11 Things You Didn’t Know About Visiting The Forbidden City

How to Book Forbidden City Tickets Online
11 Things You Didn’t Know About Visiting The Forbidden City
Unlocking the Forbidden City: 11 Lesser-Known Gems to Discover

Are you visiting the Forbidden City for the first time?

After the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City is one of China’s premier attractions.

It’s extravagance and mystery make it a can’t-miss sight in Beijing.

You’ll find miles of walking tracks and over 900 buildings constructed in the finest Ming Dynasty style.

Read our eleven tips before visiting the Forbidden City for the first time to maximize the most out of your trip.

1. Bring Your Passport or Identity Card.

When visiting the Forbidden City, it’s crucial to bring your passport or identity card. Due to new regulations, visitors are required to present their ID for verification when obtaining their tickets.

Your passport will suffice, so make sure to bring it with you. It’s essential to note that the Forbidden City’s security is strict, so leaving lighters and knives at your hotel is recommended.

Not having your passport or ID could potentially ruin your trip, so don’t forget it.

While some visitors have tried to use other forms of identification, such as a driver’s license or student ID, it’s not always successful.

Therefore, it’s better to bring your passport or ID card as it is the most reliable form of identification.

By following this tip, you can ensure a hassle-free entry into the Forbidden City and avoid any potential problems with security.

So, remember to pack your passport or ID card and leave any prohibited items at your hotel to have a smooth and enjoyable experience exploring the magnificent Forbidden City.

2. Seize the Day: Arrive Early at the Forbidden City

To make the most of your visit to the magnificent Forbidden City, it is highly advisable to arrive early and seize the opportunity to explore before the crowds descend upon this renowned landmark.

As one of the most popular attractions in Beijing, the Forbidden City attracts a significant number of visitors each day.

By getting there early, you gain the advantage of experiencing the palace complex in a more serene and tranquil setting, allowing you to fully appreciate its grandeur and immerse yourself in its rich history.

A strategic starting point is the South Entrance, where you can begin your journey through the sprawling complex and progress northward.

This direction enables you to follow the chronological order of the buildings and immerse yourself in the historical narrative that unfolds before you.

It is essential to note that ticket sales cease around 3:30 pm, so plan your visit accordingly to ensure you have ample time to explore every corner and absorb the wonders that the Forbidden City has to offer.

Starting early not only grants you more time to wander through the intricate architecture and opulent courtyards but also provides an opportunity to discover hidden corners and marvel at the details that make this UNESCO World Heritage site so captivating.

By arriving early, you set the stage for an unforgettable adventure through history.

Embrace the tranquility of the morning, relish the absence of crowds, and let the splendor of the Forbidden City unfold before you as you embark on an extraordinary exploration.

11 Things You Didn't Know About Visiting Forbidden City

3. Prioritize Comfort: Wear Suitable Footwear

When embarking on your journey through the expansive grounds of the Forbidden City, it is essential to prioritize comfort by wearing suitable footwear.

Exploring the palace complex entails a significant amount of walking, typically spanning around 2-3 hours.

The majority of this excursion takes place outdoors, with limited shade available, particularly during the summer months when the sun’s rays can be intense.

To ensure a pleasant and enjoyable experience, it is recommended to wear comfortable shoes that provide proper support and cushioning.

Opt for footwear that has been broken in and doesn’t cause discomfort or blisters, allowing you to traverse the vast grounds with ease.

In addition to comfortable shoes, consider other protective measures to shield yourself from the sun’s rays.

Pack sunscreen to safeguard your skin, wear hats to shield your face and head, and don sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare.

These simple precautions will help ensure your well-being as you wander through the open courtyards and uncovered walkways of the Forbidden City.

Staying hydrated is vital during your visit, as there are limited opportunities to rest and hydrate within the palace complex.

Bringing a water bottle will allow you to replenish your fluids and quench your thirst as you navigate this historical marvel.

Lastly, plan ahead by wearing comfortable clothing that accommodates the weather conditions of the day.

Consider the season and dress accordingly to ensure comfort throughout your exploration of the Forbidden City.

By wearing comfortable shoes and taking other protective measures, you can make the most of your trip without succumbing to foot discomfort or sunburn.

4. Avoid Visiting on Mondays

While the Forbidden City offers an unforgettable experience, it typically remains closed on Mondays, except for specific circumstances such as Chinese national public holidays or the summer vacation period, which spans from July 1st to August 31st.

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, it’s crucial to check the schedule in advance and plan your visit accordingly.

By doing so, you can avoid any disappointment of arriving at the site on a day when it is closed to the public.

Taking this precaution will enable you to maximize your time and make the most of your visit to the magnificent Forbidden City.

11 Things You Didn't Know About Visiting Forbidden City guide

5. Consider Exploring Less Traveled Routes

Upon entering the magnificent Forbidden City, it’s tempting to join the bustling flow of visitors along the central path.

However, by sticking to this well-trodden route, you might inadvertently overlook the hidden gems tucked away within the vast palace complex.

To truly immerse yourself in the beauty and intrigue of the Forbidden City, I recommend veering off the beaten path.

Instead of following the crowd, consider taking a left or right turn once you enter the palace grounds.

By doing so, you’ll discover a wealth of lesser-known sights and experiences that often go unnoticed.

As you explore these less traveled routes, you’ll encounter captivating buildings, serene gardens, and captivating exhibits that offer a different perspective on the Forbidden City’s grandeur.

Delve into the quieter corners, where tranquility reigns and historical wonders await your discovery.

Embrace the spirit of adventure and be open to unexpected surprises as you wander along the less popular paths.

Whether it’s stumbling upon a hidden courtyard, stumbling upon a lesser-known pavilion, or encountering a lesser-known artifact, you’ll gain a unique insight into the rich history and cultural significance of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

6. Allocate Ample Time for Exploration

A visit to the Forbidden City is no ordinary museum stroll—it’s akin to navigating through a miniature city nestled within the heart of Beijing.

Spanning a vast expanse of 720,000 square meters, this sprawling complex boasts an intricate network of footpaths, staircases, and nearly a thousand rooms awaiting discovery.

To fully appreciate the wonders that await within the Forbidden City, it is crucial to allow yourself ample time for exploration.

Hastily rushing through the complex would only result in disappointment and exhaustion, leaving you longing for the chance to absorb its grandeur at a more leisurely pace.

Immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance, delve into the rich history, and absorb the architectural marvels that grace this monumental site.

Stroll along the footpaths that wind through its hallowed grounds, climb the ornate staircases that lead to hidden treasures, and explore the opulent rooms that whisper tales of dynasties past.

By allowing yourself more time to traverse this expansive sanctuary, you’ll have the opportunity to uncover the layers of beauty and significance that lie within every corner.

Marvel at the intricate craftsmanship, pause to contemplate the profound symbolism, and let the aura of ancient majesty envelop you.

In this vast mini-city, each step presents a new revelation, and every turn reveals a fresh vista.

Take your time to soak in the essence of this historical masterpiece, to capture its magnificence with your senses, and to create memories that will endure for a lifetime.

7. Save on Admission for Children

While the Forbidden City may not be the most budget-friendly attraction in Beijing, there is a way to cut down on expenses if you’re traveling with children.

If your little ones measure under 1.2 meters (3’11”) in height, they are eligible for free admission to the Forbidden City, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

This opportunity to explore the grandeur of the palace complex at no cost can be a significant saving for families.

However, it’s essential to keep a watchful eye on your children amidst the bustling crowds to ensure their safety and prevent any mishaps.

Before heading to the entrance, remember to bring along proof of your children’s height, as it may be requested for verification purposes.

This could include documents such as identification cards, passports, or birth certificates.

By taking advantage of this exemption, you not only save money but also provide your children with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the history and splendor of the Forbidden City.

Witnessing their awe and wonder as they explore this architectural marvel will undoubtedly create cherished memories for both them and you.

8. Capture Unforgettable Moments at the Northeast Turrets

For photography enthusiasts and casual shutterbugs alike, the Forbidden City presents an abundance of picture-perfect moments waiting to be captured.

Amidst this treasure trove of visual delights, there is one particular area that should not escape your lens: the Northeast Turrets.

Though entry into the turrets themselves may not be permitted, their remarkable architecture and majestic presence offer an ideal backdrop for truly stunning photographs.

These magnificent structures, with their intricate detailing and historical significance, exude an aura of grandeur that is sure to enhance any composition.

As you frame your shot, allow the unique characteristics of the Northeast Turrets to unfold before your camera lens.

Capture the interplay of light and shadow on their ornate rooftops, the fine craftsmanship of their vibrant color palette, and the sense of history emanating from their weathered facades.

Whether you consider yourself a seasoned professional or an amateur with a passion for photography, the Northeast Turrets offer an unmissable opportunity to add remarkable shots to your collection.

The juxtaposition of traditional Chinese architecture against the backdrop of the Forbidden City creates a captivating visual narrative that encapsulates the essence of this historic site.

11 Things You Didn't Know About Visiting Forbidden City tips

9. Enhance Your Historical Journey with a Knowledgeable Guide

For history enthusiasts embarking on a journey through the Forbidden City, the sheer magnitude and historical significance of this remarkable site can be awe-inspiring.

To fully immerse yourself in the depth of its storied past, consider engaging the services of a knowledgeable guide.

A guide’s expertise can elevate your experience, shedding light on the intricate tapestry of history and culture woven within the Forbidden City’s walls.

With their wealth of knowledge, they can offer valuable insights and narratives that bring each site to life, helping you grasp the profound significance of every architectural marvel and cultural artifact.

Beyond the well-known highlights, a guide can unveil hidden gems, unearthing lesser-known facts and anecdotes that may not be readily available on informational plaques or guidebooks.

Their expertise can provide a deeper understanding of the complexities and symbolism inherent in the palace complex, allowing you to appreciate the layers of history that unfold before your eyes.

Additionally, a guide can assist you in navigating the crowds, optimizing your time and ensuring you don’t miss any notable sites.

Their familiarity with the layout of the Forbidden City can save you from the frustration of getting lost or spending valuable time searching for specific spots.

By engaging a knowledgeable guide, you embark on a captivating journey through time, enriched by their expert commentary and personalized attention.

They serve as a bridge between the past and present, illuminating the historical significance of each structure, courtyard, and artifact.

10. Experience the Splendor from Jingshan Park

Just a stone’s throw away from the Forbidden City lies the magnificent Jingshan Park, a hidden gem offering an unrivaled panoramic view of the palace complex’s rooftops.

When you find yourself longing for a respite from the bustling crowds, Jingshan Park beckons with its tranquil natural surroundings.

Ascend to its elevated vantage point and prepare to be captivated by the breathtaking vista that unfolds before you.

From this unique perspective, you’ll witness the grandeur of the Forbidden City in all its glory.

The sweeping rooftops, adorned with vibrant hues and intricate details, stretch out as far as the eye can see.

It’s a sight that will leave you in awe of the architectural magnificence that defines this UNESCO World Heritage site.

As you bask in the serenity of Jingshan Park, take a moment to appreciate the harmonious blend of man-made splendor and the beauty of nature.

Allow the lush greenery and the gentle whispers of the wind to transport you to a place of tranquility, where time seems to stand still.

Make sure to have your camera at the ready, for this is an opportunity to capture memories that will last a lifetime.

Snap away as you frame the exquisite panorama, preserving the essence of the Forbidden City’s allure in your photographs.

Don’t let the chance to ascend to Jingshan Park and witness the Forbidden City from this unique perspective pass you by.

It is an experience that promises to enrich your visit, offering both tranquility and an unparalleled view that will forever remain etched in your memory.

11. Stay Refreshed and Save Money: Bring Your Own Food and Drinks

As you embark on your journey through the Forbidden City, it’s wise to come prepared with your own snacks and beverages.

Within the palace complex, you will find vendors offering refreshments, but it’s worth noting that prices tend to be on the higher side.

By bringing your own food and drinks, you can save money and ensure that you have sustenance readily available when hunger strikes.

Particularly on a hot day, staying hydrated is crucial.

Remember to pack an ample supply of water to keep yourself refreshed throughout your exploration of this historical marvel.

It will not only help you beat the heat but also keep you energized and focused on the wonders that lie before you.

In addition to staying hydrated, having some light snacks on hand can be a delightful way to enhance your experience.

As you wander through the palace complex, you can indulge in your favorite treats, savoring the flavors while immersing yourself in the captivating history and grandeur that surrounds you.

However, it’s essential to be mindful of the rules and regulations of the Forbidden City regarding food and drinks.

Respect the cultural heritage of this revered site by disposing of any waste responsibly and keeping the premises clean.

Forbidden City travel tips

Top Questions About Visiting Forbidden City

Q. What are the opening hours of the Forbidden City?
Answer: The Forbidden City is open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM during the peak season (April 1st to October 31st) and from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM during the off-season (November 1st to March 31st).

Q. How do I book tickets to the Forbidden City?
Answer: You can book tickets to the Forbidden City on the Palace Museum official website or through third-party booking websites such as Viator or Klook.

You can also buy tickets in person at the entrance, but expect long queues during peak season.

Q. How long does it take to visit the Forbidden City?
Answer: It usually takes around 2-3 hours to explore the Forbidden City, but this depends on your pace and level of interest in the historical and cultural aspects of the site.

Q. Are there any dress codes or restrictions when visiting the Forbidden City?
Answer: There are no specific dress codes, but it’s recommended to dress comfortably and wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking involved.

Visitors are also not allowed to bring certain items such as lighters and knives inside the Forbidden City.

Q. Is the Forbidden City closed on any specific days?
Answer: The Forbidden City is closed on Mondays, except for Chinese national public holidays and the summer vacation period from July 1st to August 31st.

It’s always best to check the official website for the latest information on opening hours and closures.

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