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Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square Tour

Half-day walking tour includes highlights of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.4 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  If walls could talk, visitors to the Forbidden City would hear tales of opulence beyond their wildest dream, from daily 100-course... more »

Tips:  Not surprisingly, the Forbidden City can be quite packed on weekends; arriving early is a good way to avoid crowds if you can't visit ... more »

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Points of Interest

At the entrance to the Forbidden City, go past the classic portrait of Chairman Mao, the stalls selling snacks and souvenirs, the guards doing drills or playing basketball, and continue until you can go no farther. On your left (west) is the ticket booth. The cost is 60RMB from April to October and 40RMB from November to March. The Hall of Jewelry... More

As you enter the Forbidden City you will pass through the Meridian Gate and directly ahead will be a large courtyard leading to the Gate of Supreme Harmony. Note the differences in the two bronze lions that flank the gate. The lion on the western side has his paw on a ball, symbolizing the world and the emperor's power over it. The equally... More

The largest building of the complex is the Hall of Supreme Harmony. Here the emperor would preside over the most important state occasions, such as his birthday or the nominations of military leaders. Coronations were held here as well.

Join the group peeking inside the hall and get a glimpse of the emperor's golden dragon throne. When the... More

The third hall is the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which was used for banquets. Later, in the Qing Dynasty in the 18th century, it was also used for imperial examinations.

An ornate throne can be seen in the middle of the hall. When you pass through to the other side, be sure to check out the low relief sculpture that forms a ramp between sets of ... More

5. Hall of Jewelry

Veering right (east) after the Hall of Preserving Harmony, you will pass through a courtyard where contests of archery and horsemanship were once held. Nowadays, you can pick up a soda or other light refreshment before heading on to the northeast section of the Forbidden City. The areas to the south are not open to the public.

Before you can... More

As you emerge from the exhibit halls you will be on the northeast corner of the Forbidden City. Head left, toward the center, to reach the Imperial Garden. A Chinese garden differs from a Western one in that there no masses of pruned flowers, instead the focus is on a balance of light, forms, and textures. The Imperial Garden is no exception and... More

Tiananmen Square is often associated in the West with the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations and subsequent killings that occurred in neighboring streets (the number of reported deaths varies wildly).

Last expanded in 1951, Tiananmen Square was constructed to be a symbol of the physical greatness of the Communist Party, an open area where... More

The first structure you will notice in the vast square is are two large screens depicting idyllic scenes of China. Behind that is the Monument to the People's Heroes, an obelisk that pays tribute to those who lost their lives during the Communist Revolution.

Next, get in line to see the preserved body of Mao Zedong, located directly south of the Monument to the People's Heros. He is better known as Chairman Mao, leader of the Chinese Revolution and ruler of China from 1949 to 1979. While there are mixed feelings toward the ruler, many Chinese still revere Mao and his picture is hung in living rooms... More