Bell and Drum Towers (Hutong)#11 in Best Things To Do in Beijing
Once used as musical instruments and later as the official government time piece, the Bell and Drum Towers crown the charming Nanluoguxiang district. Amid the maze of alleys, you'll appreciate having these two historical pillars to guide your exploration of the neighborhood. You'll immediately notice the 150-foot Drum Tower from its vibrant red walls, turquoise roof and decorative symbols. The Bell Tower is the more subdued gray sister, standing nearby. These ancient landmarks (the original structures date back to 1272) offer exceptional views of Beijing, but you'll have to take a hike to reach their peaks. Most visitors agree climbing the steep stairs is worth it for the views.
If you wish to climb the stairs, you'll have to fork over 15 yuan (about $2) for the Bell Tower and 20 yuan (about $3) for the Drum Tower or 30 yuan ($4.40) for both. The towers open daily around 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. every day. The closest subway stop is Guloudajie on lines 2 and 8.
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#1 The Great Wall of China
Just north of Beijing, you'll find one of the most famous monuments in the world: the Great Wall of China. Although it's unlikely you'll see the whole thing, you should aim to experience a portion of it. That begs the question: Which section?
Only an hour's drive northwest of Beijing, the Badaling section is convenient, hosts a large souvenir market, and has a gondola to whisk visitors up and down the wall. Sounds perfect, right? Well, and that's why thousands of tourists decide to venture here. This can create mob-like scenes that can spoil the trip, but it's unpredictable. Plenty of visitors rave about this section of the wall and say a visit is a must. Entrance to the Badaling section of wall (not including the gondola ride) costs 40 yuan (about $6) in the winter and spring and 45 yuan (about $6.60 ) in the summer and fall. You can start hiking the Badaling portion at 6:40 a.m., and you must be down by 6:30 p.m. every day.
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