The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly a half-century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne. Even today, many historians in China blame her for spending too much money building an elaborate pleasure garden at a time when the empire faced grave threats from without and within.

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

From May to October, we will also get a chance to explore parts of the park by boat as well as by foot.

Duration: Three hours

Upcoming Public Walks at the Summer Palace

300 RMB per person (260 RMB for members of The Hutong)

Price includes all guide fees and tickets


Consider a Private Tour!

Looking for a walk that fits your schedule? Interested in a personal experience for you or your group?

Private walks of the Summer Palace are available for individuals, families, school and company groups.

Private walks are 1900 RMB for up to five people and 190 RMB for each additional person. Price includes all guide fees and admission tickets.


What others have said...

We had a small group of nine people so the tour was on a very personal level. The best part were the little anecdotes Jeremiah told us about the Palace, Cixi and the life at court.

Your Walk Leader


Jeremiah Jenne is a writer and history teacher based in Beijing since 2002. He has taught Late Imperial and Modern Chinese History for over 11 years and has written extensively on China for a number of publications including The Economist, The Atlantic Monthly, Journal of Asian Studies, Asia Society/China File, Los Angeles Review of BooksRadii China, The Beijinger, and the World of Chinese. His work can be found in the anthologies China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance, The Insider’s Guide to Beijing, and the 2015 collection While We’re Here: China Stories from a Writer’s Colony. He is frequently asked to speak or lead workshops on Chinese history, culture, and cultural adaptation to schools, organizations, and company groups from around the world and is the proprietor of Beijing by Foot, which organizes educational programs and historic walking tours of Beijing’s most famous sites and hidden by-ways. You can follow him on Twitter @jeremiahjenne or online at