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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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£78
Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing

Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing

97 Jinbao St Dongcheng Distrt, Beijing
4.6
of 5, from 2,174 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Dongdan, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Peking Union Medical College and Wangfujing Street. Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City are also within 2 miles (3 km).

£66
Prime Hotel Beijing Wangfujing

Prime Hotel Beijing Wangfujing

No.2 Wangfujing Main Street, Beijing
4.1
of 5, from 1,128 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Beijing, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Jingshan Park and Forbidden City. Beihai Park and Tiananmen are also within 1 mile (2 km).

£72
Sunworld Dynasty Hotel

Sunworld Dynasty Hotel

50 Wangfujing Avenue, Beijing
4.1
of 5, from 450 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Beijing, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of St. Joseph's Cathedral and Wangfujing Street. Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City are also within 1 mile (2 km).

£55
Novotel Beijing Peace

Novotel Beijing Peace

No 3 Jinyu Hutong, Beijing
4.0
of 5, from 1,373 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

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

£62
Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City

Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City

16 Donghuamen Street, Beijing
4.2
of 5, from 1,112 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Beijing, 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.

£22
Beijing Wang Fu Jing Jade Hotel

Beijing Wang Fu Jing Jade Hotel

No. 5 North Zhide Alley, Beijing
3.6
of 5, from 549 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Beijing, 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).

£103
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel

Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel

57 Wangfujing Street, Beijing
4.5
of 5, from 232 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Beijing, this luxury hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of National Art Museum of China, Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street. Forbidden City and Tiananmen are also within 2 miles (3 km).

£113
Regent Beijing

Regent Beijing

99 Jinbao St Dongcheng Dstrct, Beijing
4.5
of 5, from 665 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

This family-friendly Beijing hotel is located in the historical district, within 1 mi (2 km) of Peninsula Beijing Shopping Arcade, Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street. Forbidden City and Tiananmen are also within 2 miles (3 km).