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Forbidden City, Beijing
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4 Jingshan Qianjie
Beijing 100009
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ACTIVITIES
Architecture
Historic Interest
 
 
 
 

Meridian Gate, Forbidden City

 

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

The Forbidden City is truly intriguing. Not only was it home to 24 emperors, it was closed to commoners on punishment of death for nearly 5 centuries. What's more, it's one of the largest and greatest palaces ever built and it's one of the best-preserved. That said, a tour of Palace Museum, as this UNESCO World Heritage Site is officially known, is easily wearing. The Forbidden City is trodden by tourists from May to October. The museum's 9,999 rooms spread across 780,000 square meters, an area greater than 100 full-size football pitches or twice the size of Minnesota's Mall of America. Apart from the Imperial Garden, located near the exit, there is no green space and almost no shade. The following tips will help ensure culture triumphs over exhaustion. Arrive early; there are fewer people and it's significantly cooler. Take part in an organized tour or invest in a good guidebook and read up in advance. Taylor a tour to the age and interest of the kids. Relate the visit to what's being learned in school. Read a folktale out loud and imagine the life of an emperor. Make a list of the imperial symbols and embark on a treasure hunt. Take a break mid-way through your visit and recharge your child's batteries. One last word of advice, quit the Forbidden City before the kids no longer care.
Getting There
 
The Forbidden City is located at 4 Jingshan Qianjie in central Beijing and is situated just north of Tiananmen Square. Entrance is via the south gate, known as Wu men or Meridian Gate. The Gate of Divine Prowess, Shenwu men in Chinese, is located at the north end of the palace and is the only exit. (The east and west gates are reserved for staff.) The Palace Museum is accessible by subway, bus, and taxi. The nearest subway stations are Tian'an Men West and Tian'an Men East. Numerous city buses stop near the main gates. Taxis can drop passengers right at the Meridian Gate but can't stop in front of the Gate of Divine Prowess. Walk east or west to hail a cab on exiting the museum. Of note, there is no parking onsite and there is limited parking nearby.
Hours & Times
 
The museum is open daily year around. Hours are seasonal. Winter 8:30 - 16:30. Summer 8:30 to 17:00. Peak summer 8:00 - 17:00. Last entry is one hour before closing. The Forbidden City is best-visited midweek and is less crowded in the early morning and late afternoon. Avoid weekends, public holidays and the month of August, the number of visitors reaches 80,000 a day. Allow 3 hours for a visit.
Admission & Fees
 
Rates are seasonal. Children under 120 cm in height are free of charge. Entrance to the Treasure Gallery and Hall of Clocks is charged seperately. Credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, and PayUnion) are accepted. Tickets can purchased online but the online booking site is in Chinese only.
Things to Keep in Mind
 
English maps and strollers are available at the entrance. Audio guides are available in over 20 languages. Tour guides, English and Mandarin speakers, can be hired at the gate but the quality is hit or miss and the tour is at their pace. There are several snack kiosks near the ticket office and a restaurant at the back of the museum. Luggage, including carry-ons and oversize backpacks, is not allowed in the Forbidden City. These items can be checked at the left luggage office which is located near the ticket office.
 
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