The Ultimate Guide to Visiting The Forbidden City

2023-10-28   Leo Kui      0

Why is it called the Forbidden City?

The Forbidden City is also called the Palace Museum. It was off-limits to the general public for over 500 years. Only the emperor, his family, and authorized officials were allowed to enter, giving it an aura of secrecy and exclusivity.

Forbidden City Tip: Logistics

How to buy the Forbidden City tickets?

Five crucial facts you should Know!

#1 The Forbidden City is not open on Monday!!!

#2 This is super important!! There are a limited number of tickets every day. (It can be sold out during the low season; There are only 50000 tickets every day till now) 

#3 The tickets can be booked seven days before at 8 pm. So try to get your tickets as early as you can.

#4 Time-slot reservation policy and ticket inspection measures For example, if you booked the morning tickets, you should get in before noon, and afternoon tickets can only go inside the afternoon.

# 5 The business shooting is prohibited, so the gimble and triple cannot be taken inside.


NO.1 All domestic tourists buy tickets from WeChat; however, international tourists do not recommend it since all the apps are in Chinese, and you must pay via WeChat or Alipay. If you can use WeChat, search for “故宫博物院,” and”you will be led to the ticket booking site.

NO.2 You can easily book the tickets from the official website of the Forbidden City. (The Palace Museum (

NO 3. Send an email to the Forbidden City to book the tickets.


Internatio”al visitors can reserve admission tickets up to seven days before the day of visit and are required to submit by email the full name, passport number, and intended visit date of each visitor to the Museum’s offMuseum’scket reservation email address at at a minimum of one calendar day in advance. An individual may only reserve one admission ticket on any given visit date. 

I will keep you updated! You can also send me an email to check the new policy.

How To Get There?

Address: No.4 Jingshanqian Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China   Zipcode: 100009

Taxi or subway

Show the taxi driver: 天安门广场

Good news!

The Forbidden City is friendly and easy to reach. It is just the north of Tiananmen Square. So before visiting the Forbidden City, you may also like to walk around Tiananmen Square first.

Hop on the Beijing subway, and get yourself to Tiananmen East station (located almost in the middle of the Beijing subway map, on the red Central Line 1).

If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll notice a notice telling you which exit to go to reach Tiananmen Square (Go out from Exit B).

Once you’ve left your driveway station exit B, you’ll find yourself at the end of a long line waiting for security to enter Tiananmen. (The Security queue can be long and easily take half an hour.)

From the doorway down the Tiananmen Tower, it is about 200 meters to get to the Forbidden City.

If you have limited time and don’t want to wait for the long security queue, you can skip Tiananmen Square and walk to the Forbidden City directly. You can visit Tiananmen Square in the afternoon; the line is usually shorter.

Opening Hours & Ticket Prices

Tickets price April to October November to March
Adults 60RMB 40RMB
Student  (age 7 to 17) (Ages 0-6 free) 20RMB 20RMB
Senior 30RMB 20RMB
10 RMB for the Treasure Gallery;10 RMB for the Clock and Watch Gallery
Open time Open Stop tickets Stop-go inside Close
April to October 8:30 16:00 16:10 17:00
November to March 8:30 15:30 15:40 16:30

The best time to visit

As time changes, the Forbidden City looks different with its specialties. So you can visit the Forbidden City almost the whole year. (It is not open all Monday)

Forbidden City is the busiest attraction in Beijing, so it is always full of people. Some tips for you to avoid the crowds:

1. Go earlier. It opens at 8:30 am, so arrive at 8 am and queue at the beginning. You can go in front of the groups and enjoy the Forbidden City by yourself.

2. Go late. The Forbidden City closes at 5 pm, so if you go around 2 pm, it is not as busy as in the Morning.

3. It is better not to visit the Forbidden City at the weekend.

4. Avoid all the important Chinese holidays, such as National Day and the Chinese New Year.

Food and drink

There are six restaurants inside the Forbidden City, like fast Chinese food; the quality is OK, and the budget is around 100RMB per person. (I have marked them out on the map below). But it is straightforward to find shops to sell water and snacks. A bottle of water is 4 RMB.

Hear entertaining stories of the Forbidden City

Discover the hidden tales and untold history of the Forbidden City. Prepare yourself for an extraordinary journey by reading the stories behind this majestic imperial palace.

20 Intriguing Secrets and Facts Revealed in Forbidden City

Forbidden City Tips: Seeing the highlights

Forbidden city map + best travel routes (From Local guide suggestion)

1 Meridian Gate (午门)

The Meridian Gate, the main entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing, is located on the north-south axis of the Forbidden City. You can always go up to the Gate to see a bird ‘ s-eye view of the Forbidden City before you go deep inside. When you enter the Forbidden City, turn left, and you will find the stairs up to the Meridian Gate. There are always some excellent temporary exhibitions from all over the world.

2 Hall of Supreme Harmony (outer court) (太和殿)

The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the largest structure in the Forbidden City and was once the tallest building in the capital. It was used for state occasions, such as the emperor’s crown ceremony and the nomination of military leaders.

 3 Palace of Heavenly Purity (inner court) (乾清宫)

This is the residence of Ming and early Qing emperors and later an audience hall for receiving foreign envoys and high officials. The highlights are the decorations inside. 1. How did the Qing emperor choose his successors? 2. What is the emperor’s bedroom like? 3. 6 big mirrors inside, do you know what it is for?…

4 Six Western Palaces (西六宫)

A dozen smaller palace courtyards lie to the west and east of the three lesser central halls. It was in these self-contained abodes where most emperors and empresses lived.

The 6 Western Palaces are the Original Forms of the Old Life. You can easily find the palace where the last emperor lived and Cixi’s palacCixi’s

5 Eastern Palaces(东六宫)

Like the 6 Western Palaces, these are also the palaces where the concubines live. But they have changed into exhibitions now. The bronzes exhibition at the Palace of Celestial Favour and Palace of Enteral Harmony. Ceramic show at the Palace of Prolonging Happiness.

6 Treasure Gallery (珍宝馆)

On the northeastern edge of the complex is what feels like a mini Forbidden City all of its own. The Palace of Tranquil Longevity was built around 1771 for Qing Emperor Qianlong, though he never moved in.

Nine dragon screen is just at the entrance. There are a lot of exhibitions inside, such as the Jade exhibition at the Palace of Tranquil Longevity and the Drum-shaped stone locks exhibition at the Hall of Imperial Supremacy.

7 Imperial Garden (御花园)

The Imperial Garden is 130 meters wide over 90 meters long. In the Garden, there are ancient towering pines and junipers. Grass. Strange flowers and rocks. The whole garden is where ladies living in the forbidden city like to walk around. It is exquisite.

Jinshan Park (景山公园)

Jinshan Park does not belong to the Forbidden City; it is at the north exit of the Forbidden City. It is a super nice view if you go up the hill to see the Forbidden City, which can make your Forbidden City visit complete.

So I advise now to go to the excellent gift shop, the Forbidden City, and the sights around are too good to devote just one day to; use the guide to pinpoint exactly what else you’d like to do and mark them for the next time.

Jingshan Park Travel Guide

Forbidden City travel FAQS

How to avoid the crowd?

Early bird and late bird!

Early bird is always helpful to avoid the crowd. But it is not my favorite time to go early.

I don’t recommend you go early because everyone thinks the same, especially the tour groups. A long queue waits at the front door(medium gate) before opening. If you only have 1 or 2 hours to visit, I highly recommend you go after 1:30 pm. It is much better.

Every day from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, the Museum receives the most visitors.

If you want to stay inside for a whole day, be the early bird since it is vast.

There are some Chinese holidays; it is always busy. If you can skip them, it helps you get a better travel experience.

Dates to avoid visiting China!

How do I visit the Forbidden City by myself?

If you want to see as much as possible, please read the blog below. It can easily take you 4 hours or more.

Forbidden City Map + Best Travel Routes (Without BACK AND FORTH)

If you don’t have one, choose some interesting sights to see.

Tour Guide or Audio Guide

A tour guide is essential to learn more details about the Forbidden City. But you can also quickly get an audio guide at the entrance (The cost of renting any version of the device is CNY 40 (Chinese and Cantonese are both CNY 20); return at the exit, no deposit needed). It includes 35 languages.

What should I wear?

There is nothing you should be concerned about regarding the dress. Just wear comfortable walking shoes as it is big inside with many steps.

What MUST I take?

Your passport. It would be best if you had access to the Forbidden City. A security check is always near the square, so it is a must before you visit.

Wheelchair Accessible

Yes. Just around the axis of the Forbidden City.

Where to finish the Forbidden City trip?

There are two exits in the Forbidden City: the North gate and the East gate.

Most people choose the north gate to go out.

Going out from the east gate is good!

A. Your time is minimal. You can jump in, take some photos, and leave. It can help you save a lot of time. You may especially waste time in the queue. B. You are with people who are not good walkers. This is an easy way for people to understand the Forbidden City. C. If you want to take a fantastic photo of the Forbidden City. The best time is 10 minutes before it closes. Going out from the north gate may be rushed, so the east gate is the best choice.

Other sights near the Forbidden City

After completing the Forbidden City trip, it is better to go up to Jingshan Park to enjoy a bird’ s-eye of the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City turret is also a great place for photos.

Beihai Park is a 5-minute from the North Gate of the Forbidden City.

Good restaurants near the Forbidden City

After the long walk, I guess you must feel a bit tired and hungry. Unfortunately, there is no good restaurant near the north gate of the Forbidden City, but you may like to go to a good coffee restaurant.[ Alley Coffee 寻常巷陌  It is near the east entrance of Jinshan Park, about a 5-minute walk from the North Gate of the Forbidden City.

Can I visit the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in 1 day?

It is doable if you have limited time, such as a layover. But both will be a bit rushed; I suggest you do them in 2 days.


Related posts (Tips and details)

20 Intriguing Secrets and Facts Revealed in Forbidden City

11 theme Permanent Galleries in the Forbidden City

4 Most Important People with Forbidden City History


Why there are 9999.5 rooms in the Forbidden City? Where is the half room?

Forbidden City Detail (2): Why the emperor’s bedroom so small?

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