There are most significant sights in the center district of Beijing. At the core is the Forbidden City, with Tiananmen Square and Qian Men to the south, and the shopping district of Wangfujing to its east. North of the Forbidden City stand the Drum and Bell Towers, and farther northeast is the Buddhist Lama Temple. North of Bei Hai Park, the Mansion of Prince Gong stands in an historic district of hutongs, the old alleyways that riddle the city. To the south, Tian Tan, known as the Temple of Heaven, is a majestic example of Ming dynasty design. Beijing’s suburbs are also dotted with sites including the magnificent Summer Palace complex.
A system of ring roads encircles the city center, and the best way to explore this area is by taxi, by subway, or by bicycle. The bus service, though extensive, is generally slow and overcrowded. Organized tours are another option for a quick overview of the sights. Most hotels and agencies operate tour buses for visiting sights outside Beijing, although hiring a taxi for the day allows for greater flexibility.