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Summer Palace Yiheyuan

The information contained here are subject to change. Chinese History Digest is not responsible or liable if any changes should occur. If you can read Chinese, you could also check the official website of the Summer Palace for the latest information.

Opening Hours

Summer Palace Park:
April - October: 6.30am - 6pm
November - March: 7am - 5pm
Scenic Spots inside park:
April - October: 8.30am - 5pm
November - March: 9am - 4pm

Entrance Ticket Prices

April - October: 30 yuan (Combo Ticket: 60 yuan)
November - March: 20 yuan (Combo Ticket: 50 yuan)
Dehe Garden: + 5 yuan
Tower of Buddhist Incense and Hall of Dispelling Clouds: + 10 yuan
Wenchang Gallery: + 20 yuan
Suzhou Market Street and Danning Hall: + 10 yuan

The new Summer Palace (Yiheyuan) is a complex of palaces, lakes and gardens that is located in the Haidian district of Beijing. About 15km to the northwest of the city center, it is not far from the ruins of the Old Summer Palace. Both palaces were created as private pleasure gardens for the emperors of the Qing dynasty and their family. Construction of the Summer Palace lasted from AD 1750 to 1764 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. However, it was back then still known as the Qingyi Garden (Garden of Clear Ripples).

East Gate of the new Summer Palace Yiheyuan in BeijingEast Gate of the new Summer Palace Yiheyuan in BeijingWhereas the Old Summer Palace was completely destroyed by Anglo-French troops in AD 1860 and the Eight-Nation Alliance in 1900, most of the parts that were damaged or destroyed in the new Summer Palace during these tumultuous times were later restored. After completion of its first reconstruction in AD 1888, the new Summer Palace was renamed Yiheyuan and most Chinese people nowadays still refer to it by that name. Visitors can see the three Chinese Hanzi characters 頤和園 that spell out that name on the sign above the East Palace Gate. They were written by the Guangxu Emperor himself.

A veritable masterpiece of Chinese garden design, the new Summer Palace is a must-see attraction for anyone that is interested in Chinese history. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1998, about 2 million visitors per year make it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Beijing. About 3000 historic structures stand on the grounds of the new Summer Palace which occupies a total area of 300.59 hectares. The landscape of this former imperial resort is dominated by the Longevity Hill (Wanshou Shan) and the Kunming Lake. There are altogether four main areas to visit: the Court Area, Kunming Lake Area and the front and rear area of Longevity Hill.

Hall of Benevolence and Longevity at the new Summer PalaceHall of Benevolence and Longevity at the new Summer PalaceThe Court Area is located between the East Palace Gate and the northeast coast of Kunming Lake. This part of the Summer Palace served various functions at once. State affairs were handled in some of the halls whereas others served as living quarters or entertainment areas. When entering through the East Palace Gate, visitors will first see the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity (Renshoudian). When in attendance, the Qing emperors managed the affairs of state from there. To the north is the Garden of Virtue and Harmony (Dehe Garden). It served as an entertainment area where the Empress Dowager Cixi watched Peking opera performances on the stage of the Grand Theater. The Hall of Jade Ripples (Yulantang), Hall of Joyful Longevity (Leshoutang) and Yiyun House once were the respective residences of the Guangxu Emperor, the Empress Dowager Cixi and the Empress Longyu (the Guangxu Emperor's wife).

The Kunming Lake Area is the largest of the four different areas of the new Summer Palace and the attractions all around it are far too numerous to count. One of the most famous of them is the Marble Boat where Empress Dowager Cixi used to enjoy the beautiful lake scenery while having tea. It stands in the northwest corner of the lake and is the only western-style structure on the grounds of the Yiheyuan Summer Palace. For Chinese people, it has also become symbolic of the corruption during the late Qing dynasty. That is because Cixi financed its rebuilding in AD 1893 (its earlier version with a wooden pavilion was burnt down by Anglo-French troops in AD 1860) with funds that were intended to be used to upgrade the Qing navy fleet.

Wusheng (Five Sage) Shrine, Marble boat and Longevity Hill at Beijing's Summer PalaceWusheng (Five Sage) Shrine, Marble boat and Longevity Hill at Beijing's Summer PalaceThe three small islands that dot the man-made Kunming Lake are Nanhu Island (South Lake Island), Zaojiantang Island and Zhijingge Island. Nanhu Island is the largest of them where you will find several halls, pavilions and temples. It can be reached by crossing the famous Seventeen-Arch Bridge (Shiqikong Qiao) from where you will have the best view of Longevity Hill to the north. After visiting the island, you could walk towards Longevity Hill along the eastern side of Kunming Lake. Definitely worth a stop along that way is Wenchang Gallery which is located right next to Wenchang Tower. Its halls showcase thousands of cultural artifacts from some 3600 years of Chinese history since the time of the Shang dynasty. Included among the antiques that are on display are bronze objects, fine jewelry, Chinese porcelain, pieces of furniture, delicate lacquerware, carved ivory and many other priceless treasures.

Many buildings in the front area of Longevity Hill served a Buddhist function. Among them, the Tower of Buddhist Incense (Foxiangge) is also the largest building on the grounds of the new Summer Palace. There is also a peculiar pavilion in this area that is made entirely out of bronze, the Baoyun Pavilion (Baoyunge). Unfortunately, this truly unique pavilion that is also called the "Golden Pavilion" is overlooked by most visitors, perhaps due to its placement in a relatively secluded area of palace. One of the halls in this area, the festively furnished Hall of Dispelling Clouds (Paiyundian) with its "Nine-Dragon Throne" was used for the birthday celebrations of Empress Dowager Cixi every year in autumn. Cixi also enjoyed walking along the Long Gallery (Changlang) every day after breakfast. This 728-meter-long gallery that displays 14,000 colored paintings on its wooden beams is the longest corridor in Chinese classic gardens. It is now a favorite rest area for tired visitors as it provides ample space to sit down.

view of a section of Suzhou Market Streetview of a section of Suzhou Market StreetThe rear area of Longevity Hill is the least crowded part of the new Summer Palace but perhaps the most diverse regarding the variety of sights. The main structures here are a Tibetan-style Buddhist temple, a shopping street, a secluded study area for the emperor and a wonderful garden. From the Tibetan-style temple complex that bears the unusual name "Four Great Regions" it is not far to the Suzhou Market Street (Suzhoujie). This area was built to resemble the market area along the river banks in the southern city of Suzhou in style. It was once used as an entertainment area where the emperor could "play" to go shopping with his concubines just like ordinary people. The roles of the shopkeepers, street peddlers and other customers were enacted by palace eunuchs and maids then. More than 60 stores that sell all kinds of things now occupy the old buildings in this area of the new Summer Palace.

The Garden of Harmonious Interests (Xiequyuan) is located on the eastern side of Longevity Hill. It was created in the style of the classical gardens of Southern China and is attractive to visitors in all of the four seasons. A bit to the west from there along the Houxi River (the back stream of Kunming Lake) lies the Hall of Serenity (Danning Hall). This is perhaps the most secluded and quiet spot in the Summer Palace which served its purpose as a study area for the emperor just fine.

view of Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill at Beijing's new Summer Palace Yiheyuanview of Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill at Beijing's new Summer Palace Yiheyuan

How to get to the new Summer Palace in Beijing?

Address: Summer Palace (Yiheyuan), 19 Xinjiangongmen Road, Haidian district, Beijing, China
Tel.Nr.: +86 10 6288 1144
Air: Beijing Nanyuan Airport (NAY), Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX)
Train: Beijing Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station, Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing North Railway Station, Beijing East Railway Station, Qinghe Railway Station
Metro: Beigongmen Station - Subway Line 4 - Take Exit D and walk west to the North Palace Gate;
Yiheyuanximen Station - Western Suburban Line - Walk north to the West Palace Gate;
Xiyuan Station - Subway Line 4 or Subway Line 16 - Take Exit C2 and walk west to the East Palace Gate
Bus: Yiheyuan Station - East Palace Gate - (bus lines: 303, 331, 332, 346, 508, 579, 584);
Yiheyuan Ximen Station - West Palace Gate - (bus lines: 469, 539);
Yiheyuan Beigongmen Station - North Palace Gate - (bus lines: 303, 331, 346, 394, 563, 584, 594, Sightseeing Bus Line 3);
Xin Jian Gong Men - New Palace Gate - (bus lines: 74, 374, 437)

Recommended Hotel near Beijing's Yiheyuan Summer Palace

The hotel that is introduced in detail below is the closest 5-star hotel to the Yiheyuan Summer Palace in Beijing. The provided information was thoroughly researched from various hotel booking websites. Chinese History Digest is not responsible if any information regarding the provided services and amenities might have changed.

Aman Summer Palace Beijing

outside view of the Aman Summer Palace BeijingThe Aman Summer Palace Beijing is a 5-star hotel that was opened in 2008 close to the East Gate of the new Summer Palace Yiheyuan. This serene luxury hotel consists of historic pavilions with tranquil internal courtyards that were built in the style of traditional Chinese architecture more than a century ago. During the late Qing dynasty, these pavilions were used by guests of the imperial court to await their audience with Empress Dowager Cixi. While being closer to the grounds of the new Summer Palace, the ruins of the Old Summer Palace inside Yuanmingyuan Park can be reached on foot from the Aman Summer Palace Beijing as well. The Beigongmen Station of the Beijing Subway lies just 720 meters away from the hotel, providing convenient access to the city's public transportation network. Reaching the Beijing Capital and Beijing Daxing International Airports by airport shuttle (which can be booked for an extra fee) from this hotel typically takes about 40 minutes for the former and 70 minutes for the latter. Beijing's multiple railway stations can also all be reached within an hour by taxi from this hotel.

All 51 rooms and suites of the Aman Summer Palace Beijing are air-conditioned and equipped with a flat screen TV, minibar and safe. Free breakfast is included and free bottled water is provided in the rooms. Free Wi-Fi is available as well. Smoking is however only permitted at certain designated smoking areas. Laundry service (including dry cleaning) and luggage storage are available. There are altogether five restaurants on-site that not only serve the best Chinese cuisine but also Japanese and Western cuisine. For exercise, guests have access to an indoor swimming pool, a fitness center, tennis and racquetball/squash courts as well as yoga and Pilates classes. For relaxation, guests can use the hotel's sauna, steamroom and spa.

0.6 miles away

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