Amongst the most famous attractions in Beijing, the Summer Palace (or Yiheyuan) invites you to step back in time and immerse yourself in history and nature’s splendour. Explore this site and let its timeless beauty captivate your senses, taking you back to a period where emperors once ruled the land.
Getting to the Site
Reaching the Summer Palace is a breeze, thanks to its convenient location in the Haidian District, 15 km from the city centre, within easy reach of accommodation providers like Ascott Raffles City Beijing. While you can make use of taxis to reach this destination, bus and subway services also have stops close to several entry points. These include the East Palace Gate which can be reached via bus #303 to the Yiheyuan Station and the North Palace Gate which can be accessed by foot from the Beigongmen Subway Station.
A Historical Site
Before visiting this site from one of the centrally located Beijing serviced apartments, it helps to find out more about its history. For instance, it was originally constructed in 1750 during the reign of the Qing emperor, Qianlong, and was initially known as the Garden of Clear Ripples.
Subsequently, however, it faced significant destruction during the war in 1860, though, was later restored in 1886. Despite damage during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, it was again restored and has since been a cherished public park, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well.
What to Expect
Prepare to be enchanted by the Summer Palace’s natural beauty, Chinese horticulture and traditional architecture which can be found amidst this expansive site spanning around 700 acres. Amidst idyllic landscapes and artificial gardens, you will find stunning temples, halls, pavilions, and bridges that seamlessly blend with the lush surroundings.
A key feature is the picturesque and artificial Kunming Lake which adds that extra bit of “magic” to this enchanting attraction that will leave you spellbound. While you can join organised or guided tours to explore this site, you can alternatively make use of audio guides and enjoy some self-exploration.
Summer Palace – Image via Flickr
Within this vast area, numerous architectural and scenic wonders await such as the Hall of Well-being and Longevity which boasts an elaborate throne and ornate decorations. The Hall of Dispelling Clouds showcases classical design, while the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom displays colourful glazed bricks. Don’t miss the lovely Garden of Harmonious Interests as well as the Garden of Virtue and Harmony, where you will find attractions like the Grand Theatre.
For a unique experience, take a boat ride on Kunming Lake, allowing you to appreciate the site’s grandeur from a different perspective; you can also look to savour imperial dishes at the Hall of Listening to the Orioles which is now a restaurant.