Yuanmingyuan (圆明园)

  • Things to Do
  • Parks & Gardens
Photo: 颐园新居/Wikimedia Commons
28 Qinghua Xi Lu
The Old Summer Palace, as Yuanmingyuan is known in English, is a great spot to ponder China’s imperial past, but minus the usual crowd of tourists. This 350-hectare complex once contained 800 palace buildings and was a seat of power during the Qing dynasty; controversially razed to the ground by Anglo-French forces in 1860, all that remains are the beautiful lakes and gardens with a smattering of ruins in the eastern section (called Changchunyuan). To the west is Fuhai Lake, where you can rent out a boat and admire the distant Fragrant Hills. In summer, the front section of the park, Qichunyuan, is packed with water lilies – and their Chinese admirers – though by October, the plants have faded and so too the crowds.

Best spot The Fuhai area provides very historically significant context; the garden ruins give you a peek of the destruction caused by the Opium Wars and are also a good place to channel your inner Indiana Jones.
Venue name: Yuanmingyuan (圆明园)
Opening hours: Open 7am-9pm (May-Aug); 7am-8.30pm (Apr, Sep-Oct); 7am-7.30pm (Jan-Mar)
Admission: 10RMB; 15RMB (to enter ruins area)
English address: Yuanmingyuan, 28 Qinghua Xi Lu, Haidian district
Chinese address: 海淀区清华西路28号
  • 4 out of 5 stars

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