Travel & Leisure

Best Time to Visit the China’s National Palace Museum

Travellers considering to visit China won’t be a stranger to the famous palace complex that attracts no less than 15 million visitors annually. More popularly known as the “Forbidden City”, this impressive complex of palace establishment is crowded all year long.

Best times to visit China National Palace Museum

If the Forbidden Palace is the main reason you’re visiting China, then the best you can do is prepare and do sufficient research to make your trip to the forbidden palace complex most enjoyable. Due to its sheer size, you can easily spend half a day, or even an entire day here before you retreat to dinner.

The locals these days refer to the establishment as “Gugong”, which means the “Former Palace”. This popular palace complex is guaranteed to be busy the whole year, both by domestics as well as foreign tourists. It’s not an uncommon sight to see hordes of people swamping the complex.

It could be a bit frustrating if you’re going to the palace and expecting to be able to take good pictures in front of the impressive architectural wonders uninterrupted. During weekends and Chinese public holidays, the Forbidden Palace is sure to see a massive surge of influx of visitors.

Long queues and hordes of visitors are to be expected. Therefore if you can help it, remember to avoid the weekends and the public holidays. Weekdays are your best chance to have a better experience enjoying the palace.

The peak hours of visiting the Forbidden City is between 10 am and 1 pm. Waking up early could greatly pay off. As indicated in the hours of the estimated attendance, visits from 08.30 to 9 am is fairly low, which peaked on 10.00 to 1 pm, and generally remained high in attendance until 3 pm.

Although huge buses that mostly transport domestic tourists may arrive early, they usually won’t be inside for long; as the tour organisers would often hurry them to the center of the palace and their day trip would be packed with itineraries.

You can easily spend 3 to 4 hours inside the Forbidden City, so getting there early would give you ample time to visit other attractions later in the day.

High seasons in China, and in turn, for the Forbidden City, is from April until the end of October, in which the tourism peak is reached in July and August. Keeping notes of the holidays in China is useful, especially when visiting an all-year long popular destination like the Forbidden City.

July and August are the months when the school holiday season starts, when crowds, long queues, and gigantic tour buses bringing hordes of domestics are abundant. Chinese school tour buses would be a common sight.

The entrance is the Meridian Gate or the Southern Gate, while the Gate of Divine or the Northern Gate is the exit. You can’t enter through the Gate of Divine and vice versa.

So make sure to get the right entrance, or you’ll have to walk for a long time as the distance from one gate to another is pretty far.

Recently, a new rule was in place for tickets acquisition. Chinese citizens are now required to buy tickets in advance online. Foreigners are able to purchase tickets on-site so far. Make sure to bring your passports or other means of identification to be granted entry.

The Forbidden City is closed every Monday, with the exception during Chinese national holidays.

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