Summer Palace: A Beautiful Rest House for a Powerful Queen

The Summer Palace was the rest house specifically restored for the powerful Empress Dowager Ci Xi — the first woman who ruled the empire. She made the last two emperors (during her reign) as her puppets that succumbed to her every desire.

In this place, Emperors and their consorts visits this place during the summer to relax and escape the heat in Beijing, hence, the name Summer Palace.

My Mom and Brother in the Summer Palace--sorry for the pics... my Mom and my brother are my models 🙂

The Summer Palace has already been there even before this dragon lady (Empress Ci Xi) came up to power, but, this was unfortunately destroyed and was burnt to ashes by foreign conquerors.

The Emperor, the Empress’ son, asked that this magnificent structure be rebuilt to its former glory. This will serve as a gift for his mother-Empress Dowager Ci Xi, who was before became very attached to this place when she was still a lowly concubine. And also this will serve as the Emperor’s political strategy to get the Empress off the main imperial palace and to get rid of her constant interference in political affairs. But, unfortunately, a lot of political issues came up…this pushed the finishing of this beautiful palace in a halt for years.

After a few years, even though the empire is still in chaos, and where the Chinese Navy just lost another war, the Empress Dowager Ci Xi ordered the restoration of this palace. She ignored the needs of her people and instead invested the big sum of money for the Summer Palace that is still standing there until today. We might say that the Empress is selfish, but without her insistence of creating this legacy, we, the people of today will not be able to see how grand and beautiful this place is.

In fact, this palace is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since December 1998 and named as one of the beautiful palace garden ever created. It shows the unique Chinese garden landscape design and its beautiful architectural concept.

The Palace has a big man-made lake sitting down the slope of the mountain; where the main halls of this palace is located. To get to the main halls, you need to walk the long corridors that is winding, passing through the side of the lake and some palace halls. While walking in this long corridors, you have the chance to feel that you are one of the royalties… Looking at your right is the stunning lake which makes your heart flutter in happiness. It makes you feel happy and relaxed at the same time.

The truth is, that this Summer Palace had also a lot of history embedded on its walls, much more history than the Great Wall (in Badaling). This was created during the Jin Dynasty (2 dynasties earlier than the Ming) but as I said before, was destroyed, but was restored by the 3rd to the last emperor of China. Which was unlike the Badaling Great Wall, it was only made during the Ming Dynasty.

My Family and I weren’t able to climb up to the beautiful three-storey old hall, because, once again, our tour guide doesn’t want us to go. Anyway, as we traversed the long corridors, I already had a glimpse of how beautiful this place is. One which is unforgettable and the history which surrounds it makes it more wonderful.

Inside the boat that rides passengers going to the main hall. Look at the roof and its details!

You have 2 ways to go and see this beautiful site. Either you ride the ferry boat, which is also designed like an old-style Boat with colors just like the ones seen in the palace — Green, blue and red. Or you can opt to walk down the long corridors–which I suggest since you will pass by a lot of halls with history embedded on it.

My Mom and my brother in one of the halls: I think this is where the Emperor (the niece of the Empress Dowager) was put into house arrest and wasn't given food or drink until he died.

Tips and Suggestions:

  1. It is better to visit this place, not in a tour group, since they will only give you a limited time to enjoy the place.
  2. Bring water. Although there are vendors inside this Palace, it is better if you have your own, since they might just pester you
  3. Make sure to use walking shoes or slippers, don’t use high heels, you will be walking a lot
  4. wear comfortable clothing
  5. bring your camera and take a lot of pictures

We used Sinohotelguide again for our tour, it costs $28USD per person (P1204.00) but I suggest going here with a private your guide or on your own.

For you, who are still thinking whether to tick this off from your itinerary, please, remember what I said above. This is a beautiful place and worth every cent of your hard-earned money.

This is a 1 hour drive from Beijing City Center.

HOW TO GO HERE–DIY? (From TravelChinaGuide)

By subway Subway Line 4: get off at Beigongmen Station (Beigongmen means the North Palace Gate of the Summer Palace); or get off at Xiyuan Station, get out of the station from Exit C2 (southwest exit) and walk west.
By bus Take bus 209, 330, 331, 332, 346, 394, 683, 690, 696, 718, 801, 808, or 826 and get off at Yiheyuan Station.

Take bus 469 or 539 and get off at Yiheyuan West Palace Gate Station.

Take bus 209, 319, 320, 331, 332, 333(内), 333(外), 394, 432, 438, 498, 628, 664, 718, 801, 826, 特6, Yuntong 106, Yuntong 114, or Yuntong 118 and get off at Yiheyuanlu Dongkou Station (The Eastern End of Yiheyuan Road).

Take bus 303, 331, 346, 375, 384, 393, 498, 634, 683, 696, 697, 718, 801, 808, 特5 or 特10 and get off at Yiheyuan North Palace Gate Station.

Take bus 74, 374, 437 or 952 and get off at Xin Jian Gong Men (Yiheyuan New Palace Gate) Station.

Ticket Fees and Prices: (Price quoted in Chinese Yuan, Philippine Peso and US Dollars)

Entrance Fees:                              Nov.1 – Mar.31, 2012                                     April 1- Oct. 31

  • Entrance Fee                      20 CNY (P140.00) ($3.25)                   30CNY (P210.00, $5)
  • Combination Ticket
  • Dehe Garden,
  • Wenchang Hall,                     50 CNY (P350.00) ($8.13)                  60CNY (P420.00,$10)
  •  Tower of Buddhist Incense,
  •  Suzhou Street and Danning Hall)
Opening Hours 7:00 am -5:00pm    6:30am- 6:00pm

note: I apologize for the photos. I don’t have photos without my mom or my brother in it, since we are traveling in a group tour so we opted to maximize our time by taking photos with a person in it for souvenir.. 🙂 I promise that for my next travels, I will always take photos of the landscapes only.

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