When you think of Beijing, certain images come to your mind – The Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, the skyscraper dominated skylines. But there’s more to this bustling city that its main tourists
Take a Cooking Class in the Hutongs
This was one of my favourite things that I did during my trip to Beijing. The cooking classes run by The Hutong is an amazing way to learn about some of the traditional cooking methods and practices of different parts of China, as well as learn how to make some authentic dishes at home. The classes are not expensive for the quality of the classes and the teaching that you receive, and it is also taught in the historic hutongs, the oldest alleyways of the city.
Each class costs 300 RMB and lasts around 2.5-3 hours long. During that time you learn to cook 3 different dishes which you can then replicate at home. I would highly recommend taking the Taste of China or Dumpling workshops, but all the classes sound amazing so if you want, take all of them!
Explore The Hutongs
The hutongs are the oldest network of alleyways in Beijing, a reminder of what the city would have looked like hundreds of years before the construction of Beijing’s skyscraper skyline today. These interconnecting alleyways were built by various Chinese emperors to house the different groups in society as the city expanded over the years. Today, you can wander down the various alleys to get an idea of what ancient Beijing would have looked like.
Exploring this historic part of Beijing is a great way to spend an afternoon in the city, and it is also one of the best places to pick up some fresh dumplings. Speaking off…
Buy Freshly Made Dumplings
When you first arrive in Bejing, the idea of dumplings before 8am may sound a little crazy, but it is the perfect early morning or after a night out snack. In France, the bakeries sell freshly made croissants for breakfast – in Beijing its dumplings. These little balls of puffed up goodness are best from one of the many little street sellers in the hutongs. They are sold from as early as 6am to around 8am so you have to get up early to get some, but they are worth it.
The little bakeries are nothing more than opened doors down narrow alleyways, so you might have to go looking for them. Usually, you can smell the dumplings being made, and you will see them when you walk past. Don’t be alarmed if they give you your dumplings in a plastic bag – it may not look very Instagram worthy, but you will thank yourself for dragging yourself out of bed when you try them!
Try Out Some Of The Mystery Pastries
There are various hole-in-the-wall bakeries lining Beijing’s streets. I would normally go to one of these little bakeries at least once a day and try something new. Because many of the people working at these establishments couldn’t explain in English what each of the little baked goodies are, most of the time it was a bit of pot luck picking which one to try that day.
Some of the little cakes and pastries I really liked, such as red bean mooncakes and ink cakes (not actually ink), but others weren’t as pleasant. But half of the fun is trying something new and unknown and risking not liking it, you might be surprised and find something you really like.
Going To Beijing? Well you might need some ideas of what to do there, then. Check out my Four Day Itinerary In Beijing for some inspiration!
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