Essential Tips For Visiting the Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is one of the best preserved masterpieces of Chinese landscape and design. Filled with lakes, gardens, pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges, it all comes together to form a harmonious ensemble of calming aesthetic pleasure. It’s also one of the largest imperial gardens in China. Wandering around, taking in the surrounding architecture is one of the most peaceful experiences you’ll ever have but if your aim is to see as much as possible in one day then these essential tips will help you get the most out of your time.  

1.The Summer Palace is open between 8:30 am – 5 pm so having some idea of the layout of the Palace grounds will help you get the most out of your time there.

2.The main ticket price for admission is around 40 – 50 RMB. Audio Guides cost a further 30 RMB to rent.

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3.The main ticket price however, only includes the entrance fee. Other areas like Longevity Hill and the opera recital area, require a further fee to enter. Purchase a combo ticket at the main gate which provides access to all additional attractions. This is a better idea since some location-specific ticket counters for certain garden areas are hard to locate once inside the grounds.

4.One of the must do relaxing activities is boating on Kunming Lake. The boating fee however, is not included in the entrance ticket.

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5.There are 3 main fast food restaurants located here which offer mainly Chinese food. Near the Marble Boat is a restaurant named Tingli Guan, which offers great local food too. There is also a McDonalds outside the Northern Palace Gate.

6.Most of the palace grounds are accessible by wheel chair with the surrounding ramps. There are free hand powered wheelchairs at most entrances and at the Tourist Service Center in the southeast area. Bear in mind that not all areas are wheel chair friendly and you will have to plan your route accordingly. One area that is not wheel chair friendly is Longevity Hill.

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7.However, if you have the time and energy, hike up Longevity Hill. There are about a hundred steps to climb but the buildings here are uniquely nestled within the landscape providing a unique visual experience. From here you can also see an aerial view of the surrounding area.

8.Interpretation services in English and Russian are also is available.

9.Professional video camera equipment is not allowed inside without permission.

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10.If you are under time constraints and cannot see the entire palace grounds then you should start with the East Bank which contains the majority of the architecture.

11.Keep an eye on your kids at all times. The Palace grounds are huge and it is easy to wander around and get lost.

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12.Take a map with you. The gardens are filled with corridors, stone paved paths, palaces and halls. Taking a map will ensure you don’t get lost and can find your way back out.

13.Plan your route. The Palace grounds are pretty huge and there are many different entrances and exits giving way to a range of walking routes. Planning what you’d like to see and a good walking route before arriving will save you time and energy.

Further Reading: The Best Walking Routes Within The Summer Palace

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14.Take some hiking essentials like a bottle of water, sunglasses and high energy snacks. They are also available within the palace grounds but are sold at a much higher cost.

15.If you’d like to see an aerial view of Beijing, hike to the Foxiang Tower.

Further Reading: Top 16 Things to do at The Summer Palace

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16.The landscape and accessible activities around the palace grounds change with the seasons. Summer is the best time to visit because of the boating activities available on Kunming Lake. The lake however, does freeze over in winter making skiing and sledging activities a popular pass time. Endless flowers bloom in spring and earthy colors take over in autumn.

How to get to the Summer Palace:

BY BUS:

  • Take Bus Number: 209, 330, 331, 332, 346, 394, 712, 718, 726, 732, 696, 683, 801, 808, 817 or 826. Get off at the east gate of Summer Palace.
  • Take Bus Number: 303, 330, 331, 346, 375, 384, 393, 634, 716, 718, 696, 683, 801, 808, 817 or 834. Get off at the north gate of Summer Palace.
  • Take Bus Number: 374, 437, 704, 992, 481 and 952. Get off at the new gate of Summer Palace.

BY SUBWAY:

  • Take subway line 4 and get off at Beigongmen. Take exit D and walk to the North Palace Gate.
  • Take subway line 4 and get off at Xiyuan. Take exit C2 to reach the East Palace Gate.
  • Take subway line 16 and get off at Xiyuan. Take exit C2 and walk west to the East Palace Gate.
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Hi World! I'm Shal - an environmental microbiologist, writer, teacher and artist from Durban, South Africa. I've spent the last two years traveling and teaching Chemistry and English to young kids in Asia. Life of Shal was founded as a way to share travel experiences, tips and other worldly magic with you! Join me on my journey!

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