Touring the Olympic city of Beijing is a challenge especially as government-trained guides can be reluctant either to go "off script" or to speed up tours which, they'll insist, take three hours, four hours, more. But what if you simply do not have time to learn about every tile in the Forbidden City? Have your concierge not only book a driver and an English-speaking guide but also explain to both of them that for you to return home without having seen one of the greatest sights of all China will make you too ashamed to face your mother. In every culture, the mother card works and you will discover it is just possible to be dropped off near the Meridian Gate while the driver negotiates the traffic to collect you near the Shenwu Gate while you take just one hour to walk between them. While you won't have time to linger within the Yangxindian (Hall of Mental Cultivation) or the Chuxiugong (Palace of Gathering Elegance), despite the crowds elsewhere, you can still stand quietly at the little schoolhouse where the lord of ten thousand years, Pu Yi, was instructed by an Englishman, Reginald Johnston, as portrayed in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 Oscar smash, The Last Emperor.
For trips of less than 4 hours, ask your hotel. For the ultimate Beijing tours, temporary memberships of the concierge service, Quintessentially are available and they will arrange everything.
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