Summer Palace Tour: Intrigue In The Imperial Gardens

Summer Palace Tour: Intrigue In The Imperial Gardens


A guided tour of the Summer Palace (Chinese: 颐和园 pinyin: Yíhéyuán) with our expert native English speaking guides will help you understand why the building of this palace was the beginning of the end of China’s Imperial history.

During the tour you will find out which special woman in his life Emperor Qianlong commissioned these amazing gardens for; walk through the longest corridor in the world and discover the stories behind its beautiful paintings; see where Empress Dowager Cixi imprisoned the greatest threat to her power; and find out how the stunning Kunming Lake provided the perfect excuse for spending tax payers’ money.

Summer Palace - Stone Boat
Marble Boat at Summer Palace – A symbol of Qing dynasty excess?

Summer Palace Tour Highlights

  • Learn why the Summer Palace was called Jug Hill, and discover exactly what the consequences were of removing the jug.
  • Discover what project went way over budget and eventually become the Summer Palace, and then find out how Emperor Qianlong apologised for his excessive spending.
  • See the locations in which a group of mischievous eunuchs had fun at the expense of others.
  • Learn how Empress Dowager Cixi diverted huge sums of money there that were intended to fund the Chinese navy.
  • Guests on the VIP Summer Palace Tour will also get the chance to see a traditional Chinese variety show on the opera stage that Cixi often visited, or to take a boat on Kunming Lake. Whilst there your guide will explain why Cixi’s obsession with Chinese opera cost her favourite eunuch his life. 
  • Experience how Emperor Qianlong and Dowager Empress Cixi played make believe with their surroundings.
  • Visit Emperor Qianlong’s study and discover why it’s devoted to bear hunting.
  • Find out where Cixi placed the little Emperor’s first calligraphic effort, and discover how this effected his studies.
  • Learn about the Summer Palace’s stunning architecture and the secrets held within.
  • Walk the long corridor, see famous rocks, listen to orioles, and learn where the best place to view the seasons is located.
  • Take a boat out on Kunming Lake and discover why it was designed with the navy and immortals in mind.
  • Hear why the bronze bull refuses to stay put and the efforts Cixi went to keep it in place.

Getting There

The Standard Meeting Point for Private and Select Beijing Summer Palace Tours is outside exit C of Beigongmen Metro on Yiheyuan Street (北宫门地铁站C出口外面,在颐和园路上).


(All prices in Chinese Renminbi per guest)

(2 hours)
(2.5 hours)
1 guest 1120 1320
2 guests 590 700
3 guests 410 490
4 or more guests 330 390

Tour Types

Private Tours can be scheduled for your group at any time you like.
VIP Tours are led by Newman Tours’ most experienced guides, and guarantee the provision of an iPad to enhance the content of your tour. They can start at any time you want, and feature exclusive content described in red italics under the Tour Schedule section of this page.
Terms & Conditions can be viewed here.

Our guide Daniel at the Summer Palace
Why did Empress Dowager Cixi not sleep in the main pagoda?

TripAdvisor Reviews

Media Reviews

“Will tell you folk stories known only to natives”
Christie Lee, China Daily

“Plenty of fascinating historical information”
John Sunyer, Time Out

How did ancient Chinese mistake a giraffe for this Qilin?

Summer Palace Follow Up

Guests on the Summer Palace Tour will receive a follow up email featuring informative and entertaining links including the following:

  • Summer Palace history links that further explore the way in which these Imperial Gardens evolved.
  • Summer Palace films that are set in or relate to the palaces that Emperor Qianlong commissioned for his mother.
  • Summer Palace documentaries that will enable you to revisit and better understand the Long Corridor and Marble Boat.

Included Ticket Information

Dates  1st April to 31st October  1st November to March 31st
Entry Fee (RMB) 30 20
Opening Hours 06:30 – 18:00

(08:30 to 17:00 for tourist areas)

07:00 – 17:00

(09:00 to 16:00 for tourist areas)