Top 10 Hutongs in Beijing City

20/03/2012
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There is a saying that the real culture of Beijing is the culture of hutong. No matter you are a new visitor here, or have already been in this city for years, hutongs are always a best place for you to get close to the real life of Beijing.

Here are the brief introduction about the Top 10 recommended hutongs in Beijing.

1. Nanluoguxiang: The most popular Hutong in Beijing

In the northern part of the Dongcheng District, Nanluoguxiang is located just a few kilometers north of the Forbidden City, near Houhai and Gulou area. It is filled with cages, bars, and shops all designed in classic Chinese Hutong Style.

Nanluoguxiang, the most popular hutong in Beijing

Nanluoguxiang, the most popular hutong in Beijing


History: NanLuoGuXiang boasts a history of more then 800 years, and from the year of 1206 to 1368 (in Yuan Dynasty). This hutong, extending about 800 meters from the north to the south, was once a buzzing commercial center. During Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), NanLuoGuXiang became a residential place for government officials, celebrities, and elite members of society.

This Hutong has been designated by Beijing government as a historical site for preservation and showcase for Chinese culture while many old Beijing traditional Hutong neighborhoods was pull down in recent years. Intersected by eight East-West hutongs, Nanluoguxiang is a favorite spot for local hipsters, musicians, freelancers, and tourists as there are many stories and cultural experience to be found.

Surrounding attractions: Houhai Lake, Shichahai Lake, Gongwangfu Garden

Getting there: Bus 5, 60, 82, 107, 124 to Gulou, or bus 13, 118, 612, 823 to Luoguxiang

2. Yandaixiejie: One of the most age-old streets in Beijing

History: Yandanxiejie, with 800 years’ history dating back to Ming dynasty, was named as Dayuting East Street at first. It is said that because there were many shopf of China Tobacco pipe (Yandai), the street gradually changed its name as Yandaixiejie ( literallly meaning “Skewed Tobacco Pounch Street”). The peculiar name is not only from the numerous sellers of long stemmed pipe in the past, but also from the Hutong’s shape—a huge tobacco pouch.

Tabacco shops in Yandaixiejie Hutong

Tabacco shops in Yandaixiejie Hutong


Nowadays, Yandaixiejie is a sightseeing street and fully with characteristic shops, where you can find many curiosities such as Chinese antiques, traditional art works and crafts, fashionable and classic clothes, Tibetan accessories as well as Beijing traditional snacks. Besides, differing styles restaurants and trendy bars give the street great reputation.

Location: between Drum Tower and Houhai, extending from Di’anmen Avenue in the east to Shichahai Lake in the west of 300 metres.

Surrounding attractions: Drum Tower, former residence of Guo Moruo

Getting there: Bus 5, 60, 82, 107, 124 to Gulou.

3. Mao’er Hutong: The home to many Relics, Celebrities and Stories

It contains many traditional private gardens and famous former residences which are identified as cultural relics, none of which are officially open to the public.

A small shop in Mao'er Hutong for years

A small shop in Mao'er Hutong for years


History: The history of Mao’er Hutong can be dated back to Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). No. 35 & 37 of Mao’er Hutong is called Empress Gate, which is the former residence of Wan Rong (1906-1946), the empress of the last Qing Emperor, Pu Yi. As the “Last empress” unfortunately, Wan Rong brought honor and fame to her own parents’ dwelling — Mao’er Hutong. The No. 11, Mao’er Hutong is Militarist’s Mansion which was the former residence of Feng Guozhang, one of the major participants in the nightmarish warlord period (1916-1928) in 20th century Chinese history.

Location: in the Dongcheng District, running west to east from Di’anmenwai Avenue to Nanluoguoxiang.

Surrounding attractions: South Lougu Lane, Drum Tower, former residence of Mao Dun

Getting there: Bus 13, 42, 118, 612, 623, 701 to Di’anmendong

4. Guozijian: The Famous “Scholarly” Hutong in Beijing

Located around the corner from the Lama Temple, Guozijian Hutong contains relics of some of Beijing’s most fascinating historical episodes and enclosed by four ancient decorated archways.

Guozijian, the Famous "Scholarly" Hutong in Beijing

Guozijian, the Famous "Scholarly" Hutong in Beijing


Housing the Confucian Temple in the east and the Imperial College in the west, Guozijian is not only a historic site, but gradually becoming a great combination of Beijing’s past and present. A series of buzzing cafés, bars and art galleries cater to China’s hipster crowd, as do the vintage stores.Here, you can enjoy a wonderful combination of antiquity with the avant-garde.

History: Guozijian Hutong gets its name from Guozijian House, an impressive building located at the western end of the lane. This housed the Imperial College, the most esteemed of all educational institutions during the Yuan, Ming(1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911)dynasties. It was the dream destination for ancient China’s aspiring scholars.

Surrounding attractions: Yonghegong Lama Temple, Guozijian House

Getting there: subway line 2 to Yonghegong; bus no. 13, 684 to Guozijian.

5. Liulichang: the most Cultural Hutong in Beijing

Liulichang Street is one of the largest antique markets in China and a great place to go for the traditional “four treasures of the study”(calligraphy brushes, ink, paper and ink stones).

Traditional Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Shops in Liulichang Hutong

Traditional Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Shops in Liulichang Hutong


History: As early as in Dynasty Yuan (1271-1368), Liulichang, indicating the glaze factory, had grown strong and prosperous. In the following three dynasties, the glaze materials provided by Liulichang were used to decorate the imperial palaces, mansions, and gardens, including the most famous Forbidden City and Summer Palace.

Changing and reforming gradually, the factory has developed to a bazaar of antiques, calligraphy works, Chinese paintings, handicrafts and Chinese featured items, where lots of artists and scholars would like to come.

Today’s Liulichang was renovated in early 1980s. Shops and vendors link with each other and sell, exchange, exhibit traditional Chinese antiques, and the scene makes the street fit for its origins.

Location: near the Peace Gate (Hepingmen Wai) of Xicheng District

Renowned shops in Liulichang:
Rongbaozhai: with hundreds of years, it is famous for traditional Chinese painting and calligrapy.
China Bookshop: it is specialized in ancient Chinese books, which cannot be easily found elsewhere.

Getting there: Bus 6, 102, 106, 109, 603 to Liulichang; Subway Line 2 to Hepingmen, Exit D1 or D2.

6. Jinyu Hutong: the most modern Hutong in Beijing

Situated at the Dongcheng district, Jinyu Hutong (Goldfish Alley) is about 567 meters long, starting from North Dongdan treet in the east, connecting the Donghua Men (Donghua Gate) of the Forbidden City in west, adjacent to Xitangzi Hutong in the north.

Chinese Stone Lion in front of the door of a Siheyuan in Jinyu Hutong

Chinese Stone Lion in front of the door of a Siheyuan in Jinyu Hutong


Next to the commercial area of Wangfujing, this Hutong connects many big brand hotels and large shopping centers together. The buildings aside the road show the beauty of lights in the night, making it a nice place to enjoy the night cen of Beijing.

After strolling along Wangfujing, Jinyu Hutong will be an ideal alternative for you. Meanwhile, local people usually like to exercise or just take a walking along the high walls of Forbidden City, including the echoing vendors’ cries.

Surrounding attractions: Wangfujing Avenue, St. Joseph’s Wangfujing Church

Getting there: bus 103, 104, 108, 111, 420, 614 to Dengshixikou; subway Line 5 to Dengshikou, Exit C.

7. Dongjiaomingxiang: the longest hutong in Beijing

Located in Dongcheng District, Beijing, Dongjiaominxiang Hutong starts from Tiananmen Square E. Rd in the west and gets connected to Chongwenmennei Avenue in the east, extending for nearly 3 kilometers as the longest hutong in old Beijing.

St. Michael's Church in Dongjiaominxiang which was built in 1901

St. Michael's Church in Dongjiaominxiang which was built in 1901


History: Dongjiaominxiang came into being in the late 13th century when Marco Polo visited China. At that time, grains from the south of Yangtze River were transported to Dadu, the capital of Yuan Dynasty, along the Grand Canal and then unloaded and stored there. That’s why this lane was formerly named as Jiangmixiang. And it was called Beijing’s “Embassy Row” in the early 20th century. Dongjiaominxiang was a district where foreign legations were located before liberation and had served as Beijing’s diplomatic center for over 700 years since the Yuan Dynasty. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the area continued to serve as an embassy zone, with many new diplomatic buildings constructed.

Surrounding Attractions: The Beijing Police Museum, Tian’anmen Square, Dongjiaominxiang Church, Laoshe Tea House

Getting there: Bus 9, 673, 692, 723, 729 to Chongwenmenxi; Subway Line 2 to Qianmen, Exit A.

8. Xijiaominxiang Hutong: the Original Financial Street

Located in the southern part of Xicheng District, Xijiaominxiang is next to Tian’anmen and Qianmen. Winding about 1,000 meters long and 10 meters wide, this Hutong is larger than the average hutongs and has unique history.

Xijiaomingxiang, the original financial street in Old Beijing

Xijiaomingxiang, the original financial street in Old Beijing


History: Xijiaominxiang was first built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but became prominent about 100 years ago when several domestic and overseas banks chose to open in that location, making it the city’s original financial street.

Some architectures of old banks are still there, including the former sites of the Central Bank, China Agriculture and Industry Bank and Mainland Bank.

In the Xijiaominxiang Hutong, there is China Numismatic Museum. This intriguing three-floor museum traces the development of money production in China, from the spade-shaped coins of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.) to coinage and paper currency in the modern era.

Surrounding attractions: Tian’anmen Square, Qianmen Street, China Numismatic Museum

Getting there: Bus 9, 44, 67, 301, 608, 673, 901 to Qianmenxi; Subway Line 2 to Hepingmen, Exit B1.

9. Ju’er Hutong: a Hutong with Historical Change

Located in northwest Dongcheng district, Ju’er Hutong, extending 400-meter long, is bordered by Jiaodaokou South Road to the east and Nanluoguxiang to the west, and many other lanes are around this area.

Taste the delicious food in a local restaurant in Ju'er Hutong

Taste the delicious food in a local restaurant in Ju'er Hutong


History: Ju’er hutong was first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368). During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Ju’er Hutong was a gathering place for people of the Xiang Huang Division (an upper class group of the eight divisions commanded by the emperor). And No. 3, 5 and 7 houses are the former residence of Rong Lu, a provincial governor and right-hand man of Empress Dowager Cixi.

Surrounding attractions: Nanluoguxiang (South Lougu Lane), Yonghegong (Lama Temple)

Getting there: Bus 104, 108, 113, 612, 758 to Jiaodaokou South

10. Bada Hutong: “Red Light District” of Old Beijing

Bada Hutong, literally means the “eight great ” hutongs, is located in the Xicheng District. It is mainly consisted of eight alleys, namely Shaaxi Alley, Baishun Hutong, Shitou Hutong, Hanjiatan Alley, Wangguangfu Street, Rouge Hutong, Waikuoying Hutong (or Zhujia Hutong) and Pimp Hutong (or Li Gauzecap Hutong).

An old hotel in Bada Hutong

An old hotel in Bada Hutong


History: In the past, Bada Hutong had been the largest ‘red light district’ in Beijing. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Bada Hutong was housing more than 2,000 brothels.

With varied brothels different from ordinary houses, the structure of each brothel has each own style. After 1949, many brothels were turned into hotels or residences. However, even though most of the area has been rebuilt, you can still feel much about the old Beijing there.

Surrounding attractions: Dashila, Qianmen Street, Liulichang