The Peninsula Academy provides in-house guests with the chance to learn about and gain exposure to the uniqueness of Beijing. The rich culture of the capital and it's hidden gems are highlighted in a variety of bespoke programmes including activities such as a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter tour of the Great Wall, a rickshaw Hutong tour, a kite making class at Tiananmen Square and many more.
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. Those that survived, give a real glimpse into Beijing life as it has been for generations.
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.
Made from bamboo, paper, silk and rattan, traditional Chinese kites are usually crafted in the shapes of animals: dragonflies, swallows, butterflies and centipedes. With their grace and symmetry, the kites are said to be emblematic of freedom and their making is seen as a vehicle for artistic expression.
Under the guidance of the kite master, you will start by choosing a design for your kite – maybe a dragon or a fish or something simpler for your first attempt. Then you will build your frame and choose material to cover it: silk is the traditional fabric, but you may also use strong paper, nylon or plastic. Balance and proportions are key to ensure your kite stays aloft. Once you have cut the material to fit your frame, you are ready to paint and decorate your kite. Attach it to your frame; add the string bridle and you are fit to fly in the nearby Temple of Heaven Park. But don’t let it go, because according to Chinese folklore, this can bring bad luck!