Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)

Summer Palace, Beijing
Summer Palace, Beijing
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Summer Palace Facts

 Location: in the western outskirts of Beijing, 15 km (9.3 mi) from the city center

 Area: 290 hectares (717 acres)

 Age: almost 270 years

 Best time for visit: summer

 Recommended Time for a Visit: half a day

Situated in the Haidian District northwest of Beijing, Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the downtown area. Being the largest and most well-preserved royal park in China, it greatly influences Chinese horticulture and landscape with its famous natural views and cultural interests, which also has long been recognized as 'The Museum of Royal Gardens'.

Yiheyuan radiates fully the natural beauty and the grandeur of royal gardens. Composed mainly of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, it owns over 3,000 man-made ancient structures, including pavilions, towers, bridges, corridors, etc.

Summer Palace History

 In 1750, the construction of the lavish royal garden started to prepare for the birthday ceremony of Emperor Qianlong’s mother, with the original name being 'Qingyi Garden' (Garden of Clear Ripples).

 In 1869, like most of the gardens in Beijing, the Summer Palace could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French Allied Force and was destroyed by fire.

 In 1888, the garden was reconstructed and renamed as the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). It was recorded that Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it as a resort where to spend the rest of her life.

 In 1900, Yiheyuan suffered another hit by the Eight-Power Allied Force and was repaired in the next two years.

 In 1914, it was open to the public.

 In 1998, the Summer Palace ranked amongst the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, as well as one of the first national AAAAA tourist spots in China.

The Summer Palace can be divided into four parts: the Court Area, Front and Rear Area of Longevity Hill, and Kunming Lake Area. 

Court Area

Map of Summer Palace
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It is located in the northeast of the Summer Palace, and it spreads from East Palace Gate to the northeast coast of Kunming Lake. This was a substitute where Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu met officials and conducted state affairs. With the same pattern of the imperial palace of China-'Palace in front and garden behind', the Court Area consists of sections for both court affairs and living. East Palace Gate and Hall of Benevolence and Longevity served as office of the Emperor. The Hall of Jade Ripples was for Guangxu to live in and the Hall of Joyful Longevity for Cixi. There are also the Garden of Virtue and Harmony where Cixi was entertained and Yiyun Hall where once lived the Empress Longyu. Moreover, this area is an integrated transport hub and the first best stop for visitors to enjoy attractive view of Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill.

Front Area of Longevity Hill

This is the most magnificent area with the most constructions. It is symmetrically laid out in east and west many delicate buildings and graceful gardens with the south-facing Tower of Buddhist Incense as the central axis. Walking up to the hilltop, on which lots of important buildings are positioned, including Hall of Dispelling Clouds, Hall of Moral Glory, Baoyun Bronze Pavilion, Revolving Archives, Hall of the Sea of Wisdom, etc.
The area covers a larger part, and opens up the vista of Kunming Lake, as well as the sights around Back Lake (Houxi River). East Causeway of the lake is connected to the West Causeway by Long Gallery, which both were interspersed with pavilions, bridges and wharfs. Famous attractions amongst this area are numerous, including Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Bronze Ox, Nanhu Island, Hall of Embracing the Universe, Spacious Pavilion, Pavilion of Bright Scenery, Marble Boat, Suzhou Market Street, etc. As breeze fluttering, waves gleam and willows kiss the ripples of the vast water, the highlights can't be let off from any of the delightful scenery above.

Rear Area of Longevity Hill

It is quiet as compared to Front Hill Area in Summer Palace. Most constructions were never able to be repaired after wars, only a few ruins are left. In the axis of Rear Hill Area, there used to be a religious building group-Houda Temple, a composite structure with both Han and Tibetan characters. Although the constructions are fewer here, it has a unique landscape with dense green trees and winding paths. Strolling here, visitors can feel a rare tranquility and elegance. Famous scenic spots include Garden of Harmonious Interests, Hall of Increasing Longevity, Four Great Regions, Presence of Virtue Temple and Hall of Serenity, etc.

 Travel Tips      FAQs         Ecard

How to get to Summer Palace

By Bus:
To the East Palace Gate: Take bus 303, 331, 332, 346, 508, 579, or 584, and then get off at Yiheyuan Station; or take bus 384, 394, 563, 594 or 601 to Poshangcun. After that, walk west for about 200 meters (220 yards) to the gate.

To the West Gate: Take bus 469 or 539 and get off at Yiheyuan Ximen (Yiheyuan West Gate) Station.

To the North Palace Gate: Take bus 303, 331, 346, 394, 563, 584, 594 or Singtseeing Bus Line 3, and get off at Yiheyuan Beigongmen (North Palace Gate) Station; or take bus 332, 384, or 601 to Beigongmen Subway Station.

To the New Palace Gate: Take bus 74, 374, or 437, and get off at Xin Jian Gong Men (Yiheyuan New Palace Gate) Station.

By Subway:
1. Take line 4 to Beigongmen, and exit from D. After that, walk west for 3 minutes to the North Palace Gate.
2. Take line 10 to Bagou Station. Then take Western Suburban Line to Yiheyuanximen Station. Walk north for 4 minutes to the West Gate of Summer Palace.
3. Take line 4 or line 16 to Xiyuan and leave from exit C2. Walk west for about 15 minutes to the East Palace Gate.
Beijing Bus / Subway Search


Summer Palace Tickets Price

Ticket Type Price (CNY)
April to October November to March
Entrance Fee 30 20
Dehe Garden 5 5
Tower of Buddhist Incense 10 10
Wenchang Hall 20 20
Suzhou Street and Danning Hall 10 10
Combo Ticket 60 50
Recommended Time for a Visit 3 hours

Note: Free for children under 1.2 meters (3.9 feet).

Summer Palace Beijing Hours

April - October November - March
06:30 - 18:00 07:00 - 17:00
 Note: Four gardens inside Summer Palace including Wenchang Hall, Garden of Virtue and Harmony, Tower of Buddhist Incense and Suzhou Market Street are open from 08:30 to 17:00 (Apr.-Oct.) and 09:00 to 16:00 (Nov.-Mar.)

Further Reading:

Imperial Waterway Cruise
Top 10 Things to Do in Beijing
Top 10 Places to Visit in Beijing
Where to Go in Beijing in Spring - Top 10 Destinations
15 Wonderful Places to See Snow in Beijing
Top 10 Beijing Historical Sites You Should Not Miss
- Last modified on Apr. 15, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Summer Palace
Asked by B from CHINA | Jan. 23, 2021 16:49Reply
Summer Palace open to foreigners?
Hello! Is the Summer Palace open to foreigners now? If so, do we need to provide any additional documents?

Answers (1)
Answered by Gale | Jan. 24, 2021 19:58

Yes, it opens to foreigners as long as you show the green code.
Asked by Amanda from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 16, 2020 18:13Reply
Beijing Summer Palace Opening on 24th January
Hello. I have heard things are closed on 24th January 2020. Will the summer palace be open normal hours? Thank you
Answers (1)
Answered by Norah from SINGAPORE | Jan. 16, 2020 21:52

Don't worry. I didn't find any notification on the official website of Summer Palace. Thus it will open normal at that time. Don't worry.
Asked by Angel from USA | Dec. 16, 2019 11:50Reply
Photo studio at Beijing Summer Palace
Is there a professional photo studio where one can dress up in ancient costumes/makeup and take photos? If so, where is it and what is the place called? Thanks!
Answers (1)
Answered by Isobel from CANADA | Dec. 19, 2019 00:02

Well, as I know, there is no that service. But you can go to Forbidden City.
Asked by NITCHANUN RATTANAPUCHAPONG from THAILAND | Dec. 08, 2019 21:48Reply
Can we travel 1 day trip of Forbidden city and summer palace?
Which on should be in morning?
And where restaurant nearby was recommended ?
Answers (1)
Answered by Liam from NEW ZEALAND | Dec. 11, 2019 19:02

You can visit Forbidden city in the morning and travel around Summer Palace in the afternoon. When you exit Forbidden city, you can go to nearby Qianmen street where gathers many restaurants.
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