the approximate taxi fares to the different sections of the Great Wall with waiting for about 2-3 hours while touring the wall:

Beijing Mutianyu Great Wall: 85km – RMB 600
Beijing Badaling Great Wall: 80km – RMB 500
Beijing Simatai Great Wall: 140km – RMB 700
Beijing Juyongguan Great Wall: 60km – RMB 400
Beijing Jinshanling Great Wall: 160km RMB 800
Beijing Gubeikou Great Wall: 150km – RMB 750
Beijing Jiankou Great Wall: 85km – RMB 650
Beijing Huanghuacheng Great Wall 85km – RMB 600

Tip # 05: Book a Great Wall Bus Tour
Don’t want to make the do-it-yourself route? No worries, you can easily book Great Wall Bus Tour (daily group tours) through your hotel or local tour operators.  Check out Beijing Group Tour for more information.

Each morning, you will be picked you up from your midtown hotel, then you will go to visit the Wall together with other tourists.

Groups are kept to about 10 passengers in a comfortable modern 22-seat coach with professional Beijing chauffeurs and English speaking tour guide.

Tip # 06 Stay near the Great Wall
If you want to stay one night or more near the Wall, below are some of the inns and hotels for your consideration:

Juyongguan Great Wall Hotel
the Cummune by the Great Wall
Huanghuacheng Fuwang Courtyard Farmhouse
the Schoolhouse by the Mutianyu Great Wall
Jinshanling Hote
Simatai Great Wall Courtyard Hotel
the Chateau Changyu AFIP Global Beijing

Tip # 07 Tips for Wheelchair users (Beijing Disability Travel)
Both Badaling Great Wall and Mutianyu Great Wall have accessible ramp paths.  On the Badaling Great Wall, a special flat lane is built for wheelchair users to get to the third watch tower of the Great Wall. Even two elevators are equipped for easy ascending the wall if you book the elevator service in advance.

Badaling Great Wall has the upper hand over Mutianyu Great Wall with its gentle ramp leading to the first watch tower of the Great Wall.

 

 

The gentle ramp leads to the Badaling Great Wall.

The gentle ramp leads to the Badaling Great Wall.

Check out “The Most Wheelchair-Friendly Great Wall to Visit” for more tips for accessible Great Wall of China.

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.

The accessible paths in Mutianyu Great wall are too steep, not wheelchair user-friendly!
The accessible lane from the upper cable car station to the platform below the 14th watch tower on Mutianyu Great Wall.

The steep ramp at Mutianyu Great Wall

The steep ramp at Mutianyu Great Wall

The accessible platform for wheelchair users below the 14th watch tower on Mutianyu Great Wall.

Tip # 08 Tips for Experienced Travelers
you may choose half restored or wild sections of the Wall. But you have to be responsible for your own safety.

Travel Notes for wild great wall hiking:
1. Things to take: sports shoes or hiking boots, sticks, cap, sun-glasses, sunscreen, bottles of water, snacks, pocket knife, lip balm and first aid kit.
2. Using toilets at the entrance of the Wall. No toilets on the hiking route. Please always carry toilet paper by yourself.
3. Wearing pants and long-sleeves even in summer to hike through jungles and bushes.
4. You are responsible for your travel insurance for your coverage of injury or accident.
5 Be a green and responsible hiker, taking nothing but photos and leaving nothing but footprint.

Tip # 09 Hassle-free Great Wall Guided Tours
Don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route? No worries, We at Tour Beijing have some options for guided tours to Great wall Tours:

Mutianyu Great Wall Group Day Tour
Mutianyu Great Wall Half  Day Private Tour
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Tour
Hike from Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall Tour
Hike from Jinshanling to Simatai Great Wall West Tour
Badaling Great Wall + Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour
Badaling Great Wall and Underground Palace Day Tour
Badaling Great Wall + Forbidden City + Tiananmen Square Day Tour

Add on:
Visit Badaling Great Wall by Train
Visit Mutianyu Great Wall by Bus

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 a line.

Tips for Visiting the Temple of Heaven

Tuesday, October 8th, 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

Wednesday, September 11th, 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!

A kind reminder:
The Forbidden City will closed from Sept. 21 to Oct. 1, 2019.
______________________________________________________________

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.