This has been one of my favorite sights so far. I preferred the Summer Palace to the Forbidden City actually. I like that it was a lot quieter. You’re heading out of the city instead of to the center, so maybe that helps. I also liked that it wasn’t flat like in the Forbidden City (there is some hiking involved), it felt more like being on a retreat than in a city (it was climbing up a mountain and then down to a lake), and it had different structures instead of similar buildings (temples, boats, etc.).
We again took the subway. It’s just so easy and convenient. Heading out to the Summer Palace, we both were easily able to get a seat. It was a much quieter ride out there. Once we got off the subway, the Summer Palace was an easy walk.
Once we got our tickets, we didn’t get a map, but I probably would the next time because it is such a big area. Without a map, it still was very easy to find paths and make your way to the different sights. When we first entered, there was a bridge to walk over with shops along it. We decided to save that until the end (although we then thought by the end that maybe we should have seen it in the beginning so we could exit out at the entrance on the other side). So, instead of checking out the shops along the water, we climbed to the top and found different temples. What was great about when we went (again, off season) was that we they gave us an all inclusive ticket so we could go visit the different temples and sights within the Summer Palace. (If you don’t have an all inclusive ticket, you can still see everything, you just have to pay at each entrance instead of just showing your ticket).
Since we climbed to the top, we had to continue on by climbing down. Climbing down led us to the water where we could have taken a boat ride if it wasn’t so chilly (hopefully we’ll get to do this once the weather gets warmer). We walked around down there a bit but we left an island to explore for the next time.
With that, we had to climb back up because we wanted to go back to the shops on the water–called Suzhou Street. The hike back was nice. It was quiet and made you forget you were in a city. I loved the little street of shops along the moat (this was probably my favorite part). It was so cute. You had to walk in one direction because of the narrow walkway, so if you like something, get it! (unless you want to walk along it again).
History from Ben
The “Summer Palace” is in the Northwestern part of the city. This is where the emperor would spend 6 months of the year and would spend the other 6 months at the Forbidden City that we went to yesterday.
TOTE: Take the time to visit the Summer Palace.