The Forbidden City in Beijing

The Forbidden City in Beijing

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The forbidden city served as the home of the emperors during the Ming dynasty up to the end of the Qing dynasty. The Forbidden City is located in the heart of Beijing and the largest imperial palace in China.

There were 24 emperors who lived here – 14 of the Ming dynasty and 10 of the Qing dynasty until 1911 when the Qing dynasty fell. Puyi, the last emperor, was allowed to live inside the inner court until his expulsion in 1924.  It was constructed from 1406 and completed in 1420. The forbidden city consists of 980 buildings with 8,886 bays of rooms settled inside the 72 hectares piece of land.

The palace has 4 gates, surrounded by a 7.9 meters wall. These walls served as the defensive wall of the palace. Outside of this palace was surrounded by 6 meters deep moat.

The Forbidden City is the best-preserved imperial palace complex in the world, recognized as a world cultural heritage by the UNESCO in 1987.

The Forbidden City in Beijing
The Forbidden City in Beijing

Why is it called the “Forbidden City”?

The Chinese people they called this place “Gugong” which means, the “former imperial palace”. In the past, only the imperial families and the high political officials are only allowed to enter the palace and commoners were prohibited to protect the safety of them.

The main entrance for tourists now during those early times was only reserved for the emperor alone.

How Much Time Needed To Go Around Inside The Forbidden City?

The Forbidden City in Beijing
The Forbidden City in Beijing

The place is extremely interesting and huge. A visit to the Palace is more like a very long walk from one place to another for you to have some peeks into that different official residentials and ceremonial buildings where the emperor ruled and lived together with his families and servers.

It is ideal to set about 3 hours to go around.

You may want to adjust your time depending on what you are interested in. Some people would take about 5 hours or more to go around. It’s my 5th-time visiting the palace so during this trip it took us only about 2 hours to go around.

Take good walking shoes as there is a lot to see and most tourist areas in China are huge and bring sun protection or hat if you plan to visit during the summer. A guide would be advantageous as they explain everything. The museum offers audio touring guide available in lots of languages. It tells the story about each residence building in the Palace.

The Forbidden City in Beijing

How To Get To The Forbidden City

  • Public buses that stop at the Forbidden City: 1, 4, 20, 52, 57, 101, 103, 109, 111
  • Using Subway: Take line 1 and get off at Tiananmen West (exit B) to Tiananmen East (exit A). Then you can walk for 5 minutes or around to the palace museum. The Forbidden City is also known as the “Palace Museum”.
  • If you are taking a taxi, tell the taxi driver that you are going to “Gugong”. The taxi’s and cars are not allowed a closer drop-off near the palace museum so, the taxi will drop you about 50 meters away.
The Forbidden City in Beijing
The Forbidden City in Beijing

During our stay in Beijing, we stayed at the Crown Plaza Hotel which is seated right at the heart of the city of Beijing in Wangfujing street. Wangfujing is a famous walking street in Beijing. Watch my short video and review about the Crown Plaza Hotel in Beijing and if you are in Beijing make sure to visit the Great Wall of China. Check my trip to the Great Wall of China here.


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April 1st – October 31 ( 8:30 – 17:00 )
Last Entry at 16:10
Entrance ticket: RMB 60

November 1st – March 31 (8:30 – 16:30)
Last Entry at 15:40
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: Forbidden City is closed for the entire day every Monday, except the Chinese national public holidays. Try to Avoid Weekends or Chinese Public Holidays because it is very crowded.

The best time is from late March to early June and late August to late November. Avoid summer vacations and China’s public holidays.

If you are traveling to Beijing – the Forbidden Palace and of course visiting the Great Wall of China is must be on your “must do” list.

Have Fun!
Jeng Cua

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