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Visiting The Forbidden City In Beijing: The Ultimate Top 11 Tips For A Smooth Trip!

Visiting The Forbidden City – also known as The Palace Museum, is a must-see when in Beijing, and is often high on the list of places to see on many Asia travel bucket lists

Located in the centre of Beijing, the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site The Forbidden City is the world’s largest palace complex, spanning 250 acres with almost 1,000 buildings.

There are, however, some tips that will definitely make your life easier if you plan to visit – read on for the top tips for visiting The Forbidden City in Beijing!

the forbidden city Beijing

Top 10 Tips for Exploring The Forbidden City in Beijing

 1. Buy Tickets Online Or Arrive Early So They Aren’t Sold Out!

The Forbidden City is an extremely popular tourist attraction not only for international tourists, but for Chinese tourists and locals as well. Yes, even if people only have a day in Beijing or a short stopover, they will make it a priority to visit The Forbidden City.

A maximum of 80,000 visitors can enter The Forbidden City daily, and while that sounds like a huge number, tickets get sold out on most days – particularly weekends and Chinese public holidays!

For this reason it is strongly recommended to buy tickets online beforehand. Note that you can only book tickets online 7 days in advance (they go on sale at 8pm each evening) so set a reminder to book your tickets!



If you haven’t managed to book a ticket online, you can sometimes buy tickets when you get there, if you arrive first thing in the morning before the opening time! Tickets cost 60 RMB (40 RMB in winter).

You will need to purchase tickets at the Southern gate’s ‘Passport Window.’ The Southern Gate is the only entrance to The Forbidden City!

You can book your ticket for later that day, say for example if you want to visit at the end of the day. You just need to make sure you physically go and buy your ticket in the morning as you don’t want to risk turning up and not being able to purchase a ticket!

To make things easier though, just buy your ticket online so you aren’t wasting time!

the forbidden city Beijing

2. You Must Bring Your Passport!

You absolutely need your passport to enter The Forbidden City, whether you’ve purchased tickets online or at the Southern entrance. Do not forget it as you won’t be allowed inside The Forbidden City without it!

3. The Forbidden City Is Closed On Mondays!

The Forbidden City is closed on Mondays so make sure you plan it for another day!

4. Avoid Weekends & Arrive First Thing In The Morning Or At The End Of The Day

To avoid crowds, plan your visit during weekdays and steer clear of Chinese public holidays as The Forbidden City gets so busy during these times!

Aim to visit first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon, staying until closing time.

Whilst The Forbidden City gets extremely busy during the day, if you are there at the end of the day near closing time it becomes a lot emptier and there are less people around so it is possible to get pictures without people in!

This is definitely advisable if you plan to visit other busy places first thing in the morning, such as The Great Wall or The Temple Of Heaven.

Opening times for The Forbidden City:

8.30am – 5pm (April until October) 60RMB ticket price.

8.30am – 4.30pm (November until March) 40 RMB ticket price.

Last entry is 50 minutes before closure but I would allow 2-3 hours here as there is so much to see here and you don’t want to rush.

the forbidden city Beijing

5. Entrance: Southern Gate, Exit: Northern Gate!

The Southern gate, also known as the Meridian Gate, is the only entrance to The Forbidden City.

The Northern gate, or Gate of Divine, is the only exit! 

How to reach the Southern Gate:
– From the south – via Tiananmen Square (under the famous portrait of Mao)
– From the east – via Donghuamen and the moat
– From the west – via Zhongshan Park.

6. Do Not Buy Entrance Tickets From Street Vendors

Beware of street vendors and people attempting to sell tickets – they are often fake! Either buy your tickets online or at The ticket office at The Forbidden City.

7. Getting to the Forbidden City

Public transport, in particular the subway, is the easiest, cheapest and most convenient way to reach the Forbidden City (yes it is often much quicker than taking a taxi as the traffic in Beijing is horrendous!).

Line 1 (Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East Station) and Line 2 (Qianmen Station) are the nearest metro stops to The Forbidden City.

When you get off at the metro, walk north through the Tiananmen Tower and you’ll see the Southern Gate entrance.

Signs are in English so it is easy to understand where you are going!

8. Bring Sun Cream & Water!

If you’re visiting during the summer do not forget to bring suncream, sunglasses and a hat with you. There is minimal shade here and it’s a big place so you’ll want to stay cool and hydrated as much as possible!

the forbidden city Beijing

9. Wear Comfy Shoes – There’s A Lot Of Walking!

The Forbidden City is huge, and you’ll easily spend 2 or 3 hours walking around. For this reason, you’ll definitely want to wear comfortable shoes.

10. Best Photo Spots:

If, like me, you love taking photographs, some great photo locations inside The Forbidden City are:

Some popular places for taking photographs inside The Forbidden City include Yuqinggong, the Historic Palace and the Hall of Supreme Harmony.

    • Hall of Supreme Harmony: You can find some cute spots on the side of the hall where you can get unique photos without other people in.
    • Historic Palace: Despite being busy, this is a must-visit location! It’s usually much much quieter at the end of the day!
    • Yuqinggong: The view through the gates is stunning and offers a distinctive perspective of the Forbidden City.

You can also get some nice photos as you exit The Forbidden City, such as of the moat surrounding the complex.

the forbidden city Beijing

11. Head To Nearby Jingshan Park Afterwards For Great Views Of The Forbidden City

Jingshan Park is located right next to the exit of The Forbidden City.

It is a lovely peaceful park and if you climb up the stairs to the tower at the top you’ll be rewarded with incredible views looking out over The Forbidden City! Entrance is 2 RMB.

jingshan park forbidden city Beijing

From Jingshan Park you can walk to the nearby Beijing hutongs to really explore the local culture!

Hopefully these tips will help you enjoy this stunning location to the max!

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