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Your Ultimate Guide To The Forbidden City: Everything You Need To Know

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

Photography of the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, nestled in the heart of Beijing, holds a distinguished place as a UNESCO World Heritage site and stands as an enduring symbol of China's rich cultural heritage. For more than 500 years, it served as the regal abode for Chinese emperors and their households during the illustrious reigns of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Occupying a sprawling complex that spans an impressive 180 acres, this architectural marvel encompasses a staggering 9,999 rooms. The Forbidden City astounds visitors with its resplendent traditional Chinese architecture, enchanting courtyards, and an unparalleled collection of priceless artifacts.

Reading “Your Ultimate Guide to the Forbidden City: Unlocking the Secrets of China's Imperial Wonder” is really important if you’re planning to visit this incredible historical site. It's packed with insider tips, practical information, hidden gems, cultural insights, and extra recommendations to make your experience truly memorable and special. Trust me, you will get everything you need to know about The Forbidden City!


Here are two ways to book The Forbidden City tickets:

1. Wechat Mini Program: Search for the Wechat mini program called "故宫博物院" (Palace Museum). Through this platform, you can book your tickets up to 7 days in advance.

2. Official Website: Visit the official website at for all the necessary booking information. You can book tickets via email, and the museum usually responds within 2 days.

Important information:

  • Due to the high demand for tickets to the Forbidden City, there is no guarantee that you will be able to purchase them.

  • The Forbidden City is closed on Mondays.

The Forbidden City

Things You Need To Know About Visiting The Forbidden City:

To make the most of your visit and ensure a memorable experience, we have gathered some insider tips to guide you through the wonders of the Forbidden City.

1. Plan Your Visit in Advance:

The Forbidden City is a vast complex with numerous halls, palaces, and gardens. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, it's essential to plan your visit in advance. Start by checking the opening hours and plan to arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds. Allocate sufficient time to explore the main highlights, such as the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Palace of Heavenly Purity, and the Imperial Garden.

2. Wear Comfortable Shoes and Dress Appropriately:

The Forbidden City is vast, covering an area of 180 acres, so be prepared for a lot of walking. Wear comfortable shoes to ensure a pleasant exploration of the complex. Additionally, dress appropriately for the weather and respect the conservative culture by avoiding revealing clothing. Remember to bring a hat, sunscreen, and stay hydrated, especially during the hot summer months.

3. Follow the Recommended Route:

To make the most efficient use of your time, follow the recommended route provided by the Forbidden City. This route ensures that you don't miss any of the must-see attractions and helps you navigate through the complex seamlessly. Be sure to pick up a map at the entrance and familiarize yourself with the main landmarks along the way.

To ensure a smooth, enjoyable and flexible self-guide visit to The Forbidden City, consider to rent Audio guides (Audio guides are available in multiple languages). "This Automatic Guided Map is like a tour guide and will explain the history as you walk to each part of The Palace Museum." (Comment from Reddit user kuanyuchen99).

(Photo from Reddit user kuanyuchen99).

4. Take Breaks at the Scenic Spots:

Throughout the Forbidden City, you'll find picturesque courtyards, gardens, and pavilions. Take advantage of these scenic spots to rest, soak in the ambiance, and capture stunning photos. Don't rush through the visit; allow yourself moments of tranquility to appreciate the beauty and serenity of the surroundings.

5. Explore the Two Extra Galleries:

While most of the attractions within the Forbidden City are included in the general admission ticket, there are two additional paid museums that you can visit:

  • Palace Museum Treasure Gallery: Located in the northeastern section of the Forbidden City, the Palace Museum Treasure Gallery showcases a stunning collection of imperial treasures, including gold, silver, jade, and precious gems. Admission to this gallery requires an additional fee.

  • Clock and Watch Gallery: Situated in the Hall of Ancestry (Fengxian Dian), the Clock and Watch Gallery exhibits a remarkable collection of ancient timepieces, ranging from mechanical clocks to intricate Chinese water clocks. Access to this gallery also requires a separate ticket.

Tips For The Security Check At The Forbidden City:

The security check at the Forbidden City is very strict.

1. Please carry a valid identification document, such as a passport or ID card.

2. Follow the instructions of the security personnel and queue up for the security check.

3. Prohibited items include flammable, explosive, toxic, or other dangerous substances. For example, sunscreen sprays are also not allowed, so please do not carry them.

4. Place personal belongings, such as packages and handbags, in the security screening equipment for inspection.

5. Cooperate with security personnel for the inspection of handheld items, such as mobile phones and cameras.

6. Adhere to the rules and designated no-photography areas within the Forbidden City.

7. Large luggage or excessively heavy items are not allowed inside the Forbidden City.

8. Maintain silence and respect other visitors and the preservation of cultural relics.

The Forbidden City

What Can You Do After Visiting The Forbidden City:

After exploring the grandeur of the Forbidden City, there are plenty of other attractions and activities to enjoy in Beijing. Here are some recommendations for what you can do next at the same day:

1. Visit Tiananmen Square: Located just outside the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square is one of the world's largest public squares and an important historical site. Take a stroll, admire the iconic Tiananmen Gate, and learn about China's rich history.

2. Explore Jingshan Park: Located north of the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park offers breathtaking panoramic views of Beijing's cityscape. Climb to the top of the park's artificial hill and take in the stunning scenery while enjoying a peaceful atmosphere.

3. Discover the Hutongs: Take a rickshaw ride or a leisurely walk through Beijing's traditional hutong neighborhoods. These narrow alleyways lined with courtyard homes provide a glimpse into the city's old-world charm and local culture.

4. Visit the Temple of Heaven: Head to the Temple of Heaven, a magnificent imperial complex where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would offer prayers for good harvests. Explore its stunning architecture and tranquil gardens.

5. Explore Beihai Park: Visit Beihai Park, a picturesque imperial garden located in the heart of Beijing. Enjoy serene lakes, beautiful pagodas, and historic temples while strolling through its well-manicured gardens.

6. Indulge in Beijing's Cuisine: After a day of sightseeing, treat yourself to Beijing's famous culinary delights. Sample Peking duck, dumplings, and other local specialties at one of the city's many renowned restaurants.

7. Shop at Wangfujing Street: Experience Beijing's bustling shopping scene at Wangfujing Street, a famous pedestrian street known for its luxury shopping malls, traditional shops, and delicious street food.

The Forbidden City

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