You can’t go to the Forbidden City and not visit the largest, most beautiful and exquisite imperial garden in the world where the Emperor and his’ family would often spend their time. This place is incredibly beautiful especially during the Springtime with the beautiful royal garden, the lakes, man-made ancient structures, pavilions, towers, bridges and the traditional Chinese gates and corridors.
The entire palace is separated by the many sections. We have the Court, Front-Hill, Lake and Rear-Hill area. In each area, you’ll be able to visit the different halls which was established for a particular reason. You’ll stumble across halls like Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, Hall of Utmost Blessing or even Hall of the Sea of Wisdom.
Although the garden at the Forbidden City is evidently huge, it cannot compare to the size of the Summer Palace.
If you’re limited in time, definitely take the boat to the top of the map. You can purchase a map for 10 CNY at the entrance which will show you the entire place with the different sites to visit. This map will definitely make you realise how big this place is. Since we were limited in time, it made sense to take the Chinese ferry to the end of the Summer Palace that is so far away, and then walk our way back from there. I can’t exactly remember how much it cost to take the boat/Chinese ferry but it was approximately 10-20 CNY per person one way.
Once the boat takes you to your destination on the map, you’ll approach this Marble Boat (located in the Lake Area). It’s so huge yet beautiful and still maintains it’s structure after so long.
In the Summer Palace, you’ll be walking through corridors which are called the Long Gallery (or Long Corridor). It is 728 metres long and is regarded as the longest corridor in any classic Chinese garden. It connects the east to the west between the Longevity Hill and runs parallel to the Kunming Lake.
It definitely is the perfect season to visit the Summer Palace. This place is a huge garden so it’s really nice to also sit by the water and admire the beauty this place has to offer while enjoying the nice breeze.
Details to get to the Summer Palace:
Subway station: subway Xiyuan or Beigongmen
Address: Street 19 Xinjian Gongmen
Entrance fee: entrance only Nov 1-Mar 31: 20 CNY & Apr 1-Oct 31: 30 CNY
main entrance + access to the * listed sites = Nov 1-Mar 31: 50 CNY & Apr 1-Oct 31: 60 CNY
* Dehe Garden, Tower of Buddhist Incense, Wenchang Hall, Suzhou Street and Danning Hall
Opening hours: Nov 1-Mar 31: 7am-5pm , Apr 1-Oct 31: 6.30am-6pm (opening hours for the individual sites/halls may vary. Check the website before you visit for accurate opening hours)
Recommended visit length: Around 4 hours, however an entire day is desirable if you want to take your time, enjoy the breeze during Spring and visit the individual sites including the Front-hill area.