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Travel Tips for the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City should definitely be part of your visit to China and is an absolute must-see in Beijing. Getting to know about the site in advance will save you time and help you better plan your trip. You’re welcome to ask for any advice after reading.

Best Time to Visit

Sunset in the City

Sunset in the City

According to the annual tourist flow map, the week before September 1st (when school term begins), i.e. the last week of August, is the period when the Forbidden City has the least tourists each year.

Winter and summer vacations, Labor Day (May 1st to 3rd) and National Day (October 1st to 7th) are peak periods, but the flow of daily visitors in the last week of the summer vacation is sharply reduced to about 1/5 of the average, which is the main trough in the year.

Try not to visit the Forbidden City during the major Chinese public holidays mentioned above, unless you want to join in some celebrations.

Opening Hours during the Chinese New Year Holiday 2020:
The Forbidden City will be closed on 24 January 2020, the Chinese New Year’s Eve, and opens from 25 to 30 January. Visitors need to book tickets in advance online at https://gugong.ktmtech.cn/.

Click Chinese Climate and Best Time to Visit China for reference.


Forbidden City at Night

Forbidden City at Night

1. The Palace Museum has been implementing an online ticketing policy since October 10th, 2017.

2. The Museum has been closed on Mondays since June 2018 (excluding national holidays) to improve protection of the cultural heritage and to create more time for renovations of the ancient buildings.

3. Due to the daily limit of 80,000 visitors, tourists are recommended to buy tickets online (the official website available in English: The Palace Museum) with appropriate IDs well in advance. Those without any credentials cannot gain access to the museum.

4. There are windows to provide a ticketing service to foreigners who can’t buy tickets online.


After you pass through the security check of the Meridian Gate, there are toilets on both the left and right sides of the Gate of Supreme Harmony (Tai He Men), as well as at the entrances of the 6 east-wing palaces and the 6 west-wing palaces, the Hall of Clocks, the Treasure Gallery, and the Imperial Garden.


Forbidden City in Winter

Forbidden City in Winter

1. The museum provides free luggage check-in service: you can check in your luggage at the entrance (the Meridian Gate) and collect it again at the exit, the Spiritual Valor Gate (Shen Wu Men).

2. It would be a good idea to rent an audio guide device from the Meridian Gate or the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shen Wu Men) at a cost of CNY 20 for Chinese and Cantonese versions, or CNY 40 for other languages.

3. Barrier-free access is available in the Forbidden City.

4. Wheelchairs and strollers are provided at the Meridian Gate and the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shen Wu Men), on payment of a deposit of CNY 300.

5. There are restaurants and tourist shops in the area.

Recommended Tour Routes

Forbidden City Tour Routes
  • Two-Hour Tour (the red line, the most popular and crowded route): from the south entrance to the north exit along the central axis (the Meridian Gate→the Hall of Supreme Harmony→the Hall of Middle Harmony→the Hall of Preserving Harmony→the Palace of Heavenly Purity→the Palace of Union and Peace→the Palace of Earthly Tranquility→the Imperial Garden→the Gate of Divine Prowess)
  • Half-Day Tour (the blue line): walk through the three main halls along the central axis and then tour the East Wing (the Hall of Clocks→the Treasure Gallery→the 6 east-wing palaces→the Imperial Garden→the Gate of Divine Prowess), or the West Wing (the Hall of Mental Cultivation→the 6 west-wing palaces→the Imperial Garden →the Gate of Divine Prowess)
  • One-Day Tour (the green line): the Meridian Gate→The Gate of Supreme Harmony→walk along the central axis→the Hall of Mental Cultivation→the 6 west-wing palaces→the Imperial Garden→the 6 east-wing palaces→the Hall of Clocks→the Treasure Gallery→the Gate of Divine Prowess

Other Tips

1. No smoking in the Forbidden City!
2. It is not permitted to use flash or tripod to take photos in the exhibition halls.
3. Please do not be taken in by advertisements or peddlers in the area.
4. Trust me, the Forbidden City will be much bigger than you imagine. So prepare some good walking shoes!

Tour with China Travel

Jingshan Park

Jingshan Park

Take your time to enjoy the One-Day In-Depth Forbidden City Tour with China Travel:

  • This will solve your problems, like not knowing Chinese, finding the bus or subway station, going to a wrong station, and getting lost. Our English-speaking guide and experienced driver will make your trip easy and fun, and serve your party only.

We pick you up at the place you tell us (hotel, cruise terminal, airport or train station) and guide you in the Forbidden City.