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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.

Popular Activities at Forbidden City

You'll find it hard to believe how many things there are to do at Forbidden City. Here are some ideas to get you started:

For many more activities, peruse our Beijing things to do page.


Guide to Exploring around Forbidden City


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Lodging Near Forbidden City

See all 1,226 Properties near Forbidden City
Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing $117
Reviewed on May 14, 2019
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Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing

Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing

97 Jinbao St., Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing
     
    4.5 of 5
    4.0 out of 5.0

    nice , clean facility, closed to subway, line 5, nice front desk staff, particularly Russel Lee, very helpful , good English , knowlegeable about the city of Beijing.

    Prime Hotel Beijing Wangfujing $77
    Reviewed on May 10, 2019
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    Prime Hotel Beijing Wangfujing

    Prime Hotel Beijing Wangfujing

    No.2 Wangfujing Main Street, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing, Beijing
       
      4.1 of 5
      4.5 out of 5.0

      The location was very convenient if you're relying on public transportation to get around the city.

      Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City $103
      Reviewed on May 16, 2019
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      Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City

      Hotel Kapok - Forbidden City

      16 Donghuamen Street, Beijing, Beijing
         
        4.2 of 5
        4.0 out of 5.0

        Great location right by the Forbidden City, very clean and the staff were really helpful. Lovely big beds.

        Novotel Beijing Peace $89
        Reviewed on May 20, 2019
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        Novotel Beijing Peace

        Novotel Beijing Peace

        No 3 Jinyu Hutong, Beijing, Beijing
           
          4.0 of 5
          4.0 out of 5.0

          Good location. Shopping district nearby. Far but walkable to Tiananmen.

          Hilton Beijing Wangfujing $152
          Reviewed on May 8, 2019
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          Hilton Beijing Wangfujing

          Hilton Beijing Wangfujing

          8 Wangfujing East Street, Dongcheng, Beijing, Beijing
             
            4.5 of 5
            5.0 out of 5.0

            Great location. Huge rooms. Very clean. Amazing facilities.

            The Peninsula Beijing $246
            Reviewed on Apr 22, 2019
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            The Peninsula Beijing

            The Peninsula Beijing

            8 Jinyu Hutong, DongDan, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing, Beijing
               
              4.7 of 5
              5.0 out of 5.0

              We like the excellent service and location of the Peninsula.

              Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel $145
              Reviewed on Apr 30, 2019
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              Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel

              Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel

              57 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing
                 
                4.5 of 5
                5.0 out of 5.0

                Great comfortable luxury hotel central in Dongcheng, close to the main attractions within central Beijing. Easy access and walk to the metro. Also close to Wangfujing Pedestrian shopping mall. Rooms are roomy and the bathroom has been fitted out to a very high standard. The indoor pool is full size, ...

                Grand Hyatt Beijing $166
                Reviewed on May 20, 2019
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                Grand Hyatt Beijing

                Grand Hyatt Beijing

                1 East Chang An Avenue, Beijing, Beijing
                   
                  4.5 of 5
                  5.0 out of 5.0

                  On my arrival after a long flight, at 10 AM I expected to be given a room but they charged me for an extended stay. I had reserved a Club room. On check out they made a mistake and charged ne another 450 USD for upgrades. It took 20 minutes to convince her that they hdad made a mistake. The management ...