Organized tours of the city and its outskirts run by big hotels, CITS and other agents offer a painless way of seeing the main sights quickly. Though they’re not cheap, the price will include lunch and a tour guide: a trip to the Summer Palace, Yonghe Gong and a pedicab jaunt around the hutongs is ¥360. The one-day tours offered by the cheaper hotels offer better value, and you don’t have to be a resident of theirs to go along. All the youth hostels offer good-value evening trips to the acrobatics shows and the opera a few times a week, and trips to the Great Wall.

Tour operators

Beijing Sideways (beijingsideways.com). Dash around Beijing in a side-car, its adjoining motorbike driven by a local expat. Plenty of options available, including hutong tours, night tours, and trips to the Great Wall.

Bike Beijing (bikebeijing.com). Offer some excellent bicycle tours of Beijing and its surrounding area, from half-day hutong trips to 15-day grassland journeys.

CITS A variety of one- and two-day tour packages on “Dragon Buses”, which you can book from their offices, from the BTS office or from the information desk in the Friendship Store.

City Bus Tour (www.citybustour.com). The most convenient city tour operator; coaches are modern and you’ll have an English-speaking guide. A day trip with them costs ¥380.

The Hutong (thehutong.com). This excellent outfit runs some interesting tours, including informative culinary and tea-market trips.

UCCA (ucca.org.cn). Informative tours of their gallery in the 798 Art District.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

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