Imperial Waterway Cruise

As the name indicates, Imperial Waterway Cruise in Beijing was only open for the royal family in the past. It was once the waterway for the Emperor Qianlong (1735-1796 AD) of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD) to go to the Wanshou Temple to pray for his mother and for the royal family to go to the Summer Palace, and it has a history of more than 700 years. It was not until recent years the waterway has been open to the public, providing a different way for visitors to appreciate the scenery of the capital city.

Imperial Waterway Cruise, BeijingBasic Facts of Imperial Waterway Cruise

Length: 9.5 km (6 mi)

Duration: Around 1 hour

Ticket Fare: CNY 50 for a single trip; CNY 80 for a round trip; Free for children under 3.9 feet (1.2 meters).

Frequently Used Boarding Piers: Emperor’s Boat Pier in Beijing Exhibition Hall, Ziyuwan Pier in Purple Bamboo Park, South Ruyi Gate Pier in Summer Palace

Schedule: 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, and 19:00 from Emperor’s Boat Pier and South Ruyi Gate Pier; 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13;30, 14;30, 15:30, and 16:30 from Ziyuwan Pier

Note: Extra cruises may be temporarily added on weekends and holidays.

The Route of the Imperial Waterway Cruise

Emperor’s Boat Pier in Beijing Exhibition Hall - Beijing Zoo - Beijing Aquarium - Zhenjue Temple - National Library of China - Purple Bamboo Park - Ziyuwan Pier in Purple Bamboo Park - Wanshou Temple - Changhe River Willow-viewing District - South Ruyi Gate Pier in the Summer Palace

Beijing Exhibition Hall

As a symbol of Sino-Soviet friendship, it was co-established in October of 1956 by China and the Soviet Union. It was one of the top ten buildings in Beijing in the 1950s.
 Beijing Zoo, which has a history of nearly one hundred years, now has more than 500 kinds of animals, including the cute pandas. It attracts many tourists from all over the world who visit here every year.
 Beijing Aquarium, located on the north bank of the Changhe River in the Beijing Zoo, is a large and modern science museum for marine life. There are more than a thousand kinds of marine fishes and creatures raised and displayed in the aquarium.
 Zhenjue Temple, also known as Wuta Temple, was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD). There are five small stone towers in the temple. Among the more than ten towers of its kind in China, the towers in Wuta Temple were built earlier and the style was the most exquisite which can be considered as the representative work of Ming Dynasty architecture and stone carving art.

National Library of China

It is the largest library in Asia, ranking third among world’s national libraries. There are more than 30 million books in the library.
 It is a natural landscape garden surrounded by bamboo on both sides and the water surface is covered by lotus flowers. It is a good place for summer recreation.

Purple Bamboo Garden Pier

Inside the Purple Bamboo Garden, it is the only existing royal pier and the only pier at the midway point of the Imperial Waterway Cruise. The Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty used to board the Royal Cruise here to reach the Summer Palace.

Wanshou Temple

Built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD), Wanshou Temple is known as the “Small Forbidden City” in the west of Beijing. It was a special place for the royal family in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is now the Beijing Art Museum, which is mainly composed of ancient and modern Chinese and foreign works of art.

Changhe River Willow-viewing District

There are many willow trees along the two banks. Appreciating the willows swinging in the wind gives such a nice memory.
 The destination of the Imperial Waterway Cruise is the Chinese imperial garden in the Qing Dynasty, which blends the essence of garden art across China.

How to Get to Imperail Waterway Cruise Piers:

Emperor’s Boat Pier in Beijing Exhibition Hall: One can take the subway line 2, line 4, or line 13, get off at Xizhimen Station, exit A1, walk to east for 200 meters (220 yards), turn right and continue to walk for 200 meters, and turn left to walk for 500 meters(550 yards) to reach Emperor's Boat Pier

Ziyuwan Pier in Purple Bamboo Park: Take the bus line 481 and get off at Zizhuyuan North Gate Station.

South Ruyi Gate Pier in the Summer Palace: Take the bus line 374 or 437, get off at Liulang Natatorium Station and walk about 150 meters (165 yards) to the north.

Further Reading:

10 Fun Things to Do in Beijing with Family
- Last updated on May. 17, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Imperial Waterway Cruise
Asked by Akkachai from THAILAND | Oct. 17, 2019 19:08Reply
Imperial Waterway Cruise on December is available to take
Hello my plan is reach Beijing on end of December. I want to get to summer place by Imperial Waterway Cruise
but not sure Imperial Waterway Cruise is available?
Answers (1)
Answered by Sam from UNITED KINGDOM | Oct. 20, 2019 22:50

Sorry, you can't. It runs from April 1 to October 31.
Asked by Ruth from SOUTH AFRICA | Apr. 03, 2019 05:43Reply
When do the Beijing Imperial Waterway Cruise start?
We were there 1 April and it was nog running yet
Answers (1)
Answered by Nancy from UNITED KINGDOM | Apr. 10, 2019 20:03

It is said it would open in April but I'm not clear about the specific dates.
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