One of the world’s most populous cities, Beijing is truly a modern metropolis. But hidden down its backstreets are remnants of its traditional culture and life that have endured for centuries. In this unique Peninsula experience, you will weave through the city’s past in a rickshaw to visit the hutongs, a warren of Beijing’s old streets, tucked away from the speed and pressure of 21st century life. An esteemed historian from one of the city’s universities will guide you through the hutongs around Hou Hai (Queen Sea), giving you an intimate, up-close and insider view of grassroots Beijing, where locals still have time to sit out front, play chess and watch the world go by.
The adventure culminates with a delicious Peninsula picnic on the banks of the spectacular Shichahai Lakes, before returning to the comfort of your hotel in a luxury car.
Beijing’s hutongs are narrow streets or alleyways formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences built around a quadrangle. The word hutong comes from the Mongolian for water wells, nodding to the fact that communities gather around wells. Although many of the city’s hutongs have been demolished to make way for modern roads and high-rise buildings, some have been preserved as designated areas of Chinese culture. Of those that survive, as well as being architecturally important, they give a real glimpse into Beijing life as it has been for generations.
Hutongs normally run east to west and have been constructed according to the laws of feng shui. A standard siheyuan consists of four houses on its sides (si means four) surrounded by enclosure walls. Usually a whole family lives in one courtyard, which has a screen wall on the outside to ward off evil spirits and often a pair of lions guarding the entrance.
From their size and style, you can tell whether the compounds belonged to the rich and powerful or the poor. On this exclusive tour, you will get an insight into both, with visits to more humble abodes as well as the mansions of Prince Gong, one of the most extravagant and ornate residential compounds in Beijing, and Soong Ching Ling, wife of Sun Yat-sen, former president of the People’s Republic of China.
RMB 1,280 for one person
RMB 1,780 for two persons
RMB 2,080 for three persons
RMB 2,480 for four persons
RMB 3,280 for five persons
Prices include tax.
- The programme duration is 4 hours between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm and is only available February through November.
- Advance reservation of 48 hours is required.
- Minimum 13 years of age.
- This programme is subject to availability