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Forbidden City

This formerly restricted imperial palace complex is now a public museum that shows the splendor of the old China. It is one of Beijing’s most impressive sites.

The Forbidden City is one of the most awe-inspiring sights in Beijing, and in fact, the whole of China. For hundreds of years, only the royal entourage was allowed to enter  through the formidable walls, which is why the complex earned the name “Forbidden City.” Since 1925, its opulent plazas have been open to the public, attracting millions of tourists each year.

Surrounded by a moat and a high wall with corner watchtowers, this vast complex of ancient wooden palaces and religious structures was once a residence for Chinese emperors. Now managed by the Palace Museum, the authentic buildings, antique collections and manicured gardens within the compound are carefully preserved.

Most visitors spend at least half a day in the vast Forbidden City. Enter through the Gate of Heavenly Peace and pick up a map or digital audio tour at the ticketing office. Browse the expansive site with nearly a 1,000 structures yourself, or hire a reputable guide.

See if you can spot the architectural influences of many different cultures and enter the old halls and pavilions to find precious artifacts. See rare bronze objects, old paintings and everyday household items, which give you insight into what life was like behind these imperial walls.

You can’t miss the extravagant five-arch Meridian Gate and the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the largest among the many grand and lavishly decorated ceremonial halls in the complex. To end your visit, stroll through the Imperial Garden and exit through the Gate of Divine Might.

Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City is easy to reach on foot, or by bike or public transport. The subway Tian'anmen East and West stations are close to the South Gate. A city bus circles the complex on the outside, so you can get from one side to the other in a short time. Visit on a weekday if you want to avoid large crowds.


Guide to Exploring around Forbidden City


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Lodging Near Forbidden City

See all 1,112 Hotels near Forbidden City
Hotel Jen Beijing $133
Hotel Jen Beijing

Hotel Jen Beijing

No. 1 Jianguomenwai Avenue, Beijing
     
    4.5
    of 5, from 31 reviews
    4.5 out of 5.0

    Located in Dongcheng, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Lotus Market, Bell and Drum Towers, and Houhai Park. Beihai Park and Wangfujing Street are also within 2 mi (3 km).

    Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing $107
    Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing

    Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing

    97 Jinbao St Dongcheng Distrt, Beijing
       
      4.5
      of 5, from 2,003 reviews
      4.0 out of 5.0

      Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing Hotel is a modern oasis, ideal for both leisure and business guests. Centrally located in the heart of Beijing's bustling and developing cultural, commercial, business and entertainment district, the hotel is within walking distance of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

      Grand Hotel Beijing $113
      Grand Hotel Beijing

      Grand Hotel Beijing

      No 35 East Chang An Avenue, Beijing
         
        4.2
        of 5, from 469 reviews
        5.0 out of 5.0

        Located in Dongcheng, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of National Museum of China and Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen and Chairman Mao Memorial Hall are also within 15 minutes.

        Jade Garden Hotel Beijing $62
        Jade Garden Hotel Beijing

        Jade Garden Hotel Beijing

        No 1 Nanheyan Street, Beijing
           
          4.1
          of 5, from 677 reviews
          3.5 out of 5.0

          Located in Dongcheng, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dong Hua Men Night Market and Tiananmen. Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street are also within 15 minutes.

          Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City $68
          Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City

          Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City

          16 Donghuamen Street, Beijing
             
            4.2
            of 5, from 1,209 reviews
            4.0 out of 5.0

            In the heart of Beijing, this contemporary boutique hotel is about an 8-minute walk from the east side of the Forbidden City, as well as the Wangfujing shopping hub. A metro station is 300 meters away.

            The Imperial Mansion, Beijing Marriott Executive Apartments $169
            The Imperial Mansion, Beijing Marriott Executive Apartments

            The Imperial Mansion, Beijing Marriott Executive Apartments

            North Gate, No. 1 Xiagongfu Street, Beijing
               
              4.6
              of 5, from 253 reviews
              4.5 out of 5.0

              Located in Dongcheng, this luxury apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Changpu River Park, Tiananmen Square, and National Museum of China. Oriental Plaza and Forbidden City are also within 2 mi (3 km).

              Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Wangfujing $87
              Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Wangfujing

              Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Wangfujing

              48 Wangfujing Avenue, Beijing
                 
                3.9
                of 5, from 630 reviews
                4.5 out of 5.0

                This family-friendly Beijing hotel is located in the historical district, within a 15-minute walk of St. Joseph's Cathedral and Wangfujing Street. Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City are also within 2 mi (3 km).

                Regent Beijing $156
                Regent Beijing

                Regent Beijing

                99 Jinbao St Dongcheng Dstrct, Beijing
                   
                  4.5
                  of 5, from 706 reviews
                  5.0 out of 5.0

                  Regent Beijing is designed in a classic yet contemporary style. The 500 luxurious guestrooms and suites are spacious and boast modern features and stylish amenities.