After already spending a week in Beijing, my family and I decided to stay an extra day to see a few more sights. I easily booked a private tour online to see the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, and of course the pandas! Once booked, I emailed the tour company to confirm pickup at my hotel. They responded very quickly and confirmed 9am pickup on our tour day.
If you’re on the fence about booking a private tour in Beijing, don’t hesitate. The cost is extremely reasonable to be picked up, dropped off, driven around the city and taken into the sights by a knowledgable, friendly tour guide who knows how to navigate everything. Our tour guide for the day was Lucy, who is just delightful, fun AND speaks great English. We started the morning at the Panda House in the zoo. She took care of getting the tickets and led us straight to where the pandas dwell. We spent ample time viewing the bears and she told us about the bears and their conservation efforts. Next we went to the Temple of Heaven. Again Lucy, took care of the tickets and walked us through, telling us about the temples, and the stairs, and the significance of everything and how/why it was built. She also took lots of photos of us and knows the best places for them.
After the Temple of Heaven we were off to lunch, but Lucy made sure to ask if we needed the rest room first as there was a “western toilet” at the temple but not at the restaurant. Now that is looking out for you! We had lunch at a local restaurant with lots of different foods to choose from. Again, Lucy went through all the choices and then ordered for us what we wanted.
After lunch we went on to the Summer Palace, again taking great pics, walking along the covered walkway and hearing about the dragon lady, ending with a boat ride on the lake. It was a great day. As beautiful as all the sights were, it was equally wonderful to just talk to Lucy in the car on the way to the next place. We had great conversation just about culture and food and general way of life. I highly recommend the private tours, whichever sights you choose to see, and ask for Lucy, as she is wonderful.