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Forbidden City

This formerly restricted imperial palace complex is now a public museum that shows the splendor of the old China. It is one of Beijing’s most impressive sites.

The Forbidden City is one of the most awe-inspiring sights in Beijing, and in fact, the whole of China. For hundreds of years, only the royal entourage was allowed to enter  through the formidable walls, which is why the complex earned the name “Forbidden City.” Since 1925, its opulent plazas have been open to the public, attracting millions of tourists each year.

Surrounded by a moat and a high wall with corner watchtowers, this vast complex of ancient wooden palaces and religious structures was once a residence for Chinese emperors. Now managed by the Palace Museum, the authentic buildings, antique collections and manicured gardens within the compound are carefully preserved.

Most visitors spend at least half a day in the vast Forbidden City. Enter through the Gate of Heavenly Peace and pick up a map or digital audio tour at the ticketing office. Browse the expansive site with nearly a 1,000 structures yourself, or hire a reputable guide.

See if you can spot the architectural influences of many different cultures and enter the old halls and pavilions to find precious artifacts. See rare bronze objects, old paintings and everyday household items, which give you insight into what life was like behind these imperial walls.

You can’t miss the extravagant five-arch Meridian Gate and the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the largest among the many grand and lavishly decorated ceremonial halls in the complex. To end your visit, stroll through the Imperial Garden and exit through the Gate of Divine Might.

Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City is easy to reach on foot, or by bike or public transport. The subway Tian'anmen East and West stations are close to the South Gate. A city bus circles the complex on the outside, so you can get from one side to the other in a short time. Visit on a weekday if you want to avoid large crowds.


Guide to Exploring Forbidden City


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Novotel Beijing Peace £65
Novotel Beijing Peace

Novotel Beijing Peace

No 3 Jinyu Hutong, Beijing
     
    4.0
    of 5, from 1,463 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

    This family-friendly Beijing hotel is located in the historical district, within a 15-minute walk of St. Joseph's Cathedral and Wangfujing Street. Tiananmen Square and Tiananmen are also within 1 mile (2 km).

    Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City £51
    Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City

    Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City

    16 Donghuamen Street, Beijing
       
      4.2
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      Located in Dongcheng, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dong Hua Men Night Market and Tiananmen. Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street are also within 15 minutes.

      Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing £76
      Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing

      Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing

      97 Jinbao St Dongcheng Distrt, Beijing
         
        4.5
        of 5, from 2,010 reviews
        4.0 out of 5.0

        Located in Dongdan, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of St. Joseph's Cathedral and Wangfujing Street. Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City are also within 2 miles (3 km).

        Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel £101
        Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel

        Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel

        57 Wangfujing Street, Beijing
           
          4.5
          of 5, from 271 reviews
          5.0 out of 5.0

          Located in Dongcheng, this luxury hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Dong Hua Men Night Market, Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street. Forbidden City and Tiananmen are also within 2 miles (3 km).

          Beijing Wang Fu Jing Jade Hotel £24
          Beijing Wang Fu Jing Jade Hotel

          Beijing Wang Fu Jing Jade Hotel

          No. 5 North Zhide Alley, Beijing
             
            3.6
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            3.0 out of 5.0

            Located in Dongcheng, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tiananmen and Tiananmen Square. China Museum of History and Wangfujing Street are also within 1 mile (2 km).

            Jade Garden Hotel Beijing £42
            Jade Garden Hotel Beijing

            Jade Garden Hotel Beijing

            No 1 Nanheyan Street, Beijing
               
              4.1
              of 5, from 676 reviews
              3.5 out of 5.0

              Located in Dongcheng, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dong Hua Men Night Market and Tiananmen. Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street are also within 15 minutes.

              Dongsi Hotel
              Dongsi Hotel

              Dongsi Hotel

              No.18 Dadoufu Lane, Dongsi West Street, Beijing
                 
                3.3
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                2.0 out of 5.0

                Located in Dongcheng, this hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Jingshan Park, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Beihai Park and Tiananmen are also within 1 mile (2 km).

                Grand Hotel Beijing £90
                Grand Hotel Beijing

                Grand Hotel Beijing

                No 35 East Chang An Avenue, Beijing
                   
                  4.2
                  of 5, from 464 reviews
                  5.0 out of 5.0

                  Located in Dongcheng, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of National Museum of China and Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen and Chairman Mao Memorial Hall are also within 15 minutes.