Ten Must-See Destinations in the Summer Palace

Summer Palace travel guide
summer palace
Step into History with These Ten Must-See Destinations in the Summer Palace!

Beijing offers some of the most unique and gorgeous attractions in the world including the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall.

Yet, those two can be overshadowed by the Summer Palace.

This must-see attraction in Beijing is one that will offer you a unique experience for every single season.

The summer palace has been in existence since the age f the Jin dynasty and has seen the passings of many imperial families.

As with any new dynasty, changes will be made and that is exactly what has happened to the Summer Palace.

However, it was during the Qing dynasty that the Summer Palace became what it is known for today.

Many people find it hard to see everything that the Summer Palace holds.

There are those details in the palace that can truly become lifelong memories if you know what you are looking for.

While one trip is usually not going to be enough to catch it all in, we are going to walk you through the top ten sights within the Summer Palace.

summer palace
summer palace

Opening Hours:

Peak Season: April 1st – October 31st

  • 06:00 AM – 07:00 PM, with last entry at 08:00 PM;
  • Deheyuan, Foxiangge, Suzhou Street, and the Summer Palace Museum: 08:00 AM – 05:30 PM, with last entry at 06:00 PM.

Off-Peak Season: November 1st – March 31st

  • 06:30 AM – 06:00 PM, with last entry at 07:00 PM;
  • Deheyuan, Foxiangge, Suzhou Street, and the Summer Palace Museum: 08:30 AM – 04:30 PM, with last entry at 05:00 PM.

Note: Deheyuan, Foxiangge, Suzhou Street, and the Summer Palace Museum are closed every Monday.

Ticket Purchase Options: You can purchase tickets in the following ways:

  • WeChat Official Accounts: “Summer Palace” or “Changyou Park.”
  • On-site ticket purchase is available, but it is recommended to make advance reservations during holidays and festivals. (Starting from June 1st, the official online ticketing platform adjusts its ticket sales time to 09:00 PM on the same day instead of 12:00 AM the next day.)
  • To maximize your time and ensure a smooth visit, we highly recommend prebooking your Summer Palace tickets through a trusted third-party website like Viator,. This will allow for a more efficient exploration of the palace and help you make the most of your visit.
  • Tickets are valid for the entire day and can be used during the specified opening hours.
  • Regular ticket: 30 CNY, Combination ticket: 60 CNY (includes Yuanzhongyuan: Deheyuan, Foxiangge, Suzhou Street, and the Summer Palace Museum).
  • Free admission: Individuals aged 60 and above, children aged 6 and below, or those with a height of 1.2 meters and below.
  • Half-price discounted ticket: Individuals aged 7-18. ID or student ID must be presented.

Transportation to the Six Gates of the Summer Palace:

  • Donggongmen (East Palace Gate): Subway Line 16 or Line 4, Xiyuan Subway Station. Bus 332, 584, 346.
  • Xinjianguan (New Palace Gate): Bus 374, 74, 437.
  • Beigongmen (North Palace Gate): Line 4, Beigongmen Station. Bus 303, 332, 601, 563, 384.
  • Nanruyimen (South Ruyi Gate): Bus 374, 74.
  • Ximen (West Gate): West Suburban Line (Subway), Bus 469, 539.
  • Beiruyimen (North Ruyi Gate): No bus or subway available. It can be reached by taking a taxi or walking about 600 meters from Beigongmen Subway Station.

Below, we will guide you to discover the captivating beauty of the Summer Palace as we unveil the ten must-see destinations that will leave you in awe.

1. The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity

To fully immerse yourself in the grandeur and beauty of the Summer Palace park in Beijing, it’s essential to know where to enter.

The east gate is the perfect starting point, offering easy access and a seamless entrance into this magnificent palace.

Upon arrival, you can purchase your tickets and embark on a thrilling journey through this wonderland.

As you slowly make your way through the gathering crowds, you’ll immediately come across your first grand structure: the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity.

This stunning building played a crucial role in the political landscape of Beijing during the reign of Empress Dowager Cixi.

Even after Emperor Guangxu took power in 1889, the Empress continued to influence affairs from this grand hall.

Take a moment to appreciate the intricate details of the hall, from the incredible throne adorned with various golden ornaments and peacocks to the 200 variations of the character for longevity that run throughout the palace.

This theme was intentionally designed to promote rest and relaxation, making it the perfect place to unwind and take in the wonders of this breathtaking palace.

With this information, you’ll be well-equipped to explore the many fascinating details of the Summer Palace park.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for more incredible historical and cultural highlights as you continue your journey.

The Summer Palace park is truly a treasure to behold, and we can’t wait for you to experience it firsthand!

summer palace

summer palace

2. The Dragon and Phoenix

As you continue your journey through the Summer Palace park, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the stunning bronze phoenix and dragon statues found in the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity.

What makes these statues truly remarkable is the fact that their locations are reversed.

In most cases, the dragon represents the emperor and holds the spot reserved for the Phoenix, which traditionally represents the empress.

However, in this hall, the positions are reversed, showcasing the immense power and influence that Empress Dowager Cixi held during her reign.

It’s incredible to think about the level of detail and intentionality that went into the design of this palace.

As you explore further, you’ll likely come across many more fascinating historical and cultural details that make the Summer Palace park such a unique and special place.

We can’t wait for you to experience it all for yourself!

summer palace
summer palace

3. The Garden of Virtue and Harmony

As you exit the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, you’ll be greeted by the breathtaking Garden of Virtue and Harmony, an immense complex that houses the impressive Grand Theater.

This area was constructed during the rebuilding stage, as Empress Dowager Cixi was an avid fan of Peking Opera and desired a space purely for her enjoyment.

Today, the performance area is still one of the most impressive and largest in the country.

With three tiers connected by various trap doors and incredible special effects, the Empress was treated to unforgettable performances.

Take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous Hall of Nurtured Joy, which served as the Empress’s private viewing area for these spectacular shows.

While this is a paid attraction, it’s one that should not be missed during your visit to the Summer Palace.

The Grand Theater is truly a sight to behold, offering a glimpse into the rich history and cultural significance of this remarkable palace.

Summer Palace travel tour
summer palace

4. The Hall of Joyful Longevity

As you explore the Summer Palace, you’ll eventually come across a massive rock and the Hall of Joyful Longevity.

This stunning structure was originally built by Qing dynasty emperor Qianlong in honor of his mother’s sixtieth birthday.

Unfortunately, the building was later destroyed by British and French forces during the Second Opium War.

Thankfully, the Hall of Joyful Longevity was rebuilt to its former grandeur by Empress Dowager Cixi in 1891.

Today, it stands as a testament to the incredible architectural and historical significance of the Summer Palace.

But what about the massive rock outside the hall?

It’s a question that many visitors to the palace have. This rock is known as the Stone Boat, a remarkable piece of artistry that was built to resemble a boat.

The Stone Boat is a testament to the incredible skill of the artisans who created it, and is a must-see attraction during your visit to the Summer Palace.

summer palace
summer palace

5. Blue Iris Stone

Prepare to come face-to-face with one of the most historically significant rocks you’ll ever encounter.

The eight-meter-wide, four-meter-tall stone is known as Baijashi, or the “stone of financial ruin.”

Its fascinating story begins with a local stone enthusiast named Mi Wanzhong, who discovered the stone in what is now the Fangshan district.

Wanzhong used all of his wealth to purchase the stone and attempted to transport it back to his residence.

However, he ran out of money halfway through the journey and had to leave the rock behind. After this financial ruin, the stone was given the unofficial name of Baijashi.

Qing emperor Qianlong later discovered the mysterious stone and wanted to move it to the Summer Palace.

However, his mother opposed the move, fearing that it would bring financial ruin to their family.

Qianlong convinced his mother that the stone resembled a fungus that would offer long life, and the stone was brought to the Summer Palace.

Despite its royal status, many locals still fear the rock and refuse to go near it or be photographed with it. So if you plan on posing with Baijashi, be sure to do so with caution!

The Summer Palace is truly a treasure trove of fascinating history and cultural significance.

Baijashi is just one of the many wonders you’ll encounter during your visit. We can’t wait for you to experience it all for yourself!

summer palace
summer palace

6. Water Calligraphy

While there are many breathtaking attractions to see at the Summer Palace, some of the most memorable experiences can be found in the lesser-known areas.

One such area is the path that leads to the Heralding Spring Pavilion, where you’ll discover a hidden gem that many visitors overlook.

Here, a group of talented artists paints calligraphy with water on the pavement, creating stunning works of art that last only for a fleeting moment.

It’s an incredible sight to witness and a truly unique memory to cherish.

Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to witness the beauty of this water calligraphy.

Seek out the artists on your journey and take a moment to admire their stunning creations.

It’s just one of the many incredible experiences that await you at the Summer Palace.

summer palace
summer palace

7. The Heralding Spring Pavilion

If you’re looking for some of the most breathtaking views at the Summer Palace, be sure to visit the Heralding Spring Pavilion.

From here, you’ll be treated to incredible vistas of the western mountains that are simply stunning.

During the spring and fall seasons, the views become even more awe-inspiring as the mountains burst to life with vivid colors.

Take a moment to sit and reflect on the beauty of this remarkable palace while enjoying the stunning scenery. It’s the perfect place to give your feet a break and soak up the peaceful ambiance.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness the stunning beauty of the western mountains from the Heralding Spring Pavilion.

We promise it will be an unforgettable experience that you’ll cherish for years to come.

summer palace
summer palace

8. Long Corridor

The Long Corridor at the Summer Palace is an architectural marvel that was built for Emperor Qianlong’s mother to enjoy views of the Kunming Lake snow-rain landscape.

Measuring 728 meters in length, it’s also the longest corridor in Chinese gardens and boasts rich painted decoration with over 14,000 paintings.

If you’re an art enthusiast, the Long Corridor is a must-see attraction that offers a unique opportunity to witness an array of amazing paintings.

The corridor is adorned with depictions of episodes from Chinese classical literature, folk tales, historical and legendary figures, as well as flora and fauna.

As you walk along the Long Corridor, you’ll come across four octagonal pavilions that symbolize the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

It’s a breathtaking sight that will leave you in awe of the incredible artistry and craftsmanship on display.

Don’t miss out on the chance to experience this incredible feat of Chinese architecture and art.

The Long Corridor at the Summer Palace is a true treasure and one of the many wonders waiting to be discovered during your visit.

Summer Palace travel tips

9. The Marble Boat

The Boat of Purity and Ease, also known as the Marble Boat, is a pavilion located on the picturesque grounds of the Summer Palace.

Despite its name, the boat is not entirely made of marble and includes some wood sub-assemblies.

The origins of this luxurious boat can be traced back to a prominent prime minister named Wei Zheng during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

He famously remarked to the emperor that “The waters can float the boat, but it can also tip it over,” likening the relationship between the emperor and his people to that of a boat and water.

His words suggested that the common people had the power to support a good emperor or overthrow a bad one.

Inspired by Wei Zheng’s words, Emperor Qianlong commissioned the Marble Boat to be made of stone, symbolizing the firmness and stability of his reign during the Qing Dynasty.

Today, the boat stands as a testament to the power of ideas and the importance of strong leadership.

Don’t miss the chance to see the stunning Marble Boat and learn about its rich history during your visit to the Summer Palace.

It’s a remarkable sight that will leave you with a greater appreciation for the power of words and the enduring legacy of China’s past.

summer palace
summer palace

10. The Bronze Ox

While visiting the Summer Palace, some may overlook the statue of an ox and wonder why it’s worth a stop.

However, this statue is a historical gem dating back to 1755 and offers a stunning view of Kunming Lake.

But it’s not just about the view.

The Summer Palace is a place to slow down and appreciate the little things, like the statue of the ox.

It’s a reminder to take in all the beauty that surrounds us and to savor every moment.

Don’t rush through the Summer Palace, take your time to explore and reflect on the beauty of life.

Even small details like this statue can add to the wonder and magic of this remarkable place.

How to Book Summer Palace Tickets Online

Booking Summer Palace tickets online is a convenient and hassle-free way to secure your visit to this captivating destination in Beijing.

To book tickets, follow these simple steps:

First, visit a reputable third-party website like Viator or the official Summer Palace website.

Next, select your preferred date and ticket type, such as regular admission or guided tour.

Then, provide the necessary personal information and proceed to payment.

Remember to have them readily available on your mobile device for a smooth entry into the Summer Palace.

Enjoy your visit!

Booking Tickets for Major Sites

Explore the leading third-party services for obtaining tickets to key attractions.

These platforms simplify the ticket-buying experience while providing additional advantages such as user feedback, package deals, and sometimes even discounts.

Additional Information on Boat Trips at the Summer Palace

Boat Types
Self-driven small boats
– Four-seater rowboats
– Six-seater pedal boats
– Six-seater antique-style electric boats
Large boats
– Large boats accommodating 80 to 98 people
– Large boats accommodating fewer than 30 people
Boat Operating Season
From mid to late March until mid-November
Boats do not operate during Level 4 wind conditions
Piers for Self-driven Small Boats
“Ba Fang Ting Boat Pier” located 254 meters near the New Palace Gate
“Wen Chang Ge Electric Boat Pier” located 249 meters near the East Palace Gate
“Yu Lan Tang Small Boat Pier” located 157 meters near the East Palace Gate
Ticket Sales and Operating Hours for Self-driven Small Boats
Ticket sales start at 08:30
Ticket sales stop at 16:30
Boat operations cease at 17:30
Prices for Self-driven Small Boats
Four-seater rowboats: ¥80 per hour
Six-seater pedal boats: ¥120 per hour
Six-seater antique-style electric boats: ¥200 per hour
Ticket Sales and Operating Hours for Large Boats
Around the Lake route from Pai Yun Men Pier: 8:30-17:30
Other routes: 8:00-18:00
Prices for Public Transport Large Boats
Children below 1.2 meters in height travel free
One-way ticket prices range from ¥30 to ¥40 per person

Final Words

In conclusion, the Summer Palace is a true treasure trove of history, culture, and beauty.

With our guide to the Ten Must-See Destinations, you can fully experience the grandeur of this remarkable place.

From the stunning Kunming Lake to the intricate details of the Long Corridor, the Summer Palace offers a journey through China’s rich past.

Don’t miss out on this unforgettable adventure and be sure to add the Summer Palace to your travel bucket list.

Most Popular Posts

When is the best time to visit the Great Wall of China

Mutianyu Great Wall travel guide

Where is the best location to stay in Beijing

How long should I stay in Beijing