Forbidden City

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

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

Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
5 out of 5
8 Wangfujing East Street, Dongcheng, Beijing, Beijing
The price is CA $156 per night from Sep 29 to Sep 29
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
Grand Hyatt Beijing
Grand Hyatt Beijing
5 out of 5
1 East Chang An Avenue, Beijing, Beijing
The price is CA $195 per night from Sep 29 to Sep 29
Located in Dongdan, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Oriental Plaza and Wangfujing Street. The Wangfujing Paleolithic Museum and National Museum ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (690 reviews)
"Very nice and clean, loved the pool."

Reviewed on Jul. 10, 2021

Grand Hyatt Beijing
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
5 out of 5
57 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing
The price is CA $166 per night from Sep 29 to Sep 29
Located in Downtown Beijing, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Dong'anmen Ming Imperial Palace Relics and Tiananmen. Temple of Heaven is 2.9 mi (4.7 ...
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
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

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Best Lodging Options Near Forbidden City

Novotel Beijing Xin Qiao
Novotel Beijing Xin Qiao
4 out of 5
1 Chong Wen Men Xi Da Jie, Beijing, Beijing
The price is CA $82 per night from Oct 22 to Oct 22
Novotel Beijing Xin Qiao
Grand Hyatt Beijing
Grand Hyatt Beijing
5 out of 5
1 East Chang An Avenue, Beijing, Beijing
The price is CA $195 per night from Sep 29 to Sep 29
Grand Hyatt Beijing
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
5 out of 5
57 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing
The price is CA $166 per night from Sep 29 to Sep 29
Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
5 out of 5
8 Wangfujing East Street, Dongcheng, Beijing, Beijing
The price is CA $156 per night from Sep 29 to Sep 29
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
Novotel Beijing Peace
Novotel Beijing Peace
4 out of 5
No 3 Jinyu Hutong, Beijing, Beijing
The price is CA $107 per night from Oct 22 to Oct 22
Novotel Beijing Peace
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
Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Wangfujing, an IHG Hotel
Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Wangfujing, an IHG Hotel
4.5 out of 5
48 Wangfujing Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing
The price is CA $123 per night from Sep 29 to Sep 29
Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Wangfujing, an IHG Hotel
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 CA $168 per night from Sep 29 to Sep 29
The Imperial Mansion, Beijing Marriott Executive Apartments
Sunworld Dynasty Hotel Beijing Wangfujing
Sunworld Dynasty Hotel Beijing Wangfujing
5 out of 5
50 Wangfujing Avenue, Beijing, Beijing
The price is CA $122 per night from Sep 30 to Sep 30
Sunworld Dynasty Hotel Beijing Wangfujing
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.