The Forbidden City, located right in the heart of Beijing, is a must-see when you visit the capital city of China. The ancient Imperial Palace of China, called Gùgōng (故宫) in Chinese, is a popular tourist location and covers a large area, so it’s best to do some planning before you go to avoid crowds and make the most of your time there.
I’ve been inside and around the Forbidden City a few times now, and wanted share some tips for making your experience more worthwhile at one of Beijing’s most famous historical sites.
Here’s a useful map showing the location of the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, and other popular destinations to visit inside the center of Beijing and Metro Line 2.
Before You Visit the Forbidden City
- Time Needed: 2-3 hours is recommended, but if needed you can walk through faster
- The Forbidden City is closed every Monday
- Make sure to review the ticketing and entry times before you go
|Months||Opening Hours||Ticketing Time||Entry Time|
|April to October||8:30-17:00||8:30-16:00||8:30-16:10|
|November to March||8:30-16:30||8:30-15:30||8:30-15:40|
Buying Tickets For the Forbidden City
You can book your ticket online for the Forbidden City ahead of time. Only 80,000 tickets are sold for Forbidden City everyday, so it’s smart to book your ticket ahead of time if you have limited days to visit the Forbidden City.
This is the Chinese website for booking tickets, and you’ll need to be able to read Chinese or have a Chinese friend help you out. You can also book through other English sites like Klook.
Alternatively if your time is more flexible, you can go to the Forbidden City the day of and buy a ticket there. Chinese visitors buying a ticket the day of will scan a QR code that takes you to the Chinese website to buy the ticket, then show this to the ticket counter.
They also have a ticket counter where you can buy a ticket without using it online. I went to the Forbidden City on a random Wednesday afternoon, so there were lots of tickets still available and I just bought a ticket from the ticket counter.
Tips for Visiting The Forbidden City
- Remember your Passport
- Avoid Weekends and Holidays
- Go Really Early…or Late!
If you’re planning to go on a weekend or holiday, it’s best to go super early, and to reserve your ticket ahead of time. Alternatively, if you’re going on a weekday during a less popular time, you might want to go late in the afternoon.
The Forbidden City is huge and full of many stories – many people like to have guides when they go. If you don’t have one, one might approach you when you get there. I forgot how big it is inside and need to go back again for more photos and different lighting (and maybe warmer weather!)
Other Places To Take Photos of the Forbidden City
If you’re looking for other places to take shots of the Forbidden City, there are several other places that will give you a great view:
When you exit the Forbidden City from the North Gate, you’ll be right across the street from Jingshan Park, a beautiful little Chinese park where you can see elderly Chinese people dancing and practicing tai ji, and also get a stunning view of the Forbidden City from above.
These cute little ladies were laughing at me taking photos.
You can’t see the Forbidden City without also visiting Tiananmen Square. The public square is right across the street from the southern side of the Forbidden City and it’s free to walk around inside
My Hengyang gal pals.
The Outer Forbidden City Wall Turrets
Outside the Northern wall of the Forbidden City you can get some great shots of the moat and beautiful turrets. You don’t need a ticket inside to see these!
Other Places To Visit in Beijing
Beijing is the ultimate China travel destination! You’ll find everything from ancient temples and palaces to beautiful parks and lakes. Some other things you shouldn’t miss in Beijing:
- The 10 Best Instagram Sites in Beijing
- Gubei Water Town & Simatai Great Wall
- The Beijing Panjiayuan Flea Market
- Houhai Lake and Beihai Park
- The Summer Palace