On your way to the Forbidden City (north of Tiananmen Square), you will make your way through the Tiananmen Square. This place can be very crowded as most people crowd around here to have a good view of all the different tourist sites in all directions as well as the front portrait of China’s former chairman. If you’re standing in front of the portrait just like the below image, you’ll be surrounded by different sites such as ‘The Monument to the People’s Heroes‘, ‘Mausoleum of Mao Zedong‘, and ‘China Numismatic Museum‘.
Around Tiananmen Square, there are always lot of people wondering around offering to take a photo of you in front of the sites for an amount $ rmb. That whole time I was wondering how do they print them out instantly and soon realise as I came across this:
They have a shared printing booth ! Very odd booth but yes, they’re all printing the photos for their customers. Very unusual but a very interesting way of providing photographic services, especially in Asia.
So as you make your way close to the portrait area, you’ll approach an under passage to the other side. I assure you, just follow the crowd (there’s always going to be one) and you’ll be on your way to the other side.
You’ll soon see this, and that is where you enter the Forbidden City. For more information direct from the website before you plan, visit: Forbidden City.
All my life I’ve watched Chinese & Hong Kong tv dramas so I’ve always loved the ancient setting with a story set in the kingdoms. Being able to stand in front of the Forbidden City entrance was truly an unforgettable experience for me. I was about to enter a place that was just so huge, so exquisite and powerful. A place that had been created by an Emperor from the Ming Dynasty who had moved the capital city from Nanjing to Beijing, and established the Forbidden City (Gu Gong in Chinese) there in Beijing. Not only is the Forbidden City the largest imperial palace complex in the world, it is also one of China’s best preserved in terms of the collections of several palaces.
As I got through, this was my first view of the whole Forbidden City (but a closeup):
The below picture was taken at the location from the above picture looking back to the front gates. So those red walls are the entrance and on the other side is the Tiananmen Square. It’s amazingly huge! What you’ll notice is all the roofs are built from yellow glazed tiles because yellow represents the royal family.
So you have the front court, the inner court and then the back court. Each court is so huge and the amount of space to roam around is just so great. The entire kingdom was where the Emperor, all his’ Concubines, family and kids, etc lived so you can imagine why it’s just so big!
When you see a huge crowd, you can’t help but be curious. This is the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihe Dian) which is where the Emperor’s Golden Throne sits, also known as the ‘Hall of Golden Thrown‘. Everyone is trying to squish through to capture a really good photo of the throne. Lucky for me, I managed and got a pretty decent one- however, I’m going to keep that off this page. That way, you’ll be curious yourself when you visit!
This next photo truly depicts how large just one ‘small’ area is.
As well as the palace serving as a location for royalty residence, it also has the Imperial Garden. This is just right behind the Hall of Earthly Tranquility. The below photo shows the pathway to the entrance of the Imperial Garden.
Trees that have existed for thousands of years and aren’t like any ordinary trees you see daily.
Details to get to the Forbidden City:
Subway station: Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East (cost of 2rmb per one way) walk north through the Tiananmen Tower (Gate of Heavenly Peace) and then you’ll find the Meridian Gate (South Gate)
Entrance fee: CNY 40 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar. 31); CNY 60 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31)
As I went at the end of April, it cost 60 rmb.
Opening hours: May-Sept 8.30am-4pm, Oct-Apr 8.30am-3.30pm
Recommended visit length: I’d say around 4-5 hours if you really want to take things in slowly and learn about the history. I went with a tour so it was like clap clap clap. I didn’t really like that but as a first timer, at least now I know how to get around. Trust me, it’s definitely worth going without a tour. You’ll have more time to view the beautiful scenery and the incredible architecture.
As you exit the garden and the palace, you’ll walk out to this.
My first and last ? Definitely not. The next time I’m in Beijing, I’ll be here to visit this place again and make sure I understand the history and have more time to consume the beautiful scenery. As well as this, have more time to look at each individual palace there is.