One of the must do’s on everyone’s Beijing lists surely is the Forbidden City. Once politically the heart of China, it now sits at the geographical heart of the Chinese capital.
Look, I will not bore you with the history, simply read up on Wiki (before going to China, Wiki is no longer loading without a VPN) or read up on it in literally any Beijing guide book.
As the forbidden city is absolutely massive, I recommend you first walk along the central pathway like all the other tourists, before getting lost in the eastern or western palaces and the gardens. It’s really easy to walk south to north (you can’t start in the north unless you make your way there from the southern entrance at Tiananmen square) by simply following the masses from one palace to the next.
Also before you leave the city, make sure that you go up on the wall. There will likely be hordes of others as well, but for the view of the Forbidden City alone, the pushing and shoving are worth it.
What to keep in mind
One thing I’d definitely recommend you do is to make sure that you come in early, as foreigners must purchase their tickets at the ticket office. Another hot tip is to bring a lot of snacks and drinks. From what I could see, you could get both at the start and then at the end. In between, only souvenirs and knick-knacks were on offer. Especially in summer, when the air turns into an oven, bring a lot of hydration and a hat. There is not a lot of shade outside of the gardens, but lot’s of stone that’ll turn real hot real fast.
Bring your passport! Not only will you need it for the passport controls around Tiananmen Square, but you’ll also need it to purchase a ticket.
How to get there
The easiest mode of transport to the Forbidden City is the metro system. You can enter Tiananmen Square from both the east and west or walk up from the southern end of the square. Important, you cannot enter the city from the north. Taxi, Uber or bus would also work, but keep in mind that the square is more or less on permanent lockdown and you will still need to pass the passport controls.