If a first-time visitor wants to really learn about the history of Beijing, in addition to visiting main attractions like the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven, I would highly recommend a hutong tour. Hutongs are old alleyway neighborhoods which have histories of more than 600 years and truly represent local history and culture. Here visitors can not only visit local families, but also join classes in traditional paper cutting, calligraphy and noodles and dumpling cooking. Some of the most famous hutongs include Wudaoying Hutong and Baochao Hutong.
For people who have already visited all the famous sights in Beijing, we recommend and can reserve a tour for the guest to experience hidden, family–run places to eat where the locals eat. This tour is for those who enjoy getting off the beaten path in old Beijing and want to try authentic local food but may have difficulty finding the way and ordering. The tour is led by an English-speaking local guide who explains how the food is prepared and also the culture behind the food. The guest will take local tuktuk transportation to a hutong to go to five different style restaurants – for noodles, barbecue, savory pancakes, traditional meat buns and yogurt desserts.
A cooking class may be another option. This class starts in a local market where a guide helps the guest buy what they need then shows them how to prepare it. The whole tour is about two to two-and-a-half hours long and the guest not only learns how to prepare two to three dishes but enjoys the meal they make.
If the guest is an art enthusiast, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in the 798 Area is a well-known, must-visit place. Personally, I would recommend the Red Gate Gallery. The building was a watch tower in the past and not only the gallery but also the building itself is worth the visit.
The Concierge tips are provided by the Concierges at Rosewood Beijing
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