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“Brace yourself for the climb: it’s worth every step!”

Bell and Drum Towers
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Private Cultural Tour: Hutong Rickshaw Ride and Dumpling Making in Beijing
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Private Tour: Beijinger for a Day
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4-Hour Private Layover Tour: Beijing Old Hutong
Ranked #38 of 1,614 things to do in Beijing
Certificate of Excellence
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Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: This two-story arched wooden structure once held 25 drums which, in combination with bells in the Bell Tower, were once used to indicate the time of day. Only one drum remains today, which is beaten four times a day for 15 minutes.
Reviewed June 2, 2013

For between 30-60 RMB ($5-10 CDN) you can find your way up the ridiculously steep stairs at the Bell and Drum towers, famous time-keeping architecture along the North/South meridian of ancient Beijing. Once you’ve managed to climb to the top of the drum tower, you may not want to come down, especially if you avail yourself of the free tour-guide service (in English or Chinese) at quarter past most hours or if you arrive in time (half past most hours from 9:30-5:30, with a break around the lunch hour) for the intensely stirring drum performances. If you arrive off-time, don’t worry, there’s plenty to see: this tower was once used as the city’s timepiece and there are many ancient (and recreated) artifacts to look at and learn about while you wait to hear the drums.
I am not sure when the bell in the Bell Tower is rung, but even just seeing the enormous instrument is worth the steep climb. There are several engravings in English around the sides of the bell, telling interesting history and ancient fables. The views are great and the sense of history palpable.
I didn’t get the feeling this was a really huge tourist spot for Westerners but I think you’d really miss out if you don’t go see these two gorgeous buildings.
One word of caution: after a very bad experience with an unethical rickshaw driver, I would really caution against taking a rickshaw ride in Beijing. There are many rickshaws right outside the Bell and Drum towers but I believe the ones here are licensed (nominally at least) so they may not be so bad. They will easily take no for an answer, at least, and I recommend saying no. However, if you do want to try it, take a photo of the number on the back of the rickshaw, (don’t get in one without a number) and take a photo of the driver’s face. Then, agree on a price BEFORE you get in, and ideally, be headed somewhere you know so you can have a sense if you’re going off course. A very common scam is to take unsuspecting tourists down some local alleys then letting them off in a place that isn’t the agreed upon location but saying “it’s just down that corridor” or “just behind that wall” sort of thing. They then tell you that whatever price you agreed to is NOT the price and demand up to 300 RMB (50CDN). They may have had other drivers follow you and then surround you , trying to intimidate you. Keep in mind you are NOT obligated to pay them and if you get big and aggressive back at them, it is quite likely they will back off—but you’ll still end up giving them more than you agreed to, maybe $100. It is extremely unlikely these people are armed and they are totally trading on the fact you are disoriented, don’t really know the money, and likely feeling scared. It’s a nasty gig and shouldn’t be tolerated but for some reason it is…so remember it’s just money and don’t get in one again. Oh, while we’re at it another scam is to approach you on a busy street and be really friendly then ask you to see some art—no charge. Just an exhibition! They will try to get you down a back lane or something…just use your head and don’t go. They really will back off and look for an easier mark. They will being speaking to you by asking where you are from and then making flattering noises about wherever you say, and they also often ask you what you do back home…I found an effective way to cut the conversation short was to say I am a cop from New York City! I’m not of course, but they don’t really want a cop down an alley, I don’t think!

2  Thank Christa O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 4, 2013

nothing can see,bu it's very near HOUHAI and NANLUOGU. There are a lot of bars in HOUHAI , you can enjoy yourself at night, don't talk people drag you in some bar, where to go is up to you.

Thank Jim y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 2, 2013

One can never see very far through Beijing polluted air, considering that, it is a nice view of the lakes and hutong close by from the balcony. The stairs are steep. The drum performance was nice to watch. Other than that, there's not much to see.

Thank CY29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 1, 2013

I'm getting tired of climbing steps while doing these reviews ;)... LOTS OF STAIRS IN CHINA!
But the drum tower offers excellent views of the hutong below and a nice drum show throughout the day.

Thank DonandVonAustin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2013

We visited both the towers in early April 2013 - good deal to buy tix for both - only 30RMB. The steps are very steep (approx 70) but the view is worth it. Make sure you time the Drum Tower with a drumming exhibit - several daily - only go for a few minutes, but very good to watch. We paid an extra 20RMB at the Bell Tower for a tea ceremony - good fun and interesting information from the demonstrator, sadly the giftshop was quite expensive. Great views from both towers of the Hutongs and surrounding areas.

Thank KellieB88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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