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“Watch out for pick-pockets”

Forbidden City-The Palace Museum
Ranked #5 of 1,567 things to do in Beijing
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Consisting of more than 9,000 rooms and spread over 250 acres, this huge palace complex was built in the 15th century and later extensively renovated and restored during the Qing Dynasty in the 18th century.
Reviewed 19 August 2010

We were warned to watch our backpacks, wallets, and cameras. The ques for the emperor's throne is always crowded. My husband is very tall and was probably spotted miles away. When he put both hands up to take a picture of the throne, somebody took his cellphone. There were so many people pressed against him, he couldn't tell who stole it. It isn't easy trying to reach your phone company from China to deactivate your phone. I suggest you hold everything in a fanny pack and keep it close to you.
This is still a must see spot. Though I can see why the last emperor may have viewed it as the nicest large prison you could live in. We found the Gardens and homes of Suzhou a much more interesting spot to visit. After a while all of the palace buildings start looking alike. Many courtyards, mostly stone covered.

You can minimize some of the crowds by avoiding Mondays where school kids can come for free. Summer is a dreadful time to visit. It was over 100 degree's and humid. You can buy a taped tour which is OK if you are on a budget. Rather than buying a group tour it seems to be better to buy a private tour and go on your own pace. It is not as expensive as it sounds in China.
I

4  Thank DeltaLAX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 August 2010

I thought the whole Forbidden City thing was a little tiring. I'm glad I went, and I may go back. But do not take a bag or purse. You'll send a fair amount of time checking and picking up your bag.

My surprise was the little restaurants within the Forbidden City. To the East of the courtyard in front of the Perserving Hamoney Hall is a smaller courtyard (there are some signs that say Vistors Center - there is nothing interesting in there). In that courtyard are two small restaurants. I went to the South restaurant. It reminded me a of a diner. I had the best simple chinese food of my trip there. Very inexpensive.

Also east of the Tiananimen Gate is a smaller gate. The artists working at the Forbidden City use that gate. Much easier to get through.

Inside expect to pay for tickets a few times. The lines were long. And ticket resellers were everywhere. My chinese girlfriend refused to buy tickets from them. So we stood in the lines which moved pretty quickly.

Finally, bring cash. The only place I used a credit card in Beijing was the hotel. Visa, Mastercard, America Express - forget it. And Travelers Check were worthless, I brought them all home. And get the hotel to exchange dollars for yuan. The bank I went to copied my passport, filled out forms. The guy at hotel was like "No Problem".

I love Beijing. So many interesting places. Spicy Grandma's is a fun place for lunch.

3  Thank john46220
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 August 2010

Wonder if you need a guide? Unless you feel compelled to know absolutely everything about the City and have a whole day or more, then take a taxi or the metro to the City, walk under the road to the Entrance and buy your ticket for Yuan 60 per person. (if you buy this ticket in Australia it will cost you approx A$248 and you will get to also see Temple Heaven included, which is another site you can get into for almost nothing by buying your ticket at the gate). It is absolutely easy, language no barrier at all.

Thank Myclare
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 July 2010

While I thoroughly enjoyed my recent visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing, my experience afterward was aggravating to say the least. Let me tell my story, and let the traveler beware of the Beijing Tea House Scam.

I was traveling alone and exited the Forbidden City on the south side to Tianamen Square, when two young ladies walked up along side me and began chatting in a casual but friendly manner using very good English. They told me they were cousins, visiting from the city of Harbin, and asked if I was an American. I told them I was. "Oh, yes, we like Americans very much," they said. Things were going nicely, and I began to think I had quickly made some new Chinese friends. It was a hot day in July, and my new friends suggested we go get a beer or some tea and cool off. "What a great idea!" I said, "I've been wanting to experience a real Chinese tea house." I set myself up perfectly for what came next.

We walked around the corner and up a tree-lined street, when we came across a small tea house, seemingly at random. We went inside, and after a short wait were shown into a small salon where a table was prepared for tea tasting. There were ten different teas and some bowls of treats to go along with the tea. The tea ceremony was quite fun, and I was really enjoying myself. I even offered to pick up the tab as my treat, thinking it would only be a few RMB, why the hell not? My friends told me what a "gentleman" I was, laying on the flattery and compliments. The only odd thing was how quickly the young lady performing the service went through the different teas. I asked her to slow down, but she (apparently) did not understand English, and my friends didn't translate this request. At the end of the service, she asked which tea we liked best, and then made a small pot to enjoy, which we all did. Soon, she came back to ask if we wanted to buy tea to take with us. One of my "friends" chose a fairly large box and I chose the smallest tin of the tea we liked best.

Then, the bill came and I was in shock! I knew there had to be a mistake as the total was 3600 RMB, which is about $550 USD!! I went through the bill. We tried 10 teas, and each tasting was 49 RMB per person, etc. I turned red, but what could I do? There was only one exit, so I couldn't just run out. Plus, I had already offered to pay the tab as a gentleman. I was either going to lose face big time or pay a hefty credit card bill. I chose not to make a scene and pay the bill, which satisfied everyone except me. Since this was a business trip, I wondered how I could fit this onto the expense report?

After we left, my "friends" suggested we get a foot and body massage. I agreed, but told them they were going to have to pay for my massage, which they readily agreed. I enjoyed the massage and the company, but again the cost of the massage was far less than the tea house. At the time, I did not suspect my "friends" had a connection with the massive bill at the tea house. These women were that convincing.

It was only afterwards that I realized I had been duped. A little research on the internet shows this to be a common scam in China, not only in Beijing, but also in Shanghai, etc. My so called "friends" had expertly guided me to this particular tea house and presumably afterwards got paid a kickback on the sale. I felt like a dope. Of course, after I did some research, I now know I'm not the first and certainly won't be the last to fall victim to this scam. I'm just a human being after all, and look for the best in others, not the worst. Fortunately, I paid with American Express, and I have filed a dispute on the payment. So, read this tale and beware of the friendly stranger on Tianamen Square who would guide you to a nearby tea house for refreshments. Ask for the pricing beforehand and don't be afraid to get up and walk out.

31  Thank Bevo_TX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 27 July 2010

A very interesting place!
Storage of the ming and ching's emperors living deeds!
Wish to spend more time there to explore the history
Only walk around the main axis of this grand palace.
Very impressive indeed!
Induce my interest to read up about the history of this grand palace!

Thank jchu88888
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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