Exploring Beijing’s Old Alleyways: Six Hutongs That You Must Visit

Hutongs form a special part of Beijing’s rich cultural history, giving a glimpse into the old way of life and culture here in the North. The word hutong itself, means ‘lane’ or ‘alleyway’ and originated from the word ‘hottog’ meaning ‘a well’ in ancient Mongolian, reminiscent of the olden wells that villagers would dig. Often known as Beijing’s old alleyways, these gray-tiled houses and similarly looking alleyway crossings are pretty much identical in appearance, giving it an almost maze-like feeling when walking through. It’s pretty easy to get lost here because everything looks the same.

Here are some of Beijing’s most famous Hutongs that you should visit.

 

Dongxijiaominxiang Hutong

This is one of Beijing’s longest hutongs, stretching approximately 6.5 kilometers in length. Found to the east of the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and Tian’anmen Square; this hutong itself is pretty unique, combining Chinese characteristics with western style buildings.

 

Yichidajie or Yangmeizhuxiejie Hutong

Yichidajie also known as ‘One Foot Street’ is one of the shortest hutongs in Beijing stretching about 10 meters in length. With only six shops in the street; here you will find engraving shops, a winery and a barbershop. This hutong can be found on the west side of Yangmeizhuxiejie Street  which is located on the south-west of Outer Qianmen Street.

 

Lingjing Hutong

Lingjing Hutong is one of Beijing’s broadest hutongs, with a width of approximately 32 meters. It is located in the east-west side of the Xidan District.

 

Qianshi Hutong

Whilst Lingjing Hutong maybe the broadest one here; Qianshi Hutong is most famously known as the narrowest hutong. How narrow can it be? Well with a width of 0.4 meters in some parts, I’d say, that’s pretty narrow for a street! Qianshi Hutong is located to west side of Zhubaoshi Street, near the famous commercial area of Dashanlan.

 

Jiuwan Hutong

Another popular hutong is Jiuwan, which is located in the eastern part of the Xuanwu District. This hutong stretches to more than 390 meters long.

 

Sanmiaojie Hutong

Sanmiaojie Hutong is one of Beijing’s oldest hutongs, dating back to the Liao Dynasty over 900 years ago. This hutong is located behind the Guohua Shopping Mall in the Xicheng District of Beijing.

 

Have you visited any other hutongs in Beijing? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Hi World! I'm Shal - an environmental microbiologist, writer, teacher and artist from Durban, South Africa. I've spent the last two years traveling and teaching Chemistry and English to young kids in Asia. Life of Shal was founded as a way to share travel experiences, tips and other worldly magic with you! Join me on my journey!

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