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Hutong is a type of narrow streets and alleys. Surrounding the Forbidden City, Hutongs were firstly built to establish supreme power for emperors; they planned the city and arranged the residential areas according to the etiquette systems of the Zhou Dynasty. Coming to the new era, China started to build new road and foster the local economy, many Hutongs were demolished. Now some area is protected by the government in order to preserve this precious culture heritage.  Hutongs represents an important cultural element of Beijing City. In contrast to the court life and elite culture represented by the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven, the hutongs reflect culture of grassroots Beijingers. The hutongs are residential neighborhoods which still form the heart of old Beijing. Local resident still live there and keep original life style. Each Hutong has a name; some shows the location like “Xizhimen Hutong” and some shows what’s inside it, like “Yangshi Hutong”. Among them, Shishahai Hutong and Peking legation quarter are the most famous Hutongs among tourists.    

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Map of Hutongs

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Attractions surrounding
Hutongs

Sacred Way

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Lama Temple

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Useful Things for Hutongs

Of the more than 1,000 Hutongs left there are some distinctive ones, attracting thousands of tourists from home and abroad, the longest one is the Dongjiaominxiang Hutong, with a total length of 6.5 kilometers (4 miles), lying between Chang'an Avenue and East and West Qianmen Streets.

The shortest one is the Yichi Street, measuring about 25 meters (82 feet). The Jiuwan Hutong, with about 13 turns, is the most tortuous one and can easily make you lost. The narrowest is the Qianshi (Money Market) Hutong, measuring about 30 to 40 meters (32 to 44 yards), located in Zhubaoshi Street outside the Qianmen Gate. The narrowest part is merely 40 centimeters (16 inches) wide, so when two people meet, they must turn sideways to pass each other.

The widest one is the Lingjing Hutong in Xicheng District. The one with the longest history is the Sanmiaojie Hutong, whose construction can be traced back to the Liao Dynasty (907–1125). The lanes have their own layout and structure, and when viewed from the air the combination of the lanes and courtyards resemble a chessboard with delicate gardens, fine rockeries and ancient ruins this makes them a wonder in the world. Because of the cross interlacement of the lanes every houses connected to the other, making it easy for local people to keep in touch with their neighbors. Therefore, once one enters any of the lanes, one can feel the deep and warm relationships among people, which is rarely found in this modern world.

How to get around in Hutongs:

The best way to experience hutong life is to simply wander around the alleys, either on foot or by bicycle. Good places to start include the alleys around the Drum Tower, those branching off from the newly-gentrified bar-street alley called Nanluogu Xiang and those found directly southwest of Tiananmen Square in an area known as Dashilan.

For something more regal, try the imperial hutong courtyards, including those once lived in by royal eunuchs, in the area immediately northeast of Jingshan Park, just north of the Forbidden City. If you're keen on retail therapy, one must-see hutong is Nanluoguxiang in the Gulou, or Drum and Bell Tower, district, which has several kilometers of shops, galleries and cafés that range from the chic to the kitschy.

You'll find lots of cool T-shirts here (Plastered has a good line) featuring tricked-out images of everything from Mao Zedong to garden gnomes. You can go around those existent hutongs by richshaw too. You will visit local families, eat home cooked lunch and learn Beijing folk arts (Papercutting, Inside Painted Snuff Bottles, Shuttlecock and Yoyo), having an authentic picture of Beijing.

How to Get To the Best-known Hutongs:

Dongjiaomin Xiang or Beijing Legation Quarter (东交民巷)

1. Dongjiaomin Xiang or Beijing Legation Quarter (东交民巷) Location: on the east of Tiananmen Square Surrounding attractions: Tian’anmen Square, St. Michaels Church, and the Forbidden City Buses: 2, 20, 22, 120, 126, 203, 210, Special Line 1, or Special Line 2 to Tian’anmen Square East Subway: Line 2 to Qianmen, Exit A, or Line 2 or Line 5 to Chongwenmen, Exit A

2. Xijiaomin Xiang (西交民巷) Location: on the west of Tian’anmen Square Surrounding attractions: Tian’anmen Square, National Center for the Performing Arts, China Numismatic Museum, and the Forbidden City Buses: 2, 5, 20, 120, 126, 210, Special Line 1, or Special Line 2 to Tian’anmen West Subway: Line 2 to Qianmen, Exit A, or Hepingmen, Exit B1 or B2 3.

Guozijian Street (国子监街) Location:east of Andingmen Inner Avenue and around the corner from Yonghegong Lama Temple, Dongcheng District Surrounding attractions: Yonghegong Lama Temple, Guozijian, Confucius Temple, and the Temple of Earth Getting there: bus No. 13 or 684 to Guozijian stop; Subway line 2 or line 5 to Yonghegong Lama Temple 4.

Tobacco Pouch Street (烟袋斜街) Location: west off Di’anmen Outer Avenue, Xicheng District Surrounding attractions: the Drum Tower Buses: 5, 82, 124, 210, or 635 to Gulou 5.

Nanluogu Xiang (南锣鼓巷) Location: between Di'anmen East Avenue and Gulou East Avenue, Dongcheng District Surrounding attractions: Ju’er Hutong, Mao’er Hutong, and Sengge Rinchen Palace Buses: 13, 60, 118, 612, or 623 to Luogu Xiang, or 107, 124, or 204 to Xiaojingchang 6.

Mao’er Hutong (帽儿胡同) Location: running west to east from Di’anmen Outer Avenue to Nanluoguo Xiang, Dongcheng District Surrounding attractions: Nanluogu Xiang and Ju’er Hutong, the Drum Tower, and Keyuan Garden, Buses: 60, 82, 90, 107, 124, or 204 to Di’anmenwai 7.

Ju’er Hutong (菊儿胡同) Location: start from Jiaodaokou South Avenue to Nanluogu Xiang, Dongcheng District Surrounding attractions: Nanluogu Xiang and Mao’er Hutong Buses: 90, 104, 108, 113, 612, or 758 to Jiaodaokou South 8.

Liulichang Street (琉璃厂) Location: near Peace Gate (Hepingmen), running from west to east from Nanliu Xiang to Yanshou Street and intersecting South Xinhua Avenue, Xuanwu District Famous shops in Liulichang: Rongbaozhai and China Bookshop Buses: 7, 14, 15, 66, or 70 to Liulichang Subway: Line 2 to Hepingmen, Exit D1 or D2 9.

Jinyu Hutong (金鱼胡同) Location: from Dongdan North Avenue to Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District Surrounding attractions: Wangfujing Street and Wangfujing Church (St. Joseph's Wangfujing Cathedral) Buses: 106, 108, 110, 111, 116, 204, 614 684, or 685 to Mishi Street Subway: Line 5 to Dengshikou, Exit C 10.

The Eight Hutongs (八大胡同) Location: between West Zhushikou Street and Tieshu (Sago Palm) Street Surrounding attractions: Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and Liulichang Street Buses: 2, 20, 48, 59, 66, 69, 77, 120, 201, 203, 626, 729, Special Line 7, or Special Line 11to Dashanlan (near Dali Hutong and Xiaoli Hutong), or Bus 5 to Wanming Road (near Stone Hutong)

Wonderful Beijing Tours including Visit to Hutongs

Hotels surrounding Hutongs

Taoran Gardan Hotel - Beijing

19 Taiping Street, Xuanwu District (北京市宣武区太平街19号)

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Xinxing Hotel Beijing

No. 17 Xisanhuan Zhonglu

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Beijing Nobletimes Hotel

No.40 Liu Li Jing Lu Sha Zi Kou Yong Ding Men Wai

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Beijing Yindu Hotel

No.6 Liuliqiao, Xisanhuan Nanlu

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