A hutong is an ancient city alley or lane typical in Beijing, where hutongs run into the several thousand. Surrounding the Forbidden City, many were built during the Yuan (1206-1341), Ming(1368-1628) and Qing(1644-1908) dynasties. In the prime of these dynasties the emperors, in order to establish supreme power for themselves, planned the city and arranged the residential areas according to the etiquette systems of the Zhou Dynasty.
A TOUR OF THE 'HUTONG' (small avenue)
Nowadays, there are organized tours of Beijing hutongs for foreign tourists.
You can make reservation at the Beijing Hutong Culture Development Company, or buy at your own hotel.
You will be taken by pedicab (a tricycle cab),which was very common to the old days to see the Bell and Drum Towers, one or two former palaces of the imperial princes, some interesting hutongs and even to pay a visit to an ordinary Beijing family in the compound houses.
If you are there at a meat time, you may be invited to a family 'banquet' with local dishes.
SI HE YUAN
Traditionally most urban Chinese used to live in quadrangles called siheyuan or 'four-side enclosed courtyards.' These courts, as the name implies, are formed by inward-facing houses on four sides, closed in by enclosure walls.
Not only residences but ancient palaces, government offices, temples and monasteries were built basically on the pattern of the siheyuan, a common feature of traditional Chinese architecture.
We walked around the old back lanes called Futong. Since each house has a wall at the entrance, we could not see the inner situation of the house. They are made of bricks and cement and looked very old. Most of them are decaying gradually, so they are replacing a new building in many areas.
For visitors looking for a fun way to experience Beijing's hutong, you should consider doing a motorcycle sidecar tour. I know someone who recently started a company called Peking-Around (www.peking-around.com) that does small tours and can cater to your needs. Motorcycles can swiftly squeeze into little-seen areas of the city, not to mention race past Beijing's gridlocked traffic. The company does small tours with local ex-pat guides and can cater to your needs! You can read more about it at www.peking-around.com
Great experience... you get to know how the chinese really live in their hutongs...
Highly interesting, but arrange a price before starting.
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Bell and DrumTower
In both buildings a very steep stairs with 75 steps is leading up to the top where you enjoy a great view of the city
If you want to know the real old Beijing,you must visit the 'hutong's.They are dated from 900 years ago.They are very narrow streets in the city center,showing a daily Beijng.