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“The audio guide at the Forbidden City in Beijing is terrible”

Forbidden City-The Palace Museum
Ranked #5 of 1,568 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 24 September 2010

We just returned from our trip to Beijing where we visited the Forbidden City. It's defintely a must see, but DO NOT get the automatic audio guide. The darn thing starts narrating and describing the point of interest before you even arrive at that point and worst yet, there is no repeat button. It costs 40 RMB each. They wanted 250 RMB for an English tour guide which I thought was very expensive. So we opted for the automatic audio guide which was a total waste of money. So either pay for a tour guide or go through using a book instead. Don't waste your money on this useless audio guide. The same applies to the Temple of Heaven.

13  Thank baytravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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7,900 - 7,904 of 12,885 reviews

Reviewed 22 September 2010

Gu Gong, as the Chinese call it. A not-to-be-missed sight in Beijing. With a supposedly huge total of 9999 rooms (because only heaven could have 10,000 rooms) it was the Imperial residence to the 24 emperors who ruled during the Ming and Qing dynasties; it IS the largest palace in the world. This is the most vivid reminder of China’s Imperial past.
Completed in 1422, this grandiose maze of courtyards and ceremonial halls surrounded by towering walls is designed to make you feel tiny. And it does. It was very very exciting to think what actually went on around there in in ancient times! Here the emperors lived in surroundings of ultimate opulence and luxury, surrounded by hundreds of concubines and the eunuchs who acted as the emperors’ attendants. During those times, common Chinese were not allowed to enter the city, so they now do so by the millions!
A sad note: the staff in the souvenir shops looked so bored and uninterested that you think their goldfish had died.
Here’s a tip: wear comfortable shoes and go slow. The scale of the grounds is overwhelming. Get one of the GPS-based audio tours (available in many languages) and cost 40 yuan to rent. (with a RMB100 refundable deposit). Go there to savour the history and admire the architecture and remember it for what it was- it was fantastic and still is!

1  Thank pauljer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 September 2010

I went to visit the Forbidden City with my family in July. It's absolutely amazing. We stayed in Sanyuanqiao, so we took the subway Line 10, transferred to Line 1 and got off at Tian' anmen East.

It's really crowded there, so beware of pickpockets. Also, don't listen to the people near the ticket booth. They'll probably tell you that they sell tickets as well so you don't have to wait in line, but some of them are fake ones. So if you want to take that risk... It's better to just buy it at the ticket booth. I tried to get a student discount, but the lady told me it was only for Chinese students, NOT for foreign students. Which I think is kinda crazy.
Aren't they supposed to promote this to foreigners? Anyways

It's really big inside, so please ladies. Leave your high heels at home and just wear comfortable shoes. We walked right in a straight line across the Imperial palace, which took us hours to do so anyways. It really is impressive. Some parts are really pretty, cause the government took the effort in restoring certain parts in its original glory, but some are still damaged throughout the course of time.

I tried to take pictures of the several thrones in each Hall, but got overwhelmed literally. People are shoving each other in the ribs all the time. I'd say, if you really want to take a picture... Choose one, battle it out with the crowd and skip the next one, cause they all look alike anyway. It's not worth the aggravation. I took a picture of every throne in the hope that it would be different each time. Oooh well..

This is definitely a must see if you're in Beijing!

1  Thank JK1717
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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.

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

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