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UR Beijing
by LUXE City Guides

  • Beijing Cooking School

    Chunyi and Chao teach you how to pinch dumplings and man-handle a cast iron wok over roaring flames like a pro, followed by a meal in a trad Qing Dynasty courtyard. Add extra flavour with a pre-class wet market tour or a private Peking Duck tasting.

  • Beijing Sideways
    Private Tours & Guides

    Channel your inner Indiana Jones or Rita Hayworth on an utterly fab Changjiang motorcycle sidecar tour. Slap on the shades and SPF, and let a knowledgeable guide whisk you into hidden hutongs, or even a rarely visited section of the Great Wall. Tours from 2 hours to 2 days – don't forget your scarf!

  • Bespoke Travel Beijing
    Private Tours & Guides

    The cats PJ's for personal experiences, ace custom crawls and unique outings across the city. Take a deep dive into ancient Beijing with the Hutong Tour; relive a thrilling murder mystery on the Midnight in Peking jaunt or customise your own. Whichever way you sway, book ahead.

  • China Culture Center
    Private Tours & Guides

    Insight into hidden hutongs, wow-factor historic homes, and tours of the eerie Underground City. Plus themed walks, lectures, and a series of diverse workshops from flower arrangement to mahjong, and martial arts to opera face-painting. They do it all, doll.

  • Context Travel
    Private Tours & Guides

    Feeling energetic? Get the blood pumping with these historical and cultural sightseeing strolls. Docent-led group walks and private tours offer prized city intel – choose from jaunts around a particular landmark, neighbourhood or cultural theme, like Chinese religious traditions. Car services also available.

  • Cycle China
    Private Tours & Guides

    Eclectic, grounded tours of the city – hop on a retro bicycle and pedal past tea houses, local markets, and a Qing-dynasty opium den on the nightime hutong tour, or laze in a Communist-era motorcycle sidecar and zip up to the Olympic Sports Center.

  • Drum and Bell Towers
    Museums & Art

    C.13th timekeepers sitting on Beijing's venerable north-south axis. Today it's worth the short, sharp but perilously steep climb for unfettered views of the city and hourly drum show. Go early to get in before the coach loads and linger in the courtyard to watch local residents practice their morning exercise rituals.

  • Eastern Qing Tombs

    Two-and-a-half-hours out of the capital through pretty rural scenery are these blissfully tourist-free tombs, including that of the infamously naughty Empress Dowager Cixi, saucy minx. Gold-glazed paintings, gilded dragons and intricate stone carvings fill her multi-hall mausoleum. The mountain-encircled grounds are the perfect place for a peaceful picnic.

  • Liulichang Jie

    This sweet street of restored houses is firmly on the tourist map, but it's where the locals go for traditional art supplies and well worth a visit, especially if you have any interest in architecture, calligraphy and painting. Have your taxi drop you at the intersection of Nanxinhua Jie and Liulichang Jie, then take the west option for art supplies, papercuts and etchings at historic Cathay Bookstore #34 (see Shopping). Over the street, check out the giant inkstone at Rong Bao Zhai #19 (see Shopping), a gallery carrying art materials and pricey inks for carved chops. At #52 find quality handmade shadow puppets and rice paper by the ream, which is great for wrapping. After a while this street becomes knick-knacky, so retrace over the pedestrian walkway to the east end for terracotta warrior replicas at #134, Xu Bu (see Shopping) at #99 with delicate inside painted snuff bottle artistry, and a fab line in calligraphy with handmade brushes at the #71 and #73 teashop.

    Liulichang Jie
  • National Centre for Performing Arts

    This futuristic, star-studded glass dome emerging from an artificial lake hosted its inaugural concert in 2007, and has been crooning since. Home to opera, acrobatics and international performances, it's also fun to simply spin through the dazzling archi Giant Egg, and get an eyeful of the interior and galleries.

  • National Museum of China
    Museums & Art

    The biggest museum in the world, with an evolving collection of some good and not-so-good pieces. The ancient relics are worth a gander, but the rest is more Communist Hard Rock Café of who touched and wore what than a true account of the country’s past.

  • Peony Pavilion

    Peking Opera is an acquired taste, but its ancestor Kunqu is more accessible. This classic piece – a Ming Dynasty saga of love, death and second chances – can be seen at the beaut, historic 60-seat Imperial Granary. Pre-show buffet and English subtitles, but you're really here for the OTT elaborate costumes.

    22 Dongsishitiao, Nanxincang, The Imperial Granary
  • The Forbidden City
    Palaces, Mansions & Estates

    It is simply illegal not to visit this iconic palace complex, but bear in mind you won’t be the only person there, and after two hours of unending halls and gates and push and shove, you’ll be in need of respite. Pre-book tix online and start around 10am to avoid crowds, or if you prefer to do it in the afternoon, time your exit with sunset vistas over the city from the top of the hill in neighbouring Jingshan Park; posi'd directly opposite the north exit, followed by supper at TRB (see Dining). Clever poppet.

    4 Jingshan Qian Jie
  • The Great Wall

    Avoid the Badaling stretch like you would typhoid, unless you enjoy mingling with huge swarms of sweat-drenched, khaki-panted tourists. Head instead for the restored Mutianyu section (2 hours out of town) with an easy-access cable up and zippy toboggan down (plus some pretty dross souvenir stalls). Take lunch at nearby The Schoolhouse for farm-fresh international fare, or rustic homemade noodle shop Xiao Lu Mian. In the same village are countryside-chic house rentals from the Schoolhouse crew, or former tile factory turned 16-room smart eco-lodge The Brickyard (see Accom.). Have your hotel pack you a sarnie and a bottle of pop for the ride over!

  • Three Shadows Photography Art Centre
    Museums & Art

    Inspired by New York's ICP, this Caochangdi complex in a space designed by Ai Weiwei is dedicated exclusively to the art of photography and video. Starring unusual, specialist pics and thematic exhibits, plus a library, lectures, workshops, and performances, it's a must for shutterbugs.

  • Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
    Museums & Art

    International, not-for-profit art centre inside a renovated factory space, and quite simply one of the best curated spaces in China. Exhibitions, performances, workshops and forums aplenty, plus specially commissioned apparel, accessories, prints and decor in UCCA's funky shop.

    798 Art District 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu
  • WildChina
    Private Tours & Guides

    Whether you want to eat it, trek it or travel around it, WildChina can organise it. Bespoke itineraries available from the specialists in unique, ecologically and culturally sensitive travel experiences throughout the Middle Kingdom and Tibet. Where off-the-beaten-path adventure meets luxury and authenticity.

    803 Oriental Place, 9 Dongfang Dong Lu

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