Looking for something to do in the afternoon? You won’t be hungry after the 3-hour walking tour of Beijing’s best hidden hutong eats, so here’s an itinerary to walk it off and see more of the city’s best sights.
1. Take the subway to the Lama Temple subway stop at the intersection of subway lines 2 and 5. When you exit the station, the Lama Temple will be right in front of you. This is a great temple to visit as it’s the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside tibet and is still a functioning temple and monastery, with monks traveling from around China to study there.
2. After you exit the main gate of the Lama Temple, cross the road and walk slightly to your right. You will see a large Chinese gate (two poles joined by a plaque at the top) leading to a tree-lined street. This street has both the Temple of Confucius and the Imperial Academy. This street was particularly important in China’s history not only because it was one of the main centers of confucian thought (at a time when confucian philosophy was China’s dominant ideology), but also because of the Imperial Academy next door. Any person who aspired to attain a government position anywhere in China was required to pass the Imperial Examination, which was held in the Imperial Academy. As you walk along the street, you will see a large gate. As you look through the gate you will see a white statue of Confucius. That’s where you buy tickets (approx. 20rmb) and enter both the Temple and the Academy.
3. After exiting, continue walking along that street until you reach the end. Cross the road and continue on along the hutong until you reach the Drum Tower and Bell Tower. These were originally used to mark the hours of the day and are great places to get your bearings in Beijing as they are on the central axis of the city. When you’re at the top of the Drum Tower, you will be able to look south and see the temple at the top of Jingshan Park, the final stop on this itinerary.
4. After you have located the temple at Jingshan Park, you will be able to follow the road south towards it. On your right hand side are two lakes, Houhai and Shichahai, which are artificial lakes that were originally the northern terminus of the Grand Canal, a transport canal that used to run all the way from Beijing down to Hangzhou in southern China. On the main road, as you cross the small stone bridge you will be crossing the Grand Canal. The soil excavated while building these two lakes was used to build the hill you will be climbing in Jingshan Park. The lakes are beautiful this time of year and have a lot of small shops where you can find souvenirs, but if you want to explore the Forbidden City then spend less time at the lakes and head straight down to Jingshan Park.
5. Enter Jingshan Park from the eastern gate and head straight up the hill to the temples at the top. These not only afford the best view of Beijing (you can see the entire city from the top), but also the best way to enjoy the Forbidden City from afar.
6. If you do plan to go to the Forbidden City, you must buy tickets and enter from the South Gate, which is the opposite side of where you’re located at Jingshan Park.