Welcome to China† And when you are in Beijing it is very nice to do a bike ride. I did a bike ride with Bike Beijing† The tour guide speaks English, a bicycle is included and you are obliged to wear a helmet during the tour, even if you are Dutch and have been able to cycle all your life. Bike Beijing offers several tours that you can sign up for, I chose the Hutong Bike Tour. It is very nice to cycle through Beijing with a guide. The guide will lead the way and tell you everything you want to know about Beijing and the sights you pass.
Cycling in Beijing can still be a challenge. Everyone honks at each other and gives way where he thinks he has right of way. There is a lot of traffic in the city; cars, e-bikes, scooters, rickshaw, walkers.
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Hutongs are typical old Beijing alleys, some as old as 700 years. Many locals live in the hutongs and you can get a taste of the local life. The locals enjoy chatting with passers-by, playing games or selling homemade treats. The alleys are hidden deep in the busy city. It is best to explore it by bike, because you can often not easily get through the alleys. The alleys are full of things from the locals, the laundry just hangs outside on the electricity cables, sometimes there is a car that makes you wonder how it ever got there.
In several hutongs you will find traditional siheyuans. These are a kind of complexes of a number of buildings around a small square. Often these have very nice doors. If a door is open, peek inside to view the siheyuan.
Imperial City Wall Park
Via the hutongs you cycle towards the Imperial City Wall Park. This is a garden near the Forbidden City. Created in 2001, the park is the largest park in Beijing, with nearly 80 species of plants and trees. There are several fountains and statues.
In this park was an endearing little man with a cart where he sold a Chinese specialty, caramelized fruit on a stick. Eating and cycling with such a stick at the same time is not recommended, by the way.
The red Drum Tower and the Cook Tower Bell Tower are directly opposite each other. Both towers were built in the 1200s, during the Yuan Dynasty, and were used to mark time during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.
There are 25 drums on display in the Drum Tower and from the balcony you can see the surrounding hutongs.
The Bell Tower is directly opposite the Drum Tower and is slightly higher than the Drum Tower. A 600-year-old bell can be seen in this tower. The bell is 7 meters high, weighs about 63 tons and is 30 centimeters thick. It is the largest and heaviest bell in all of China. At the top of this tower you also have a beautiful view of the Drum Tower.
The Houhai Lakes are 2 lakes surrounded by white fences. It is a very touristic place. There are many restaurants, shops and rickshaws around the Houhai Lakes. Especially on weekends and evenings, this is a popular spot for the younger Chinese and us Westerners, due to the coffee shops and music bars with live performances.
You can take a nice bike ride around the lakes and through the hutongs around the lakes. Are you done cycling? Then you can also take a boat onto the lake, or you can cycle along the lake with a rickshaw.
The Forbidden City was built in 1422. It was the place where the Chinese emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasty ruled their empire. The Forbidden City was strictly forbidden to ordinary Chinese, only the emperors and their retinue were allowed to enter the Forbidden City. The city is surrounded by 3,5 kilometers of palace walls.
The Forbidden City is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is the largest and best-preserved collection of landmarks and historic buildings in all of China. The Gate of Heavenly Peace is the gateway to the city. The portrait of Mao hangs on the facade and can be admired from Tiananmen Square.
Biking in Beijing
As you can read here, it is definitely recommended to explore Beijing by bike. Of course there are various tours that you can join, but renting a bike and cycling yourself is also fine!