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Forbidden City

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The Forbidden City (also known as the Palace Museum) is a huge palace complex in the center of Beijing. With over 900 buildings spread over 180 acres (72 hectares) and home to collections of artwork from the Ming and Qing dynasties, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most-visited attractions in Beijing. With so much to explore, it’s recommended that you take a guided tour in order not to miss anything!
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Tickets

Book your ticket to the Forbidden City in advance!
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Forbidden City Ticket
4.6starstarstarstarstar half(2721)
 
Explore one of the most impressive historical sites in Beijing and discover the secrets that have been hidden for centuries.
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Guided Tours

Learn even more about the Forbidden City when you take a tour with an expert guide.
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4-Hour Private Beijing Walking Tour of the Forbidden City
5.0starstarstarstarstar(11)
 
What is a better way to have a deep tour of the Forbidden city with your private guide the whole time? Embark on this 4-hour walking tour, you will explore the most famous parts in the Forbidden City. Visit the Tienanmen Square. Walking from the Hall of the Supreme Harmony, where the emperor handled state affairs to The Garden of Mental Cultivation-the emperor's bedroom. This in-depth tour charts the stories behind the Forbidden city's sacred sites.
viator.com
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4-Hour Skip-the-Line Ultimate Discovery of Forbidden City Tour with Hotel Pickup
5.0starstarstarstarstar(35)
 
This ultimate Forbidden City tour will take you see 18 palaces including The Antiquarium of The Palace Museum (Treasures Museum). It will provide you a deeper understanding of what Forbidden City looks like and what the culture are behind it in 4 hours. The Forbidden City now is limited the ticket sold everyday. With this tour, no worries about the ticket, and skip the line!
viator.com
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5-Hour Small Group Tour to Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Antiquarium
5.0starstarstarstarstar(11)
 
This tour is perfect for people who love history, culture,architecture and museums.People always say:when visit Forbidden city, 70% is to learn the stories and 30% is to see the palace. During this 5 hours walking tour, you will stop at different locations to have the "Story time" and gain the insight view to the fascinating culture. You will visit major buildings and courtyards, the tour also including the visit to the Hall of Clocks Museum and The Hall of Treasures. Group size is limited to 12 people to ensure more personalized attention from your guide. To make you a pleasant and enjoyable experience, the tour have No hidden charge and No factory stops. Entrance fees and free hotel pick up is included.
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Forbidden City: 4-Hour Guided Walking Tour
4.0starstarstarstarstar empty(35)
 
Explore the history and hidden stories of Forbidden City. With skip-the-line access and an experienced English tour guide. Learn the ancient Emperors working and private life at the Forbidden City.
getyourguide.com
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More Tickets & Tours

Browse even more products which include a trip to the Forbidden City.
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Beijing Great Wall & Forbidden City Full-Day Group Tour
4.5starstarstarstarstar half(119)
 
Visit some of the top attractions of Beijing and the surrounding area on this guided group tour. You’ll have the opportunity to walk along the Great Wall, marvel at the Royal Palace and other sites in the Forbidden City and stop to see Tiananmen Square.
getyourguide.com
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Beijing Highlights Full-Day Coach Tour
4.5starstarstarstarstar half(37)
 
Tour all the must-see sites of Beijing on a full-day coach excursion. See man-made wonders, such as the Great Wall of China, Tian'anmen Square, and the splendid palaces of the Forbidden City.
getyourguide.com
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Tiananmen, Forbidden City, & Mutianyu Great Wall with Lunch
4.3starstarstarstarstar half(133)
 
Explore the former home of 24 Chinese emperors in the palace complex of Beijing's Forbidden City. Be stunned by the scale of Tiananmen Square. Then, drive by coach to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, visit a jade factory and more.
getyourguide.com
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Highlight Tour: Tiananmen, Forbidden City & Great Wall
4.5starstarstarstarstar half(91)
 
Visit 3 of the most significant attractions of the Beijing area on a full-day tour. See the Tiananmen Square, explore the Forbidden City, and take a hike along the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Learn about the Ming and Qing emperors, and much more.
getyourguide.com
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Top Tips

1. Bring your passport - visitors from outside China will need their passports or official ID cards in order to buy tickets or enter the Forbidden City.
Forbidden City, Beijing | Photo: Colin Capelle CC-BY 2.0
2. If you have a long stopover in Beijing, consider taking a roundtrip tour to the Forbidden City! You’re allowed to enter Beijing without a visa as long as you’re staying less than 144 hours, and there are plenty of tour operators who guarantee that they can get you there and back again in time for your next flight.
Golden River | Photo: Dennis Jarvis CC-BY-SA 2.0
3. Decide how you’re going to visit before you arrive - if you want to rent an audio guide you can do that at the Meridian Gate, if you want to take a guided tour then arrange it before you leave your accommodation. Just make sure that you don’t get taken in by any of the guides offering last-minute tours at the gate, as you’re liable to be overcharged.
4. The palace complex is huge and you’ll be doing a lot of walking, so wear good shoes and clothing appropriate for the weather. The various squares are also exposed to the elements and there’s limited shade, so sunscreen and sunglasses are a must in summer.
5. You don’t need to check in your bag before entering - a bag check is available at the entrance, but since the exit is at the opposite end of the complex, it’s a long walk around the outside perimeter to pick it up again.
6. Don’t visit on major public holidays in China! The Forbidden City is hugely popular with local tourists so will be extremely busy on those days. For reference, the daily limit on visitors is 80,000 people, so it can be extremely crowded despite being a large area!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called the Forbidden City?

‘Forbidden City’ is a translation of the palace complex’s Chinese name Zijin Cheng (紫禁城), and refers to the fact that during the time of the emperor, no one was allowed to enter without the emperor’s permission. Part of the name, Zi, means purple and refers to the North Star, the traditional heavenly home of the Celestial Emperor, also known as the Jade Emperor, one of the representations of the first god. As the home of the terrestrial emperor, the Forbidden City was the counterpart of the North Star on Earth.

Why should I visit the Forbidden City?

The Forbidden City is China’s most popular tourist attraction (with its 14 million annual visitors exceeding that of any single section of the Great Wall), and for good reason! It’s the world’s largest imperial palace, with over 980 buildings and 8,700 rooms, plus it’s the world’s largest collection of preserved medieval wooden structures. Construction began in 1406 under the Yongle Emperor (a member of the Ming dynasty), took 14 years and required the labor of over 1 million workers. Over its 600 years of history, it was home to 24 emperors, with the final emperor, Puyi, living in the palace until his abdication in 1912. Today it houses the Palace Museum, which is one of China’s largest collection of historical items and treasures, featuring porcelain, jade, and other important relics.

What should I expect on a guided tour?

Your guide will take you through the Meridian Gate, where you’ll be facing the Gate of Supreme Harmony. Through this gate, you’ll arrive at a large square, opposite the Hall of Supreme Harmony, which is where the emperors were crowned, where they granted audiences to visitors, and where other important ceremonies were celebrated throughout the year. A straightforward tour on the shortest route will also guide you through the Hall of Central Harmony (where ceremonies were rehearsed), the Hall of Preserved Harmony (where imperial banquets and national examinations were held), the Palace of Heavenly Purity (where the emperor’s private chambers and office were to be found), the Hall of Celestial and Terrestrial Union (where the Empress would receive visits from other concubines), and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility (where the Empress had her chambers). On a longer tour, you might also see the Hall of Literary Glory, the Hall for Ancestry Worship (which includes a gallery of clocks and watches), and the Six Eastern and Six Western Palaces which were home to the imperial concubines and their children. You’ll exit close to Jingshan Park, and many tours will also visit the park. Climb to the top of the hill for an awesome view of the whole of the Forbidden City.

Is Tiananmen Square inside the Forbidden City?

Tiananmen Square (or the Square of Heavenly Peace) is just to the south of the Forbidden City and contains several monuments and memorials in addition to Chairman Mao’s mausoleum. Many tours of Beijing will take you through the square before you move on to visit the Forbidden City. It’s free to enter (though there may be security checkpoints), so if you’re traveling without a guide you can easily spend some time in the square on the same day that you visit the Forbidden City.

Can we film or take photographs?

Feel free to film or take photographs wherever you’d like to in the squares and other outdoor areas of the complex. You can also take photos in the exhibition halls as long as you don’t use flash or tripods.

How long should I expect a trip to take?

The most popular and shortest route moves straight through the center of the complex and takes about 2 hours to complete. If you want to see more then there are other routes which veer off to the right and left of the central series of halls and squares. If you decide to take one of those routes then expect to spend at least 4 hours in the Forbidden City, but with a guide or audio guide, and stops for snacks or to rest your feet, you can easily spend a whole day inside the complex.

General Information

Opening Hours:

The Forbidden City is open from Tuesday to Sunday all year round, and on Mondays which are national holidays. From April to October the opening hours are 8.30 am to 5 pm, with the last ticket sold at 4 pm and final entry to the site at 4.10 pm. From November to March the site is open from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, with the final ticket sold at 3.30 pm and final entry at 3.40 pm.

Address:

Forbidden City
4 Jingshan Front St
Dongcheng Qu
Beijing Shi
China, 100006

Tickets:

From April to October tickets cost 60 yuan, from November to March they cost 40 yuan. A 50% discount is available for visitors over the age of 60, and tickets for school children and undergraduate students cost 20 yuan. Admission is free for children under 1.2 meters in height. The Treasure Gallery and Hall of Clocks have separate entry fees of 10 yuan.

How to get there:

The Forbidden City is accessible via metro line 1 to either Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East stations, and via metro line 2 to Qianmen station. Buses also serve stops at Tiananmen East, or Tian’an men dong, (1, 10, 120, 126, 2, 20, 37, 4, 52, 59, 728, 802, or Te1) and Tiananmen West or Tiananmen x (1, 10, 22, 37, 4, 5, 52, 728, 802, or Te1). Please note that visitors must enter the site from the south and exit to the north.
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