In this capital of the most populous country on the planet, a 15-minute ride brings you to a peaceful refuge at the Lama Temple. Built in 1694 by Qing Dynasty emperor Kangxi, an extreme makeover in 1744 turned this into an all-lacquered Tibetan Buddhist temple. Mao’s most worldly deputy, Premier Zhou Enlai, protected the religious shrine known here as Yonghe Gong during the Cultural Revolution. Exchange a few renminbi for a handful of sandalwood-infused incense sticks, then follow crimson-robed Gelugpa monks from the main Hall of Harmony and Peace to our favorite Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses, where the towering 26-meter-tall Buddha of the Future was carved from a single piece of sandalwood. Next, head north along Yonghegong Street toward King’s Joy, an exquisite vegetarian restaurant where the chef is a former Buddhist monk. Continue on to Guozijian Street and Lost and Found. The buttery-soft leather club chairs and sleek 1950s-inspired black-walnut tables here can be ordered online, so focus instead on adding a well-cut linen frock to your travel wardrobe. Craving more culture? Head to the Temple of Confucius where, for 600 years, China’s best and brightest came to take their civil-service exams. Today, you may very well see high school students from around the country, here to pray for high scores on their gaokao (higher-education exams). Finally, cross the street to Liuxianguan Teahouse to gaze back at the Confucian shrine’s crimson walls and sloping saffron roofs as you sip Yunnanese pu-erh and snack on candied kumquats.