In the early morning, we walked around small alleys near our hotel. We discovered this ancient shopping district, South Luogu Alley. This is the place where you can enjoy coffee and breakfast in one of those old houses converted into small restaurants or cafes. At the same time, you can shop for typical Beijing souvenirs including notebook with ancient-look covers, Mao statues, traditional Chinese communist posters, and etc. You can also ride on those traditional rickshaw, and eat snack food on the street.
This is a great place to explore in Beijing.. an example of Hutong.. don't miss...
In Chinese: 南锣鼓巷 (Nan Luo Gu Xiang)
No visit to Beijing would be complete or authentic without experiencing the many Hutongs that are scattered throughout the city. The entrance to the various Hutongs are not always obvious as they seeming hidden within the framework of the more modern city but if you look closely, (or have a map), you will find them. The Hutongs are made up of narrow corridors that wind around tightly clustered building where every nook and cranny is accounted for and used. Watch out for the locals who will glide by silently on their bicycles with baskets balanced perfectly, full of wares. I found that the best places to eat where in the Hutongs where no one spoke english and the food was amazingly authentic. There are many tours available although I just grabbed my map and wandered into the city and explored the Hutongs on my own and found it to be one of the most enjoyable parts of my visit.
The traditional Beijing residential area is called a hutong.
There are hutongs still all over in Beining. The popular touristy hutongs are near Hou Hai where you can pay for a trishaw ride around the hutong neighborhood.
But you can just walk into any hutongs on your own safely and take as many photos as you wish - discretely of course as people are living there and would appreciate their privacy too.
Many hutongs are being levelled to make for new housing and offices and so visit them now.
Our group was invited into the home of Mrs Wong who lived in the Hutong area of Beijing.She had a historic house with many little rooms and a courtyard with many birds in cages . We were surprised to here that no one in the Hutong has a toilet . They use a public toilet in the neighbor hood . Even more surprising is the fact taht the house we visited was worth several million dollars . I guess it comes down to location !
Hutongs are the small streets in Chinese cities. As usual, I think real life is there, much more than in the big streets or the clean tourist-visited places.
Small shops, tiny restaurants, kids, all is living here, and I liked walking on evenings in the small streets before finding a small restaurant where choosing a meal was done visually; I looked at what was prepared in the “kitchen” (outside!) or what other people were eating and then I choose and was rarely deceived.
Main picture:South west of Tian an men are some small streets where life goes like 50years ago may be; narrow street, typical houses (a bit hidden here) many shops and lots of people.
Picture 2: for some restaurants, the kitchen is outside; what is getting cooked here?
Picture 3: bright colours; it was my first day here, I have no real idea for what this is; the nice thing, when you just walk in the streets you always find things you never have seen before, you do not know. . .
Picture 4: Little boy like in the image books from my childhood; and he plays and looks at the foreigner.
Picture 5: This street is a bit the China I imagined before I arrived, many red signs, bycicles, people, shops, but not the grey weather.
Hidden within the hutongs at Huohai Backlakes, Hutong Pizza is a gem of a place. The appearance outside the restaurant offers no hints of what's inside. Part the heavy curtains and you will be greeted by this sight.
It's a quiet, little place where I always bring visiting friends. It may not offer local food but the setting is very much Beijing. The food is excellent, staff is friendly and the service is fast. I love their blue cheese burger and the Mediterranean pizza.
We went to this part of the city were you can find a lot of antique shops, other special shops and a part where the Chinese lives in old houses.