During the October holidays, teeming crowds turn up at the historical site for an exotic travel experience into the Satan’s pit. For most of the Beijing residents’ going to the Forbidden City is out of question throughout the holidays. Even all through the busiest of weeks, below are some tricks that can make visiting the Forbidden City more tolerable when not pleasant.
- Plan for an early morning visit: The ticket sales limit is 80,000 a day. This may seem like its a lot but during special exhibitions and holidays but the possibility of the tickets selling out by early on in the afternoon is very high.
(Advanced Tip: A reservation system is available online and you can book at most 10 tickets for a group except you need to have someone who reads Chinese – or you can do so yourself – and even have a payment method like Zhifubao or Alipay.)
- Skip Mao: About 90% of the tourists approach Forbidden City via Tiananmen to the south. Getting here for an exotic travel experience often requires that you pass through rather long lines to get to the security checks. In order to avoid these, use the west or east entrance. Pay the entrance fee and walk into the park to the east side. This will get you to ticketing area right outside the Forbidden City main entrance. However, you will need to queue for the museum security checks so you can go inside.
- Stay away from the crowded area: Most visitors follow the same route right into the center of Forbidden City. Stay away from the crowded places and rather explore the interesting parts by turning right or left. When you walk along the wall going towards the East Gate, you will come to a fascinating and quiet museum of the palace architecture. Down the stairs near the East Gate as if going back towards the courtyard you will find the Literary Flourishing Hall which is a ceramic well-curated museum.
- Keep away the mid-axis: Make a point to visit Cining Gong and Shoukang Gong which was home to the emperor’s mother in 18 century. This is a functioning archaeological site which has sculpture displays that date back to more than 1,500 years. This includes terracotta soldiers loaned from Xi’an.
- Use an alternative exit: Officially, Forbidden City is to be exited through one way that is north-south. However, the transport options outside the northern gate are restricted to jam-packed buses and trishaw hustlers. You can, however, exit from the Donghuamen (east gate) which lets out into the quieter street which has better taxi options and is closer to the nearby subway. Should you be hungry, a division of Siji Minfu- a famous Beijing restaurant and TRB Bites are located outside the eastern gate.
- Remember to carry your passport: In 2015 new policies were enacted which require you to present a type of identification for every ticket purchased. The security personnel also look for lighters since it’s not advisable smoking inside the 600-old wooden palace.
One more last tip – always ask a local for the best time to visit China or you can always rely on us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have been to China, come and share your stories with us!
Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food.
Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com