The Old Summer Palace was the original site of three imperial gardens, including the Yuanmingyuan. These gardens were part of a chain of palaces, landscapes, lakes, and villas which stretched for miles nestled in the foothills northwest of Beijing.  

In 1860, the gardens were destroyed as part of the Second Opium War. Today the shattered pillars, crumbling marble foundations, and abandoned archways are a vivid reminder to visitors of the "Century of Humiliation" and the tragedy of imperialism in 19th-century China. The events of that era continue to shape how China views the world today.

We will discuss the background to the Opium Wars, the sacking of the imperial gardens, and how memories of those events are kept alive in China's contemporary political culture. Along the way, we will wander the ruins and explore one of Beijing's most beautiful and haunting historical parks.

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

Duration: About three hours

Photo by Spondylolithesis/iStock / Getty Images

Upcoming Public Walks at the Old 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 Old Summer Palace are available for individuals, families, school and company groups.

Private walks are 1800 RMB for up to five people and 180 RMB for each additional person. Price includes all guide fees and admission tickets.


What others have said...

Jeremiah was incredible knowledgable, informative yet entertaining and quick-witted. Both, I and my husband, were so impressed and loved the tour - it exceeded our expectations.

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