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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 (728434 m²) 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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Guided Tours

Learn even more about the Forbidden City when you take a tour with an expert guide.
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Beijing: Forbidden City and Royal Treasure Museum Tour
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More Tickets & Tours

Browse even more products which include a trip to the Forbidden City.
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Beijing: Forbidden City Walking Tour with Entry Tickets
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Beijing: Temple of Heaven and Forbidden City Private Tour
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Beijing: Tiananmen, Forbidden City, and Wall Private Tour
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Beijing: Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square Walking Tour
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6 tips for visiting the Forbidden City

Forbidden City, Beijing | Photo: Colin Capelle CC-BY 2.0
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.
Golden River | Photo: Dennis Jarvis CC-BY-SA 2.0
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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. Read more.

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. Read more.

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. Read more.

Is Tiananmen Square inside the Forbidden City?

Tiananmen Square (or the Gate 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 visitors are traveling without a guide, they can easily spend some time in the square on the same day that they visit the Forbidden City. Read more.

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. Read more.

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. Read more.

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.


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


Official site: -1


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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