A famous getaway for Chinese Emperors in the past, the Summer Palace is a popular destination in Beijing because of its historical significance and architectural beauty. Approximately 15 kilometers from the center of Beijing, its construction began in the 1750s and took almost 15 years to complete.
Chinese Name: 頤和園 (Yíhéyuán)
GOING TO THE SUMMER PALACE
Admission Fee: 30RMB (high season), 20RMB (low season) + extra for additional gardens inside
Open Time: 6:30 – 18:00 (high season), 7:00-17:00 (low season)
Directions: Take Line 4 to Beigongmen (the North Gate) or Line 10 to Yiheyuanximen
Here are 5 Tips For Visiting the Summer Palace
1. GET THERE EARLY
The Summer Palace is the largest and most well-preserved royal park in China, which makes it a super popular tourist destination. Get there early for good photos and less crowds.
I arrived around 7:30 a.m. and even then there were already lots of people going inside. Most tour groups started arriving around 8:00 a.m., and from then on it just became harder to walk around and not be held up by giant tour groups with matching hats.
2. PLAN TO SPEND AT LEAST 3 HOURS
The palace is built around Kunming Lake and covers a large area, so it is recommended you spend at least 3 hours to have enough time to see everything! The lake was inspired by the West Lake in Hangzhou and created by extending a smaller existing body of water.
3. KNOW YOUR ROUTE AHEAD OF TIME
There are a few recommended paths to follow when visiting the Summer Palace. Knowing the route you want to take will give you more time to enjoy all the sites and not miss out on anything! You can start from the North Gate, the West Gate, or the New Palace Gate, and follow various routes around the giant park.
Sites You Definitely Should See:
The Summer Palace has many sections to it, including the Front Hill, Back Hill, Eastern Dam, Nanhu Island, and the Western Dam. Here are some of the highlights.
4. ADMIRE THE LOCALS
While it’s a popular tourist site, there are still plenty of local Beijingers who will go to the park everyday – many of older people will dance and practice Taiji, just like Chinese people do at other parks. You’ll also see Chinese Water Calligraphy, singing, and all kinds of traditional games.
5. TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS
The Summer Palace is 1 of 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Beijing! Enjoy the beautiful scenery, soak in all the Chinese history, and capture it on camera! There are so many beautiful locations for photos.
A Few Other Things:
- Bring Snacks You’ll be walking a lot and probably will be out half a day! Bring some food so you don’t get hangry. Or try some of the Chinese snacks.
- You’ll Probably Be Asked For Photos. When you’re visiting popular tourist destinations, people from all parts of China are, too…and many of them have never encountered foreigners. I was asked for lots of photos and stared at (I was also carrying a tripod around and that always brings more attention).
These two kids walked straight up to my face and started snapping photos – don’t be alarmed if (or when) this happens.
Enjoy your trip to the Summer Palace!
Have you already been to the Summer Palace? What other sites in Beijing do you recommend I visit?