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Forbidden City

Vacation Travel Guide
Forbidden City showing a river or creek, a lake or waterhole and heritage architecture

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.

Top things to do in Forbidden City

Top Hotels Close to Forbidden City

Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
5 out of 5
57 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing
The price is ¥17,656 per night from Aug 1 to Aug 1
Located in Downtown Beijing, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of National Art Museum of China and Wangfujing Street. Forbidden City and The Palace ...
4.6/5Wonderful! (448 reviews)
"During our stay in Beijing, the hotel staff was amazing. The reception desk, Daniel, and Joanna were the best!! Very helpful and accomodating. Daniel went out of his way to help me find a store that sold SD cards. The dining room team were exceptional! Manager Bernie made sure he greeted us with ..."

Reviewed on Apr 12, 2021

Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
5 out of 5
8 Wangfujing East Street, Dongcheng, Beijing, Beijing
The price is ¥23,520 per night from Aug 10 to Aug 10
This family-friendly Beijing hotel is located in the business district, within 1 mi (2 km) of Wangfujing Street, Forbidden City, and The Palace Museum. Tiananmen ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (751 reviews)
"The location is excellent, convenient to shopping area, and many famous view points within walking distance"

Reviewed on Jan 4, 2020

Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
The St. Regis Beijing
The St. Regis Beijing
5 out of 5
21 Jianquomenwai Street, Beijing, Beijing
Fully refundableReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is ¥17,703 per night from Jul 29 to Jul 29
Located in Beijing Central Business District, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Ancient Observatory and Chang’an Grand Theatre. Silk Street Market ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (134 reviews)
"This property is aging, condition showing signs of wear and tear, dark inside, carpeting, shower inside a tub versus separate stall, tight room space, heating difficult to control in room and in meeting room. Overrated."

Reviewed on Jan 12, 2020

The St. Regis Beijing
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Forbidden City

Forbidden City


Best Lodging Options Near Forbidden City

Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
5 out of 5
57 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing
The price is ¥17,656 per night from Aug 1 to Aug 1
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
5 out of 5
8 Wangfujing East Street, Dongcheng, Beijing, Beijing
The price is ¥23,520 per night from Aug 10 to Aug 10
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
The St. Regis Beijing
The St. Regis Beijing
5 out of 5
21 Jianquomenwai Street, Beijing, Beijing
The price is ¥17,703 per night from Jul 29 to Jul 29
The St. Regis Beijing
Grand Hyatt Beijing
Grand Hyatt Beijing
5 out of 5
1 East Chang An Avenue, Beijing, Beijing
The price is ¥22,117 per night from Aug 1 to Aug 1
Grand Hyatt Beijing
The PuXuan Hotel and Spa
The PuXuan Hotel and Spa
5 out of 5
No.1 WangFuJing Street, DongCheng District, Beijing
The price is ¥48,557 per night from Aug 2 to Aug 2
The PuXuan Hotel and Spa
Beijing Xihua Jade Hotel Forbidden City
Beijing Xihua Jade Hotel Forbidden City
3.5 out of 5
5 NORTH ZHIDE ALLY, BEI HE YAN STREET,, DONG CHENG, Beijing, PEK
Beijing Xihua Jade Hotel Forbidden City
Waldorf Astoria Beijing
Waldorf Astoria Beijing
5 out of 5
5-15 Jinyu Hutong, Wangfujing, Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing
The price is ¥35,415 per night from Jul 29 to Jul 29
Waldorf Astoria Beijing
The Imperial Mansion, Beijing Marriott Executive Apartments
The Imperial Mansion, Beijing Marriott Executive Apartments
4.5 out of 5
North Gate, No. 1 Xiagongfu Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing
The price is ¥20,889 per night from Aug 1 to Aug 1
The Imperial Mansion, Beijing Marriott Executive Apartments
Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing
Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing
5 out of 5
No. 269 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing
The price is ¥55,436 per night from Aug 23 to Aug 23
Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.