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World > Asia > China> Beijing City Information

Excursion of Beijing

Hutong tours:

The hutong are fast-disappearing ancient areas of housing where small single-storey dwellings arranged around courtyards form a maze of narrow streets. The ideal way to see the hutong is by rickshaw or on foot. Taking along an English-speaking guide will ensure an opportunity to talk to the locals and maybe even see their homes. The Beijing Tourism Administration (tel: (10) 6515 8252; website: lists some recommended tour companies. Most hotels can arrange rickshaw tours lasting 1 to 2 hours with an English-speaking guide. The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street (see Hotels) arranges cycling tours of local hutong in the west of the city

Great Wall and Ming Tombs:

The Great Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, extends for thousands of miles across China, the nearest section to Beijing being at Badaling. The wall stretches between watchtowers and is wide enough in some places for five horsemen. Badaling Great Wall (tel: (10) 6912 2222) is open daily (0700-1730) and there is an admission charge. A less busy option is to visit the wall at Mutianyu, about 2 hours' drive from Beijing. Here, chairlifts and cable cars provide spectacular panoramas of the wall and mountain scenery (0730-1800). The tombs are all open daily (times vary for each tomb but are generally 0800-1730) and admission is charged. Thirteen of the Ming emperors were buried around the valley but only one of the actual underground burial chambers, at the Ding Ling tomb (tel: (10) 6076 1424), is open to the public. It is best to go by taxi or on a coach tour arranged through the Beijing Tourism Administration or one of the major hotels.

Fragrant Hills:

Located more than 28km (18 miles) to the northwest of Beijing and best reached by taxi, the Fragrant Hills (tel: (10) 6259 1155) are thickly wooded with pine trees and were popular with the emperors as a hunting ground. Pagodas, temples and pavilions can be found dotted around the park, which is open daily 0700-1800. The summit of the highest peak can be reached by a chair lift (admission charge).

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