Once you take a tour in Beijing, you'll never miss a Beijing hutong tour, because the real culture of Beijing is ‘the culture of hutong’ and ‘the culture of wourtyard’. When taking a bird’s eye view of Beijing City, you can find that the combination of hutongs and courtyards are just like an orderly chessboard and the narrow lanes are as numberless as the hairs on an ox. You may get lose in the hundreds of hutongs, wanting to find the old stories but don’t where to go.
Here are the Top 10 hutongs in Beijing for you to exploring Beijing’s traditional side, and experiencing the real life of the locals in Beijing.
Nanluoguxiang, located just a few kilometers north of the Forbidden City, boasts a history of more than 800 years. It was once a buzzing commercial center and gradually became a residential place for government officials, celebrities, and elite members of society during Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911).
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 pulled 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. You can take a rickshaw or bike through the hutongs yourself to closely explore the REAL life of the locals.
Yandaixiejie, literally meaning "Skewed Tobacco Pouch Street", was named as Dayuting East Street at Ming Dynasty. It is said that because there were many shops of China Tobacco pipe (Yandai), the street gradually changed its name as Yandaixiejie. 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.
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.You can also visit a Local Family to experience their lifestyle and learn to make dumplings with them
The history of Mao’er Hutong can be dated back to Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It contains many traditional private gardens and amous former residences, such as 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, and the No. 11 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 20 the century Chinese history.
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. It gets its name from Guozijian House, an impressive building located at the western end of the lane.
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.
Most popular Beijing Tours with a visit to Guozijian:
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).
As early as in Dynasty Yuan (1271-1368), Liulichang, indicating the glaze factory, had grown strong and prosperous. 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. Now, Liulichang Street is famous for collecting essence of Chinese culture.
Next to the commercial area of Wangfujing, Jinyu Hutong (Goldfish Alley) 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 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.
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.
Dongjiaominxiang came into being in the late 13th century when Marco Polo visited China. 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.