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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( This excellent outfit runs some interesting tours, including informative culinary and tea-market trips.

UCCA ( Informative tours of their gallery in the 798 Art District.

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