a VirtualTourist member from Houston
If you had limited time in the forbidden palace, just a few hours, 3 hiurs max, which areas would you visit? We are not big history people, we like looking at buildings/interesting architecture more than anything.
If you're speaking of the forbidden city, I think you can make it right down the center in about 3 hours, depending on the crowds. The place is larger than it looks, but if you stay on the center track you can see many of the prized sights. We did pay for the GPS audio guide which I felt was worthwhile.
The good people at the forbidden city have though about you and designed a 2 hr , or half day tour especially for you!
Have a look here and select "museum routes" from options on the last hand side
This is a great site generally and will give you good insight before your trip.
In 2 to 3 hours, you can enjoy Forbidden Palace with major things to see. As stated previously, there are tracks to help you organize your tour. Anyway, do not feel obliged to visit everywhere or stay as suggested. If you feel like spending more time in one place and skipping another one just walking by, it is just fine. You can check my Beijing page for details.
You can start with outer court, then inner court. Spend a little bit more time at the Imperial Garden ( 1.5 hours) Glance through either east or west palaces, most of the buildings are similar and take some photo of those small alleys ( maybe 10 minutes) .If you still have extra 1 hour, visit the Far East Palace. It is worth walking through the Far East Palace. The end.
I don't recommend the tour, because you will spend more time listening than looking, You can learn all these on the Internet before you visit, have the basic understanding. Look out for those buildings or places that you think u want to see beforehand. I have written most of the places in my Beijing reviews, so check them out!
Hope this is helpful!
On a first visit the place is so overwhelming that 3 hours is a sensible limit on time. Unless you have prepared yourself for the scale of the place, after about 2 hours you stop really being able to take in much detail and just gawp at it. There is no access to the majority of the buildings and really there would be no reason to want visit most of them as they appear empty. It is the outside of the buildings, their design and number that most impresses the casual visitor.
Be prepared for crowds. Our guide said the site had a limit of about 80,000 visitors a day and that most days that limit was reached. Most people take the same route from the main entrance to centre. It's worth wandering off the main route a couple of times to try and enjoy a bit of the atmosphere.
One building that we enjoyed was the hall of clocks, which houses the imperial clock collection, which was beautiful and a nice change of pace from walking around the grounds fighting the crowds.