Dreaming of a Royal Staycation at the Summer Palace

By Christina Kim - August 22, 2017


There are so many beautiful places to visit in Beijing that I wished I had more time in the city, that I could spend more than a day in each and every one of them.
I would love to go back to take in each and every brick and tile in details, and get lost in the histories of places.
If I could, I would even love to stay within these buildings that I can just visit every single part of the historical buildings, and take my own sweet time exploring around.

If only such stays exist.

But they do, only if I travel back in time.

To the time when the Summer Palace was built.

A place which went through several stages of constructions, surviving different eras of ruling dynasties and taking on changes of identities from original visioned.

Summer Palace, at the end of the day, became the resting place for the royal family.
A place of retreat.
The place where the royals rest and relax.

From its conception during the period of the Jin dynasty, Summer Palace's most finalized version was during the reign of Qianlong, one of the most prominent rulers of the Qing Dynasty; who pursued the establishment of the palace for his mother, Empress Dowager Chongqing.
It was meant as a birthday gift for the Empress Dowager on her 60th birthday.

Summer Palace suffered destruction throughout time, and constantly underwent restoration,  though one of the best was during the reign of Empress Dowager Cixi, who splurged on the palace despite restrained funds for her 60th birthday.
(Sadly, it suffered damages again following the attack of the Eight-Nation Alliance , but Summer Palace was restored again in the following two years).

There are just so many buildings located within Summer Palace, and the architectures are just impressive, befitting of its royal image.


Walking on the grounds of this royal retreat palace can be exhausting, and I could only imagine the ordeal of the imperial maids and eunuchs back then as they are the ones who would be going back and forth, on foot.

At the same time, the scenery greeting at every spot, though, was just worth that effort.

Summer Palace is also known as Yiheyuan (頤和園); a name which was designated in 1888 during the time of Empress Dowager Cixi, and remained to present day.

The grounds of Summer Palace is large, and the design is said to emulate the Chinese mythological three divine mountains in the Eastern Sea; and for that purpose, three islands are made on the vast Kunming Lake (昆明湖) surrounding the palace to represent those three mountains.

In fact, the Kunming Lake in Summer Palace is said to be inspired by the famous West Lake from Hangzhou.

As in most Chinese naming conventions, most of the buildings and places here bear auspicious names and well meanings.

Longevity Hill, Garden of Harmonious Pleasures, Pavilion of Precious Clouds are just to name a few.

It is fitting too, considering the purposes and the intent the entire place was built in the first place.

I love the view from every spot in Summer Palace, and I could just reminisce the scenes from television dramas where the royals make their retreat or take a vacation at the Summer Palace.

When I was here, I experienced a series of changing emotions.

From pure excitement on arrival, to the anxiety of anticipation of exploring the place, I was just impatient that I want to rush into every single part of the Summer Palace immediately.

Then the heat from the sun set in as I started climbing the Longevity Hill, clambered around the landscaped rocks to the Pavilion of the Precious Clouds.

I looked forward to the Tower of Buddhist Incense, which had been so popularized in its image that it is always the image used for the Summer Palace, that one would think that it is the main or only building in Summer Palace itself.





The building is beautiful and I enjoyed the resting spots to catch my breath, as I wiped off my sweat and pranced around looking for that best location to capture my best shot of the building and architectural designs.

Patience is definitely focal, as with most tourist attractions like these, warding off all the eager tourists like myself, as they posed or zoomed into the iconic parts within the grounds.

Awe was next when I stood at the highest point, right outside the Tower of Buddhist Incense, on the Longevity Hill, as I enjoyed the spectacular and panoramic view of the famous Kunming Lake.
It was a little hazy though, and while the view was not as clear as seen in most of the images, I still loved the impressions of the lake, from that angle and on that height level.


Moving on from the main and foremost buildings, I was keen to explore more of what Summer Palace had to offer, but it was definitely more than the stored levels of my energy.

I was soon depleted but I was quite persistent, and I am glad I did, because I made it through the Long Corridor, to get to the most iconic Garden of Harmonious Pleasures and also the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity.



I am sure these places would be familiar as they are often depicted in tv series where the Empress Dowager is seen, well, at least, in those that I have watched.

I forgot about exhaustion when all these places came into view, and I was just enthralled beyond words.

Thankfully, there were lots of resting spots as well, and the grounds are well-shaded around the gardens and the lake.

I did feel like I was back at West Lake when I was looking out to Kunming Lake; that atmospheric feeling created by the soft rustle of the trees and soft breeze, though the willow trees at West Lake was nothing to be compared to.


The Summer Palace is in our modern day and terms, the place for a staycation and in all its glory and splendor, just perfect.
I don't think any place would exceed that of Summer Palace.

For the royals that is, complete with palanquins and escorting fans and shades.

I would think that is the perfect idea of relaxation, or it would probably be a workout getting from one place to another.
Then again, you can take your own sweet time.

After all, we are not on royal duties, are we?










*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

Art Direction and Photography Styling by Me.
Photos/Videos all belong to me and are copyrighted.
Please kindly ask for permission if you need to use any of my images.

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