The Forbidden City in Beijing is truly incredible. I lost count how many times I said, “Woooooow!” I find that everyone talks about wanting to see the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors when discussing bucket list things to do in China…what about the Forbidden City?! Just looking at the entrance across from Tianamen Square isn’t enough, although it’ll give you the I’m really in China sensation. ↓
You can only enter from this gate, and once you’re inside you line up to pay your admission. Make sure your batteries are fully charged because you’ll be taking hundreds of pictures. It’s impossible to get overall shots that are photo bomberless, but I hope you’ll like my favourite Forbidden City shots anyway.
A Quick Tip
Try to plan your trip to Beijing from November to March! Not only is it less busy since it’s not the high tourist season, but the weather is more tolerable. It’s also CHEAPER to get into the Forbidden City from November to March at 40 yuan instead of 60 from April to October. 😀
Don’t forget to bring your passport juuuust in case they ask for it.
Okay, let’s go in! 😀
The first place you’ll set foot after you pay your admission will be in the southern section, or the Outer Court. This is where the emperors ruled. As you keep going down, you’ll make it to the northern section, or the Inner Court, which is where the emperors lived with their families. From its completion in 1420 until the last emperor was forced out in 1924, 24 emperors lived there as it was the imperial palace – fourteen of the Ming dynasty and ten of the Qing dynasty.
I didn’t know that the Forbidden City is the world’s largest palace complex until I visited last year, and it covers 74 hectares with 980 buildings and over 8,700 rooms. Good luck trying to see them all…lol! It doesn’t surprise me one bit that it took a million workers and a hundred thousand artisans, and huge amounts of stone and timber from far away to finish the job.
The entire complex is so impressive. When you’re inside, it’s incredible to be completely unable to see anything modern from the outside.
You’ll notice the busy street when you exit the complex, but few people appeared to notice Jingshan Park. It was an imperial garden that used to be part of the Forbidden City. In the early 1900s, the city walls and several gates and buildings were taken down for the road. What a shame to destroy part of the Forbidden City. 🙁
On the bright side, the dirt that was used to dig up the moat was used to create the big hill. If it’s a clear day, it is worth trekking to the top for a bird’s eye view of the Forbidden City. It’s open ’til 8pm, and the last admission is at 7:30pm.
This one is my all-time favourite Forbidden City shot, without me or any barriers. 😀 ↓
Depending on what time of year you go, the sun may or may not have set by the time you make it back down. If not, then hopefully the sun will have called it a day by the time you make it back to the entrance where you started; I walked all along the wall back to the Forbidden City entrance, and that was a little surreal; you’re walking down a regular, busy, modern street, and on the other side of the 10m curtain is the Forbidden City.
If that sort of thing doesn’t cross your mind, you’ll be glad you made the trek back to the entrance because seeing it lit up is lovely. It’s like how if you’re in Moscow, you have to go to Red Square again at night. I wish tourists were permitted inside the city at night, and I was really disappointed that it was hardly visible from Jingshan Park.
By this time, you’ll probably be hungry. If you’re in the mood for authentic Chinese snacks, keep walking down the street, which is to your right if you’re facing the view in this photo. Keep going until you reach Wangfujing Shopping Street; go down this street until you see Wangfujing Snack Street to your left. Even if you’re not hungry or if you’re not an adventurous when it comes to food, it’s quite a fascinating experience.
Anyway, when it comes to prioritizing what you’re going to see in Beijing, I’d say that the Forbidden City is just as important as the Great Wall but if you disagree, then it’s a super close second.
Do you agree? If not, why?