When Intrepid’s Graham Stanley gets to spend some extra time in Beijing, the first thing he loves to do is get on a bike and discover new corners of the city…
“Bicycles are generally available for hire from most hotels, but if not there are a few bike hire places around town. Or if you have any local friends they’ll be glad to loan you their bicycle. Needless to say – there are a lot of bicycles in Beijing. Some of my best adventures in the city have been while slightly lost on a bike.
A great route is to circumnavigate the Forbidden City and ride along the lakes: Zhonghai, Beihei, Qianhai and on to trendy Houhai. The lakes are lined with great bars and restaurants attracting local Chinese and tourist alike. Early in the morning you can see the locals on the gym equipment or doing exercise classes in the parks. On a nice day you can hire a paddle boat or a row boat and relax on the water – with the peaks of the rooftops of the Forbidden City behind the trees. It is great fun to explore the streets and find some great shops on the way. At night this area is lined with outdoor furniture and lit up with colourful lanterns (in the Summer of course).
Walking or bicycle is the best way to take in this part of the city. While Beijing has had many of the neighbourhood hutongs replaced with new buildings there are still some pockets in the city. And you can discover them on your bike – in fact the lanes are so narrow that your bike is the only way to get around. Hutongs are clusters of simple houses that form small communities. It is fascinating to explore the warrens in these hidden little villages. In such a big and busy city it is often an overlooked way of exploring the place, but I really encourage all my Intrepid friends to grab a bike and explore. You never know what you will find or where you will end up!”
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