The Summer Palace is an ancient complex that served as a royal garden for the Imperial Families. A naturally beautiful place, it is mainly composed of a Longetivity Hill, where most of the Imperial buildings are, and Kunming Lake.
This is one of the must-see touristic spots in Beijing and we recommend allowing at least 3 hours to see the main attractions.
The most interesting area, with many buildings that we describe below.
Long Gallery: a long open-air corridor very typical in ancient Chinese architecture.
Tower of Buddhist Incense: octagonal pagoda that stands tall on top of the hill. The tower is beautiful and can be seen from almost everywhere in the gardens.
You can climb the tower but must pay a separate fee of CNY $10.-.
Hall of the Sea of Wisdom: located on the rear area of Longevity Hill, this is a colourful religious building with small glazed Buddha statues covering the walls.
Close to this place you get a nice view of the Tower of Buddhist Incense.
Suzhou Market: a street that resembles the ancient style of stores on riverbanks where the royal family used to go so as to pretend they were performing marketing activities.
An additional fee of CNY $10.- needs to be paid to visit this place.
Four Great Regions: a group of Tibetan Buddhist buildings located close to the North entrance.
This water feature covers the majority of the grounds of the Summer Palace and holds many attractions.
Marble Boat: located on the northwest corner of the lake, close to Longevity Hill.
Seventeen-Arch Bridge: long ancient bridge that connects the shore with Nanhu Island.
You can take a boat to visit the lake. There are many options with different prices.
Other interesting sights in the Summer Palace include various archways and gardens in tone with the traditional Chinese architecture.
It is also a great place for people watching. Locals go there to dance or practice tai-chi.
Enter through the North Palace Gate, start by Suzhou Market, cross the bridge to Four Great Regions, find your way across Hall of the Sea of Wisdom to get a nice view of the Tower of Buddhist Incense, then walk down the hill and find the lake (not hard to do!). Walk west along the Long Gallery to find the Marble Boat and then back East towards the Seventeen-Arch Bridge. Take a boat ride before leaving.
Hours and Admission Fees
Apr-Oct 6:30-18:00hs CNY $30.-
Nov-Mar 7:00-17:00hs CNY $20.-
Separate Entrance Fees
Tower of Buddhist Incense CNY $10.-
Suzhou Street CNY $10.-
Subway Line 4 – Beigongmen Station, exit D – walk to the North Gate (recommended)
Subway Line 16 – Xiyuan Station, exit C2 – walk to the East Gate