Summer Palace

Price guide: Budget

Kunminghu East Road, Haidian District, Beijing

Price guide: Budget

Stone Boat
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By Tom O'Malley, your Beijing expert

#2 of 20
expert-rated things to do in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.7 out of 5
Value for money:
Recommended for:
Culture vultures, First-time travellers, Design and architecture, Great views / scenery, Nature / wildlife

Expert review of Summer Palace

Escape to this Imperial pleasure park of lakes, temples, pagodas and classical gardens.

A royal pleasure retreat in northwest Beijing, this sprawling collection of pagodas, temples, towers and bridges flanking Kunming Lake was the favourite playground of the notorious Empress Dowager Cixi in the late 19th century, who would retire here in summer to escape the stultifying heat of the Forbidden City. It was she who commissioned the Marble Boat – a wasteful folly now a mandatory photo stop after visitors have tramped the length of the ornately carved, covered Long Corridor on the north shore of the lake. My other must-see sights are the 17-arch bridge and the resplendent Tower of Buddhist Incense with its commanding perch on Longevity Hill.

Price advice: 

Tickets are 50 RMB (high season), and I would recommended purchasing one of the excellent souvenir maps on top for 10 RMB.

Expert tips: 
If you want to hire a pedal boat for an hour (40 RMB per person) you’ll need at least 200 RMB cash for a deposit.
The subway is now the fastest way to reach the Summer Palace from the centre of town. Take Line 4 (Yiheyuan stop).
The Summer Palace is one of Beijing’s most popular tourist attractions. Needless to say, avoid visiting on weekends or holidays if you want to beat the crowds.

More information on Summer Palace:

Price guide:
Castle / palace, Lake / river / canal, Park / garden
Kunminghu East Road, Haidian District, Beijing
Months open:
All year round
Opening times:
Daily 7am-6pm

Have you been to Summer Palace? Would you recommended it?