Located 125km northeast of Beijing in Zunhua, the Eastern Qing Tombs (Qing Dong Ling) is an imperial mausoleum where five emperors, 15 empresses, 136 royal concubines, three princes and two princesses of the Qing dynasty are buried. Covering an area of 80sqkm, the site is the largest, most intact and best preserved burial ground in China.
Eastern Qing Tombs is set in a wide valley surrounded by four mountains. As befitting an imperial emperor, the final resting place of the Qing royals (1644 – 1911) is suitably grand. Each tomb follows a certain layout and includes a Ming spirit way, palaces and offering kitchens. Nine tombs are open to the public including the emperors Qianlong, Kangxi, Shunzhi, and Xianfeng. Of these, the Xiaoling mausoleum of Shunzhi has the most elaborate spirit way with a stone archway, grand palace gate, five bridges, stone stelae, pavilions and sculptures. The resting place of the Qianlong emperor is considered the most regal of all ancient royal tombs and features solid marble doors, walls and vaulted ceilings all adorned with Buddhist imagery within the subterranean tomb chamber.
The ladies don't miss out either. The tomb of the infamous Empress Dowager Cixi of Beijing Summer Palace fame is renowned for its luxurious décor and embellishments with gold glazing, gilded dragons and phoenixes, expensive red wood walls and etched stone rails within the halls. Both Cixi's and Xiaolong's tombs were plundered by warlords in the 1920s.
Entry to Eastern Qing Tombs is CNY122 for site admission only. To visit, it's a two-to three-hour drive from Beijing. On weekends from April to October, you can also take a special Qing Dong Ling tourist bus from Xuanwumen Church metro stop near the Forbidden City that departs at 6.30 to 8.30am. It's CNY170 for a three-hour visit including admission to the tombs.