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Old Summer Palace (Yuanming Yuan)
Old Summer Palace (Yuanming Yuan)

Old Summer Palace (Yuanming Yuan)

Haidian, Beijing

The Basics

When the retreat was looted and burned by the British and French in 1860, nearly all the original Chinese-style wooden buildings were destroyed, leaving behind the European-style stone structures. Today, the ruins are divided into three sections: the Garden of Perfection and Light (Yuanmingyuan), Garden of 10,000 Springs (Wanchunyuan), and the Garden of Everlasting Spring (Changchunyuan). Visit on a guided tour that stops at the Old Summer Palace and the UNESCO-listed Summer Palace.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • The Old Summer Palace is a must-visit for history buffs and those who like to get off the beaten track.

  • Book your admission ticket ahead of time and skip the lines at the ticket booth.

  • Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.

  • Give yourself at least two hours to explore the grounds.

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How to Get There

If you’re not visiting as part of a guided tour, the easiest way to reach the park is to take subway Line 4 to Yuanmingyuan Station and leave through Exit B. Several buses also stop at the park’s south, east, and west gates.

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Trip ideas

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When to Get There

The Old Summer Palace grounds are open throughout the year, though hours are shorter during the winter months (November to March). Visit on a weekday morning if possible, and avoid visiting during Chinese national holidays.

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The Lotus Flowers of Beijing

The Old Summer Palace is one of the best places in the Chinese capital to see lotus flowers. These flowers typically bloom between June and August, and the park hosts a Lotus Festival to celebrate. Other top spots for lotus flowers in the city include Beihai Park, the Summer Palace, and the Beijing Botanical Park.

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