I thought this was a bit disappointing really, given how everyone puts it at the top of their list of places to visit.
Starting from the south (Tian'anmen GAte), after you've fended off several blokes offering to be your guide, you then traipse past an interminable number of largely identical Palace of Somethingly Somethings with thrones inside. All a bit lethal with added snow and ice, as I had when I was there.
Finally you get to the nice bits - the Imperial Gardens at the northern most edge (beautiful!) and the big rockery bit in the middle of it. And there are plenty of souvenirs to buy if that's your sort of thing.
For an extra few yuan, you can go off to the eastern side for the nine-dragon mural and the treasures (mostly lumps of carved jade, which get a bit samey after a while too!).
The electronic guide (with GPS-ish map) was quite cool and useful, and, to be fair, the history as you looked at each of the Palaces of Somethingly Something was interesting (e.g. linking into Zheng He, the great ocean going admiral, the Boxer rebellion, etc.). Worth getting there as soon as it opens (8.30/9am) as, by the time I was bailing out just before lunch, it was heaving - even in the cold snowy conditions.
Personally, I found the Qianmen/Dazhalen shopping areas (restored, Disney-style, to resemble a fantasy verion of their 1920's heydey, complete with statues of merchants) south of Tian'anmen Square to be more interesting.
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