Summer Palace, Beijing Yihe Yuan
one and a half hour
a UNESCO world cultural heritage, largest imperial garden in the world; relax in the wonderful gardens, enjoy the classical Chinese garden architecture, experience Chinese ideal of harmony between man and nature
After the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace is the next must see place to visit for any tourists in Beijing.
The Summer Palace, Yihe yuan in Chinese, is the largest and best-preserved imperial garden in the world, a veritable museum of classical Chinese garden architecture.
In 1998, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNCESCO, and it declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design”.
The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value. It is a popular destination but also serves as a recreational park.
Situated in the western outskirts of Haidian District, western edge of Beijing between the fourth and fifth ring roads, 15 kilometers from central Beijing, the Summer Palace, constructed in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), was extended continuously in the later time, and had become a luxurious royal garden providing royal families with rest and entertainment by the time of the Qing Dynasty.
Highlights of the Summer Palace
- Longevity Hill Area: The hill is about 60 meters high and houses many buildings positioned in sequence, built in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The front hill is rich in splendid halls and pavilions; while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet with nature beauty.
- Kunming Lake Area: Kunming Lake is the central lake on the grounds of the Summer Palace, forming the key landscape features of the gardens, together with the Longevity Hill. It covers approximately three quarters of the Summer Palace, with an area of 2.2 square kilometers. Since the lake develops a solid ice cover in winter, it is used for ice skating.
- Long Corridor: The “Long Corridor” is a covered walkway. 795 yards long that runs by Kunming lake. It is the longest walkway in any Chinese garden, with over 14,000 traditional Chinese paintings on the beams and crossbeams. The function of corridors in Chinese garden architecture is to offer a seltered passageway from direct sun as well as inclement weather when passing between buildings.
Location: western outskirts of Haidian District, 15 km from Beijing center
Opening Hours: 06:30 – 18:00 Apr.1 to Oct.31; 07:00 – 17:00 Nov.1 to Mar.31
How to get there?
Subway line 4, get off at Beigongmen station (Beigongmen means the North Gate of Summer Palace);
Take bus no. 209, 330, 331, 332, 346, 394, 683, 690, 696, 718, 801, 808, or 826 and get off at Yiheyuan Station (Summer Palace Station);
Take bus no.469 or 539 and get off at Yiheyuan West Palace Gate Station.
Weather/Best Time to Go
Beijing enjoys the humid continental climate with hot humid summers, cold dry winters, shorter spring and autumn. You can have a Beijing tour any time of the year, because it can give fresh feeling by enjoying the special tour of the four seasons.
The best season to visit Summer Palace should be Spring, Summer, and Winter. As its name implies, the Summer Palace was used as a summer residence by China’s imperial rulers – as a retreat from the main imperial palace now known as the Palace Museum (or ‘Forbidden City’) – a pleasureground in the countryside, yet near to the city.
- For a small fee plus deposit, you can take your own small boat out onto the lake – to relax and enjoy a different view of these wonderful gardens.
- You are suggested to get a guide map which will be very helpful at CNY 10.
- Smoking is forbidden in the scenic area.