Because the distances involved in this tour are fairly large (Beijing’s blocks are extremely long!), I have modified the walk to include taxis connecting some of more far-flung attractions. Taxis are cheap in China. However, whenever taking cabs in China, since most cab-drivers do not speak English, ask your hotel concierge to write down your destinations, especially the name of the hotel, in Chinese to show to the driver). For the more adventurous there are even city buses which cover some of the route.
Begin the tour on Dong Dan Bei Dajie (one of Beijing’s major north-south arteries). Walk or take a cab south about 1.5 miles to Temple of Heaven Park (Tiantan). Enter the park (pay for combination ticket) and visit the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (Qiniandian), one of the most stunning buildings in the world. If time permits, visit the other sights in the park, to the south.
Take a cab or exit the park to the north and turn left on Tiantan Lu, then right on Tiangaionan Dajie or Qianmen Dajie, which leads to Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang). Check out the South Gate (Qianmen) and Mao’s Memorial, if not already done. Walk north across the square and turn left on Chiang’an Jie, then enter Beihai Park (Beihai Gongyuan (on right). Walk northward along the western shores of Nanhai Lake and then Zhonghai Lake to Wenjin Jie (the lakes and park are several miles long from south to north so this part of the tour will take some time, but the walking is very pleasant), take a left and then a right onto Xishiku Dajie, where you can see the striking gray and white North Cathedral (Bei Tang) (Imagine, a catholic church in Beijing!).
Retrace steps back to Wenjin Jie and Beihai Park, on the left, and walk northward along the eastern shore of the lake to check out the white jade Buddha at Round City (Tuan Cheng). Continue northward and cross the bridge to Qiong Island (Qiongdao). Check out Buddhist Yong’an Temple that ascends the island’s hill, culminating in the White Dagoba at the apex. Pay the extra few cents to climb to Shanyin Hall for views over the Forbidden City to the east.
Complete the visit to the park by walking north to see the Nine Dragon Screen (Jiulongbi), built to deflect bad spirits (in the northwestern corner of the park).
Exit the park at the north end at Di’anmen Xi Dajie. This next part of the walk is also lengthy, so take a cab and skip the early part, getting to the Drum Tower and Bell Tower). Find Sanzuoiao Hutong (opposite the northwest border of the park along Dianmen Dajie) and travel north, then turn left on Qianhai Xi Jie which goes west then curves northward past Prince Gong’s Mansion. Check it out if time permits (at least try to see the grounds without paying admission, if possible). Then retrace steps on Qianhai Jie to the lake and continue along the west shore of the Qianhai Lake, then cross the Silver Ingot Bridge. Go straight ahead then right on Dashibei to Dianmenwai Dajie. Take a left on this road which leads to the Drum Tower (Gulou), then continue northward to the Bell Tower (Zhonglou). The latter offer great views for those willing to climb its narrow stairway.
After the visit, take a cab or head east on Gulou Dong Dajie to Yonghegong Dajie and turn left. Visit the Lama Temple (Yonghe Gong) (a Tibetan Buddhist masterpiece) on the right and the Confucius Temple (Kongzi Maio), on the left (actually on Guozijian Lu).
Complete the loop by meandering westward through this Hutong (be aware that walking through the hutongs is difficult since maps are inadequate, so plan to get lost, or hire a pedi-cab to see the area), then turning left onto Andingmennei Dajie or Jiaodaokou Nan Dajie which changes names several times but ultimately becomes Wanfujing Dajie, Beijing’s major shopping street (if you are not interested in shopping at this time, just take a cab back to the hotel) and runs parallel to the starting street of the tour. Take any left to get back there.