The reopening of international travel to China in March 2023 has introduced visitors to changes in rules for accessing Tiananmen Square and for buying tickets to the Forbidden City in Beijing. If you are working without the help of a luxury tour operator such as Imperial Tours, which can organize these tickets as part of an custom package, but want to organize these activities for yourself, the instructions below detail how to do it.
To Access Tiananmen Square (Without Visiting The Forbidden City)
As of 2021, travelers must make a reservation to Tiananmen Square at a particular time to access it. The most convenient way to organize this is to download the Wechat app and look in the search bar for a mini-app called “天安门广场预约参观”. Unfortunately, an English language version is not yet available. Double-click on the mini-app to open it and then click on “个人预约” which means “Individual Ticket Ordering”. The next screen in Chinese provides dates for entry. Once you have selected a suitable day, the next screen offers four choices: 升旗 (flag raising for which you should arrive before dawn), 上午 (morning), 下午 (afternoon), and 降旗 (flag lowering in the evening). The following screen asks for the personal information of every visitor including the surname (姓名), type of identity document (证件类型), for which your answer should be passport (护照), passport number (证件号码) and mobile phone number (手机号码). Please note that families with children under 6 years of age or less than 1.2 meters (47 inches) in height should request children (儿童). Once you complete this information for all the passengers, you will arrive at a screen with a reservation number detailing your visit time along with your total adult and children tickets.
Now that you have reserved a time to visit, you should proceed to one of the entry points to Tiananmen Square at the reserved time, remembering to take your passports with you. There will be a line for the security inspection prior to accessing the square where your passport will be confirmed against the reservation system, you will be asked to pass through a metal detector scan and any bags you have with you will be examined. If it is a hot day, please remember to take a bottle of water!
To Purchase Tickets For The Forbidden City And Tiananmen Square
The process for purchasing tickets for the Forbidden City has also become more onerous. Imperial Tours can simplify this for you greatly taking care of all the admin and also reducing the time you will have to queue at the site to collect your tickets prior to queuing to access the site. Should you wish to do this for yourself, you can easily reserve tickets up to 6 days in advance at the English language website. On this website, you select the time for your visit, along with the number of visitors and enter the passport information for each of the visitors. The website charges a US$3 per ticket booking fee and gives you the right to queue up and purchase tickets at 60RMB per ticket before your visit.
It makes sense to arrive at the Forbidden City in good time for your visiting slot as you will need to find your way to the ticket office on the west side of Wumen or Meridian Gate. Once there, you will find there is a queue of 10 – 50 minutes to get to the ticket window, where you can purchase your tickets at 60RMB per ticket. Once you have bought your tickets, you should advance to the queue for entry for individual ticket holders. Fortunately, this is a much quicker queue and you will only need to wait here for about 5 – 20 minutes in order to get into the Forbidden City and start your visit. Note that once you get your reservation to purchase tickets for the Forbidden City, you can automatically use the same reservation to gain access to Tiananmen Square at the same time so long as you are not visiting the flag raising or lowering ceremony – these require a separate application, as described above.
Should you wish to use the services of Imperial Tours to develop a tailored luxury tour package, you will find that you will access both Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City with shorter or no queue times and far less hassle.