Your private guide will meet you in the lobby of your Beijing hotel at 08:00 and take you by private car to Huguosi Street in the ancient Hutongs district of Beijing lying just to the north of the Forbidden City. Your walking tour starts from here.
The name Hutong comes from the Mongolian word for ‘well’ because historically people would build their homes close to or around a well. Nowadays Hutong means a lane way or alley. There are many different ‘Hutongs’ clustered around this part of Beijing, all with different names depicting their original purpose. This is a fascinating area of Beijing with long lane ways and alleys of grey-tiled buildings where you can observe the local people going about their everyday lives.
Huguosi Street is named after the old Huguosi Temple that used to be in Xicheng District. The street has a long history going back over 800 years to the Yuan Dynasty and it has always been an important commercial street for Beijing. The street still retains a lot of its original layout with many buildings constructed in the original Chinese style and it is always busy with local people shopping for food and other goods. There are many cafes and restaurants along the 600 metre long street and your guide will stop to introduce you to some of the local breakfast snacks whilst giving you a background to the history of the area.
You will stop at one of the most famous snack restaurants in Beijing, Huguosi Xiaochi. It is always busy here with local residents, especially at breakfast time. Your guide will tell you what is available from the menu written up on the wall in Chinese. Some of the specialties include Nian Gao (glutinous rice cake), Dou Bao (steamed buns with red bean filling), Jiao Quan (deep fried crispy flour ring), Mian Yu’er (a cake shaped like a fish) and many more.
As you weave your way through the many laneways and alleyways of the Hutongs you can look inside some of the courtyards and see how the old buildings were constructed and learn how their use has changed over the last 100 years. Finally you will come out from the alleyways close to the Beijing Drum and Bell Towers. The Drum Tower was built in 1272 along with the Bell Tower. Until the early 20th Century the Bell would be rung in the morning and the Drum beaten at Dusk. From the top level of the towers you will have a good view of the surrounding districts of Beijing(entrance ticket at your own expense).
From the Drum and Bell Towers continue walking to Houhai Lake, a popular café and bar area of Beijing, especially at night. Here you can relax and talk with your guide about the Hutongs and the local food over a cup of coffee.
Your private car will meet you at Houhai Lake and take you back to your Beijing hotel where the tour ends.