After pickup from your central Beijing hotel, travel by private, climate-controlled vehicle to your first stop: the Temple of Heaven.
Take a guided tour of this UNESCO-listed complex, whose origins date to the 15th century. See the ornate altars and halls, and hear how China's Ming and Qing emperors performed rituals and sacrifices here to ensure bountiful crops.
Stroll around the gardens to see Beijing’s older citizens socializing, singing, and performing tai chi; and drive on to Liulichang Street, a lane lined with grey-stoned Qing-style (1644-1911) buildings housing antique book, curio, and art shops.
View some of the artisans at work, and then visit royal Jingshan Park to enjoy bird’s-eye views of the Forbidden City and downtown Beijing. Learn how China’s last Ming emperor hanged himself here in 1644 as enemy forces neared the city, and then continue to Behai Park, home to Fangshan, Beijing’s oldest imperial restaurant. Admire the richly decorated interior and enjoy a sumptuous lunch featuring dishes once favored by the Qing-era emperors.
Afterward, board an imperial-style boat for a scenic cruise around Lake Beihai to Houhai, one of the city’s most popular bar quarters. Here, explore the narrow hutong alleyways, and visit a traditional courtyard home before strolling down Yandaixie Street, one of Beijing’s oldest lanes.
Continue to the nearby Bell and Drum Towers, and watch the famous drum-beating ceremony that recalls how the original drum in the Drum Tower was beaten to mark the time in imperial days.
Lastly, ride a rickshaw through a hutong to a traditional family home. Here, learn a handicraft like calligraphy, clay sculpture, mask or snuff bottle painting, Chinese yoyo, or paper-cutting — having selected your preferred craft on booking your tour.
Your experience then concludes with a late-afternoon hotel drop-off.