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Past and Present of Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷)

Nanluoguxiang was built in A.D. 1276, the same year the capital of the Yuan Dynasty (A.D. 1271 - 1368) was built. With a history of over 740 years, it is one of the oldest Hutongs in Beijing. Nanluoguxiang and its surrounding areas were once the capital city center of the Yuan Dynasty. At that time, Beijing city is not divided by districts but by Fang (坊). There are 50 Fang in total separated by straight lanes, so the whole city looks like a chessboard. Nanluoguxiang is the boundary of Zhaohui Fang and Jinggong Fang. In the Ming (A.D. 1368 - 1644) and Qing (A.D. 1644-1911) Dynasties, Nanluoguxiang remains a place where the noble and rich gather, which leaves various forms of mansions and houses here.

Nowadays, Nanluoguxiang has become a combination of traditional Beijing Hutong and refurbished pedestrian street. The structure of Fang in the Yuan Dynasty is well preserved and the main lane now houses numerous souvenir shops, snack stores, small boutiques, bars, restaurants, cafes, etc. You can have a taste of the history, culture, art, and modernity of Beijing City in this ancient block.

Nanluoguxiang Entrance of Nanluoguxiang

Where is Nanluoguxiang

Nanluoguxiang is located at Di'anmen East Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing (北京东城区地安门东大街), only about 5km to the north of Beijing center.

From Tian'anmen Square (Beijing Center): about 5km, 30 minutes’ drive

From the Forbidden City: about 4km, 25 minutes’ drive

From the Temple of Heaven: about 8km, 40 minutes’ drive

From the Summer Palace: about 18km, 45 minutes’ drive

From Beijing South Railway Station: about 15km, 50 minutes’ drive

From Beijing Capital International Airport: about 30km, 1 hour’s drive

Nanluoguxiang Nanluoguxiang Location Map (Click to Enlarge)

Nanluoguaxiang Layout

Nanluoguxiang is a 787m long, 8m wide south-north lane aligned with 8 Hutongs respectively on both sides, continuing the "chessboard" layout passed down from ancient times. From south to north, the 8 Hutongs in the west side are Fuxiang Hutong (福祥胡同), Suoyi Hutong (蓑衣胡同), Yu’er Hutong (雨儿胡同), Mao’er Hutong (帽儿胡同), Jingyang Hutong (景阳胡同), Shajing Hutong (沙井胡同), Heizhima Hutong (黑芝麻胡同), and Qiangulouyuan Hutong (前鼓楼苑胡同). The eastern ones are Chaodou Hutong (炒豆胡同), Banchang Hutong (板厂胡同), Dongmianhua Hutong (东棉花胡同), Beibingmasi Hutong (北兵马司胡同), Qinlao Hutong (秦老胡同), Qianyuanensi Hutong (前圆恩寺胡同), and Ju’er Hutong (菊儿胡同). The whole block is like a big centipede, so it is also called centipede street.

Nanluoguxiang Nanluoguxiang Layout Map (Click to Enlarge)

What to do at Nanluoguxiang

As the most popular Hutong in Beijing, Nanluoguxiang attracts thousands and thousands of people there every year. It is a place where you can meet interesting dingus, have a hearty feast, take a rickshaw ride, and feel the authentic culture of Beijing.

Hunt for Interesting Gadgets and Souvenirs

Nanluoguxiang is a paradise for foodies and people with curiosity. Unlike the large shopping malls, there are full of small stores selling all kinds of souvenirs and traditional Chinese handcrafts such as Chinese folding fan, silk scarf, clay figures, Beijing Opera facial masks, old Beijing cloth shoes (very comfortable and walking-friendly), chi-pao (a close-fitting woman's dress with high neck and slit skirt), Chinese cosmetics, etc. You can also buy some cultural and creative products here like T-shirts with special slogans or patterns on. The shops at Nanluoguxiang will surprise you continuously with unexpected gadgets.

Try Local Snacks and Various Cuisines

When you are at Nanluiguxiang, you can meet many tourists holding sugarcoated haws on a stick, kebab, hot dog, roast crab and other snacks while walking around. You can try some of them, too. At #49 Nanluoguxiang, there is a Wenyu Cheese Shop (文宇奶酪店) which boasts having the best cheese in Beijing. There is usually a long queue in front of the shop. Though people differ in taste, the cheese is still worth a try. Apart from that, Chinese and western restaurants, cafes, and bars are also available. For example, Pass By Bar (过客) serves special pizza and Nepalese drinks, and Fish Nation (鱼邦) gains a high popularity for its fish and chips. The list can goes on and on and waits for you to explore.

Appreciate Traditional Chinese Courtyard (Siheyuan)

It is a big misunderstanding of Nanluoguxiang if you only treat it as a place for shopping and eating. As the former center of the capital of the Yuan Dynasty, many prominent officials and eminent personages have lived here in the past several hundred years. With time passing by, the residences remain though their owners are gone. You will find the previous Prince Seng’s Mansion at Chaodou Hutong, the former residence of Qi Baishi (a Chinese painting master) at Yu’er Hutong, the former residence of Mao Dun (a renowned Chinese modern writer) at Yu’er Hutong, the home of Wanrong (the queen of the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty) at Mao’er Hutong, the Central Academy of Drama (Alma Mater of many famous Chinese directors and actors like Jiang Wen, Gong Li, Zhang Ziyi…) at Dongmianhua Hutong, etc. Most of them adopt the structure of traditional Siheyuan, indicating their witness-position of and vicissitudes in the long history.

Visit around Hutongs on a Rickshaw

Taking a rickshaw ride is a characteristic experience of a Beijing tour. You can easily find rickshaws at Nanluoguxiang (usually at the entrance or nearby Hutongs). There is no fixed price of a rickshaw tour but it is normally charged by distance or by time. Generally speaking, visiting around Nanluoguxiang is about CNY100. The rickshaw drivers are conversable and very familiar with these Hutongs. While sending you to the destination safe and sound, they will tell you the history and stories of the Hutongs and Siheyuan you pass by. For many travellers, it is more of a way to better understand Beijing culture than just a means of transportation.

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Souvenirs and Shops at Nanluoguxiang

Nanluoguxiang Part of Nanluoguxiang Snacks
Nanluoguxiang Former Residence of Qi Baishi
Nanluoguxiang Central Academy of Drama
Nanluoguxiang Beijing Hutong Rickshaw

How to Get to Nanluoguxiang

With favorable geographic location and the metro stop Nanluoguxiang Station being right at the entrance of Nanluoguxiang, it is quite convenient to get there by subway or by bus.

Subway: Take Line 6 or Line 8 to Nanluoguxiang Station (南锣鼓巷站) and get out from exit E.

Bus: Take Bus 13, 118, 3, 612, 60 to Guluoxiang Station (锣鼓巷站); or Bus 42, 701 to Di’anmendong Station (地安门东站); or Bus 124, 107, 635 to Baochao Hutong Station (宝钞胡同站); or Bus 104, 127, 108, 612, 113 to Jiaodaokounan Station (交道口南站).

Travel with China Discovery

As the route for public transportation is not fixed, please remember to double check before going there. If you want to save some time and avoid the transfer troubles, you can consider the tour packages provided by China Discovery. They will cover all the tickets, meals, accommodation, and transportation in your tour so that you can have a worry-free trip with a comfortable vehicle, skilled driver, and professional guide.>>Contact us now

Attractions around Nanluoguxiang

There are many attractions near Nanluoguxiang. One of the landmarks of the ancient Beijing City, the Drum Tower, is only a stone's throw from here. Keep walking several hundred meteres, you will find the pipe-shaped Yandaixie Street is right before your eyes.

Yandaixie Street (烟袋斜街)

Yandaixie Street is about 1km (15 minutes’ walk) to the west of Nanluoguxiang. It is the oldest business street in Beijing with a history of about 800 years. In the past, there were mainly stores selling tobacco pipes, antiques, jades, and Chinese paintings. But now, here is teemed with boutiques, souvenir shops, snack houses, restaurants, cafes, and bars. The quint trinkets and all kinds of food always make people linger. There is also a bar street along Houhai (Back Lakes) area where you can grab a drink with your friends while enjoying the gentle breeze from the lake.>>More about Yandaixie Street

Yandaixie Street Yandaixie Street

Beijing Bell and Drum Towers (北京钟鼓楼)

Bell and Drum Towers, a national key cultural relic protection unit, is a group of ancient buildings located at the north of Beijing's north-south central axis. They are just 200m away from Nanluoguxiang. The two magnificent towers are the crystallization of the wisdom and strength of the ancient Chinese working people. They were used to give the correct time in the Yuan (A.D. 1271 - 1368), Ming (A.D. 1368 - 1644) and Qing (A.D. 1644 - 1911) dynasties. In the history of the construction of the city bell and drum towers, the ones in Beijing are the largest in scale. They are one of the landmark buildings in the ancient capital Beijing, and also an important witness of the history of China in the past hundred years.

Drum Tower Drum Tower

How to Plan a Beijing Nanluoguxiang Tour

It only needs about 2 hours or less to look around Nanluoguxiang. As there are many attractions nearby, you can continue your trip westwards to another Hutong, Yandaixie Street, or travel northeastwards for about 2km to the Confucius Temple and Lama Temple. To enrich your Beijing tour, you can add another 2 days to the Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Jingshan Park, the Temple of Heaven, and the Olympic Park. If you have more days, you can go for an in-depth Great Wall hiking or photography tour, and explore more hidden attractions in Beijing city.

If you have any other questions or ideas, please feel free to contact us. We are specialized in customized tours according to your own interests, budgets, and traveling time. Our professional travel consultants are always ready to help!

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