Hutong Tour - Beijing Hutong Tour
Introduction of Hutong Tour
For those who are willing to discover the way the Chinese live, a jaunt down the intricate maze of Beijing's hutongs is essential. Organized tours of Beijing hutongs are available. You will be taken by pedicab (a tricycle cab), which was very popular in the old days, to visit the Bell and Drum Towers, Prince Gong's Mansion and even to pay a visit to an ordinary Beijing family in the compound houses. If sightseeing at the Imperial Palace, Ming Tombs and the Summer Palace is helpful in learning about the lives of China's emperors, the hutongs of Beijing reflect in turn the history of Beijing as a whole.
Start from the north entrance to Beihai Park by old-fashioned pedicab to the picturesque Shishahai Lake area. Visit the Drum Tower where visitors will enjoy a bird's eye view of the old city. Visit the neighborhood in the rear Shishahai Lake area and walk in hutongs to drop in one or two courtyard- style homes. If you are there at a meat time, you may be invited to a family "banquet" with local dishes. Visit the garden of Prince Gong of the Qing Dynasty.
The Drum Tower was first built in 1272 during the reign of Kublai Khan (the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty), and reconstructed in 1420 when the Ming Dynasty established its capital in Beijing. It rises from a brick podium with a tower pierced by six gates and topped by a roof of soaring eaves.
Bell Tower: To the north is the Bell Tower, first constructed in 1420 and rebuilt of bricks in 1747 during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. The original iron bell was replaced by a great bronze bell, which was rung at seven o'clock evening until 1924.
The Prince Gong's Mansion is the most exquisitely decorated and best preserved among the princes' mansions in Beijing, and beside the residence there is also a large garden. The mansion consists of two parts: living quarters and the garden, covering 56,000 square meters. The living quarters run along three axes - central, eastern and western, altogether having 1,000 rooms. People can imagine the grandeur from its green glazed- tile roofs.
The garden of Prince Gong's Mansion covers 25,000 square meters, with artificial rockeries, covered corridors and pavilions. It is said the Grand View Garden described in the novel "A Dream of Red Mansions" was modeled after this garden.
The lake is a broad expanse of water surrounded by willows, locust trees and poplars - a lovely scene. People can have a boat ride there in summer and skate in winter