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Beijing tours and excursions

Beijing tours

Cycling and walking tours

The Tourist Information Centre and Cycle China office, opposite the east gate of Jingshan Park, Dongcheng District, arranges cycling tours with English-speaking guides as well as hutong walking tours at night and entertaining trips around the city by motorcycle sidecar.

Tel: +86 10 6402 5653.
Website: http://www.cyclechina.com

Rickshaw tours

The Beijing Tourist Information Center office on Di'anmenxi Dajie, near Beihai Park, offers one-hour rickshaw tours with an English-speaking guide around Beijing's historic hutong alleys. Private agencies offer similar trips.

Tel: +86 10 6403 2726.
Website: http://english.visitbeijing.com.cn

Beijing excursions

Ming Tombs

The final resting place for the emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), the Ming Tombs are located 50km (31 miles) from Beijing and are reached by the Spirit Way, an ancient highway guarded by huge statues of animals and men. 13 Ming emperors are buried around the valley but only three of the underground burial chambers - the Chang Ling, Ding Ling and Zhao Ling tombs - are open to the public. Arrange a trip through your hotel, or one of the Beijing Tourist Information Centers.

Website: http://www.mingtombs.com

Great Wall of China

China's premier attraction stretches some 6,700km (4,163 miles) through northern China and remains the most iconic symbol of the country. Founded in the 3rd century BC, the Great Wall of China is in fact a number of connected and unlinked walls, built at various points in history to create a defence against invading marauders. Much of the wall that exists near Beijing was built between the 14th and 18th centuries as a defence against the Mongols. The nearest section of the wall to Beijing is at Badaling, but this has been heavily restored and is very touristy. The sections at Mutianyu and Jinshanling are also restored but less busy than Badaling. For a more authentic visit, the sections of the wall at Huanghuacheng, Zhuangdaokou, Gubeikou and Jiankou have been left as atmospheric ruins, but they are harder to reach and difficulty to walk along. Arrange trips through your hotel, or one of the Beijing Tourist Information Centers.

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Located in a 200-year-old courtyard residence, this boutique hotel moves the historic theme forward to the Liberation era, with rooms and communal spaces decked out with Communist antiques and Mao memorabilia. The five suites are fit for a Communist Party bigwig, with some of Beijing’s most unique interior design, and the bar is set in a converted underground bomb shelter.

The Orchid

Hip and perfectly located in a lane just a short stroll from the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, the Orchid is a slice of wood-floored, design magazine modernism in the heart of old Beijing. Rooms are compact but calming, with contemporary designer furnishings. There’s even a roof terrace with views over the hutongs.

Jingshan Garden Hotel

A cute budget hotel with calm, comfy rooms set around a similarly serene courtyard, Jingshan Garden Hotel is in easy striking distance of the Forbidden City. It feels just like you'd imagine a Chinese hotel to feel, down to the odd piece of old-fashioned lacquered furniture in the rooms. It has a decent restaurant too.

Double Happiness Beijing Courtyard Hotel

Most guests agree with the name when they stay at this low-key but friendly hotel in the lanes near the Lama Temple. The small, simple rooms come with Chinese-style furniture, TVs and a computer for checking your email, plus an extra serving of homespun charm, but it can get a little cold here in winter.

Courtyard 7

Set in a beautifully renovated 300-year-old courtyard home, this is the most reasonably priced heritage hotel in Beijing. Rooms come with traditional Chinese furniture and all the modern comforts including flatscreen TVs, free Wi-Fi, underfloor heating and plush en-suite bathrooms. It's hidden on a back alley in the chic Nanluoguxiang area.

DuGe Courtyard Boutique Hotel

Housed in a wonderful, Qing-dynasty courtyard home (formerly home to one of Emperor Xianfeng's ministers), this unique Beijing hotel blends tradition and modernity in equal measures. Rooms are trendy, yet elegant, and full of modern amenities, but still romantically old-fashioned. The location, amongst the old hutong alleys of Nanluoguxiang, couldn’t be better.