Beijing’s hutongs, or traditional courtyard houses, offer a glimpse into Ming and Qing Dynasty Beijing. They’re also some of the city’s hippest neighborhoods, home to the trendiest shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants in the Chinese capital. Here’s what you need to know about exploring the Hutong neighborhoods of Beijing.
Beijing Hutongs History
Beijing’s Hutong neighborhoods date back more than seven centuries, when some of the first courtyard houses were constructed during the Yuan Dynasty. This style of residential planning continued to gain popularity throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties, and each hutong has its own style and history. Certain hutongs were built around specific professions; for instance, the Shijia Hutong is where many of the city’s bankers were based. As the city continued to grow, many hutongs were demolished to make way for modern developments, leaving only a few of these traditional neighborhoods in Beijing.
Ways to Experience Beijing’s Hutongs
- Soak up the sights and sounds of the hutongs on a relaxing rickshaw ride through the ancient streets and alleys.
- Eat your way through an old Beijing hutong on a guided food tour by tuk-tuk.
- Stretch your legs with a leisurely bike tour through these historic neighborhoods.
- Start your day off right during a breakfast food tour.
- Follow your guide on a walking tour of a hutong while listening to stories about Beijing’s past.
- Combine your visit to the hutongs with tours of the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and Tian’anmen Square.