For nearly 600 years, the emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties ruled China from behind the red walls of the Forbidden City. Theirs was a private world of palaces, gardens, courtyards, temples, and thrones. 

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was a Chinese dynasty which came to power in a rebellion against the Mongol Khans. The Qing Empire (1636-1912) was founded by the Manchus, a people from what is today Northeast China. In 1644, the Manchus conquered China and moved the capital of their empire to Beijing. We'll tell the story of the fall of the Ming Dynasty and the Manchu conquest, one of the epic tales of Chinese history, and examine the differences and continuities between the Ming and the Qing eras.  

Although the Qing Dynasty ended in 1912, the imperial legacy continues to influence China’s present and future.

This walk also considers what life was like for the men and women who lived and worked in the palace.  Who built the Forbidden City and why? What did it feel like reporting for duty as an imperial official? Who were the eunuchs who performed much of the necessary daily functions for the palace and its inhabitants? What was life like for a woman in the imperial family? 

Our walk will take us to some of the more recently opened areas to avoid (as best we can in China!) the crowds while giving visitors a sense of the diverse architecture of the Forbidden City.

Duration: About three hours

Photo by Jeff_Hu/iStock / Getty Images

Upcoming Public Walks at the Forbidden City

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 Forbidden City are available for individuals, families, school and company groups.

Private walks are 2200 for up to five people and 110 RMB for each additional person. Price includes all guide fees and admission tickets.

Photo by rudiuks/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by powerofforever/iStock / Getty Images

What others have said...

The best tour ever. Ever. Ever. Having lived in China for over 8 years, I’ve had my fair share of tours around China. But yesterday’s tour of The Forbidden City just blew everything else out of the water. Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable about local Beijing history and Chinese history in general and was wonderfully friendly and confidently answered all of our questions….

Your Walk Leader


Jeremiah Jenne is a writer and historian based in Beijing since 2002. He has taught Late Imperial and Modern Chinese History at the IES Abroad Program for over 10 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