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Summer Palace

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The Summer Palace is an elaborate complex of gardens, pavilions, palaces, and covered walkways, built by the Qing dynasty and used as a public park since 1924. Visitors can take a tour to see the hundreds of structures throughout the grounds, rent a boat to explore the lake, or simply enjoy being surrounded by nature.
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Beijing Summer Palace Admission Ticket

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No-Shopping Private Day Tour: Summer Palace, Badaling Great Wall and Lunch

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Beijing Private Transfer to Badaling Great Wall and Summer Palace

 
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2-Day Beijing Group Combo Tour: Badaling Pass with Top City Attracions

 
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Summer Palace: Imperial Garden UNESCO Mini Group Guided Tour

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All Inclusive Mutianyu Great Wall and Summer Palace Private Day Tour

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4 Tips for Visiting the Summer Palace

Summer Palace, Bejing | Photo: Colin Capelle CC-BY 2.0
1
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes since you’ll be doing plenty of walking. You’ll also want to dress carefully depending on the weather as you’ll spend most of the day outside.
Summer Palace, Bejing | Photo: xiquinhosilva CC-BY 2.0
2
There’s a ferry to take guests across the lake, but if the weather’s nice and you have the time you might also want to hire a small boat to explore by yourself - pedaloes and motor boats are both available to rent from four different docks around the lake.
3
If you’re looking for a memorable dining experience, then why not eat at the Hall of Listening to the Orioles? Its restaurant has been visited by over 100 heads of state from around the world and is open to visitors daily.
4
It can take over 5 hours to thoroughly explore the Summer Palace grounds - you might want to turn this into a day trip so that you have time to see everything without rushing!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Summer Palace?

Although it sounds like it’s just one building, the Summer Palace is actually a huge complex of gardens, lakes, pavilions, and palaces covering 1.1 square miles (2.9km²). It was built in stages from 1750 onwards in the area surrounding Kunming Lake and used the shape of the lake and Longevity Hill as a framework. Its buildings were used for political and administrative offices as well as residential, spiritual, and recreational spaces for the Imperial family and its staff. The palace grounds were largely destroyed during the Second Opium War in the 1850s, then rebuilt by Emperor Guangzu. Though it was damaged again during the Boxer Rebellion, it was restored and was opened as a public park in 1924.

Why was the Summer Palace built?

The layout of the Summer Palace is based on the Chinese philosophy of balance and specifically sought to balance the works of man with the natural beauty of the landscape. While the buildings were intended to serve a range of practical purposes, there were also spaces deliberately left empty so that there was space to walk in spiritual contemplation and to enjoy the scenery. Despite all the philosophy, however, Kunming Lake is actually an artificial lake! It was created after the Qianlong Emperor decided to build a palace in honor of his mother’s 60th birthday, and the expansion of the lake was also undertaken in the name of improving the capital city’s water system. Excess soil from the excavations was also used to make Longevity Hill taller than it originally was. The lake provided water for surrounding agriculture, and also made for a stunning location for the palace complex.

What will I see on a visit?

It depends on which route through the park you want to take! Most people arrive via the East Gate, where you’ll see the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, which was the retirement home of Dowager Empress Cixi - although she still influenced politics from the rooms you’ll see, even after her son officially took the throne in 1889. Watch out for a number of peacock statues, plus dragons and phoenixes, representing the power of the Emperor, Empress, and their dynasty. Close to the hall, you’ll find the three-story Grand Theater, which can be explored if you’ve bought the all-inclusive ticket. You can also see the Hall of Joyful Longevity, and if you’re feeling brave you can take a picture of the huge Blue Iris stone outside it - the stone enthusiast who wanted to take it home with him abandoned it halfway due to bankruptcy, and there’s a superstition that even photographing it can bring ruin to the photographer. You can take a trip over the Seventeen-Arch Bridge, lined by lion statues, and climb over the steep arch of the Jade Belt Bridge, whose high arch allowed the Emperor’s dragon boat to pass underneath. Speaking of boats, you can also visit the Marble Boat, a stone replica of an original structure destroyed in 1860. Following the Long Corridor (a covered walkway) and climbing Longevity Hill, you’ll be able to visit the Baoyun Bronze Pavilion, the majestic Tower of Buddhist Incense, and the Sea of Wisdom, a green and yellow building containing over 1,000 Buddhist statues. From the top of the hill, you’ll also enjoy stunning views of the park and downtown Beijing.

Do I need to take a guided tour?

It can be helpful to have a guide with you who can explain what you’re seeing and to take you straight to the most interesting parts of the park. However, watch out for guides who try to pick up tour groups at the entrance for an inflated price, or for tours which are an hour or shorter because you’ll probably end up feeling rushed.

Can we have a picnic on the grounds?

Yes! Feel free to bring lunch with you and enjoy it in the picturesque surroundings. There are also food stalls scattered throughout the park if you’d rather pick something up along the way.

General Information

Opening Hours:

From April 1 to October 31, the gates to the Summer Palace will be open from 6.30 am to 6 pm, with visitors who enter before 6 pm able to stay inside until 8 pm. From November 1 to March 31, the gates will be open from 7 am to 5 pm, with guests who enter before 5 pm able to stay until 7 pm.

Address:

Summer Palace
19 Xinjiangongmen Road
Haidian Qu
China, 100091

Tickets:

General admission tickets cost CNY 30 for adults and CNY 15 for students with ID between April 1 and October 31, and CNY 20 for adults and RMB 10 for students between November 1 and March 31. General admission includes access to almost 3000 halls on the grounds, SuperSaver admission also includes entry to all four galleries. Alternatively, each gallery costs CNY 5 to enter. Children under 1.2m in height can enter free of charge.

How to get there:

The Summer Palace can be reached via line 4 of the Beijing metro, you can either get off at Beigongmen Station, 250m from the North Gate, or Xiyuan Station (also served by line 16), which is 800m from the East Gate. Bus numbers 303, 330, 331, 332, 346, 375, 508, 563, 579 584, and 594 stop at Beigongmen, and Yiheyuan (near the East Gate), numbers 74, 374, 437, and 952 stop at Xinjiangongmen and the South Ruyi Gate, and bus numbers 469 and 539 stop at the West Gate. Car parking is available at the South Ruyi Gate and the West Gate.
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