The Summer Palace is located in the northwest suburban area of Beijing and covers an area of 290 hectares. It was built in 1750 by the Emperor Qianlong as a gift to celebrate his mother's birthday. And what a grand gift this was! In 1992, the Summer Palace was appraised as the "most perfectly preserved imperial garden with the richest man-made scenery and most concentrated architecture in the world."
You need an entire day to walk through the whole complex. A through ticket was worth Y60. However, in this case if you have limited time as I did, it is more prudent to just buy an entrance ticket and buy individual tickets for attractions inside as you encounter them. I bought a through ticket, but was only able to visit 2 out of the 5 that required tickets.
The Summer Palace landscape also had a big lake, Kunming Lake, surrounded by temple buildings and bridges. The waters were used for boating by tourists. This place reminded me of Hangzhou and its beautiful West Lake.
You will note in the pictures that there will be steep climbing involved here. I climbed up Longevity Hill from the South side, going up to the Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha and beyond. However, at the top, my orientation got screwed up. So I actually lost my way in the maze of similar looking temple structures on the mountain, and wound up coming down on the North side! I was too exhausted to climb back up and over, so I just had to ask to be picked up where I was at already.
Wish I had a longer time and cooler weather to explore this place. Definitely requires a return visit someday.