At first glance Beijing can appear as nothing more than a modern cosmopolitan city, with soaring skyscrapers, sprawls of apartment blocks and a crisscross of freeways. But hidden amid the concrete and glass one can still find remnants of the city’s past dynasties and evidence of traditional Chinese culture still practiced today. Vast squares, magnificent palaces and beautiful gardens are just some of the treasures still visible from the city’s imperial past, while down narrow alleyways one can find charming teahouses, traditional workshops, and quiet courtyards. Spend a couple days in the city on one of our China tours and reveal the true charm of Beijing.
Beijing is a key highlight on most of our tours in China and while there we aim to show travellers both sides of the city, from the fascinating remnants of its ancient past, to all that is new and modern. At the very heart of Beijing is the legendary Forbidden City, which stood as the residence of emperors and as the political powerhouse of the country for over half a millennia. Today it houses the Palace Museum and is the country’s largest and best-preserved complex of ancient buildings, attracting millions of visitors every year. The red-roofed Gate of Heavenly Peace stands entrance to the Forbidden City just off of Tiananmen Square, a vast public space which is home to Chairman’s Mao’s Mausoleum and several historic monuments as well as being a fascinating place to people watch.
Surrounding the Forbidden City are a labyrinth of ancient alleyways and twisted lanes, known as the Hutongs, which are lined with artisan workshops, traditional teahouses, and quiet courtyards. On all of our tours in Beijing we explore these back lanes by rickshaw, offering intriguing insight into the traditional aspects of everyday life still practised here, and into the capital’s rich history.
As well as being the political and economic heart of the country, Beijing is also a thriving centre for the arts and culture. Our tours in Beijing include a visit to a cloisonné workshop, where you can view the unique art of decorating copper with colourful enamel, and attendance at a Chinese acrobatic performance of swinging ropes, juggling hoops and human pyramids. Beijing is also a great place for day trips to the Badaling section of The Great Wall and the Summer Palace, set around beautiful Kunming Lake beyond the city limits.