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Old Summer Palace

These once extravagant imperial palaces and gardens were all but destroyed in the 19th-century, but the crumbling ruins are still worth visiting.

The Old Summer Palace with its ponds and lakes was once the jewel of the Chinese Empire. Having served as an imperial park for more than 500 years, the halls, towers, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and galleries were proud displays of wealth. The antiques and art were plundered and the buildings were burned during the 19th century. The site is now also referred to as the Ruins of Yuanmingyuan.

Despite all the destruction, the garden complex is still very picturesque. Bridges, terraces and some ornamental buildings still stand and there are many scenic spots by the lake suitable for picnics.  

The sprawling park covers an area of 860 acres (348 hectares), so be prepared to walk a lot. Set out to explore the crumbling ruins, solemn remnants of the Qing Dynasty during the 18th century. The complex was the object of revenge of British and French forces during the Second Opium War. Many of the stolen artifacts are still held in foreign museums and private art collections. For the Chinese, the fragmented remains act as a reminder of what happened.

Visit the Garden of Perfection and Light, the Garden of Blossoming Spring and the Garden of Eternal Spring. Children will enjoy playing in the Wanhuazhen labyrinth, an octagon-shaped pavilion in the center of a walled maze.

To see a reconstruction of the original park, pay extra for the Yuanmingyuan exhibition hall that shows a model of the gardens at their peak. You can also pay more to visit the stone European-style palaces.

The Old Summer Palace is located about 5 miles (8 kilometers) northwest of the imperial city walls. To get there, take a subway or bus to the nearby Yuanmingyuan Park Station. The south gate is closest to central Beijing and you pay a small fee to enter. During the summer holiday months, the parks stays open in the early evenings.


Guide to Exploring around Old Summer Palace


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Best Lodging Options Near Old Summer Palace

See all 1,222 Properties near Old Summer Palace
Beijing Post Hotel
Beijing Post Hotel

Beijing Post Hotel

No. 5 Guajiatun, Haidian District, Beijing, Beijing
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Haidian, this hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Kunming Lake, Peking University, and Summer Palace. Old Summer Palace and Renmin University of China are also within 3 mi (5 km). Xiyuan Station is 13 minutes by foot and Yuanmingyuan Park Station is 16 minutes.

    Beijing Yujun Hotel
    Beijing Yujun Hotel

    Beijing Yujun Hotel

    No. A-2 Tiyuan West Road, Haidian, District, Beijing, Beijing
       
      1.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Haidian, this hotel is 1.6 mi (2.6 km) from Peking University and 1.9 mi (3 km) from Old Summer Palace. Summer Palace and Kunming Lake are also within 6 mi (10 km). Shangdi Station is 19 minutes by foot.

      The Lake View Hotel Beijing
      The Lake View Hotel Beijing

      The Lake View Hotel Beijing

      No 127 North Street, Zhongguancun, Beijing, Beijing
         
        4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        This family-friendly Beijing hotel is located in Haidian, within 2 mi (3 km) of Peking University and Old Summer Palace. Summer Palace is 2.6 mi (4.1 km) away. Yuanmingyuan Park Station is 8 minutes by foot and East Gate of Peking University Station is 8 minutes.

        Fuyuanlou Business Hotel - Beijing
        Fuyuanlou Business Hotel - Beijing

        Fuyuanlou Business Hotel - Beijing

        A-No.1, Fuyuan Gate, Haidian District, Beijing, Beijing
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Haidian, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Kunming Lake and Summer Palace. Peking University is 2.5 mi (4 km) away. Beigongmen Station is 11 minutes by foot and Xiyuan Station is 12 minutes.

          Pod Inn
          Pod Inn

          Pod Inn

          Building 3, Outside Academy of Military, Sciences, No. 75 Xiangshan Road,, Beijing, Beijing
             
            2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Haidian, this hotel is 1 mi (1.6 km) from Kunming Lake and 1.3 mi (2.1 km) from Summer Palace. Peking University and Old Summer Palace are also within 6 mi (10 km). Anheqiao North Station is 8 minutes by foot and Beigongmen Station is 11 minutes.

            Holiday Inn Express Beijing Shangdi
            Holiday Inn Express Beijing Shangdi

            Holiday Inn Express Beijing Shangdi

            No 33 Shangdi East Road, Beijing, Beijing
               
              3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Haidian, this hotel is 2.9 mi (4.6 km) from Peking University and 3 mi (4.8 km) from Old Summer Palace. Summer Palace and Kunming Lake are also within 6 mi (10 km). Shangdi Station is 8 minutes by foot and Xi'erqi Station is 23 minutes.

              Wenjin Hotel $135
              Wenjin Hotel

              Wenjin Hotel

              South Gate of Tsinghua University, Chengfu Road, Haidian District, Beijing
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Haidian, this luxury hotel is within 9 mi (15 km) of Summer Palace, Beijing National Stadium, and Beijing Aquarium. Yonghe Temple and Forbidden City are also within 12 mi (20 km). East Gate of Peking University Station is 11 minutes by foot and Wudaokou Station is 12 minutes.

                FX Hotel BeiJing ZhongGuanCun
                FX Hotel BeiJing ZhongGuanCun

                FX Hotel BeiJing ZhongGuanCun

                No.68 North 4th Ring West Road, Haidian District, Beijing, Beijing
                   
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Haidian, this hotel is 0.5 mi (0.9 km) from Peking University and 2.3 mi (3.7 km) from Summer Palace. Kunming Lake and Renmin University of China are also within 2 mi (3 km). Zhongguancun Station is 13 minutes by foot and Suzhoujie Station is 14 minutes.