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Kunming Lake of Summer Palace (Beijing)

Kunming Lake is the name of a famous man-made lake inside the Summer Palace, located in Beijing, China. The Lake, as well as the hills and other areas of the garden included in the Summer Palace, are considered a must-see attraction of China. One of the prominent and well-known elements near the lake is called longevity hill, which is about 200 ft high (60 m) and offers a mixture of buildings as well as natural vegetation along with beautiful trees.



History of Kunming Lake

This lake used to be a much smaller water source near Beijing. Before this water reservoir becomes a man-made lake, it was also known as the great lake, jar hill lake, and golden lake. These names, among other names, refer to before the time when Beijing became the capital of China during the Yuan dynasty.

Developments of this water reservoir began in the late 13th century and carried on during the later dynasties until it became an entire complex of gardens, islands, hills, and the lake itself. The man behind the first adjustments was Guo Shoujing, who redirected the water from several sources into the lake for irrigation purposes. The fertile ground around the lake brought about natural vegetation, which inspired the idea of making gardens and constructing the complex around Kunming Lake.

Most of the expansions took place during the time of the Qianlong Emperor, who used about 10000 laborers for this end. They used the extracted ground as a means of creating three islands and increase the area around longevity hill.

Kunming lake and summer palace

Kunming Lake and The Summer Palace, Beijing


The Area of The Kunming Lake

Kunming lake has an area of about 0.8 mi2 (2.2 km2) with an average depth of 5 feet (1.5 meters). Of course, the depth in some areas is as deep as 9.8 feet but the lake is considered shallow.


The Design and Folklore of Kunming Lake

Back when the lake was becoming a water reservoir, there was a danger of flooding during the rainy seasons. There were also several water sources, which also added to the chance of floods. The main reason for digging the lake and expanding it was to reduce the chance of flooding. There is also the belief that the ox statue facing the Forbidden City, located on the eastern dike of the lake, is put there to protect the city and the Forbidden City from flooding.

The three islands in the lake also have symbolic importance in Chinese lore, which represents the three islands of the immortals. They also represent the design of “one pond, three hills” which is seen in the traditional ways of Chinese Gardening. Other elements, such as the bridges and the dikes, are also inspired by other important bridges and natural elements in the Chinese landscape.

Kunming Lake in Beijing

Kunming Lake in Beijing, China


Tourist Guide

How to get to?

By Bus
East Gate To reach the east gate you can use bus 303, 331, 332, 346, 508, 579, or 584 to the Yiheyuan Station or take the 384, 394, 563, 594, and 601 buses to the Poshangcun. From either of these two stations, you can take a walk towards the west until you reach the east gate of Summer Palace.
West Gate You can use bus 469 or 539 and get off at Yiheyuan West Gate station (Yiheyuan Ximen).
North Gate There are two stations near this gate: You can get to North Palace Gate Station (Yiheyuan Beigongmen) by bus 303, 331, 346, 394, 563, 584, and 594, or you can take bus 332, 384, or 601 to get off at Beigongmen Subway Station.
By Metro
Line 4 Get off at Beigongmen and exit from D. and then head west until you reach the North Palace Gate.
Line 10 Get off at Bagou Station and take the Western Suburban Line to Yiheyuanximen Station. From there, you can head north to reach the West Gate.
Line 4 or 16 Get off at Xiyuan and exit from C2. then walk west to reach the East Gate.


Prices & Working Hours

Entrance Fee
Spring and Summer 30 Yuan
Autumn and Winter 20 Yuan
Opening Hours
April – October 6:30 – 18:00
November – March 7:00 – 17:00

The entrance fee mentioned in the article is for the entire Summer Palace. There are no tickets required for viewing the lake but there are other areas in the complex, which require additional fees.

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