Nanluoguxiang is the coolest place in Beijing,Beijing Nanluoguxiang Tour

03/12/2010
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Hereunder is one part of Beijing tour feedback from one of our travelers, Christine.

I want to thank you for arranging our travels within Beijing. Everything came together without a hitch and Lyan and I had a most wonderful time in China. Now what can I say about Beijing except wow! We witnessed some of the most amazing sights and performances, indeed too numerous to list. But the coolese place in my mind is Nanluoguxiang, which is the highlight of our trip, and leaves me more wow!”

Every city has an area that is slick and hip. New York has Greenwich Village, London boasts the King’s Road and Tokyo hipsters hang out in Harajuku. So where do you go in Beijing when you are looking for all that is cool?  NLGX is the place – or Nanluoguxiang for those foreigners who can get their tongue around the hutong’s name.

Go shopping in Nanluoguxiang of Beijing, and  is full of interesting craft shops, relaxing cafes and trendy bars.

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Nanluoguxiang in Beijing

Nanluoguxiang, a fusion of old and new Beijing, is an 800-meter long alley lined with cool cafes, bars and curio shops.

Nanluoguxiang, meaning South Gong Lane, is about 800 years old. During the Yuan Dynasty, so between 1206 and 1368, this area was a buzzing commercial centre.

Later, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, so between 1368 and 1911, NLGX hutong was a residential area for government officials and elite members of society. Today, it is largely musicians, artists, souvenir shoppers, hipsters and tourists who hang out there.

NLGX runs north to south and is intersected by eight hutongs that run from east to west. Each hutong is brimming with its own history and folktales. While bulldozers have flattened many of Beijing’s hutongs to make way for the construction of shopping malls and towering office blocks, NLGX has been spared. The Beijing government has designated NLGX as a historical site worth preserving.

Since receiving a facelift in 2006, NLGX has blossomed into one of the capital’s main tourist attractions. There, you can find shops selling all sorts of curios and unusual souvenirs. Nanluoguxiang is nigh on a brand name itself, having become synonymous with Beijing urban cool.

But while the hip crowds flock here to lap up the ambience, as well as the alley’s funky fashions et al there are some who say that the neighbourhood has lost its original charm. Long-term residents are being pushed out by the rising rents while business people move in to serve up cappuccinos, flog a Red Army hat or two or to sell kitschy Mao memorabilia. Who says communism and capitalism can’t mix?