Beijing Day 5: Summer Palace (Yihe Yuan)

We dedicated a whole day on our fifth day in Beijing to visit the Summer Palace.

The Summer Palace is situated in the northwest suburb of Beijing. It is huge and is almost the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park. It is definite much bigger than the Forbidden City by about four times. The Summer Palace was built around Kunming Lake, West Lake and South Lake.

The Summer Palace was declared by UNESCO as a as a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design and is recorded as one of about 1000 sites on the World Heritage List. It is the natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges that form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.

The Summer Palace is officially known as Yihe Yuan in Mandarin which stands for the word Garden of Nurturing Harmony. This area was developed as an imperial garden over 800 years ago. It was not until the reign of the Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty that it was built as it stands today. It was built as a present to his mother to celebrate her 60th birthday.


We took the long subway out to the Summer Palace. That ride took almost 1 hour but good thing we had a seat after a few stops. I think it was because it was a weekday and not many people visits the Summer Palace then. The moment we got out of the subway, we were inundated by pedicab drivers! We did not want to take those pedicabs. We were more afraid of being scammed. 🙂

Ben was telling me story of his friend who was scammed by a pedicab driver outside of Forbidden City. The poor-looking pedicab driver convinced him to take his trishaw saying “three kuai, three kuai” (3 Kuai is about 50 cents Canadian). Seeing how cheap it was and also taking a pity on the pedicab driver he got on for a 20 minute ride back to his hotel. After a short distance, the pedicab driver got off and then another pedicab driver got on. Guess what happen next … (more…)

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