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The 7 Best Guided Tours in Beijing

Beijing hutong | © Roman Boed / Flickr
Beijing hutong | © Roman Boed / Flickr
Beijing is a city full of history, culture and fun, and it would be a huge pity to miss the best of it because of the unfamiliarity with the language. But don’t worry, here are the seven best tours led by guides who are knowledgeable about the city and proficient in English.

Hutong Walking Day Tour

Many old Beijingers have retained the traditional lifestyle of living in the Chinese courtyards in hutong areas that are reminiscent of the old town of Beijing. The most authentic culture can be found down these ancient streets. But as there are thousands of hutong lanes in Beijing, it isn’t surprising that many first-time visitors get turned around. Tour Beijing’s Hutong Walking Day Tour makes sure to show you the best of Beijing’s cultural history by taking you through the maze-like neighborhoods to the Confucius Temple, Drum Tower and Shichahai.

Beijing hutong © Roman Boed / Flickr

Imperial Beijing Day Tour

This tour by Wild China is a perfect adventure for fans of Beijing’s imperial history. The tour starts in the morning with a private Taiji lesson in the court of the Temple of Heaven. After you will enjoy privileged access to the Forbidden City’s Chonghua Palace, where the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty grew up. The tour also includes an imperial lunch at a prestigious Peking Duck restaurant.

The Forbidden City © pixelflake / Flickr

Mutianyu Great Wall Tour

It would be a mistake to give up your plan to visit the Great Wall because of the mountains of tourists you’ve seen piled on it. The Great Wall is much, much longer than just the Badaling section, where most tourists visit, and there are other sections with nicer views and less tourists. The Great Wall’s Mutianyu section is widely recognized as the most beautiful section, and the view is especially amazing during the autumn season. With this Mutianyu day tour, you will not only see the Mutianyu Great Wall while learning its history, but you’ll also have a chance to explore the Cloisonné enameling factory nearby.

The Mutianyu Great Wall © Lydia Liu / Flickr

Chinese Cooking Class and Market Tour

Here comes the foodies’ favorite: Chinese cooking class and market tour! It’s a shame to taste the best cuisine in the world without learning how to recreate it from local chefs. With this tour, you’ll learn a trick or two from chefs, have the chance to immerse yourself in the daily hustle and bustle of the local food market, and you’ll even be able to pick your favorite dish from a menu to learn how to cook, (there’s a meat-free menu for vegetarians as well).

Chinese dish © llee_wu / Flickr

Beijing Family Tour

This family-friendly tour run by VariArts Travel lets you experience Beijing’s entertainment in half a day. You can take a closer look at the pandas at the Beijing Zoo, travel around the hutongs in rickshaw, and learn calligraphy from a local family. The tour ends with kite flying in Olympic Park, which is a traditional family activity in China.

Panda at the Beijing Zoo © Keith Roper / Flickr

798 Art District Tour

This Context Travel tour will take you to the galleries and studios of 798 Art Zone, the heart of Beijing’s art scene. You will learn about the history of the former factory compound designed by Bauhaus architects, and gain insight into Chinese contemporary art with the company of a local curator.

798 Art District © Martin Svalin / Flickr

Maliandao Tea Tour

Escorted by the Hutong’s tea experts, you will be guided through the Maliandao Tea City, a place brimming with more than 3,000 kinds of tea leaves from all over China, as well as teaware. You will be able to learn how each kind of tea is brewed and what kinds of tea and teapots match each other.