Best of Beijing – Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Jing Shan Park and Zheng Yang Men Gate
The 1st 2 mornings of our trip we were basically just walking around Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City (紫禁城), Jing Shan Park (景山公园) and Zheng Yang Men Gate (正阳门). Forbidden City was definitely the highlight around Tiananmen Square and the security was tight going through the Tiananmen into the Forbidden City and we had to queue for security check and showed our passport before entering into the Tiananmen area. Entrance fee of the Forbidden City was RMB60 per person (including RMB20 to Treasure Gallery and the Clock and Watch Gallery) in the low season months of November to next March, else it would be extra RMB20 during the high season of April to October. I’d been there before (previous post here) but for Big Teddy, it was almost mind blowing to see this magnificent historic city in real life. I was more than happy to show him around and told some stories about the life inside Forbidden City.
China’s Center of Universal – Forbidden City
Since 1420, the Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty until 1912. Forbidden City is also the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world, with 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (over 180 acres) of land right in the heart of Beijing city.
Now, it is also known as the Palace Museum which is listed as World UNESCO Heritage site since 1987. This iconic site attracts over 15 million visitors every year, making it one of the most visited attractions in the world.
|The most iconic landmark in Beijing, Tiananmen
|The Majestic Hall of Supreme Harmony (太和殿)
The crowd at the Forbidden City is usually the worst out of all Beijing’s iconic landmarks (next would be Badaling Great Wall), so plan your visit beforehand and try to get in as early as you could, or pick the colder non-peak seasons. Forbidden City has its different beautiful sides throughout the 4 seasons so definitely worth a visit at the different times of the year.
- Visitors can only enter through the Meridian Gate (Wumen) and leave from the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen) or East Prosperity Gate (Donghuamen). So, plan your trip accordingly.
- It is closed on Mondays, except the Chinese statutory holidays and the summer vacation from 1st July to 31st Aug.
- Opening hours during April – October is 8:30-17:00 and November to the next March is 8:30-16:30.
- Audio Guide is available in several languages including Chinese, Cantonese, English, French, Japanese, German, Korean, Russian, Thai, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic and Italian. It can be rented from the tour guide service at the Meridian Gate (Wumen) and the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen). The cost for renting any version of the device is RMB 40 (Chinese and Cantonese are both RMB 20), along with a deposit of RMB 100. Alternatively, look for free and cheaper app versions on your smartphone.
- Bring your own snacks and water to avoid the crowds at the handful of convenient stores and restaurants inside.
Inside the Clock and Watch Gallery
The Nine Dragons Screen (九龙壁) in front of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity (宁寿宮)
The Qianlong Garden
Pavilion of Pleasant Sounds (畅音阁)
The iconic long corridor of Forbidden City
At the Imperial Garden
View of the Jing Shan Park from inside the Forbidden City
The Man Made Mountain – Jingshan Park
After the long strolls in the Forbidden City, we went across the road to the Jingshan Park (entrance fee of RMB 2 only) to take a birds-eye view of the Forbidden City. This 45.7meter (150 ft) high artificial hill built in the 11th century back in Ming Dynasty is also the place where the last emperor of China, Chongzhen Emperor hanged himself and marked the end of Qing Dynasty. I hated the steps to hill top but the view was definitely worth it, even on a smoggy day. I was hoping for a snowy view but apparently, it was one of the warmest winters in Beijing in recent years. Where were the heavy snow that I had when I was in Beijing 2009-2010?!
|The Jing Shan Park
|Lots of steps to the top
|The Birdseye View of Forbidden City from Jing Shan Park
|Quite a bit of smog
|The tree where the last emperor of China hanged himself
City Gate That Still Standing – Zheng Yang Men
If you have time around the Tiananmen Square, do also check out the Zheng Yang Men Gate. Built in 1419 in the Ming Dynasty, Zheng Yang Men gate remains the most prominent city gate in Beijing left. We paid RMB20 each to go up the Zheng Yang Men. I haven’t been up there myself even though I’d walked passed it so many times. There were some historical items and photos on display but that’s about it. Well, at least now I could say I’d been up to the Zheng Yang Men, the symbolic entrance gate to the inner city of Beijing.
|The Great Zheng Yang Men Gate
|Zheng Yang Men from the other side of the road