A hutong is a street or alley bounded on both sides by old buildings in courtyard compounds. Of all the hundreds of hutongs in Beijing, here is our selection of the top hutongs for tourism - they each have something special about them.
In the hutongs, you'll see the way of life of "common" Beijingers (some hutong residents were actually famous and rich). It contrasts greatly with the imperial culture of places like the Forbidden City. You should not miss the hutongs as they will give you a different persective on Beiing and its history.
1. Dongxijiaomin Xiang Is the Longest Hutong
Dongxijiaomin Hutong is 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) long and combines the former foreign legation area of Dongjiaomin Xiang (东交民巷) and the banking street Xijiaomin Hutong (2. below). The long hutong is mainly famous for its old foreign-built buildings and the historical events that happened there. It is popular among tourists and is listed 371 of the 1,566 Things to Do in Beijing on TripAdvisor . There is a huge famous Quanjude Roast Duck restaurant on it.
In the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), it was called Dongjiangmi Xiang ('East River Rice Lane'), as it was next to the river port where rice and food from the south were unloaded for distribution in Beijing. After the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, the hutong was renamed the Legation Quarter (Dongjiaomin Xiang, as shown on official maps from then on). It became an area managed by foreign legations, and all Chinese residents in the area had to move out.
- Chinese: 东西交民巷 Dōngxījiāomín Xiàng /dong-sshee-jyao-min sshyang/ 'East West Intersection People's Alley'
- Location: on the east of Tiananmen Square
- Surrounding attractions: Tian'anmen Square, St. Michaels Church, and the Forbidden City
- Subway: Line 2 to Qianmen, Exit A, or Line 2 or Line 5 to Chongwenmen, Exit A
- Buses: 2, 20, 22, 120, 126, 203, 210, Special Line 1, or Special Line 2 to Tian'anmen Square East
2. Xijiaomin Xiang
Xijiaomin Xiang and Dongjiaomin Xiang were called by a joint name Jiaomi Xiang in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Xijiaomin Xiang is west of the Forbidden City and west of Dongjiaomin Xiang. It is famous as old Beijing's financial street, and along the kilometer (3,280 feet) long street, you can sightsee the old banks.
About the time of the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) and the beginning of the Republic of China (about 1900), there were many banks constructed along it. The Daqing Bank was founded in 1905, and it is the most famous Chinese-funded bank because it was the first central bank in Chinese history. It was once called Hubu Bank, and in 1912, Sun Yat-sen, the president of the Republic of China, announced its reorganization to become the Bank of China.
At the east entrance of Xijiaomin Xiang, there is Continental Bank. It's said to be the highest quality Western-style classical building ever designed by a Chinese architect. The Central Bank's former site, the Agriculture and Industry Bank of China's former site, and the Continental Bank's former site were listed as officially protected monuments and sites by the Beijing government.
- Chinese: 西交民巷 Xījiāomín Xiàng /sshee-jyao-min sshyang/ 'Western Intersection People's Alley'
- Location: on the west of Tian'anmen Square
- Surrounding attractions: Tian'anmen Square, National Center for the Performing Arts, China Numismatic Museum, the Forbidden City, Daqing Bank and Continental Bank
- Subway: Line 2 to Qianmen, Exit A, or Hepingmen, Exit B1 or B2
- Buses: 2, 5, 20, 120, 126, 210, Special Line 1, or Special Line 2 to Tian'anmen West
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3. Guozijian Street
Guozijian Street was formerly known as Chengxian Street (成贤街). It is listed as an important historical site, and for tourists, there is extraordinary ancient architecture there since the Guozijian (Imperial College) and the Confucius Temple (1302) are located in this street. Yonghegong Lama Temple is next to the east entrance of the street.
Built in 1306, the Guozijian at 15 Guozijian Street (国子监街15号) was the highest educational institution of the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties that was built to train state bureaucrats. The Confucius Temple was a place to sacrifice to Confucius during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.
The Yonghegong Lama Temple was originally built in 1694 and was once the residence of the Yongzheng Emperor. There are four pailous (traditional Chinese archways) on the street.
- Chinese: 国子监街 Guózǐjiàn Jiē /gwor-dzrr-jyen jyeah/ 'Imperial College Street'
- Location: east of Andingmen Inner Avenue and around the corner from Yonghegong Lama Temple, Dongcheng District
- Surrounding attractions: Yonghegong Lama Temple, Guozijian Imperial Academy, Confucius Temple, and the Temple of Earth
- Getting there: Subway line 2 or line 5 to Yonghegong Lama Temple; bus 13 or 684 to Guozijian
4. Tobacco Pouch Street
Tobacco Pouch Street is one of the oldest byways in Beijing, and it is one of the famous and beautiful cultural streets of Beijing. While many landmarks in Beijing are of China's imperial heritage, this street preserves the character of a commoner street in Beijing and highlights some of the traditional customs.
It is very popular at 40 of 1,566 Things to Do in Beijing on TripAdviser. While visiting, you can shop for all types of tourist products, eat at the restaurants and numerous street stalls, and stay in the hotels.
During the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), it was a business street mainly selling smoking sets, antique jade, and picture mounts. Guangfu Temple, built in 1459, is located there. The basic architectural style of Tobacco Pouch Street has not changed. it is one of the hutongs selected for preservation.
- Chinese: 烟袋斜街 Yāndàixié Jiē /yen-dye-sshyeah jyeah/ 'Tobacco Pipe Diagonal Street'
- Location: west off Di'anmen Outer Avenue, Xicheng District
- Surrounding attractions: the Drum Tower
- Buses: 5, 82, 124, 210, or 635 to Gulou ('Drum Tower')
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5. Nanluogu Xiang
Nanlougu Hutong is for scenic pedicab rides and dining, and it is one of the top tourist shopping streets with both Chinese style and international restaurants. It is a few kilometers from the Forbidden City. It is one of the oldest streets in Beijing, and the traditional Yuan Dynasty style layout is among the best preserved in the country.
Both sides of Nanluogu Xiang connect with eight east-west hutongs. Therefore, it looks like a centipede, and it is also called Wugong Xiang (centipede alley). Those eight east-west hutongs include the famous Ju'er Hutong and Mao'er Hutong (see below). Many former famous Chinese people's residences are located in the hutongs around Nanluogu.
- Chinese: 南锣鼓巷 Nánluógǔxiàng /nan-lwor-goo sshyang/ 'South Gong Drum Alley'
- 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
Mao'er Hutong contains many traditional private gardens and celebrities' former residences. Keyuan Garden in Mao'er Hutong is the former residence of Wen Yu, a grand secretary of Emperor Guangxu (1871–1908) of the Qing Dynasty. It imitates the Humble Administrator's Garden and the Lion Grove in Suzhou. It is one of the best-preserved private gardens in Beijing.
Numbers 35 and 37 of Mao'er Hutong are the former residence of Wan Rong (1906–1946), the last empress of Chinese history. The former residence of Feng Guozhang (1859–1919), one of the major Chinese warlords, is also located in Mao'er Hutong.
- Chinese: 帽儿胡同 Màoérhútòng /mao-arr hoo-tong/ 'Hat Hutong'
- 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)
Numbers 3, 5, and 7 of Ju'er Hutong are the former residence of Rong Lu (1836-1903), a minister of the late Qing Dynasty who was appreciated by Empress Dowager Cixi. Numbers 3 and 5 were listed as officially protected monuments and sites in 1988. Number 7 was the Afghan embassy.
At the end of the 1980s, some of the siheyuans of Ju'er Hutong were remodeled, and this program obtained World Habitat Awards from the United Nations.
- Chinese: 菊儿胡同 Júér Hútòng /jyoo-arr hoo-tong/ 'Chrysanthemum Hutong'
- Location: the lane stretches from Jiaodaokou South Avenue to Nanluogu Xiang
- Surrounding attractions: Nanluogu Xiang and Mao'er Hutong (above)
- Buses: 90, 104, 108, 113, 612, or 758 to Jiaodaokou South
8. Liulichang Street
Liulichang literally means "glazed glass factory." Royal kilns in Liulichang Street provided glaze materials for imperial palaces, mansions, and gardens. That is why it is called Liulichang.
In the early Qing Dynasty, antique shops were set up, and in the Qianlong period (1736-1795) , it became the distribution center for antiques, calligraphy works, Chinese paintings, and the "scholar's four jewels" (writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper). Still there are many shops selling antiques, calligraphy works, and Chinese paintings. Founded in 1672, the famous Rongbaozhai still keeps operating.
Liulichang Street is a well known cultural hutong in China.
- 琉璃厂古文化街 Liúlichǎng Gǔwénhuà Jiē /lyoh-lee-chaang goo-wnn-hwaa jyeah/ 'Glazed Glass Works Old Culture Street'
- 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
- Subway: Line 2 to Hepingmen, Exit D1 or D2
- Buses: 7, 14, 15, 66, or 70 to Liulichang
9. Jinyu Hutong
Jinyu Hutong is 567 meters long. The east entrance of it is 44 meters wide and the west entrance is 12 meters wide. The Xianliang Temple, one of the eight Buddhist temples built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), is in the middle of Jinyu Hutong. Sadly, many buildings of Xianliang Temple no longer exist.
Connecting with the renowned commercial area, Wangfujing Street, Jinyu Hutong is a business street. The famous Peace Hotel, Wangfu Hotel, and Peking Eastern House are located there.
- Chinese: 金鱼胡同 /jin-yoo hoo-tong/ Jīnyú Hútòng 'Goldfish Hutong'
- Location: from Dongdan North Avenue to Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District
- Surrounding attractions: Wangfujing Street and Wangfujing Church (St. Joseph's Wangfujing Cathedral)
- Subway: Line 5 to Dengshikou, Exit C
- Buses: 106, 108, 110, 111, 116, 204, 614 684, or 685 to Mishi Street
10. The Eight Hutongs
The Eight Hutongs are a cluster of eight preserved hutongs that was a nightspot in the old days of Beijing, and they have been preserved. They are still places where people can see residential hutongs and the old-fashioned Beijing hutong lifestyle of common people in the central city.
They were founded during the Qianlong Emperor period (1735–96). Lady Sai Jinhua (1872–1936), a once famous prostitute and influential lady, once lived there.
The Shortest Hutong - Yichidajie (一尺大街)
Yichidajie (yīchǐdàjiē /ee-chrr-dah-jyeah/) is the shortest in the 8 hutongs, and it is notable as the shortest hutong in Beijing. The English translation is 'One Foot Street.' It is only about 10 meters long and is located in the southeast on the eastern side of Glazed Glass Street (琉璃厂东街东口东南) (see above). There are six shops in the street: the three shops in the north are engraving shops, and the three in the south are a winery, a smithy and a barbershop.
Yichidajie is incorporated as the western part of Yangmeizhuxiejie Street (杨梅竹斜街) now. Yangmeizhuxiejie Street is located southwest of Outer Qianmen Street and is 500 meters from the west side of Dashanlan Street (大栅栏街).
- Chinese: 八大胡同 Bādà Hútòng /baa-daa hoo-tong/ 'Eight Big Hutongs'
- 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)
Other Interesting Hutongs
The Broadest Hutong - Lingjing Hutong (灵境胡同)
Lingjing Hutong is an east-west oriented hutong in Beijing Xidan District (西单); the broadest part is 32.18 meters.
The Narrowest Hutong - Qianshi Hutong (钱市胡同)
Qianshi Hutong is to the west side of Beijing Zhubaoshi Street (珠宝市街), near the famous commercial area of Dashanlan (大栅栏). It has long been the narrowest hutong in Beijing. It is 55 meters long, 0.7 meters in width and 0.4 meters in its narrowest part. Two people facing each other have to go through the hutong sideways. At the end of the hutong is a courtyard, with an awning above it and bedrooms beside it. The courtyard is a remnant of a monetary market in the Qing Dynasty, where ancient official currencies were exchanged, and it was an early form of a financial market.
The Most Tortuous Hutong - Jiuwan Hutong (九湾胡同)
Jiuwan Hutong ('9 Bends Hutong') is located in the east part of Xuanwu District. Its eastern entrance is connected to Puchenshi Hutong (铺陈市胡同) and the western entrance is connected to Xiaoweiying Hutong (校尉营胡同). It is 390 meters long with more than 13 tortuous lengths, which is why it is called the most tortuous hutong in Beijing.
The Oldest Hutong - Sanmiaojie Hutong (三庙街胡同)
Sanmiaojie Hutong is behind Guohua Shopping Mall, Changchun Street, Xicheng District, Beijing. It is a historical hutong which can be dated back to 900 years ago, to the Liao Dynasty (907 AD-1125 AD).
The Coolest Hutong - Wudaoying Hutong (五道营胡同)
East meets West in hip-and-happening Wudaoying hutong, a great stop for travelers and Beijing-dwellers alike. This renovated hutong holds all kinds of Western comforts, from coffee to fast food, to slightly more fancy dining, and even Mexican food.
Touring the Hutongs with China Highlights
The hutongs reflect the culture of the common people, while the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven are symbols of imperial culture. To get to know Beijing, you should not miss the hutongs during a Beijing tour!
- Private 4-Day Emperor's Tour of Beijing - We'll help you pick the hutongs you'd most like while you tour the major sights such as the Great Wall.
All our tours can include the hutongs. Contact us for a customized itinerary.