Forbidden City

China’s last imperial palace occupies the centre of Beijing. All visitors must enter through the Meridian Gate from Tiananmen Square to the south; exit is via the north or east gates. Get there at opening time if you want to walk through the vast and spectacular courtyards in relative peace. This is truly the spot to appreciate the might and grandeur of the Imperial Chinese court during the height of its power in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Despite the transformation of Beijing around it, the Forbidden City, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in conjunction with the Shenyang#See|Mukden Palace in Shenyang, remains mercifully relatively untouched. There are a handful of cafes and gift shops, which are surprisingly affordable given the location and captive market. Only two-fifths of the area of the palace is open but more sections open all the time. Wandering to the right or left can yield some beautiful secluded courtyards and, of course, padlocked dead ends. You can rent an audio guided tour which explains certain temples along the central axis and their uses for ¥40 without deposit (more than three dozen languages available). The signs posted around and on buildings inside are fairly short and are written in both Chinese and English; some also include Korean, Japanese and Russian text. You can reach the Forbidden City via subway line 1 to Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East, or by bus lines 1, 4, 52 and 728. The lines 101, 109 and 810 stop at the north gate of Forbidden City when leaving.

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  • Direction: N side of Tiananmen Square
  • Open Hours: April 1st-October 31st: 8:30AM-5PM. November 1st-March 31st: 8:30AM-4:30PM. Closed on Mondays out of summer season.
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  • Price: ¥60 summer/¥40 off-season/¥30 (seniors)/¥20 (students)


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