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by Michael C. Lowe | November 08, 2012
Beat goes on.Every hour on the hour, the thrum of massive traditional Chinese drums reverberates from the top of Beijing’s 13th-century Drum Tower. Visitors can see and hear the rhythmic performance up close by paying a small entry fee and then ascending a stairway to the summit. A bonus is the impressive view of the Forbidden City

.Wok stars. The Hutong Cuisine cooking school combines local market tours with classes in a three-hour hands-on experience. The instruction takes place in various hutongs, traditional stone residences that date from the 13th century. All classes are conducted in English and include cleaver and wok skills, leading to the preparation of three dishes that are served to the group for lunch. hutongcuisine.com

Great greens. Ritan Park is a verdant oasis in the city’s center and home of the Temple of the Sun, which was built in 1530 and once used for ritual sacrifice by the emperor. Visitors can stroll along the paths, wander through rock gardens or, when the weather is right, stumble across locals flying colorful, fluttering kites.

Dig InFor an extreme Asian food

experience, the Dong Hua Men Night Market features a variety of tasty delicacies such as fried starfish, the ever-popular scorpion on a stick, and silk worms. bit.ly/PHaV8O

Wall crawling:  It’s a half-day’s travel from Beijing, but seeing the spectacular Great Wall is well worth the journey. The two most visited areas are the sections named Ba Da Ling and Jyong Guan. bit.ly/PHaIm9