Beijing is not short of curiosities to see and visit by yourself.
You will always spot interesting new (and old) things to discover by yourself.
However, for more historical places, a guide-tour is highly recommended.
You will find plenty of English speaking guide-tours in Beijing.
I only used one of them for both the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.
His name is Tony and works for Stretch A Leg
The Forbidden City, even early in the morning can be a very crowded place.
Fortunately, Tony knew the place inside-out and avoided us queueing for hours to buy a ticket.
He was also able to take us off the beaten track and give us a more peaceful tour of the City.
Tony has lived in New Zealand and is fully bilingual. But more importantly, he is a mine full of information about Chinese History as well as Modern China.
Tony first took us to Jingsang Park to get an eagle-eye view of the Forbidden City (See my previous post on Traditional Beijing's and picture above)
The tour was a year ago now, I will not bore you with the history if you have no intention on visiting the place, and let Tony give you these fascinating informations if you visit Beijing in the near future.
Here are my favourite pictures :
You can also find a video of Tony on the Hutong (see my transition Beijing post for more pictures of Hutongs) from CBS here : http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50147150n
|The moat inside the city. Build to form a bow and arrow shape|
|You will find animal figurines on every roof within the city. The numbers of figurines indicates the Seniority of the building's occupant. No buildings in the whole of China could have more figurines than the Hall of Throne of the Emperor|
|This is a single tree. Pillars had to be erected to support the large branches|
|Tiles on the roof were glazed to gleam like Gold in the sunshine|
|The Opera building|
|Tony Chen, our tour guide|