Summer Palace or Yi He Yuan, is the best-kept existing royal garden in Beijing. With a concentration of the best of ancient buildings as well as styles of gardening, it is a virtual museum of traditional Chinese gardening.The Summer Palace was first named the Garden of Clear Ripples, which was burnt down by the allied forces of Great Britain and France in 1860. Reconstruction started 25 years later and was completed in 1895, and the name was changed to Yiheyuan (Garden of Good Health and Harmony). The design gives prominence to the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. The total area is 290 hectares, and the buildings are measured in over 3,000 bays.

Summer Palace Beijing

History of Summer Palace

Summer Palace has a history of over 800 years. At the beginning of the 12th century, the Golden Hill palace was built here in 1153.

Large scale construction of the Summper Palace was took placed during the Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). At that time, the Qing Dynasty was in its heyday and China was a powerful Asian country with vast territories. With supreme power and large sums of money, Emperor Qianlong summoned skillful and ingenious artisans from all over the country to carry out this construction work in honor of his mother’s birthday. After 15 years and one seventh of the nation’s annual revenue spent, the Garden of Clear Ripples was completed and served as a testimony to China’s scientific and technological achievements.

In 1860, this vast royal garden was burnt down along with the Yuanming Yuan (Garden of Perfection and Brightness) by Anglo-French allied forces.

In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi reconstructed the garden on the same site and renamed it the Garden of Nurtured Harmony (Summer Palace).

In 1924, the year when the last Emperor Puyi was driven out of the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace turned from an imperial garden to a public park.

Summer Palace of today is more or less the same as the palace rebuilt in 1903. This old imperial garden now becomes an ideal place for Beijing locals to retreat from the hot summer in Beijing.
Travel Tips

Opening Hours

Busy season: from April 1 to October 31;
Slack season: from November 1 to March 31;

Low season: November 1 – March 31
Entrance ticket: ¥20 / Through ticket: ¥40
Peak season: April 1 – October 31
Entrance ticket: ¥30 / Through ticket: ¥50

How to get there

Buses via the East Gate of the Summer Palace (Dong-gong-men Stop):
Bus 330、331、332、346、394、712、718、726、732、737、801、808、817、826、

Buses via the North Gate of the Summer Palace (Bei-gong-men Stop):
Bus 303、330、331、346、375、384、393、634、716、718、737、801、808、817、834、Express 5

Buses via the South Gate of the Summer Palace ( Xin-jian-gong-men Stop):
Bus 374、437、481、952、704、992

Buses via the West Gate of the Summer Palace ( Xin-jian-gong-men Stop):
Bus 469

Travel guide

The Long Corridor – It is over 700 meters long winding on the Kunming Lake. It is a shady walkway to protect the Empress from sun and rain. Along the corridor, there are four pavilions resembling the scenes of spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Take a relax walk here and check out the glorious paintings on the underside of the roof. Supported posts are brightly painted with traditional Chinese colours of red and green. On the horizontal supporting beams inside the corridor, you would find paintings of scenes from West Lake in Hangzhou, flowers and historical figures.

Marble Boat – The Long Corridor ends at the lake, where you can explore the amazing Marble Boat. It is a solid marble palace built in the shape of a two-story paddle steamer. Cixi re-built it in western style with large color glass windows. She enjoyed having tea next to the windows while admiring the beauty of her royal garden.

Longevity Hill – You can climb up to the top of Longevity Hill to take a look at Beijing from distance. On the way, you’ll pass by the majestic Precious Clouds Pavilion, and behind that, the Buddhist Temple of Sea of Wisdom. In the middle section of the Longevity Hill where the Dowager Empress watched opera, is now the Tingliguan Restaurant serving dishes cooked with recipes from the royal kitchen.

Kunming Lake – Cixi enjoyed boating on the lake at the Summer Palace. Imagine yourself enjoying a relaxing day like the Empress. You can rent an electric boat or make fun with a pedal boat. You can also get on a Dragon ferry to explore the lake which is quite large. There are different types of boats available near the dock at the Marble Boat.The west bank of Kunming Lake is an imitation of West Lake in Hangzhou. You’ll find the Jade Belt Bridge, Mirror Bridge and four other beautiful bridges. The elegant streamline Jade Belt Bridge is made of marble with carvings on it. It is one of the most beautiful spots in the Summer Palace.

Seventeen Arch Bridge – It links the east bank of Kunming Lake to South Lake Island. It is the largest bridge in the Summer Palace. There are somewhat 500 lion statues of various sizes and postures. It is undoubtedly a very picturesque spot.

Suzhou Market Street – By the North Palace Gate is the Suzhou Market Street, a re-creation of the watery streets of Suzhou in South China – a place extremely tempting to the Qing Emperors. Beautiful landscapes, mild weather and graceful women.The streets here lined up with handicrafts and souvenirs shops and people dressed in traditional way. The original idea was for the emperors to pretend shopping like ordinary people.