Travel and Gamble

Summer Palace, Beijing – to go or not to?

The first time i went to China with friends in Nov 2011, we were on a casino trip for about a week. We described our experience at the famos Eleventy traveler blog.

The royal garden is huge. It was winter time when we visited Beijing so it was really cold. We had been walking all day around Beijing so when we finally made it to Summer Palace in the afternoon, we were very tired and could no longer stand exploring this vast garden. Because we didn’t have any tour guide, we had to try and figure out how to explore the park on our own.  We felt the park was lacking that WOW factor and just didn’t understand why this was highly regarded. After all, we couldn’t see anything else beyond the rows and rows of trees. After only a short period of time, we decided we had enough, and went back to our hotel.

This was the reason why when I came back to Beijing three months later with my mum and sister Len, i wasn’t thrilled that Summer Palace was part of the itinerary. I didn’t find a good reason to go back there; but thankfully i gave it a second chance.

What i discovered going there the second time was we went on the other side of the Summer Palace, the first time we went. I forgot what the route was, but we took a train to get there.

On our family trip to Beijing, we hired a local guide who took us to the other side of the Summer Palace where there’s the beautiful Kunming Lake. This was the stunning side of the Summer Palace!  I’m a big fan of DIY trips, but for this particular incident, i was happy we had a guide that knew the right places to go.

Allow me to share with you photos from our trip to the beautiful Summer Palace:

The Summer Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 1700s and had since been reconstructed twice due to the damages done by the allied forces before it was opened to the public in 1924. The site was built to serve as resting and recreational place for the royal families and for their guests. It is located 15 km from central Beijing and one of the most popular tourist sites in the city. Covering a span f 300 hectares, it is said to be the largest and most well preserved royal garden in China.

The palace boasts of vast gardens, pavilions, towers, bridges, corridors and a beautiful lake area.

So was it worth it?

Absolutely! I highly recommend that this be part of your city tour when in Beijing. The place is stunning, so it’s worth your time to go!  Here’s a tip before you visit:

Tip: Whether you are going on a DIY or with a group tour, ensure that you are going to the lake side of the Summer Palace. The place is huge and my friends and I underestimated how big it was on our first DIY visit. So if you are pressed for time, it’s best to spend it where you’ve got the most spectacular views. That side, in my opinion, is the Kunming Lake side.